|SIYE Time:8:11 on 20th July 2018|
Category: Post-Hogwarts, Post-DH/PM
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Violence
Story is Complete
Summary: The last thing Harry Potter wants is to be lumped with a trainee Auror, especially not one that idolises him. As he guides her through the realities of being an overworked Auror and tentatively settles into adult life with Ginny, a dark plot brews on the horizon...
Hitcount: Story Total: 45323; Chapter Total: 2407
Awards: View Trophy Room
Even in the daylight, Azkaban was bleak. The sky was grey, and though the sea wasn’t choppy today, the wind skimmed droplets of icy water off the surface, hitting at Harry’s face with a kind of sharpness.
He stepped off the boat and gave a mumbled greeting to the guards at the entrance, holding open his bag to be searched with practiced laziness. ‘Has it been quiet?’ he asked.
The guard shook his head. ‘They’ve all been worked up since the lockdown. Who you heading to?’
‘I need to speak to Alecto Carrow.’
The guard clucked his tongue. ‘Hope you take her down a few pegs, she’s been strutting round like she owns the place. Want any help?’
‘Probably best, just to get her into an interview room,’ said Harry. With that, the guard waved over two others, who looked sheepishly up at Harry and followed him through to the cells. Evidently his angry lecture at the Ministry had motivated them, or scared them, into taking things a little more seriously.
The usual shouts, whistles and jeers erupted from the moment Harry came within sight of the cells. Hands stretched out, grasping, tin cups were banged violently against walls and bars, the calamity was monumental, but Harry was rather bored of it all.
He gave a wink to one of the Death Eaters screaming at him, enjoying the way his face went red with outrage, and climbed the rusted metal stairs to Carrow’s cell. She was waiting for him, leaning casually against the bars and staring out with a smug expression. When she saw him stop, her face pulled into an unpleasant grin.
‘Missed me, have yeh, Potter?’
Harry gave a wry smile. ‘Stand back, please, Carrow, so we can get in.’
She licked her lips and swaggered back, swinging her stubby arms and lolling her head, trying very hard to give an impression of boredom. But Harry could see the glint of excitement in her eye.
Harry stepped into the cell, the guards just behind him, and glanced over at Carrow’s sullen cell mate. ‘Afternoon, Dolores,’ he said cheerfully.
She was laid out on her bed, glaring at him bitterly. Unlike the others, something about her pride never allowed her to try to taunt him, and so she would always pout, like a child having a temper tantrum, whenever she saw him.
Alecto Carrow, on the other hand, seemed thrilled at the attention. She was practically gleeful as Harry bound her hands behind her back, and led her out by the elbow.
‘I ‘aven’t done nothin’,’ she said, almost giggling.
‘We’re just going to have a chat,’ he told her calmly.
She seemed proud as he led her through the atrium. The other prisoners were humming a low “ooh” with amused delight, as though she were a naughty schoolchild being escorted out by a teacher, and she cackled up at them, tripping over herself and deliberately walking as slowly as possible.
‘I’ve got meself a new boyfriend!’ she yelled up at a mad looking woman, before joining her in delirious laughter. ‘Told yeh I’d get one! Reckon he’s got a big cock?’
‘At least take me out to dinner first,’ said Harry, dryly. ‘Becks, open up the interview room for me, please.’
The guard hurried forward, and it was with relief that they entered the bright, silent room. Away from the darkness, Harry could see the extent of Carrow’s downfall. Though she had never been pleasant to look at, prison had not done her any favours. Her pock-marked face was oily looking, greasy strands of hair clinging to her forehead, and she licked her chapped lips again as the guard unbound her wrists.
Harry sat opposite her, drumming his fingers on the table, and she tried to mimic his relaxed body language. But, as always, she overcompensated, and her arrogance and delight at the attention meant that she could barely sit still.
‘How’s it going, Alecto?’ Harry asked lightly. ‘What’s life like in Azkaban?’
‘Lovely,’ she said, grinning nastily. ‘Dolores is making us some curtains for the cell. We’re getting right settled into the community.’
‘Why bother?’ asked Harry. ‘Aren’t you under the impression you’ll be out before long?’
She giggled, clapping her hand over her mouth as though he’d said something shocking, or she was trying to hold back the secrets that threatened to tumble from her mouth. Harry simply stared at her.
‘I’m in here for life, aren’t I?’ she mocked. ‘Yeh found all our plans. But… If I were to get out…’ She giggled again, leaning forward and lowering her voice. ‘If I did get out some day, I’d love a good catch up with yeh girlfriend. ‘How’s she doing? I do miss the way she used to squeal.’
A cold prickle of hatred rose up through Harry, but he willed himself to keep his expression as calm and relaxed as possible. ‘Yes, we found all your plans, Alecto. But we’d still like to know more.’
She snorted. ‘Don’t know no more. All I knows is we got yeh all on edge. Worried, are yeh? When I get out, I’ll find her, yeh know. She was always good fun, put up a fight. Have I told yeh about when we dragged her outta bed? We made her squeal in front of all her friends, and then she talked about how she didn’t love yeh.’
Harry wanted to hurt her. So he smiled slightly. ‘Did you hear that Pansy Parkinson is dead?’
‘What?’ Carrow’s smile slid off her face.
‘Mhmm. Murdered in her bed. She was something of your protégée, wasn’t she? One of your favourites, I’m told.’ He relished in how pale she had grown, the disbelieving horror that haunted her piggy little eyes, the way her lower lip trembled. He leaned forward, unable to resist dropping his voice to a low, taunting whisper. ‘She visited you almost every week, didn’t she?’
He had stunned Carrow into silence. Her shoulders slumped, and she looked away from him, staring vacantly into space. ‘Who-?’ she croaked at last.
‘Well, that’s what we’re trying to find out,’ said Harry cheerfully. ‘Now, I called you in here today, Alecto, because I think you might be able to help me. Do you want to help me find out who killed Pansy Parkinson?’
He had patronized her, and so she scowled in response. ‘Sod off, yeh filthy blood traitor scum,’ she spat. ‘I ain’t helping you, not ever.’
‘I thought you might say something like that,’ said Harry. ‘But, you know, I think you should be aware that someone’s after your friends. It’s not just Pansy that’s been killed. Livia Rookwood too. Augustus Rookwood and Cormac McLaggen are still missing, and I’m afraid I don’t have high hopes for them.’
‘Cormac?’ she spluttered.
‘Know him too, do you?’ She said nothing, and he sighed, leaning back in his chair. ‘It just seems odd, to me, that people involved in your plan to breakout keep vanishing, or turning up dead. Don’t you want to stop that?’
‘Well I don’t know who it is, do I?’ she said accusingly.
‘No, but you can help fill in some gaps in my knowledge. Tell me about this plan. Who’s organizing it? Who’s involved? Who do we need to keep an eye on so that they don’t get murdered?’
‘I’m not telling you shit,’ she said viciously.
‘Fine,’ Harry said, shrugging. ‘More people will die then, and Pansy’s killer will go free.’
She winced. ‘How do I know yeh not making it up?’
Harry rolled his eyes and muttered a swear word under his breath. ‘Someone else accused me of doing that, and now he’s vanished off the face of the earth. I can show you some pictures if you really want, but they’re quite gruesome.’
She considered him with narrowed eyes, chewing on her dirty fingernails. ‘You’ll really find out who did her in?’
‘Yes,’ said Harry.
‘An’ they’ll be sent here?’ Her eyes gleamed with vengeance.
She chewed on her fingernails a little more, and Harry waited for her conflicted desires to work the way he wanted…
‘All right,’ she said, finally. Her eyes slid to the two guards at the door. ‘People can’t know I’ve helped yeh though.’
‘Of course,’ said Harry. ‘We can pin this chat to the contraband that’s being smuggled in and out.’
‘Not anymore,’ she said sourly. ‘That was Pansy.’
‘Can I assume she was the messenger between the prison and those of you on the outside?’
Carrow nodded, and Harry was surprised to see her eyes were rather watery. ‘She were a good girl, Pansy. Brought in whatever we needed.’
‘Did you make friends with her when you were teaching?’ Harry asked. He tried to keep his voice calm, neutral and professional, but even he could hear the distaste in his tone. Carrow grinned.
‘I were a good teacher, yeh know. The good students loved me. I inspired them.’
‘I’m sure you did,’ said Harry coldly.
‘But Pansy, well, she was my little star. Hardworking, bright, I made her Head Girl. She’d come and have chats with me about her school work, and then later we’d chat about boys.’
Harry felt rather sick. He couldn’t imagine the cruel and vicious Carrow giggling over teenage boys, but then again, she seemed to delight in her highly misguided idea that men were interested in her. ‘Who did you talk about?’ he asked, trying to imagine she was someone else.
‘She’d always liked Malfoy, but he was going a bit funny by then. Didn’t have it in him, I reckon. She was getting cosy with this other lad from the Ministry, but he’d been in Gryffindor, so she wasn’t sure.’
‘Yeah. Anyways, she wanted special permission to contact him regularly, so I let her.’
‘Which helped you, too,’ Harry noted. ‘She had a whole network of little spies, you were quite happy for her to branch out and help the regime.’
‘Friends,’ corrected Carrow. ‘She had a lot of friends.’
‘Whatever you want to call them,’ said Harry, waving a hand. ‘Were you aware that McLaggen was leading on a sixth year Gryffindor? Using her as a spy by faking a relationship?’
Carrow snorted. ‘Knew? It was Pansy’s idea. She was the one writing the soppy little love notes. Stupid little bimbo fell for it hook, line and sinker. Gave us all sorts of juicy information about yeh little girlfriend… Helped us lock her up in the dungeons… Teach her a lesson…’ The nasty grin had returned. ‘Yeah, she was smart, was our Pansy.’
Harry pushed his hatred aside. ‘She defended you at your trial. But not your brother. Why?’
Carrow’s unpleasant grin slid away, and her expression darkened. ‘Don’t see how that’s relevant.’
Harry raised his eyebrows. ‘Sore spot?’
Carrow seemed to struggle for a few moments, before eventually saying, ‘Pansy and Amycus didn’t really get on. It
Harry wanted to push it, but he could see Carrow glancing towards the door, ready to stop talking to him. ‘Tell me about this plan then,’ he said quickly. ‘Pansy was smuggling in the potions and the razors?’
‘In her bra,’ said Carrow reluctantly. ‘Messages too.’
She scowled at him. ‘I’m not snitching on no one. Yeh said this was about who killed Pansy.’
‘It is,’ Harry insisted. ‘Clearly something funny’s going on, maybe one of your friends involved in this plan has decided to start killing the rest of you off. If you don’t want it to happen to more of your friends, I need to know who to keep an eye on.’ She stared resolutely away from him, her face twisted into a furious pout.
‘You don’t have to tell me everyone involved then,’ said Harry. ‘Although the more people you name, the more likely I can keep them safe. But is there anyone you think could be doing this? Passing information, or attacking you all from the inside? Any newcomers or anyone that seems disillusioned?’
She gave a bitter laugh. ‘What would I know? I’ve been holed up in here, haven’t I?’ She scrunched up her nose. ‘They have had a new lad. Some bloke from the continent somewhere. Not a Hogwarts boy, Durmstrang.’
‘Is his name Dubrow?’ asked Harry.
She frowned at him. ‘Yeah. How d’you know that?’
He didn’t answer, simply leaned back and scratched the stubble on his jaw. ‘What does he do, then? What’s his role?’
She shrugged. ‘Not much, ‘cus he’s new. I never met him or nothing. But I dunno… Foreigners, I just don’t trust ‘em.’
He gave a long, low sigh. Pieces were beginning to form into a hazy picture, but still too slowly. He rose, and nodded at the guards who moved forward. ‘You can go back now,’ he said to Carrow as they bound her hands. ‘Thank you for your help.’
‘Did she suffer?’ she blurted out, and he turned back to face her from the doorway. Her face showed genuine grief, and Harry supposed she had seen Pansy as a mixture of a little sister and a daughter. No doubt she would return to her cell, grief-stricken and helpless, staring up at the ceiling wondering how Pansy had spent her last moments, imagining her screams.
He thought of Ginny. ‘Yes,’ he said coldly. ‘Horribly.’
‘You’ve got no food in, Dad…’
His kitchen was as grotty as ever. She could barely recognize what was in the old saucepan left on the stove, and the potatoes in the cupboard were growing long white sprouts.
‘Well I wasn’t expecting you, was I?’ he said. ‘I have tidied up a bit if I’d known.’
She sighed, still irritated. Her mother had been furious when she’d gone back home in the early afternoon, and had apparently spent all night lying awake, worrying and wondering where Theia was. That she’d spent the night at Colin’s did not seem to cheer her up.
‘He slept on the sofa!’ Theia had lied frantically. ‘He was a perfect gentleman!’
But Betty Higglesworth was not a stupid woman, and, after significant shouting, Theia thought it was best to escape to her Dad’s while Betty cooled off.
‘We’ll have to go to the pub, then,’ her dad said happily, scratching his protruding stomach.
‘I’ve got work tomorrow…’ Theia began uneasily, but he was already pulling on his cloak.
‘Just a swift one with dinner can’t hurt! Come on, you can pay, that Auror salary’s got to go somewhere, eh?’ He winked at her and waited patiently by the door.
‘All right,’ she muttered. ‘The Leaky Cauldron does good burgers.’
He snorted. ‘That poncey place? Nah, we’ll go somewhere proper. Might not be pretty, but it’s filled with good, down-to-earth people.’
It was because of that proclamation that Theia found herself not heading towards the Leaky Cauldron, but leaving Diagon Alley and following her father down the dark, cobbled street of Knockturn Alley. The pub he stopped in front of, the White Wyvern, might have been a beautiful building at one point, but the gang of pipe-smokers in front of it, the grubby windows, and the ominous dark stain on the front step signified it as the sort of pub to avoid.
‘Evening, Dung,’ her dad said cheerfully as he entered.
The red-eyed wizard under a cloud of foul green spoke mumbled a vague, ‘All right, Ezra?’ in return.
Theia followed her father in with trepidation, trying to look past the sticky floors and the smell of ale to return her father’s grin with enthusiasm. He sat her at a wobbly little table in the corner, looking delighted to be out with his daughter. ‘What d’you want?’ he asked her. ‘I’ll start a tab.’
‘Er…’ She glanced around, but the chalk boards seemed to only advertise drinks. ‘Dad, I don’t think they do food…’
‘They do toasties,’ he said. ‘I’ll get you a ham and cheese toastie. What d’you want to drink? Cider?’
She nodded, thinking glumly of the burgers she’d had in the Leaky Cauldron, and he left to join the murmuring crowd queuing at the bar.
She turned to look out at the darkening street through the grubby window. She couldn’t quite see Shyverwretch’s shop from here, but she could see the rough stone wall that she had crept along, hidden and silent, to place the bugging charms. She wondered if they had recorded any new information, and felt a glimmer of excitement as she imagined herself checking the data first thing tomorrow morning.
A clink and a thud brought her out of her reverie. Her dad had placed a greasy looking toastie and a bottle of Daisyroot Draught in front of her, and he smiled broadly. ‘This is lovely, isn’t it?’ he said. ‘My little girl, a working woman, coming out for dinner with her old dad.’
She smiled back at him. ‘How’s the charm coming along? Any breakthroughs?’
‘Not yet, but I’m so close, Theia. So close. Won’t be long before you and me will be famous. Rolling in it. Household names, the Hopkirks.’ He took a large bite from his toastie.
‘I was telling Harry about your work,’ she told him, choosing not to correct him on her legal name. ‘He likes Quidditch and brooms and things, he’s dating someone in the Harpies.’
He shook his head wondrously. ‘Imagine that. Never thought the likes of us would be mingling with celebrities.’ His eyes widened. ‘I could design a broom for him! That’d be something, wouldn’t it, Theia?’
‘You only do the safety charms, Dad.’
‘Well sure, but you’ve got to have ambition in this world, Theia! That’s what I’ve always taught you, and that’s why you are where you are today, working with Harry Potter himself!’
‘Shh!’ said Theia desperately. Her father’s loud announcement had attracted some filthy looks, and she winced as she remembered how unpopular Harry was in this area. But her father continued, apparently unaware or unconcerned.
‘Who’s he dating then? Don’t know a lot about the Harpies, all that Quidditch business seems a waste of time to be honest, but some of the blokes in the twig department love ‘em…’
‘Ginny Weasley… She’s got ginger hair, and she plays chaser.’
He took a gulp of his cider as he thought, before the realization dawned on him. ‘That one! There’s a big poster of her above Gary’s desk. Great tits, that one.’
‘Right, sorry. Work going well then, yeah?’
She nodded. ‘Yeah… I can’t really talk about it here though…’
He tapped the side of his nose knowingly. ‘Got it. So you’re not going to give it up?’
‘No, that was just a wobble. I’m getting better. Mum talked some sense into me, and I’ve been making progress in the office, doing lots of research, you know.’
‘That’s my girl, you always were so clever. Take after your dad,’ he said, winking again. ‘Another drink?’
‘Oh,’ she said, faintly surprised. She’d barely touched hers. ‘No thanks, I’m fine.’
He went back up to the bar to get himself another drink, leaving her to eat her toastie alone. A low voice whispered over her shoulder.
‘Work with Potter, do you?’
The hairs on the back of her neck rose. She turned, even though her woman’s intuition was screaming at her that the person speaking was dangerous, and she was vulnerable.
The man was hooded, but the low candlelight revealed a square shaped face, with a heavy protruding brow. The shadows cast by the hood hid his eyes, but she worked quickly to memorise the wonky nose and heavy stubble.
‘Who are you?’ she asked him, but he ignored her.
‘What is he like? The great Harry Potter?’ His voice was deep, and there was a strong accent, something harsh and throaty. He said his words slowly, carefully.
‘He’s fine,’ she said neutrally. Her eyes flicked to her father at the bar, but he was engrossed in conversation with the squat little wizard they’d seen outside.
‘I have heard that he likes to work alone,’ said the man. ‘His fear is the death of others. Why would he work with you, little girl?’
She felt cold, and her legs tingled with the urge to run. She said nothing.
‘Would he miss you?’ asked the man. ‘Does he fear your death? Or has he overcome his greatest weakness?’
Her hand tightened around the handle of her wand in her pocket, and she stared into the dark shadows where his eyes would be. ‘Who are you?’ she asked again, more bravely than she felt.
She saw his lips form a sinister smile. ‘He’s well known for that weakness. I often wonder how he protects himself against it.’
A thunk startled Theia, and she whipped back round to see her dad, grinning goofily, sitting back in his seat with another pint. ‘Flirting?’ he asked teasingly.
Theia turned back to the man, but he had stood, and was now making his way slowly to the door, his huge frame cutting easily through the crowd.
‘Who was that?’ she asked her dad, her heart still pounding.
‘Haven’t the foggiest. You get all sorts in here,’ he said happily. ‘Real mix. They don’t judge in here. Not like them snobs in the Leaky Cauldron.’
The pub called last orders several hours later at eleven O’clock, and it was a good job Ezra lived so close, because Theia was having to half support him.
‘I’m gonna invent a spell, ‘Seia,’ he slurred. ‘Jus’ you wait and see. A really good one.’
‘I know, Dad,’ she said patiently.
‘We’ll be rich.’
‘Yes. This way, come on, quickly.’
She felt uneasy. She was sure that man had been threatening her, and Knockturn Alley always gave one the sensation of being watched. She felt as though the dark windows of the buildings were following her like eyes, observing their erratic trail over the cobbles.
Her dad had begun to sing Odo the Hero loudly, occasionally pausing to make gasping, groaning noises and leaning over as though he were going to retch. Theia glanced over her shoulder, feeling sick with paranoia. She had never really considered the danger being associated with Harry Potter would put her in, and now more than ever she regretted her picture and interview in The Prophet.
A haunting yowl met Ezra’s slurred singing, and, at the entrance to a dark alleyway, Theia saw that skinny ginger cat, flicking its tail and staring at her intensely. She stared back at it.
‘Come on ‘Seia!’ yelled her Dad, stumbling ahead. ‘I’m freezing my bollocks off!’
The cat continued to yowl at her, standing firm in the alleyway. Somehow Theia knew what it wanted, what it had wanted when she had seen it last, but she had been too distracted to see.
‘This way, Dad,’ she called, and she heard him swear and turn around, stumbling back towards her. ‘We just need to make a detour.’
She raised her wand and shone light down the alleyway. The cat turned, and prowled ahead, leading them behind the shops of Knockturn Alley. She could hear rushing water from the drains below.
‘Why are we going down here?’ asked her dad, confused. ‘I don’t need a wee.’
‘Won’t take long,’ she told him, walking cautiously after the cat. The feeling of paranoia returned again, and a voice in the back of her head warned her that she was walking into a trap, but still she followed the cat, almost entranced, sure that this was important…
The cat lead her to her discovery, and she froze as her father screamed.
Ginny was gasping underneath him, her hands on his back, his lips murmuring her name against her neck-
Tap tap. Tap tap.
One of her hands slid up his back and sank into his hair, and he loved her, so much, he felt blinded by her, overwhelmed-
Tap tap tap. Tap tap.
He kissed her, deeply, but at the tapping slyly opened his eyes and looked over to the window. Without his glasses, it was a blur, but he still recognized the fluttering, brown little blob. He closed his eyes to it, returning to Ginny, the feel of her, the softness of her skin, the way she arched her back to press against him-
Tap tap. Tap tap tap tap tap-
He heard Ginny growl in frustration and, with the strength of a chaser, she pushed him over, rolling easily to follow him, sitting up and looking down at him with that blazing look-
He couldn’t help it, especially now it was so easily in his line of sight, but Ginny’s eyes flashed with fury. ‘Ignore it, Harry, I’m telling you, ignore it-’
‘I’m sorry,’ he mumbled, gently pushing her off and sighing heavily.
‘Don’t you dare, Harry, don’t you dare-’
‘I’ll be one minute,’ he said apologetically.
‘Are you serious?’ she exclaimed. She watched him rise, pull on his discarded jeans, and she threw herself back onto the bed, seething. ‘That owl better be fucking important, Harry,’ she said through gritted teeth.
He strongly agreed with her, and muttered some very choice swear words under his breath as he pushed on his glasses and opened the window.
‘Well?’ demanded Ginny, as he read the note. He swore at the parchment, and crumpled it in his hand before reaching down to do up his belt.
‘I’ve got to go, I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘I’m just as pissed off as you, Ginny!’ he insisted at the sight of her thunderous expression.
‘What is it? Why do you have to go?’
‘They’ve found Rookwood’s body-’
‘Well if he’s dead you don’t have to run off and save anyone, do you?’ she snapped. ‘He’ll still be dead in the morning.’
He shook his head. ‘Ginny, I’m really sorry, you know I don’t want to-’
‘You are so lucky I left my wand downstairs,’ she hissed at him. ‘I can’t believe this, why can’t someone else deal with it until morning?’
‘Ginny, it’s my case, I need to see the body where it was discovered before it’s taken to the morgue-’
She got up too now, swinging her legs off the bed and seizing her dressing gown with a livid expression. ‘How long is this going to go on for, Harry?’
‘I’m trying to solve it as fast as I can, these things take time-’
‘Not the case, this!’ she waved a hand madly around her head. ‘This obsessive, compulsive need to work, you can’t let it go, and I come second, always-’
‘You don’t,’ he said sharply. ‘I put people away that want to harm you, there are people in Azkaban that delight in telling me what they’d do to you, I work this hard because I don’t want anyone-’
‘Anyone else to get hurt,’ Ginny mimicked. ‘Yes, I’ve heard it all before, Harry, but when Theia’s owl comes tapping-’
‘What’s Theia got to do with it?’ Harry spluttered.
‘Oh, come on, all those hours alone together, and no chemistry?’
He gaped at her. ‘What the hell are you talking about? She drives me up the wall, she’s a star-struck, silly inconvenience-’
‘So was I!’ Ginny shouted. ‘I was like that once! I was like that and then I calmed down and we got to know each other.’
Harry shook his head. ‘You’re being ridiculous, you were eleven years old then and- No, you know what, I don’t have time for this.’
He grabbed a shirt and pulled it on angrily, as Ginny crossed her arms and glared at him. ‘So that’s it, is it? I’m being ridiculous and it’s the end of the conversation? Fine, you run off and have a nice long conversation with Theia about a dead body, clearly it’s urgent.’
‘Bloody hell, it’s like I’m dating Ron,’ Harry said impatiently.
‘WHAT?’ Ginny exploded. ‘Like Ron? No, I am not a jealous person-’
‘Yes, you can be,’ said Harry firmly. ‘Romilda, Cho, even Gabrielle, you can be jealous. I’ve never cared, Ginny, I really don’t, but don’t make out there’s something funny going on, don’t insult me like that.’
‘Don’t insult me by prioritizing a dead Death Eater over our relationship,’ she spat.
He froze, and they stared at each other. ‘That’s not what I’m doing,’ he said quietly.
She shook her head disbelievingly, dropping slowly to sit on the bed, looking utterly defeated.
‘Ginny, that’s not what I’m doing,’ he repeated urgently, kneeling by her side. ‘Please, Ginny…’ He looked to the open window. Theia’s owl had flown off. ‘I’ll stay here,’ he said. ‘I’ll pretend I didn’t see it.’
‘No,’ she said dully. ‘Go do your job. The quicker you get this case over and done with the better. But we do need to talk about this.’
‘We will,’ he promised her. ‘I’ll take some time off as soon as I can.’
She closed her eyes and pressed her forehead against his. ‘It’s not the war anymore, Harry,’ she said sadly, her voice breaking. ‘You can’t keep abandoning me.’
‘I won’t,’ he promised her, kissing her forehead. ‘Ginny, I’m sorry. I am. I’m sorry.’
‘Get back as quick as you can,’ she said, wiping at her eyes. ‘We’ll talk about it later.’
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