|SIYE Time:11:55 on 24th May 2018|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: When the Weasley wedding is attacked, Harry grabs the first hand that comes to mind - Ginny's. They find Voldemort has hidden his Horcruxes in plain sight out of some of Muggle history's most important artifacts. Now the pair go across the continent, risking capture by both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, to end the war.
Hitcount: Story Total: 29758; Chapter Total: 633
Awards: View Trophy Room
The second red jet of light gave Ginny just enough time to use herself to cover Harry’s prone form and protect them with a shield charm. The curse fizzled out against the invisible barrier.
“We've... got to... find cover,” Harry groaned. “One of those columns.” He indicated by shooting his eyes to the side, his hands still clutching his scar. He pushed himself up to a crawling position. With a nod, he and Ginny found enough momentum to propel themselves behind a shiny marble column, about four feet in diameter.
Harry was still trying to regain his focus and block out the pain from the immense Horcrux, so Ginny was free to figure out what was going on.
“Perceval, what are you doing?” she called down the chapel, the sound echoing off the stone walls.
“Imagine my luck when the enemies of my master fell right into my lap. They even sought me out!”
“Voldemort is just using you, Perceval,” she replied. “He uses everyone to achieve his goals. You won't be rewarded. You’ll probably be killed.” She then fired her own stunner at the priest, trying to keep him off-balance.
“As if I could be one of those so-called Death Eaters,” Father Perceval responded, derision dripping from his voice. “Sycophants of the self-styled ‘Dark Lord’. There is only one true dark wizard. I served him for decades, faithfully. And you took him from me!” To further underline his point, Perceval sent a screaming jolt of green at Harry and Ginny’s column. It landed short and burrowed into the floor, spraying the pair with flecks of polished marble. Even in his weakened state, alarm crossed Harry’s face at the sight of a Killing Curse. It was the first time Ginny had seen one and briefly remembered Harry’s description of it during a meeting of Dumbledore’s Army. He was right; the green light is off-putting enough, but it’s the sound that truly shoves the fear down your throat. It’s higher-pitched than other curses, just to make sure it’s noticed. She swallowed.
“You mean Grindelwald?” she asked. The answer was a poorly-aimed Blasting Hex.
Ginny looked down to find Harry had rolled on his side and was surveying the battlefield from the other side of the column.
“He needs a better angle. He’ll probably head for that fountain,” he guessed, pointing to
a bubbling fountain with a statue of a baby angel rising out of the pool. “I need to get there first!” He gnashed his teeth and snarled in an effort to get to his feet. The pressure in his head was still too great. Ginny clasped around his upper arm.
“You can barely stand. I'll go.” Harry was allowed one syllable of protest before a fierce lock brought his thoughts to a conclusion.
“Besides, I’m faster than you,” she told him with a wink.
“You’re going to need some cover. I'll shoot some curses to put him on the defensive.”
“No need. l’ve got another distraction in mind that won't reveal your position.”
“What is it?” But Harry asked too late. Ginny was already turned toward the target.
“Would you like to hear how Gellert Grindelwald died, Father? How he begged me to take his life?”
“No! That is not possible. He fought. You were the weak ones, ambushing him–”
He cut off his diatribe when he saw Ginny had already sprinted across the chapel to the fountain. Now the Father was cornered.
“It’s true," she resumed her speech. “But in the end, he took his own life. He had lost hope for a better future. You and the rest of your disgusting group let him down.”
Ginny turned to check on Harry. He had finally gained a crouched position, although he was still grimacing.
But that one look to him was all the priest needed to Apparate from his column to stand directly behind Ginny. All of the blood ran out of her face. Perceval used his wand to pry hers out of her hand. He turned the pair toward Harry.
“I know it will be hard, Potter, but now is not the time to be a hero. Drop your wand and kick it over here. I may let her live and decide to claim Voldemort's reward on your head instead.”
Ginny saw that Harry was not hesitating in the slightest, his wand arm moving toward the floor. She thought of that conversation they had after dinner in Hammerschmidt, how them working together, fighting together, was distracting and how there may be a time when they would need to put their feelings for each other aside to win a battle. Ginny could see it in Harry's eyes. He wasn't willing to leave her, even if it meant capture and being turned over to Voldemort.
To Ginny, that was unacceptable. She tried to signal to Harry with her eyes, but as he moved to place his wand on the shined floor, his gaze never left Perceval's. When she shot her eyebrows up, his vision finally flicked up to her face. Frantically, she was using every muscle in her face to signal him to look up. He finally did, but showed confusion.
“While we're young, Potter,” Perceval said while tapping his toe.
One more signal upwards from Ginny was met with more confusion until, only a centimeter from the ground, Harry pulled his wand and shouted “Diffendo!”
The spell came out with the force of a rocket, colliding into the priceless frescoed ceiling. Simultaneously, Ginny stomped on Perceval's foot, wriggled free of his grasp, and drove away as far as she could, sliding along the marble. During her skid she spun back around to make sure he would be caught by the oncoming tide of plaster, concrete, and priceless art. As quickly as he could, Harry returned to her side, but he had to immediately move away from the pile of rubble; it was still an active Horcrux. Ginny helped him to his feet and moved him back across the lobby.
“Is he..?” she asked, her voice quaking. She could remember another thing Harry told her, that he would only kill Voldemort and no one else. He may have failed that promise and it was because she was too headstrong, believing she could save them alone. But he didn’t look nearly as concerned as she was. Between grimaces, he was just relieved to have her.
“There's only one way to find out,” Harry replied, his hand still shielding his scar. If anything, the pain was worse since the Horcrux had now been disturbed.
His response to the idea of Perceval’s death calmed her. She even gave a half-hearted smile. “And I suppose it has to be me who goes to check.” But when Harry started to move toward Perceval and the pile, Ginny grabbed his arm. “I was kidding. I don’t mind.”
She walked over and kicked at some plaster with her shoe until she had unearthed the white linen sleeve of the priest’s robes. Two fingers on the wrist later, she sank to her knees. At that sight, Harry couldn’t care less what his scar felt like. He covered the space between them in two strides and took her head in his chest.
“I’m sorry,” Ginny whispered, then raised herself to face him. “If I would’ve been smarter, you wouldn’t have had to... It’s my fault. I killed someone. Again.”
“Aren’t you always the one telling me to stop being noble? You didn’t do this.”
“But you said... you only wanted to kill Voldemort. No one else.” Her vision was starting to cloud with tears.
“I did. But you are more important than any stupid promise I make myself. I don’t regret it, just like you don’t regret Grindelwald. The only person to blame here is Perceval.”
At the mention of his name, Ginny couldn’t help but look back toward the small hill of destruction.
“Do you mean it?”
Harry just shrugged, as if she had asked him what he wanted for dinner. “You had a wand pointed at your head.” In the beats of silence that followed, Ginny had a realization.
“Why aren’t there any alarms or security guards? We just had a battle inside the Sistine Chapel."
Harry looked around. “Perceval must have warned them off, considering his plan was to kill us. Still, we need to get out of here.”
“But we have to deal with the Horcrux,” Ginny reasoned with a confused tone.
“You see the size of this ceiling, right?” Harry's condescending tone did nothing but make Ginny’s cheeks flair. He realized his mistake and softened himself. “Let's face it; Riddle did really well for himself here. Let's just get out of here and come up with a new plan.”
“But Harry, if we try to come back, every police officer in Italy will be here.”
“Ginny, we'll think of something. But we're running out of time.”
“You didn’t do this for nothing.” Ginny grit her teeth and turned away from him, raising her wand arm in the process. She shot a harmless stunner into the pile of rocks. It brought Harry to his knees. She put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“I'm sorry, but that made my point. The pieces are still part of the whole. If we perform the spell here, it may reverse the curse for the whole ceiling. We can't just give up. We've come too far. Let's just try.” And, just as she knew he would, Harry nodded.
Ginny slung Harry’s arm around her shoulder and helped him to his feet, both of them doing everything they could not to look at the arm protruding from the rubble.
“You ready?” Harry just closed his eyes and brought his wand to the nearest slab.
“Restituo Amare!” he muttered. Wind started funneling throughout the chapel. Candles were blown out. At the peak, the same purple ball of energy that was hidden inside the Shroud of Turin was pulled from the stone. Ginny quickly moved her pyramid necklace from Egypt forward. The energy swallowed it like a hungry animal. This time, after how difficult this task had been, their kiss was less passionate but more meaningful.
“Destroy it!” Harry said as soon as his lips pulled away from hers. But she had already sparked a fire in the palm of her hand. When she dropped the necklace in, a loud, high-pitched wail made them both wince. Ginny concentrated, making the flames grow and become whiter. At the height of their power, molten gold started slipping through her fingers. But Harry collapsed back to the floor.
“It’s her!” Harry screamed. “It's her!” Ginny was so startled that she extinguished the fire. She still held a bit of gold chain but dropped it and rushed to Harry’s side.
“It’s who, Harry? Me? What do you see?”
He turned to her with his eyes wide. “I saw the next Horcrux,” he stated between heavy breaths. “It's the woman. The painting." He then broke into a smile. "It looks like we'll be spending your birthday in Paris."
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