Wow it's been quite a while and I think we are almost there if you know what I mean... Thanks for the reviews and the pm's and I hope to update soon
"You told Harry?" Neville asked after Ginny told them what had happened.
"I hope George will be okay" Luna chanted at the same time.
"Yes, I did… He would have known sooner or later! And I hope so too, Luna" Ginny answered while packing her backpack.
Luna was wearing a thick jacket and sat on her bed while Neville's grey face almost resembled his backpack which he didn't let go of since he entered Ginny's room.
"He will never be in for that…" he murmured. He sensed that this must get them… or rather him in a lot of trouble, for he had promised Harry to keep them out of trouble.
"I didn't leave him any choice… We would've gone anyway and six people are better than three" she said without looking up. Secretly she hoped to finally figure out what she was really feeling and that she had to make a decision once and for all.
"We once did help him, don't you remember?" Luna helped her friend "In the Ministry of Magic…"
Neville relaxed a little. If Ginny was determined to go anyway, Harry would have had to let her. And he would follow her no matter what.
"Soo Luna, how are you and… Rolf it was?" Ginny changed the subject.
"Good, he sent me a rose last week… He said this could protect me against Nargles…" she sighed.
Ginny smiled. Luna had really found someone almost as mysterious as herself… That is, if he himself wasn't more into that kind of things than even Luna.
Suddenly someone knocked on the door. Before Ginny had a chance to hide her stuff, Chris entered the room. He looked angry. Luna and Neville took their backpacks and left immediately.
"What is that all about?" he asked and showed around the room.
"There's something I… we have to do" she simply said.
"And what is there so important to do in the middle of the semester?" he demanded to know.
Why was he being so difficult? Ginny sat down on her bed and looked into his eyes.
"I can't tell you…" she simply said and hoped he would understand.
"Has it something to do with this mysterious injury?"
Ginny still hadn't told him about what really had happened. She tried to escape this conversation as long as possible.
"Yes" she said honestly. But she wouldn't tell him no matter what.
"Then I'll come along" Chris tried to make peace.
"You can't" Ginny desperately said. She was looking through all of her excuses of why not but she simply couldn't find one good enough for this situation.
"Because this has nothing to do with you" she stated stubbornly.
"If it has something to do with you, it has something to do with me"
"It's a family issue and as far as I remember you are not a part of mine" she said and regretted it immediately. "Look… I'm not trying to be rude or anything but this is something I'll have to do on my own"
"But you're taking those weirdos along?" he screamed.
Ginny couldn't believe what she just heard.
"How did you just call my best friends?" she ask trying to stay as calm as possible "WHAT did you just say?"
"Crap… Ginny, I'm sorry" he said immediately. She knew that it was probably just the heat of the moment but couldn't shrug it off just like that. "I just think they are no good for you…"
"Listen up, Chris!" she said harshly "There are a few things you can say and you simply can't… These are some of the things I absolutely don't like to hear"
She grabbed her backpack and headed for the door. She was just too angry to think clear and not in the mood to sort things out.
"I'm sorry… Really… I didn't mean to, I just…" Chris tried.
"But you did… And I… can't-"
"Are we fighting about those two right now?" he asked in disbelief.
"I don't know what you think we're fighting about but it's not just them…" Ginny yelled "I am just tired of this… Why do you always demand so much of me?"
"I demand…" he said "What do I demand, huh? Honesty? Commitment?"
"I am tired of apologising for who I am" she finally yelled. "You make me feel like I shouldn't be the way I am… I can't do this anymore…"
"Are you breaking up with me?" he asked sadly. "Please let's talk about it…"
"I don't have time right now… Let's talk about this" she pointed to herself and to him "when I'm back… Right now I just can't…"
She hoped that he would understand what she meant by "this" but right now, she had to focus on a Death Eater who was somewhere out there. She looked at Chris, one more time, his blue eyes in water as it seemed and smiled sadly. And with that she went out of the door and headed towards Neville and Luna who were waiting down the corridor for her.
"Everything alright?" Luna asked as Ginny put an arm around her and Neville.
Surprisingly it didn't hurt at all… No Ginny was even feeling kind of great right now. She hasn't in months and maybe, it was for the better right now.
"Yes" she smiled at her friends. If they were weirdos, so was she and she was more than happy to be!
"Someone's happy!" Ron said when the three of them arrived at the Burrow a few minutes later.
"We are ready!" was all he got for an answer from his sister. "How's George?"
"Okay… I think it'll help him… Your parents are still there" Harry answered as they stepped closer.
"I think we shouldn't waste any more time!" she said determined.
Luna looked around.
"Where's Hermione, won't she join us on our vacation?" she asked.
Ron made big eyes but didn't comment on that. Instead he said "She'll be here any minute… I hope"
"Do you have a clue on where to start?" Neville wanted to know "I thought that maybe… Maybe we should ask around a little…"
"Yeah, brilliant idea" Hermione said when she apparated right behind Neville. He turned around quickly as to locate where the voice came from, tripped and fell.
Ron couldn't help but laugh "Bloody hell, I almost forgot how clumsy you are!"
The gang stood around him and watched him get back on his feet. Ginny put an arm around him when he stepped next to her, his face all red.
"Have you been successful?" Ron asked as he pulled Hermione to his side. The silver trio looked at him quizzically.
"I just made sure we started off our search in the right direction", Hermione explained as she acknowledged that not everyone knew what was going on. "I asked around at the Ministry, and apparently Rookwood had been seen around Askaban... We are not sure what he's planning, but the sooner we find him, the better."
"Wow… It's hardly believable that you haven't known much about what they were up to" Ginny said teasingly. Hermione blushed and looked anywhere but at her friend.
"I already said I was sorry…" she mumbled, but Ginny didn't try to make her feel bad about being a good friend.
"Come on, I was just kidding" she said fast and looked at Ron apologetic.
"I think, we should get going" Harry interrupted the rather awkward situation and Ginny couldn't be more thankful. He gave her a small smile as he took her hand and before Ginny could return it, they found them swirling through the air.
They landed shaky on a field and before Ginny knew what was up, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were busy with building the tent and performing spells. Neville was on his feet again and helped Ron and Hermione, while Ginny tried to keep Luna from wandering off too far.
They sat together, not half an hour later, and discussed how they would go on further.
"To prevent any problems that might come up here" Hermione said and gave Ron a serious look "I'd like to let you know that we told you everything we know about where he could possibly be, but that doesn't mean we will find him right away"
"Yes, and if you think you can't do this, please feel free to leave NOW for there is no turning back when we are hunting him down" Ron added and looked around at each of the little group. He only met determined looks on their faces.
"What have you planned until now?" Ginny asked Harry.
"We were following every track we found… That's why we were at the lake that day… If you remember" he said and looked at his hands.
Of course she did, and it made perfectly sense now that she recalled the events of their journey, the letters Neville wrote and everything else as well. She simply nodded.
"The last we knew is that Hermione and you saw him..., which means he couldn't be too far away. Next, he's been around Askaban quite a lot recently, or at least that's what the guards were whispering" he concluded.
"I asked our friends from the D.A. if they might've seen someone weird around where they are lately" Neville said as he showed his D.A. coin to the others.
Ginny's mouth fell open. She couldn't believe that he had kept the coin and actually communicated through it as well. She was embarrassed that she didn't do the same, since a lot of the D.A. members were still her friends after all.
"Hannah Abbott, she's the barkeeper at the Leaky Caldron now, does send me messages from time to time" he continued blushing. "She'll report me when she sees someone matching the features I sent her"
Ginny smiled sheepishly. She was glad she had time enough to notice those little blushes of him whenever he talked about a particular girl again. Chris surely did occupy a lot of Ginny's time. Especially, after they fought about Harry. Why didn't she notice earlier? Maybe she really was focused on her own life the last couple of months. Maybe, she thought, she owed Luna and Neville an apology.
"Great, Neville. So we have a couple of tracks we can follow, but for those we won't be able to stay together all the time…" Hermione concluded.
Ron and Harry tensed at the same time.
"No way, I'll let any of you wander around on their own" Harry said quickly. He opened his mouth again, but took a quick look at Ginny and stopped. What did he want to say?
"Especially when this bloody son of a b-" Ron almost yelled, but Hermione interrupted him
"Language, Ron" she simply said "Besides, we can't keep camping for months again… This time we won't have that much time"
Ginny and Luna nodded. No way they'd be sitting around a bonfire and wait for the men to do all the work themselves.
"Besides, I think we could help ask some questions and get some information…" Ginny said coquettish for everyone to understand what she meant. The look on Harry's and especially Ron's faces were priceless.
"You can't-" Ron started, his head getting all red in anger.
"No way, you'd be somewhere and… someone" Harry managed to say, his anger almost matching Ron's.
"Come on, we are big girls, we can handle that" Hermione laughed.
They argued back and forth but the girls were determined.
"Fine, let's vote!" Ron said confident "Who's for this?"
Three arms shot up immediately and a fourth followed hesitantly. All eyes shot to the owner of this arm. Neville looked around not being too sure of what they expected from him.
"What?" he said "It's a good idea… And besides…, this is nothing but a macho thing. Come on the girls know what they're doing"
So it was settled, and though neither Ron nor Harry were the slightest bit happy about it, they let them do as they pleased. And a couple of nights later, Ginny found herself at the Leaky Caldron sitting at the bar and looking stunning in her red dress. The fact that Harry was not three tables away, disguised and watching every men walking by Ginny with carefully but angry eyes made it not easier to focus on their plan.
It wasn't too long until a shady man sat next to her, obviously not knowing who she was.
"Such a beautiful girl, all alone in a place like this" he said and put two fingers up as to tell Hannah to bring two drinks over. He snapped his attention back to Ginny and smiled. Ginny was disgusted by him but knowing what she had to do, and knowing that Harry would step in when things got too intense. She remembered his words from earlier, telling her that everything would be just fine.
"Well, I'm obviously celebrating… alone" she said but couldn't even convince herself.
"What are we celebrating then?" he asked as Hannah handed them the drinks. Ginny's heart beat fast, she didn't know what to do, so she turned just a little to see if Harry was still there. He nodded reassuring in her direction but his eyes shot back at Ginny's buddy.
"My freedom, we could say so" she smiled into the glass. "I just divorced my good for nothing husband"
The man seemed to believe her, because he smiled and toasted in her direction.
"Good for me, then" and with one sip, the whole drink was down.
"Take another" she smiled "It's on me tonight"
This would be easier than expected. Knowing that Hannah and Harry were there to support her, Ginny made him talk about this and that.
"I heard there are still some… bad boys out there" she said flirtatious "Have you ever met one?"
The slightly drunk guest laughed a little too loud and came closer as if he wanted to whisper. Ginny's body shivered at the smell of sweat and alcohol but she played along.
"I do know some… Actually" he said louder than he had probably intended to. "Some, who were front row at the insane war against Potter and his pack…"
He almost spitted the word Potter as if it was something disgusting. Ginny froze. He was one of them…
"Well" she said and laughed stiff "Then you can introduce me to some, can't you?"
"What?" he spat "Am I not worth your time?"
He put his hand on Ginny's knee and she heard movement from behind. She removed his hand quickly and laughed nervously. She moved closer to him and put her hand on his arm.
"There are bigger fish in this sea… Do you know where I can find someone who actually DID something terribly, terribly bad?" she said, hoping that the Verita Serum Hannah had put in his drink worked.
"I don't think that's a good place for a young lady… They meet at an unofficial bar called DE's at Knockturn Alley" he rambled not knowing that he just spilled quality information.
"Knockturn Alley, you say? And does anyone who meets up there know where to find Augustus Rookwood?"
"Really, lovely this is nothing you should put your nose in… He's residing in a village near the border to Scotland… Berwick or something"
Ginny knew this was all she should've find out yet, but she couldn't help it.
"What are you planning" she whispered sharply.
"We will rise again… We will fight back…" he whispered back and laughed slightly.
"What are you planning?" Ginny repeated but the man just laughed into his glass.
"I think that's enough" said Hannah slightly and gave her a look as if she wanted to say that they were not alone.
Ginny bend forward and her lips almost touched his cheek. She was speaking so quiet and held her wand under her coat pointing just a little in his direction.
"Thank you, you helped me more than you know. Obliviate" Ginny said and hopped down her seat. She nodded in Hannah's direction and turned around to smile at Harry. He seemed to relax at seeing her smile and he jumped up as fast as possible and met with Ginny to apparated back to the tent.
"This went well" Harry said as he grabbed her hand. They walked down the road quickly, to find a quiet place to disapparate into the night.
"Let's go, quickly, we can't talk too loud around here" Ginny said as they hurried around the corner. "What he told me is more important than we-"
She quit talking as a shady elder woman came around the corner. Ginny turned to Harry who was, thank God, still in disguise.
"Listen," she whispered as the woman passed them, "Things are worse than expected; we should head back immediately… Maybe we had already lost too much time"
Harry looked at her, his eyes wide. He didn't understand what she meant but Ginny couldn't tell him just here. What the hell did this man mean by "we will rise again"? Voldemort was dead, and this should've been it!