The Only Thing She Ever Feared
Shouts and explosions could be heard all around. Bursts of color and light shattered the comfort of the balmy June air. Ginny Weasley was caught up in a ferocious dance, spinning numbly, her feet trampling unfeelingly on the sweetly scented grass. She did not have time to register the movements of her joints, the nuances of her wild dodges. There was no space for rational thought; her mouth ejected curses, her wand arm following their trail, working of its own accord to hit its mark.
"Twelve-oh-one," a Death Eater on the left sneered, surprising her with a malicious grin, "they'll be bringin' out Potter's body in a moment now."
Ginny whirled to face him, needing to punish this heretic for his blasphemy. Harry would not die. Could not die. For all their sakes, he could not die. For her sake, he must live.
As she let loose her most virulent magic on her now-cackling opponent, her whole body hotly consumed by the effort, a memory from earlier in the year surfaced, unbidden…
Luna and Ginny moved down the dark corridor purposefully, shrouded in companionable silence. They were headed toward a storage room to steal potion ingredients; Fred and George's recipe for home-made dungbombs was clutched in Ginny's right hand. They descended until the dimness became even more impenetrably cheerless; this was the dungeon they wanted.
Luna ran her hand along the wall, looking for the right door. Her moon-pale fingers flickered through the gloom, blurrily reflecting the wan light like inverted shadows. At last a dreamy gasp cut through the darkness, making Ginny start.
"Here," whispered Luna, indicating the rough wooden door. The door glided open, and Luna followed Ginny into the chamber.
They knew the moment Luna had closed the door—the damp wood scraping softly yet jarringly across the cold stone floor—that she had selected the wrong portal. Shadows faintly outlined a room far different from the one they had expected. This chamber, instead of being filled with shelves and jars, was bare except for a few covered pieces of furniture and a solitary cabinet in one corner.
"Wonder what could be in there…" Luna mused in a whisper.
"Maybe we ought to try it…could be useful," replied Ginny.
"That's a good idea," Luna agreed serenely. "I could open the door, and you could keep your wand trained on it in case something came at us…"
"Alright," Ginny agreed. "But first…" she turned to the door. "Muffliato," she mumbled, aiming her wand at the dingy wood.
"Right," said Luna, putting one hand on the cabinet door, "One…two…three…" The creak of a door opening, and then there was nothing.
This wasn't the calm, comforting sort of nothing that might amiably fill a lazy Sunday, nor was it the sort of nothing that came with numbness or exhaustion. This was aggressively nonexistent, horrifically empty nothing. A total lack of color made for utter blackness, and there was no sound. Ginny could not feel the floor beneath her feet, nor any cold or warmth. She was utterly alone in the blankness. She felt horribly lost.
Presently, a strangled breath came from the direction of the cabinet, followed by a breathlessly desperate cry of "R-ridikkulus!"
Immediately, bright disco lights flickered on and "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love" began playing loudly.
But for Celestina Warbeck's throaty voice vamping along with the jazz band, there would have been total silence for a long moment.
"What was that?" Ginny finally asked.
"Boggart," Luna replied, still sounding a bit more breathless than usual.
"What…?" Ginny began to question.
"Nothingness," Luna replied, shivering uncharacteristically. "That's my greatest fear. Everything I love is tied to my senses—if it were all to disappear, and I was left alone with my mind…Grief I can handle; monsters and Death Eaters I can handle…but the whole world—that is truly too much to lose. I think it's part vanity too—I just can't imagine the world without my mind in it. The very thought is utterly terrifying."
"I never thought about that before," Ginny whispered. The two stood where they were for a moment, lost in thought, colored lights pulsating all around them. "Well," said Ginny after a moment, "I suppose I'd better finish it off, then…" and she stepped in front of Luna, facing the spot where the cabinet should be.
Luna breathed a sigh of relief as the room zoomed back into place. There was a floor beneath their feet again, and the sound of Celestina Warbeck's voice instantly ceased. Relishing the restored normalcy, Luna didn't notice anything wrong until a high, frantic shriek pierced the clammy air. Her heart beat faster, begging her to aid the utterer of the despondent sound—or to run away. Instead, she ran to where Ginny stood, whiter than the most scrupulously neat ghost, staring at something on the floor.
It was a dead body—but not just any body. The pallid moon illuminated long, thin, broken-looking limbs, twisted in a grotesquely pitiful position around the body. It outlined an angular jawline, shone off a pair of round glasses, played with a head of matted black hair…
"Harry," Ginny gasped, "Harry!"
Luna stared aghast for another moment. There, lying shattered on the floor, was a friend, a hero, a personification of hope. The very thought of Harry Potter—dead—made her feel as if a wrackspurt had lodged permanently in her brain. However, she soon remembered herself. "Ginny," she soothed unsteadily, "it's only a Boggart."
"How do you know?" asked Ginny thickly, miserably. "How do you know it's not showing us the truth? How do you know he's not rotting away in some abandoned shack—or somewhere worse? How do you know they haven't killed him already?"
"Ginny," said Luna, grasping her shoulder tighter, "You know Hermione. You know Ron. They wouldn't let him sacrifice himself, and they wouldn't let the Death Eaters take him. Besides, if the Death Eaters had gotten him—well—we'd know about it. Harry is safe."
"I don't—I can't—"
"Harry is safe," Luna repeated, "This is a Boggart."
"How do you know?" Ginny whispered again, this time resigned. Wearily, she picked up her wand and muttered, "Ridikkulus." Harry's corpse was immediately converted to a red-haired rag doll, which Ginny picked up and shoved back in the cabinet with more force than necessary.
"Let's go," said Luna, grabbing Ginny's hand. "Harry is safe," she whispered once more as they left the room, closing the door behind them.
There was a crash behind her, but Ginny didn't look up. Inward strength had given way to panic; adrenaline was the only thing that kept her going now. There was no silence within the din, no solace in the midst of the internal riot that had her mind crashing chaotically with clashing images and brutal sounds. Each spell parted hesitantly, painfully from her, as if her magic was forced as well as her breath.
"Didn't take to kindly to that, did we?" came the sinister voice from the side. A fierce grunt seemed to rip Ginny's throat in two as she sprang toward the man. She opened her mouth—
And was cut off by another, much louder voice. It echoed all around, inescapably, as if it were coming from inside her own head.
"Harry Potter is dead. He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him. We bring you his body as proof that your hero is gone. The battle is won…"
But Ginny heard nothing more of Voldemort's perverse gloat. She stood in the midst of the silence, surrounded by people but absolutely alone. She had but a moment to wish, to plead, to yearn for the Dark Lord's words to be false—would he lie about this?—before the atmosphere was rent apart by a scream.
"NO!" came Professor McGonagall's voice, trilling with denial and despair.
And then Ginny was down. She didn't feel her knees hitting the ground, her arms extending in supplication, or the piece of hair veiling her face, cascading down her cheek like a fiery tear. She lost sight of appearances, lost any sense of self, lost every mental image but two: that of the illusion of the broken body on the dungeon floor, and that of the very real shell that now lay listless in Hagrid's arms. Harry. Harry Potter. Her Harry. Dead.
The sight of the only thing she ever really feared changed Ginny Weasley forever.
This was just a plot bunny that threatened to brutally murder me one day if I didn't write it. Never trust those bunnies—they may seem cuddly, but they're sneaky little bastards.
So…what'd ya think? Wanna give this story a little love? Hate? Indifference? All you have to do is just click "review!" And remember, this is for posterity, so…be honest.