LbN: Written for stars hide your f i r e s's Nobody Can Ever Find Out About This challenge. Happy reading!

"I'm glad you're here, Hermione," Molly Weasley said quietly. "Ginny's…she's needed you."

"I wish I could have been here sooner. It took me a little longer than I thought to find my parents."

"Oh, don't worry dear. I'm glad you found them. How are they adjusting?"

"Well, actually," Hermione explained as they walked through the Burrow. "There are times when they'll have flashes of their time in Australia, or from before, but they know to come to me, Harry, or Ron to ask questions now."

"How are the boys? I wish they could've come."

"They're doing alright. Both of them said to tell you, and this is a direct quote, that they miss you and your cooking, and are looking forward to Christmas."

Molly laughed. "Well, it's nice to see that they haven't changed too much."

"How's Ginny?" Hermione asked, stopping and facing Molly.

With a sigh, Molly began to explain. "She took Fred's death the hardest of all of us, I think. I never gave the twins enough credit for anything really, but above all… I missed how good of brothers they were to her. I could tell it was going to be hard, even when you were still here. Then when you left…I think the only reason she agreed to finish at Hogwarts was because Tonks is teaching there now. Tonks would write and tell me how depressed Ginny was. She tried to help, but…. My daughter's been through a lot."

"And now?" Hermione was a little afraid to know the answer. She was glad it had only taken her the year to find her parents. She didn't want Ginny alone over the summer.

"She stays in her room mostly. I know she's been having trouble sleeping. And when she does sleep, she talks. I don't know what she's saying. She always wakes up when I come in to check on her. She'll come downstairs to read, but she doesn't talk much. She did ask when you were getting in yesterday," Molly said with a smile. "She's taken to walking by herself during the afternoon. I was worried the first time she did it, but she always comes back. And she seems to be a little…I don't know how to describe it. Brighter, I guess. But I won't keep you. She's in her room now, if you want to go up."

"Thanks Molly." Hermione walked up the stairs feeling a little anxious, but interestingly enough, mostly relieved. She, Harry and Ron had stayed at the Burrow directly following the fall of Voldemort. That short period of time had been the last time she'd seen Ginny smile. Then she'd had to go away. She'd written to her girlfriend every day, and knew exactly how hard of a time Ginny had had in her seventh year at school. But she also knew that Ginny had kept herself occupied—thinking about the war as little as possible. This fact, and their constant exchange of letters, had made the year go by a bit faster. Now, as she pushed the door to Ginny's room open, she smiled.

Ginny was sitting on her bed, completely absorbed in a book.

"I think I've had a bad influence on you," Hermione said.

Ginny said nothing, just smiled, crossed the room, and wrapped Hermione in a hug.

Over the next few weeks, Hermione could tell that the atmosphere in the Burrow had changed dramatically. Ginny was talking more, Molly was smiling more, and Arthur was spending less time in his work shed. She didn't know why, but it seemed as if the fifth day she was there marked the changed. It was as if Ginny had finally found something she'd been looking for. After that, the youngest Weasley had gained some of her old spark back, though she still insisted on walking by herself every day.

"It helps me clear my head," she'd explained. "A nice walk on a bright summer's day—it's wonderful."

At the end of the first month, George and Angelina visited. Hermione thought this would've been great for Ginny, but the redhead seemed to retreat into herself during the night. She followed her into the kitchen after dinner. "Ginny, are you okay?" she asked as Molly served ice cream outside.

"I'm fine," Ginny whispered, not meeting her eyes. "It's just…hard not seeing them together. It makes it real."

Hermione pulled her into a hug.

Enough was enough. Hermione was determined to figure out what had gone wrong the previous Friday. She kept rolling Ginny's words through her mind. Something wasn't right. "It makes it real." But Ginny knew it was real. She wasn't laboring under any delusions that Fred was simply off on holiday. Something was up, and Hermione was going to find out.

"I'm going for my walk," Ginny said, kissing her on the cheek. "Be back in a couple of hours."

"Right then. Be safe." She waited until she heard the back door shut, debating whether or not to go through with the idea she'd had. Finally, as she watched Ginny cross over the bridge to the east of their house, she made up her mind. She was going to follow her.

It was really hard to be covert, she found, when all you have is a dirt road with fields on either side. Thank goodness she'd mastered the Disillusionment charm. She followed Ginny through a field and down a path near an orchard. They were so far from the Burrow now that it was just visible over the fields. They went farther into the orchard, and Hermione wondered briefly whose it was. Then she saw Ginny sit down and close her eyes. She waited for a moment, then sat down a few feet away.

Ginny's breathing got heavier—she was sleeping. She began to mumble.

Hermione couldn't make out the words, but she saw the air around Ginny begin to shimmer. Something was taking shape next to the sleeping girl. It looked…human. The form of a man.

It was Fred.

Hermione put a hand to her mouth. What was going on? She watched as both the…shadow, and Ginny talked. Were they talking to each other? Was that really Fred. It went on for a while—Hermione lost track of time. Finally, she saw Ginny begin to stir. She lifted the charm from herself and walked over. "Ginny?"

Tears welled in the younger witch's eyes as she reached out to hold Hermione.

Wrapping her arms around her girlfriend, Hermione asked, "What was that?"

Ginny was quiet for a long time. Then, she pulled away, wiping her eyes. "It's…It's called Inferi Sopornarro. It's a way you can speak to the dead."

"A type of necromancy, if I remember correctly?"

"Yes," Ginny said quietly. "I've been studying it for months now. I just got it to a point where I can actually talk to him, and hear him. It's hard to control though. That's why I haven't been sleeping well at the house. I'm afraid Mum will come in and hear me."

"I couldn't hear you."

"Still…. I feel bad enough not telling her. I don't need her to find out like that."

"That's why you were so upset when George came to visit!"

"It seemed…unfair of me to keep this a secret. Plus…" she trailed off, a few tears falling. "Fred doesn't want this. He wants me to live."

"He told you that?"

Ginny nodded. "I know he's right. I'm going to try to stop. Nobody can ever know about this."

Hermione smiled and helped her up. "Your secret is safe with me," she said, hugging her again. "Let's get back."

The two witches left the shade of the trees and walked back down the dirt road. As the Burrow came back into full view, Ginny took Hermione's hand and smiled.

LbN: Hope you liked it! Send a review! :)