Disclaimer: Seriously, even though I wish I were JKR, Harry Potter doesn't belong to me. pouts
A/N: Thanks to pepperylime for betaing this story.
The Reading Room
Ginny sat forlornly near a tiny attic window. After centuries of dust sticking to the glass, the grime had formed a layer so thick, Ginny needed to chisel it off with her pocket knife. There was only a circle of clean glass now and squinting one eye, she felt as though she was staring through a tunnel.
At the dark end of the tunnel, Ginny sat, trapped in a world where darkness and death threatened to engulf her; her world was spreading lies, slowly smothering lives, killing the truth bit, by bit. It reminded her of a picture she found in a Potions book of mercury inching its way up a man's veins. Pain was etched on his face as he succumbed to the quicksilver. It was too late before he realised his life was over.
"You face either unity or death," Umbridge had said over the wireless a few nights before. Ginny had watched her father grow pale. He didn't go to work the next day and she was forced to stay with her Great Aunt Muriel, where she was now, in the attic, staring out into a world she longed to be.
At the other end of the tunnel, where light, freedom and the sense of immortality were, the trees were as green as ever, the sky full of fluffy clouds and Ginny saw two gnomes hobbling through the manicured lawn, still with their white bunny ears on their heads and cotton tails stuck onto their bottoms. She giggled. It was Fred and George's idea to dress up the gnomes for Easter, much to Aunt Muriel's dismay: "I said throw them into the river not dress them up for Carnivale," she barked.
"Or for the Sydney Mardi Gras," Fred had thought out loud as he held onto two hideous male bunny-gnomes.
Ginny's smile faltered as the gnomes disappeared into a burrow near a gnarled oak tree. At least they didn't have to worry about You-Know-Who.
Her mind wandered towards Hogwarts and what her friends thought when she didn't arrive via the Hogwarts express. She thought about poor Neville looking after the student body and the DA under the Carrows and Snape's regime.
Ginny, Luna and Neville had been the driving force behind the DA since Harry had set off on his own mission with Ron and Hermione. But with Ginny now trapped at her Aunt Muriel's and Luna recovering from her abduction at Shell Cottage, her heart ached that Neville would be all alone now. She was frightened that he would be killed.
No, I mustn't think about them, she said to herself. Then an image of Harry's cold pale face with dark blood on his neck swam into her vision. "No! Harry is fine. I shouldn't think about him either!" Then Ron's lifeless eyes flitted through her vision, then Hermione… she swatted the images away, screwing her eyes shut.
Sitting in Aunt Muriel's country manor was beginning to bore and frustrate Ginny so much that dark thoughts and dreams were beginning to plague her mind more than usual. The house was beautiful, no doubt. The countryside of Dorset was magnificent, but at the same time it felt extremely cold and uninviting. She knew if she wandered outside the protection of the house she'd be caught by the Snatchers. She wanted to go home badly. However, being the only precious girl in the family for generations had Aunt Muriel keeping a close eye on her.
She waited, though, Ginny waited, for the sign that Harry would return to Hogwarts and fight with the DA. She had a feeling that it would be soon. Ginny curled her hand around the DA coin in her robes, closing her eyes. For a fluttering moment she thought it had warmed a little. Then she realised that it was only her imagination. As butterflies of disappointment filled her stomach she released the coin.
Sighing, she viewed her watch. It would be four soon, a daunting time for the entire household. Aunt Muriel liked to be read a book until six o'clock, when the house elves would have dinner set and ready. The aunt wanted everything neat, tidy and on the dot, so much so, the elves lived in a constant fear of being received clothes and would scurry off once they heard her voice.
A shrill voice carried up the floorboards of the attic. "Ginevra…"
"Speak of the devil…" Ginny groaned. She didn't move, choosing to wait while the silence permeated the attic like the specks of dust floating around.
"Ginevra? Ginevra Where are you, girl?"
She stood up, walked past the thousands of old Daily Prophets which sat in piles. Some were so old they had turned yellow, others were crumbling to pieces. Ginny spotted an interesting headline, while a moving picture of iceberg slowly drifted by in the picture underneath:
ICEBERG OR GRINDELWALD? WHAT REALLY SANK THE TITANIC
She could spit on this newspaper these days. "Bunch of snivelling prats," she said coldly, kicking a stack. A couple of recent editions with Harry's picture on the front cover toppled onto the floor. She picked them up and Harry frowned at her, desperately trying to escape the frame.
HARRY POTTER, HERO OR VILLAN
HARRY POTTER WANTED FOR ALBUS DUMBLEDORE'S MURDER
Her rage had built momentum; she threw the papers across the room, its pages fluttered to the floor like rain drops.
"Ginevra, come down at once!" her aunt yelled.
She stomped her way down the attic stairs and through to the main stairwell. Two noble black marble lions sat at each side of the landing in the hall. They both stared at her haughtily and began whispering to each other. Ginny held her chin high. Ignoring them, she whisked her red hair into the reading room.
Great Aunt Muriel was sitting in the largest chintz chair near the fireplace, sipping tea with a wrinkled pinkie in the air. The gold rimmed curtains were fluttering in the afternoon breeze. Ginny was glad, she needed all the fresh air she could get while reading the dastardly book she was reading these days. A tiny house elf with drooping ears was pouring out another cup of tea, presumably for her. Her hands were shaking so much that the tea was in danger of splattering onto the floor. Aunt Muriel narrowed her eyes at the elf and seemed to be counting down the seconds that she would throw the elf outside with a single sock.
Her aunt looked very ancient and fragile, but in truth, sometimes she had more energy than Ginny could ever muster. She'd play the oh-my-bones-are-killing-me phrase at least ten times a day. Ginny had gotten so used to it now that she was reduced to rolling her eyes at her aunt. While the rest of the day, Aunt Muriel would scoot around the house like she was on rollerskates
Ginny cleared her throat loudly as the dazzling gems that hung around her aunt's neck and ears were beginning to send her into a trance.
Aunt Muriel's red rimmed eyes swivelled up; she coughed at the site of great niece. "Where in Merlin's death stick have you been girl? Are you trying to kill me with your insolence?" The house elf in command of the tea service was so frightened she squeaked and vanished from the room.
"No Aunt Muriel," Ginny droned, "I'm sorry I'm late."
"You should be sorry," she spat, her brown eyes narrowing even more so, until they looked tightly shut. "Well hurry up and read me my book! I've been waiting all day for the next chapter. I'd read it myself, but the arthritis in my fingers are killing me these days. Plus Rita's book is so heavy… it might slip through my hands and crush my fragile hips."
Ginny scowled, shifting her weight onto her right foot.
"And don't scowl," Aunt Muriel barked, her tea cup clinking onto the saucer. "It makes you look ugly."
Ginny poked her tongue out at her Aunt Muriel as soon as she had looked away. Ginny sat down, a revised copy of the book, since the downfall of the ministry; The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore was perched on the coffee table. Dumbledore's picture was smiling wistfully out of its frame. She thought sadly how much the world she loved had changed since his death.
It was a large book. Ginny had already been forced to read 399 pages of the thing. She picked it up, flicked through the pages so disrespectfully that a couple of pages ripped. She didn't care; the book deserved it for the matter. She was reading absolute filth.
"We are at page 400," Muriel sniffed.
Ginny huffed, fingers stopping at the right page. She gazed at the chapter heading and felt a chill enclose her heart.
Dumbledore's Protégé: The Boy Who Lived
"Oh God," Ginny breathed. Her heart ached for Harry, just looking at the words made her remember the times they'd kissed. She wondered if Harry remembered her birthday gift in his darkest moments. Then an image of Harry dying alone invaded her mind. No! Stop it!
"Well get going!"
Ginny started and nearly dropped the book. She cleared her throat and began to read.
"Well, faithful readers, we've spent 399 pages examining the life and lies of Albus Dumbledore from infancy to his extraordinary exploits, manipulations and scandals throughout his existence, until we've reached, in the last chapter, the first war waged by You-Know-Who and Dumbledore's role within it. We realise now that Dumbledore was much more cunning and devious than many people have ever dreamed of. A man full of secrets it seems, hidden away like a Boggart in a broom closet.
"This chapter relates to the story of one particular boy Dumbledore had taken a liking to: Harry Potter. Many of you have begged me to write a book on this mysterious boy, but alas, that will come later. Now, I shall reveal Dumbledore's relationship with The Boy Who Lived."
Ginny had a really bad feeling about this chapter.
"Since the moment of birth, Harry James Potter has been a marked man. The story of his disfiguring scar, the tragic death of his parents and near destruction of You-Know-Who has been drilled into minds since the day it happened. But is his story as innocent and heroic as it seems? Is Potter really 'The Chosen One?' There are too many questions, but so little answers in return.
"There have been countless theories and rumours regarding Harry Potter. Some dispute that Potter is a dark wizard, or the next dark lord. This would explain why You-Know-Who wants him dead. Potter is, after all, a Parselmouth—"
"Good gracious is he now?" Aunt Muriel said with her hands clapped over her heart.
Ginny looked up with a deadly stare. "If it wasn't for his Parseltongue, I'd've been long dead."
Aunt Muriel raised an eyebrow. Ginny didn't want to explain why, so continued to read against better judgment.
'"Yeah, I was in first year when something started attacking Muggle-borns at Hogwarts,' explains Zacharias Smith. 'Really scary stuff… then Potter kept turning up in the crime spots at the exact moment someone was hurt.'
"Was it just coincidence or suspicious circumstances? Mr Smith continues with his observations. 'The teachers started up a Duelling Club, and one of the kids set a Snake onto Potter, but he started speaking a weird language and all of the sudden the snake lunged itself onto a Muggle-born kid. Dumbledore didn't look much into it.'"
"Stupid idiot,"Ginny gritted through teeth. "…Potter has psychotic fits of rage," she read onShe was so incensed at Smith that she skipped over the next few sentences. Her aunt didn't seem to notice "…And exhibits signs of paranoia, which many healers at St Mungo's agree that the boy needs to be locked away with careful observation. Not to mention numerous traumatic dreams many have witnessed. But Dumbledore, in his duty to protect all the students at Hogwarts, always seemed to ignore Potter's problems and the concerns of parents about him.
'"Haunted by his past, he is, that Potter boy…' Geraldine Finnigan says. 'Me own son sleeps in Potter's dorm… I've always been scared for me son's safety even since that boy, Diggory's death.' She shakes her head, a worried look filling her motherly face. 'I was ready to believe Potter was 'The Chosen One,' after the fiasco a couple of years back, but what's he really done to protect us? I don't know the pixies from the doxies anymore these days.'
"On a darker note that doesn't evolve dreams and visions, Potter may be disturbed enough to have murdered…" Ginny sighed. She knew this wasn't true. "…To have murdered Dumbledore himself. He was seen running away from the murder scene."
Ginny paused, but Aunt Muriel waved her hand around silently to keep going.
"As a journalist who has spoken and gotten to know this boy more closely than any other person in his life, I have heard his deepest and darkest secrets. I have looked into those dazzling green eyes and saw a dark soul without any hope." Ginny snorted.
"Disobedient and rebellious, Harry Potter is definitely a dangerous and troubled teen. From his tragic childhood to his years at Hogwarts, how did Dumbledore shape the boy into what he is now, a menace to the ministry and the wizarding world itself?
"Dumbledore's relationship with the boy was over the top and sinister. No other headmaster or headmistress had taken a liking to one particular student like Dumbledore had. I feel there is no doubt but to believe that he had spindled a web of lies and corruption so big, while manipulating Potter in many ways, that the boy had felt daunted, even threatened into drastic action."
A whole load of crock, Ginny thought.
"Starting from the very beginning, Dumbledore had been a mentor to Potter's parents. He wanted to protect Lily and James Potter from the Dark Lord because of a prophecy which concerned their son as 'The Chosen One,' who would destroy You-Know-Who. Lily's and James's involvement within the Order of the Phoenix allowed Dumbledore to form a close friendship and suggested they be placed in hiding.
"Though, Dumbledore's hopes they would survive did not go according to plan and the Potters had perished when You-Know-Who had forcibly entered their house in Godric's Hollow. Only their one year old boy, Harry, had survived suspiciously with only a ugly scratch to his forehead.
'"The poor boy,' Batty Bathilda croaked. 'I stood on those ruins the night Harry's parents died. I can still hear him screaming for his mother from the second floor, minutes after You-Know-Who was vanquished. I held him in my arms. I wiped the blood from his forehead -- he had a nasty cut there.' And what of Dumbledore? I asked Bathilda. 'I sent him an urgent message. When he arrived… I'd never seen Albus so pale, so distraught since his sister died. He took the boy from me and gave him to the half-giant Rubeus Hagrid. Albus told him to keep the boy safe until arrangements were met.'"
"I don't remember that night much." Aunt Muriel described. "I was celebrating so much I drunk four bottles of sherry." Ginny ignored her as Muriel laughed at her own memories.
"…Dumbledore, still in grief after losing his two finest Order Members, (more so out his own guilt that he didn't do more to protect them), took his own actions against ministry advice to place Harry into the guardianship of his Muggle Relatives, the Dursleys. Therefore, the night after the infamous Halloween of 1981 when Harry Potter became the ward of Petunia (Lily Potter's sister) and Vernon Dursley, Dumbledore wiped his hands clean from the blood that stained his hands.
"The moment the boy had been placed in his Muggle relative's care -- a bunch of scrupulous, conservative twits who have waged war against anything magical -- Harry Potter was in a very bad spot indeed. Starved of food, of love, hated and ignored, this was the routine treatment Potter had to live with every single day. He never knew that his parents had been murdered. Never knew he was even a wizard until his Hogwarts letter. From the tender age of one, he had been forced to sleep in the cupboard under the Dursleys stairs. There he would sleep and be locked in for most of his life. He was basically a waste of space and a shame to the Dursleys.
"Does this all sound too familiar, readers? Remember Kendra locking up poor Ariana in the attic, alone and in the dark just because she was a squib?"
"Merlin's nads! Did Potter really… no wonder he snapped and killed Dumbledore, goodness if—"
"Well Certainly…" Ginnycontinued with a loud voice, almost scaring Muriel into a heart attack. "Dumbledore knew what had gone on in Potter's home. Perhaps he drew it from his own experience, condoning this maltreatment to occur. Or he had told the Dursleys to lock him away to drive the darkness out of the boy, because he had secretly known Potter would be dangerous in later years."
This is just stupid, Ginny grimaced. Harry had never told her that he had slept in a small cupboard. So she was sure this was a lie. She had only heard about the smallest bedroom that he had slept in, and the time Fred, George and Ron had helped him escape. Dumbledore knowing that was happening? Ginny felt this was a big fat lie.
"Nevertheless Dumbledore kept a close, yet blind-eye on the Boy Who Lived until he received his letter to attend HogwartsSchool of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
Ginny paused again, quickly glimpsing at Aunt Muriel. She seemed positively radiant with happiness. Sickening, her aunt suddenly reminded her of Umbridge.
"To get more information on Harry's childhood, I spoke with Arabella Figg -- A crazy cat-loving squib -- who lives close to Harry's childhood home. She generously allowed me into her home. Old Figg, certainly remembers the boy very well."
Ginny wondered how on earth Rita had really gotten herself an interview with one of their order members. She imagined Rita turning up uninvited and once Arabella opened the door, Skeeter just forced her ugly face through it.
'"He was the smallest in his class. Tiny and shy... and it didn't help that he slept in the cupboard under the stairs,' Arabella reminisces from within a mountain of cats clawing at her bare arms. 'No one wanted to be friends with him and the neighbours would hurry their children into the house at Harry's approach.
'"The Muggles he stays with -- horrible bunch -- wanted to stamp the magic out of him. They always tried to shut him away in the house. It was rare he was allowed to go outside and play. And it was always a treat for him when he came over to my house. I was the only one with any magical link, even though I'm a squib. I felt it was in my duty to at least give him some hope of a better world.'
"Poor neglected Potter by the age of eleven had become a delinquent amongst the neighbours. Nobody wanted to touch him with a ten foot Firebolt. He was all alone, undernourished and abused.
"It was no wonder then that he needed love and starved for any sort of attention, good or bad. From eating stale cake at a Squib's house, to setting a snake onto his cousin Dudley at the zoo or blowing up a relative with underage magic, to becoming the mysterious fourth contender in the triwizard cup and witnessing the murder of Cedric Diggory. There is also his rebellious activity against the ministry, his almost expulsion for underage magic, and numerous other bad boy activities. But Potter's troubles only get worse with his direct relationship with Dumbledore.
"Once Harry Potter had set foot into the ancient castle, Dumbledore was unusually close to the boy. The headmaster followed him, spied on him, gave Harry gifts and had several private meetings with him in ungodly hours of the night. Potter also had set up a defence group called the Dumbledore's Army in secret, to fight against the ministry, all of course forced upon Harry by Albus himself."
LIES! Ginny yelled in her mind. It had been Hermione's idea.
'"Absolutely foul!" Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, and Minister of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission kindly recalls. "That boy is an evil, lying little fool. Professor Dumbledore used him like a puppet for his own bidding. Potter should never be trusted by anyone, too brainwashed by Dumbledore. I knew that he was having meetings with Dumbledore, but I'm afraid, I had never caught them conspiring against the ministry once I had been positioned in the school.'
"These secret meetings continued through the years, their peak occurring only last year in the boy's sixth year when Dumbledore was reinstated as headmaster."
Ginny just loved how Skeeter conveniently left out so many details and so many parts to stories that made the book extremely bias.
'"I'd see Potter going to Dumbledore's office after dinner every other day and he'd never come out until the wee hours of the mornings. He'd look more worried than when he went in. It made us all wonder what they were doing in there," Gregory Goyle a fellow student at Hogwarts said, scratching his locks of luscious hair.
"That's because Dumbledore was talking about his mission with Harry, you great fat twit!" Ginny mumbled.
"What did you say Ginevra?"
"Nothing, Aunt Muriel."
"Then stop blibbering and read, girl. This is getting juicer and juicer; we'd be drowning in book binding glue soon."
Ginny breathed in deeply and exhaled. "But what were they doing?
'"I reckon they were lovers," Pansy Parkinson, an attractive seventh year—'"
Aunt Muriel gasped loudly. "My word…"
"Oh that's it! I'm not reading any more of this rubbish!" Ginny spat, dropping the book with a loud bang onto the coffee table.
Muriel looked as though she could kill kittens with her direct glare. "You will sit down and read the chapter, missy! Or I shall tell your mother."
"She'd agree with me that this book is a load of—"
"I'll give an elf clothes," she sniffed.
"Are you blackmailing me, Aunt Muriel?"
"I'd never do such a thing." She seemed to slightly regret those words. "Now sit down, if you please, and read."
Ginny was still standing, hands in fists, looking furious. She must have been blushing because she felt her cheeks heat up. She thought about the poor house elf. Ginny had never envisioned Aunt Muriel as a cunning witch. She sat down, slowly, flicked through the book to the right page and cringed as she read on.
'"Dumbledore had that look about him, you know… he might've done good stuff and all for some people, but there was something really odd and creepy about him. I reckon he abused Potter and probably other kids too. I'm much more relaxed since he's death."'
Ginny felt as though she was betraying Dumbledore reading these lies.
"Lovers? A headmaster who was taking advantage of an underage boy under his authority? It was scandalous and certainly sinister indeed. But it does fit neatly into a Potter and Dumbledore conundrum: the countless secret meetings, the headmaster's willingness to forgo any punishment for Potter's misdeeds, the close eye on the boy he always had. Perhaps he did manipulate Potter for his own sinister deeds, he was after all the headmaster's favourite student and the ministry frowns upon any member of the Hogwarts faculty taking on favourites, let alone sexual relations with a student.
"It makes sense now…" Aunt Muriel said, eyes wide and bulging a little. She sounded winded. Ginny scowled, wondering if this chapter would be the death of Aunt Muriel, either natural or murder, whatever succeeded.
"Dumbledore was not married, had had a close attraction to many male friends, such as 'Dogbreath' Doge and Grindelwald himself. But to subject a vulnerable boy to abuse is malevolent. The ministry should investigate further.
'"He [Potter didn't kiss a girl until he was 15, and that hadn't gone too well either.' Miss Parkinson replied, her eyes twinkling with sadness. 'I think he felt really weird around girls. I mean he would be if he was forced to do disgusting things with the headmaster."
"This is the best book I've ever bought," Aunt Muriel said, hand still clutching her chest.
Ginny seethed. If she ever saw Parkinson again, she'd rip her to shreds.
"This abuse seems to be what Harry Potter had known all his life. He was abused by men, particularly those of authority."
What? Ginny thought to herself. What in…
"I had come in contact with an old Muggle primary school classmate of Potter's by the name of Piers Polkiss. We walked around the old Muggle primary school grounds where they had gone to school. It was somber and eerie as there was no students that day. Piers told me: 'Potter had no friends. We thought he was weird. And Dudley –Harry's cousin -- had no choice but to put up with him. We called Harry a freak all the time, because well, he'd do freaky things all the time. We were all scared of him…"' Ginny paused."How on earth did Rita dig up this dirt?" she said out loud.
"Experience Ginevra. Continue…"
Ginny felt revolted.
'"One day when we were eight, Harry stole a cupcake from Dudley's lunch box. It was a pretty rotten thing to do, and well, we chased him into the boy's toilet block and tried to get it off him. Harry dropped it in the loo by accident. Dudley was so mad, so we shoved Harry into the toilet too, tried to make him stand in it. He yelled real loudly and the teacher on duty came in, burly old block, forgot his name…'"
Ginny felt as though ice was falling into her stomach.
'"Anyway, we all apologised. We told him that Harry made us do it, because he stole the cupcake so it was an eye for an eye sort of thing. The teacher told us to leave, except for Harry. Of course we skipped out of there, getting off Scot free, but stayed behind to see if Harry would get in trouble. After a minute we heard him whimpering for the teacher to stop hurting him…then he screamed…'"
At this point Ginny stopped reading out loud, her hands were trembling with rage, but she continued to read silently. A part of her wanted to throw the book into the fire, but another part wanted to read it.
'We were just 'lil kids. We ran for it. Harry came in late to class after lunch. He had trouble sitting down on his seat. It seemed real painful for him and there were bruises on his neck. Miss Perkins asked where he had been and he said he couldn't remember a thing so she gave him detention.
'The next day we found out that burly teacher ended up in hospital with burns on his privates and hands. Said he accidentally dropped a lit match on his crotch and it caught fire. But we knew Harry did that, being freaky and all. The teacher never taught at the school after that.
'No one ever mentioned it again…we didn't want to, and to this day, I don't think Harry remembers any of it.'
Such news of a small boy being subjected to a horrific assault was a shock to even an experienced journalist like me. Did Dumbledore know that this brutality had occured and took advantage of Harry Potter's vulnerability? Told Potter that he would love him more tenderly than this Muggle teacher ever did?
And it seemed for awhile that Dumbledore's dream of loving the boy more deeply was more real than ever before.
The departed Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, reported last year that Potter had told him, that apart from wanting a convicted Death Eater, Stan Shunpike, out of Azkaban, the boy said what he and Dumbledore got up to in private was between them. That no one had the right to know and that he was Dumbledore's man through and through.
'Through and through,' was this a quote of loyalty or quite literally was Harry Potter referring to the sexual nature of their relationship? Potter may have been loyal, loyal enough to do what the headmaster wanted him to do, but their relationship had crossed the line of innocent normalcy the moment his parents had died. And as for Albus Dumbledore, there is no doubt he had kept secrets and lied to the boy he had betrayed. Harry Potter had become a broken puppet to do whatever Dumbledore wished him to do and bent his will to satisfy his own selfish lust.
Whatever the circumstances, some may blame that Dumbledore in his old age, had become so obsessed with the boy that it had clouded all rational thought. Obsessed the prophecy and with caring for the boy to much, that in his mind it was possible that he had confused the basic human protection with lust and had acted upon it. And this illicit and clandestine relational had a vastly detrimental effect on Potter.
"Ginevra, what's wrong with you girl?"
Perhaps the affairs had become all too much for Potter. Maybe Potter had realised that this was a betrayal of the worst kind and snapped the night he and Dumbledore were on top of the Astronomy tower. Some have said that Dumbledore had taken Harry Potter out of the castle, conducting a secret mission. However, I have gotten proof that they had never left the castle that night. Instead Dumbledore had made an all too familiar sexual move on Potter as sounds of Death Eaters invaded the castle. Potter wanted to investigate the attacks, but Dumbledore held onto the boy and having enough, pushed the old man to his--
Ginny stopped, closing the book with a sharp snap, unable to read anymore. She was in tears, hot and angry tears. And it wasn't often she was in tears. That bitch! She thought. How could she write these disgusting stories!
"GINEVRA!" Aunt Muriel yelled, her dangling diamond earring trembled on her saggy earlobes. "Have you gone insane, just like Bagshot?"
"I can't, I can't read this anymore," Ginny replied, getting up. She tried to wipe her tears away, though more kept falling. Ginny didn't want her aunt to see that she was crying. Shaking her head, her red hair tangled now. "This book goes against everything I know about Harry."
"You what?" Aunt Muriel asked she seemed suddenly interested in how Ginny was acquainted with him, apart from knowing Ron was his best friend.
"I like him… I think I love him."
Muriel was speechless for a moment. "You… you really are insane," she finally piped up, standing up from her armchair. "First girl in the family for generations and we've ended up with a dud." Aunt Muriel rolled her eyes.
"I will never welcome Potter into the family," she sniffed. "He's a filthy, evil boy. I thought he was our only hope, but obviously Rita knows what we're up against. Where is he now, Ginevra, if you love him so much? He's hiding like a coward.
"If he was telling the truth, then he'd have nothing to fear from the ministry. He's hiding because he's a queer fibbing murderer."
"THAT'S NOT TRUE! YOU'RE A MEAN—"
"A mean what, Ginevra?" she asked silkily, there was danger in her voice now. "I can write you out of my will faster than you can say bitch."
Breathing huge gulps of air, Ginny's tears now felt very cold on her hot cheeks. "Aunt Muriel… I don't care about your will. I care about Harry and these lies that awful Skeeter woman is spreading about him and Dumbledore that you seem to be enjoying." Ginny threw the book into the fireplace, the fire roaring as the book burst into flames. She stormed towards the doorway and turned around.
Aunt Muriel stared at the burning book for a moment then pursed her lips at Ginny, her eyes as cold as ever.
"And as a matter of fact I was going to call you a tart. Because I know some of your secrets, Aunt Muriel. I've seen your scant black and white pictures in the attic and those letters those men sent you. You were a favourite amongst the gentlemen of society in the old days. I bet you got most of your jewellery as gifts from them."
Aunt Muriel's eye suddenly blazed and for a second Ginny thought she was about to get hexed, but Aunt Muriel, full of surprises, roared with laughter.
"Oh Ginevra, you and I are two of a kind," she chortled.
Ginny grimaced. "I am definitely not like you." Without a backward glance, she rushed upstairs to the attic. She wasn't going to cry anymore. In fact there was fierce determination to block out ever word she had read. There was no way Harry had ever experienced those thing Rita wrote about. She manipulated Figg and that Muggle kid into telling lies. As for Parkinson, Goyle, even Smith, they were always making trouble for Harry. Harry would've told her, she knows he would've!
Ginny was drawn back to the times she and Harry had sat near the lake at Hogwarts, talking about everything. He was really happy. It was always about her, though. She always talked about her, her childhood, her life, her dreams and her hopes. Harry would always listen, his green eyes sparkling, his mouth curved into a light smile. He was more than thrilled just hearing her speak about her life and he'd keep the questions going.
It was at that exact moment, Ginny realised, that she didn't know much about Harry, except for what her brothers and Hermione have told her. Ginny frowned, her forehead now resting on the attic window as a feeling of despair flooded her chest. How could she be so selfish? Harry had never spoken to her about his childhood and his memories throughout Hogwarts. She had poured out her soul to Harry just as she had with Riddle's diary and he had not returned his own. And now… he was out there conducting his mission with Ron and Hermione while Ginny, was stuck not knowing what he was doing.
Never once had she bothered to ask about his childhood. She thought she already knew about his dark past. She never put her hand on his shoulder and asked him soothingly to tell her what his favourite colour is, or coax him to tell her about life before Hogwarts. Was she subconsciously scared that the questions would distance him from her?
Her entire world about Harry started to crumble around the edges. She desperately promised herself that she would listen to him from now on. Ginny was beginning to make a mental note of all the questions she would ask Harry when the war was over.
She cupped her face in her hands and sighed. In her mind's eye she saw herself squinting through the tunnel of cleaned glass. The sky was red and orange as the sun disappeared, the hum of the birds falling into silence as darkness begun to cloak the sky. In the distance, she could see two small figures that would be Harry and she, laughing as they returned home. Arms were around each other… they were happy.
Ginny opened her eyes, tears stinging her soul once more as this time she really looked out through the glassy tunnel. Yes the sky was red, and the birds were fluttering away, but there was nothing else…no sign of joy or love. "At least, for now," Ginny whispered. "That will come later." Again she enclosed the DA coin in her hand… willing Harry to return.
Hope you've all enjoyed it.