Chapter 1 – Left Behind
There was confusion all around, people screaming, crashes and thumps as tables, chairs and bodies went flying. Figures hurtled past to left and right, trying to dodge the flashes of spells that lit the air like deadly fireworks. Loud pops and cracks of apparition signalled the departure of many of the guests, but others remained to fight or to find their loved ones before escaping.
Fleur Weasley, tiara askew, long white dress stained with the food from an upturned table, fired curse after curse at a hooded figure bearing down on her. Behind her, her new husband was locked in a fierce fight with another. Frightened and confused wedding guests stumbled around them, shouting names of their partners or children, colliding with each other and the wreckage.
There was another crash and an inarticulate bellow; several Stunning spells bounced off the hulking figure of Rubeus Hagrid. Fleur tripped on her train and fell, her cumbersome dress making it impossible to regain her feet. She heard her mother's voice crying her name, and saw her clutching at Gabrielle. 'Maman! Get Gabrielle out! Go, go!' she screamed. She had last glimpse of her mother and sister's frozen, horrified faces, before Madame Delacour obeyed her eldest child and Disapparated with the younger girl.
A strange, magnified voice echoed around the tent, over the sound of the remaining fights. 'This is the Ministry of Magic. Desist from all resistance immediately. Any witch or wizard who continues to fight our legitimate enforcers will be arrested.' There was a pause, broken by a thump as someone – it was impossible to tell whom – got caught by a Trip jinx.
'We are searching for undesirable persons, wanted in connection with serious crimes. We have reason to believe these persons may have been present at this celebration. Our enforcers need to locate these undesirables and you will assist them in their enquiries. If you do not resist, you will not be harmed. Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.'
Silence followed this announcement. Everyone knew what 'undesirable' the enforcers were looking for. But where was he?
Another voice spoke up, from the other side of the tent. 'My name is Arthur Weasley. I work for the Ministry. We will of course co-operate with any Ministry officials and welcome the reassurance that we will not be harmed.' Mr Weasley appeared in the centre of the tent, near to the first speaker.
The leader of the intruders spoke again, as his men moved swiftly around the tent, casting spells. A sudden very bright light flooded the tent, causing all present to flinch and blink. 'It seems Weasley here has seen sense. Those who remain would do well to follow his example. An anti-Apparation charm has been placed over the area and I can assure you my men will search the area most carefully. I advise everyone present to come forwards now or risk being charged with evading questioning.'
Gradually, the remaining wedding guests disentangled themselves from the wreckage of the wedding feast and moved towards Mr Weasley. Mrs Weasley rounded up her children, all the time wringing her hands and casting quick looks over her shoulder. Bill helped Fleur to her feet and she ruefully looked down at her wedding dress before joining the group of stragglers. Hagrid loomed over them all. Everyone was jittery and anxious, afraid to speak, but all united by a single silent worry.
They gave their names to an enforcer with a black eye who glowered at each one of them and reacted to every name with a sceptically raised eyebrow. Meanwhile the rest of the Ministry men were conducting a very thorough search of the tent and the area around it. Whilst some upturned every chair and table, others used spells to reveal the presence of any hidden revellers.
Fleur watched as her wedding cake was thoroughly destroyed by one of the enforcers. As his muddy boot kicked through the beautifully sculptured icing, she couldn't stop herself crying out. 'Must 'e-' she began.
'Quiet, you!' barked the man taking names. 'Wha's your name?'
Controlling herself, she replied; 'Fleur De-no, Weasley. Fleur Weasley.'
'Changing your name eh!' he cried triumphantly.
'I've just got married!' she protested, anger surging up inside her.
'Hmmm…' He wrote down her name along with a question mark.
It was a long night. Once the Ministry men reluctantly conceded no one else was hiding in the tent, the guests were taken one at a time for questioning. Everyone stood, and later sat, in agonies of misery, each praying they were saying the right things. The sky was getting light when the last person returned from the interrogation. By this point a couple of people were dozing, unable to remain in a state of tension any longer, but everyone snapped back to alertness when the head Ministry official returned.
He glared round at them, his eyes bloodshot with tiredness and his tie lopsided. 'On this occasion we have not been able to locate the undesirable Harry Potter. However, you will all remain under surveillance, and if any person of interest to Ministry attempts to contact you, it is your duty to report it straight away. Failure to do so will result in imprisonment.' He glowered around the group one last time, as though hoping Harry might yet materialise in their midst, before turning on his heel and storming away.
The group sagged with relief, but Mr Weasley indicated that they shouldn't talk. Instead he started to thank to Lovegoods and Hagrid for attending, shaking their hands as though nothing had happened. Only a slight tremble in his voice betrayed his feelings. Fleur's father, who had remained with them, drew her to one side and a heated conversation ensued. Finally Fleur returned and in response to Bill's questioning glance she muttered, 'Papa wants us to return to France with 'im, but I have told him my place is 'ere, with you and your family.'
One by one the guests left, rubbing bleary eyes and brushing off their ruined finery. Hagrid was weeping and kept asking where Harry was in loud whispers, which everyone had to shush. Finally he departed, still sobbing, to check on his unicorns. At last only the Weasley family remained – the depleted Weasley family, since there was no sign of Ron, or Harry and Hermione. They returned to the Burrow in silence.
Once they reached the kitchen, Mrs Weasley asked, 'Can we talk? I feel like I'm going to explode!'
'Wait a minute!' said Fred, removing a device from one of his pockets and placing it carefully on the table.
'Really Fred, do you have to carry your toys everywhere with you?' tutted Molly automatically.
'Pocket Sneakoscope, mother, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes' own design – checks for bugs, listening Charms, untrustworthy types…' He examined the little gadget. 'All clear.'
'Did anybody see where they went?' asked Mr Weasley at once, still in a whisper, his eyes on the sneakoscope. 'Ha- Cousin Barney and his friends?'
No one seemed to know. 'They must have Disapparated, there's no way anyone could have stayed hidden, even if they'd used the Cloak the spells would have found them.'
'I saw them together just after the fighting started, at least I think it was them. I don't think Barney would have left without the others, so we can assume they're all together,' said Fred.
'They could be anywhere!' exclaimed Mrs Weasley, aghast. 'Arthur, we must go and look for them!'
Her husband shook his head. 'We can't do that, Molly. You heard what Dawlish said, and it didn't sound like an idle threat to me. We're going to be watched, day and night. They know that we're the closest thing Barney has to family here. We can't afford to take the chance of leading them to him.'
'But Ron!' Mrs Weasley broke off with a sob. 'They've only just come of age! They're children!'
'I know Molly, but it's too risky. We'll let things die down a bit and then we'll get the Order onto it, the people they won't suspect. Kingsley or Tonks will be able to track them down.'
'But if they can, then so can… You-Know-Who!' Mrs Weasley broke down in sobs and her husband drew her to him. The children shuffled their feet and couldn't look at each other.
Everyone went to bed in a very subdued mood. From the landing window, a small tent was visible in the cornfield outside the house. There was no doubt about it. The Minstry was watching them.
Neville Longbottom was kneeling in thick dust, surrounded by an entire mountain range of cardboard boxes. It was very stuffy in the attic, and he felt sweat trickling down his face. He blew out his cheeks before trying to clear a pathway between another box and a broken armchair.
'Have you found her yet, dear?' A thin reedy voice called up from the square of light through the open trapdoor.
'No, Auntie Enid,' Neville replied, wiping his brow and feeling gritty dust stick to his forehead.
'Have you tried looking near the corners, dear, where the roof slopes down? She might want to hide herself away there.'
'Nonsense, Mabel! She'll have found herself a nice little nest somewhere in the middle. Are there any boxes or things up there that she might have hidden in, boy?'
'Just a few, Uncle Algie,' Neville called back, suppressing a sigh.
His Great Auntie Enid's timorous voice quavered up again. 'Have you tried calling to her, Neville? Try calling, 'dinner'! She always comes when it's dinner. Oh, where is she, my little treasure? What if You-Know-Who has got her!'
Great Uncle Algie interrupted. 'Don't be so ridiculous woman, You-Know-Who's got bigger fish to fry than your blinking cat, that's for sure.'
'Why doesn't the boy just do a Revealing Charm and done with?' grumbled Great Uncle Eric.
'Not unless we want the whole house on fire!' retorted a sharper voice.
'Well, we all know the boy's hopeless at magic.'
Neville closed his eyes momentarily. His Great Auntie Ethel's whisper could carry better than a trumpet call.
He heard a commotion downstairs, with lots of 'oohs!' and exclamations, followed by Enid's voice, high pitched with happiness. 'Oh here she is, my little widdikins! Where have you been, you naughty naughty girl? Don't you know how Mummy worries about you?'
'Thank Merlin for that, now can we get back to the living room? I'm sure I saw a Pound cake before I was dragged away on a wild goose chase over a damned cat.'
The voices receded into the house. Neville could visualise them all, making their slow and argumentative way down the stairs. He'd grown up with them in the background of his life like a cantankerous Greek chorus. Peace descended.
Movement caught the corner of his eye, and his hand moved to his wand, a burst of adrenaline making him go cold despite the heat. He relaxed again when he saw it was coming from a photograph sticking out from one of the boxes. He picked it up and saw a girl, about his own age, in Hogwarts uniform. She had a round face with slightly curly hair and bright eyes, and she was pulling a mock shocked face, in between peals of laughter. 'Mum,' he said softly, feeling a thrill as he ran his thumb across the glossy surface.
He had pictures of his parents, of course. The house was a veritable shrine to his father, and his mother featured in a lot of the older pictures. But they were usually stiff, posed family portraits. He'd never seen Alice Longbottom so relaxed and happy, messing around.
Pocketing the picture, he turned his attention to the rest of the box. Wiping aside twenty years' of dust, he found a single Bertie Bott's bean, practically fossilised, a Zonko's bag containing half a pack of playing cards, a scrumpled piece of parchment with what looked like the first paragraph of an essay on, a dry ink bottle, a broken quill, and piles of books.
He recognised some of the titles, whilst others were less familiar. He guessed his Gran must have forgotten these existed, or maybe not even realised they were there at all, or he'd have been sent to school with them rather than new copies. He selected a hefty book at random and opened it. Several pieces of parchment fell out of the front, and he grabbed at them eagerly. The first sheets appeared to be a revision timetable, rather like the one Hermione had insisted on drawing up for him in the run up to OWLS. A grid had been ruled neatly onto the page, with days and times, and topics written on in a large, rounded handwriting similar to his own.
This was no ordinary set of exams though. The topics included 'Complex hexes', 'Disguise techniques', and 'Battle strategies.' He looked back at the front cover of the book. 'Defeating Darkness: The Definitive Guide to Duelling Outside of the Sports Hall' was printed in bold letters above a picture of two wizards apparently in the process of blowing each other up, if the amount of smoke and flame around them was anything to go by.
A small envelope had fallen from the book, and he opened it to find a card with a picture of a cross eyed owl on it. Inside he read, 'Dear Frank, Good luck in the finals, you'd better pass or I'll hex you into next week! Lots of Love, Alice.' Spellbound, he re-read the message several times, before carefully replacing it in the envelope. He flicked through the book, his attention caught almost immediately by a passage.
'Top Tip – Stamina. Most wizards who fail in combat do so through exhaustion. The ability to fire off large numbers of spells in quick succession is something which requires work. Without sufficient stamina, spells lose their effectiveness, leaving the wizard vulnerable if he cannot end a fight within the first few minutes.'
In the margin next to it the same rounded handwriting had scribbled, 'Stupefy, 5x , increase by 2/wk to ten then by 5/wk.'
'Neville? What on earth are you doing up there? Your cocoa's going cold!'
His Grandmother's voice made him jump and he reacted guiltily, shielding the book even though she was standing on the landing out of sight. 'Sorry Gran, I'm just… tidying up. I'm on my way.'
'Tidying up, ha! There's a first time for everything.' He listened as Augusta Longbottom's footsteps receded, before gathering up every book that related to fighting Dark magic, along with the photo and card, and climbing carefully down from the attic. He put them into his room, before hurriedly brushing the worst of the dust off his clothes and following the smell of crumpets back to the living room.
Algernon Longbottom arrived on his sister's doorstep one unseasonably foggy August morning, waving a copy of the Daily Prophet. 'Have you seen this, Augusta?' he demanded, without any preamble. 'Garbage! Utter garbage!'
'Come in Algie,' she replied, standing aside.
'How can they get away with writing this? Why do the people let them?' raged Algernon as they reached the kitchen, throwing the paper onto the table in disgust and narrowly missing Neville's toad, Trevor.
'There's no better weapon than fear and cowardice,' replied his sister, taking the crumpled paper and folding it up neatly. 'You know that, Algie, it was no better last time. People are afraid, and people want to deceive themselves. They want to hear it's all fine, to be reassured. No one wants to face up to the truth. So they make Muggle-borns into the enemy and we can all feel relieved that they're being vanquished.'
'But no one can be stupid enough to believe that rubbish!'
'You would be surprised what people are prepared to believe if it will make their life easier,' replied Augusta Longbottom quietly.
'Well, I think it's just…' Algie broke off, staring out of the kitchen window looking bemused. He rubbed at his spectacles and leaned forwards for a closer look. 'What is the boy doing?' he asked eventually.
Augusta followed his gaze to the garden, where her grandson was making his way around the vegetable patch in a series of jumps and crouches, pausing only to fire off spells into nowhere. The expression on her face was hard to read. 'He found his father's old textbooks, from when he was doing his Auror training. He hasn't stopped since, all day long.'
'I've never seen the boy get above a brisk walk before,' said Algie, as Neville ran across the garden and dropped into a clumsy roll, misfiring a spell as he did so.
'There go the marigolds,' Augusta commented ruefully, watching Neville dusting himself off. 'He's fought them twice now, you know. That last time was so close… it could have ended very differently. He knows what it is to fight for his life.' Her voice grew stronger and the colour rose in her cheeks. 'He may not have Frank's talent, but in many ways he is his father's son.'
'The boy looks like he's preparing for a war,' commented Algie, rather awed.
Augusta cast another anxious glance out of the window. 'He is, Algie. That's exactly what he's doing.'
The Burrow was quiet. Charlie had gone back to Romania, and the twins to their new flat. Ginny moped around, with nothing but her mood swings to distract her. She remembered the year Ron had gone to Hogwarts and how empty and echoing the house had seemed then. At least then she'd known where Ron was, and that every day brought her closer to her own long awaited start at the school. Despite the gnawing anxiety they all felt, Ginny found the day-to-day boredom almost as bad. Mrs Weasley was reluctant for Ginny to go anywhere and kept her under virtual house arrest. Even the gardens had to be approached with caution, thanks to the Ministry guard at the gate.
A few days after the wedding, her mother said, 'Well, I suppose we should move the ghoul down into Ron's room. If the Ministry come back it might look a bit suspicious that we'd left him in the attic.'
Ginny grudgingly agreed, and followed her up to Ron's room. No one had been in since the day of the wedding. As the door opened, a boy smell of old socks and rumpled bedding met them. The room looked just as it always had, except now it had an unlived-in, museum like feeling. Ron's bed was unmade, with a comb and a discarded pair of pants on it. On the walls, the previous year's Chudley Cannons line-up waved enthusiastically from their posters.
'Oh!' said Molly, softly, sitting on her son's bed and picking up the pants as though they were an item of great value.
Seeing the Chudley Cannons posters reminded Ginny so painfully of her brother that she too felt like sitting down, but she bit back the urge and looked around the rest of the room. The camp bed that Harry had been sleeping on was still in place, and a copy of Defensive Magical Theory was wedged into the bin. She looked around for Harry's rucksack, wondering if it would count as prying if she just had a quick look at his things…
'I told Ronald off for not tidying this place,' said her mother quietly. 'I shouldn't have nagged him so much… I thought they could all go back to school, even Harry. I suppose I was being a silly old woman… I never really believed it would come to this.'
But Ginny was only half listening. She was investigating the room now with keener eyes. She flung open the doors of Ron's wardrobe and searched under the camp bed. 'Ginny dear, what are you doing?' asked Molly, roused from her thoughts.
'Harry's rucksack, all his things – they're gone!' she exclaimed. 'And look, Ron's Muggle clothes are too!'
Mrs Weasley followed her daughter's furious trajectory around the room with confusion. 'What do you mean, gone?'
'I mean they aren't here!' Ginny snapped. 'Harry's clothes, his Invisibility Cloak, the watch you gave him for his birthday – it's all gone! And half of Ron's stuff too!'
'You mean they came back?' began Molly uncertainly.
Ginny shook her head angrily. 'They can't have – there's no way to get in except on foot, and one of us would have seen them – not to mention the Ministry goon camped out in the cornfield! No, they must have had it with them already – they must have taken it to the wedding!'
'But Ginny, how could they have? We'd have seen if any of them had been carrying a big bag, and Ron and Harry looked so smart!' She gave over to a misty eyed smile.
'There are charms to hide things – Hermione would have found a way. They knew they were leaving! I reckon they were planning to sneak away at the end of the wedding – Harry's been restless since he got here, he's only stayed because of being underage and then Hermione and Ron thinking he should go to the wedding.' Ginny was pacing the room and stubbed her toe on the camp bed. Enraged she kicked it, causing it to collapse at one end.
'Ginny!' cried her mother.
'They knew they were leaving – they were just going to sneak off without saying goodbye!' Tears pricked at her eyes, as inside her a yawning chasm of loss opened. 'It's not fair, Mum,' she finished, hearing the whine in her voice but unable to stop herself. 'I know Harry is trying to be heroic and protect me and everything, but he could have said goodbye!'
'Oh Ginny, there there.' Her mother tried to hug her, but Ginny was too angry and upset to allow herself to be comforted. 'Why don't I make you a cup of tea?' suggested Molly, and Ginny nodded, glad of the chance to have a few moments alone.
When Molly had left the room she vented her rage by kicking the unfortunate camp bed a few more times, then flopped onto Ron's bed. She rubbed at her face angrily. As she surveyed the room again, a glint of gold caught her eye. She bent to pick it up; a golden Galleon. She doubted Ron even had a spare Galleon, and if he had done, she couldn't imagine him leaving it behind. Baffled, she examined it more closely. Then she realised; it was a fake, one of the Protean charmed communication coins that they'd used during their fifth year.
She ran her fingers over it – it must be Harry's, the original master coin that he altered to let everyone know the date and time of the next meeting. She remembered Harry, addressing them all in the Hog's Head at the first ever DA meeting. She thought of the time she'd spent with him during their short, ill-fated romance. As fast as it had come, all her anger was gone, and she was full of sadness and grief. 'Oh Harry,' she whispered. She heard her mother's footsteps, returning with her tea. Ginny squeezed the coin tightly in her hand, then slipped it into her pocket.
A few days later Ginny and Luna sat together in the garden of the Burrow. Luna was making a daisy chain, something Ginny hadn't done for many years. But now she distractedly found herself helping, though her eyes were mostly fixed on the small tent that had been pitched just outside the house. A beefy wizard in robes open at the neck was sitting outside on a deckchair, reading the Prophet.
'Pig,' muttered Ginny, which was one of the nicer names she'd used to describe the men who had staked out her home. 'He's not even watching. Serve him right if we…'
'I expect there's lots of magic in place to watch the house,' put in Luna calmly, not looking up from her work. Unlike Mrs Weasley, Luna's father seemed remarkably relaxed about Luna going off on her own, and she'd been a regular visitor at the Burrow since the wedding disaster.
'In that case, why do they have to sit out there, staring at us?' asked Ginny angrily, accidentally severing a stem entirely. She threw the flower away.
'It's probably meant to intimidate you,' said Luna cheerfully. 'It's to remind you that they're there and not to try anything.'
'There's not a lot we can try,' said Ginny flatly. 'Harry's gone. He's not going to be coming back here. He's off somewhere with Ron and Hermione and he didn't even think we were important enough to say goodbye to.'
Luna said nothing, but continued to thread one daisy at a time onto the chain, taking care not to bruise the petals. She was so focussed on her work it was hard to tell if she was listening or not, although Ginny had been caught out by that before. She found Luna had a disconcerting ability to remember word for word things Ginny had said from weeks earlier, even if at the time she'd appeared to be lost in a daydream.
After some time had passed, Ginny spoke again. 'I just don't know how we can go back to school and study like good little girls, as though nothing was happening! How are we meant to do exams and take things like homework seriously when Harry is out there somewhere…' she didn't finish her sentence.
'We have to keep being normal, Ginny. Someone has to keep 'normal' going or once the war is won there won't be any 'normal' left.' She extended her arms, holding one end of the chain in each arm – it was an impressive length. 'There we go,' she said with some satisfaction, and got up and walked over to the fence close to where the Ministry wizard was still reading the paper. She draped it over the fencepost, giving him one of her dippiest smiles when he looked at her suspiciously, before wandering back over to Ginny.
Ginny watched her friend, and found herself thinking back to the previous summer. If someone had told her then that she'd be entering her sixth year at Hogwarts as the sole guardian of 'normal' along with Luna Lovegood… She still couldn't quite come to terms with how quickly everything in her life had changed – for the briefest time she'd had it all, and that just made it hurt worse now than if she'd never had it in the first place. Maybe it would have been better if she'd never met Harry in the first place.
'Luna, d'you think it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?' she asked.
Luna stopped poking around in a bush in search of gnomes, and turned round to consider Ginny seriously. 'To have loved and lost, definitely. It would be very sad to never have loved. In fact, you'd probably end up like You-Know-Who.'
'Don't you ever feel angry, Luna? Don't you ever feel like you just want to scream at the world? At how unfair everything is? At the way nothing works out the way it ought to?'
Luna shrugged. 'I feel angry sometimes, of course I do. But screaming doesn't change anything. You have to take action.'
From the direction of the tent came a yelp of alarm followed by a wail of; 'What's this 'orrible creature? Gerrof, gerrof me!'
Luna smiled a mysterious smile but Ginny caught a not-very-mystical glint in her eye. Ginny opened her mouth to ask a question, but Luna linked arms with her and pulled her away towards the house. 'Come on Ginny, it's going to rain soon. Let's go inside and play cards.' She glanced up at the ominous sky. 'Let's hope Mr Ministry Man's tent is properly waterproof.'
This is my first fanfic after a long break. It is a complete story so you can read with confidence. My earlier fanfics were written under a different pen name and I have had to delete them, however I hope to reinstate my favourite, Fraternisation, at some point in the future.
This story is compliant as far as I can make it with the canon of books written by JK Rowling, any discrepancies are unintentional. I do not consider the films, interview comments, or website content to be canon and therefore my work may at times deviate from these. I have no interest in 'ships' and whilst I may refer to canon ships where necessary, romance is not an important element in my work.
I am aware that Ginny Weasley is a character that divides the fandom. Personally I feel ambivalent towards her. I hope that readers from both camps will be able to read and enjoy the story along with her part in it. Regardless of how anyone feels about her, it is impossible to write the story of the Hogwarts resistance without her and I hope this fanfic fleshes out her role in events in a way that the canon of books did not.