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A Shadow of Trust by callmehermione
Intruder by callmehermione
The mud squelched underfoot as Ginny made her way along the worn path through the forest behind the Burrow. The steady rain dripped from the trees above, saturating her hair and clothes. There was no one else around, and the sound of water made everything seem peaceful and serene. The rain smelled heavenly, and it was nice to be out of the house, away from her brothers and their midsummer activities.

The woods were empty—gloriously, beautifully empty—the perfect place for Ginny to do a bit of thinking. Peering into the midst of the greenery, she spotted a relatively dry place under a sycamore with wide, cheerful green leaves. With a sigh, she sat on the soft forest floor, leaning back against the smooth bark and listening to the pitter-patter of the water falling around her.

Then she thought. She worried about her parents, always occupied with Order business. She wished for Harry’s company. He, however, was imprisoned at Privet Drive until the end of the month. She was annoyed with the constant feeling of apprehension everyone seemed to have hovering over them, all the time. She felt it, too, but she fought against letting it consume her. And Phlegm was simply abominable—so spoiled! She thought about Dean and the ‘break’ they were taking that month. Her life felt frustrating and repetitive, as though she was never accomplishing anything.

She wanted to be happy with everything her life did have. She could vaguely remember two years before her first at Hogwarts when everything had been fine—just her and Ron and freedom. But school began and Ginny’s dream world had crashed down before her eyes. She had been desperate for any kind of salvation from being ignored and trying to live up to everyone’s standards. Then Tom came and Harry followed, pulling her out of her unhappiness.

Now, three years later, she was alone again but content enough with herself that she could be happy without a hero, secure in her own thoughts.

The only problem she encountered was in convincing everyone else of that. Worried over by her parents and carefully guarded by her brothers, Ginny felt constantly overprotected. After all, she was a Gryffindor just like the rest of them. It wasn’t that she was looking for danger, but more that they expected her to be unable to deal with it if--or when--she found it.

It wasn’t fair, really, for Ginny to lump all of her family into one category, but she often felt like they belonged there when they fussed just because Ginny was youngest, and a girl. She wondered what kind of freedom she could have if she swapped places with one of her brothers, just for a day—Ginny wrinkled her nose in disgust at this idea, recalling the state of her brothers’ bedrooms. She supposed she would just have to establish herself and let everyone else accept it.

She drew her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, gazing off into the mist descending on the woods. The sounds of the forest happenings were muffled by the fog, the trees and the rain, making Ginny's surroundings eerily silent.

Suddenly, Ginny spotted something that nearly made her heart stop beating.

Scrambling to her feet and hurriedly brushing the leaves off of her robes, she drew her wand and backed up against the tree. She could feel the cherry wood of her wand slipping in her sweaty hands. They were shaking. She gripped her wand harder and took a tentative step forward. Her feet sunk into an unnoticed patch of mud, and she quickly pulled them out, cursing her clumsiness.

A figure lay sprawled on the ground, a black cloak entirely covering its body. Ginny approached it cautiously; it appeared to be unmoving, as though unconscious—or otherwise. Carefully, she inched forward, approaching the prone form.

Bloody fog, she thought, squinting at the figure. Nothing definite was visible through the mist.

She had learned through experience that trust shouldn’t be handed out without consideration of the consequence. She didn’t know if this person was male or female, Death Eater or Order member, Muggle or wizard, or even dead or alive. She thought it was logical that an Order member was injured—or not concentrating—and undershot their Apparition to the Burrow, but why would anyone be coming to the Burrow in the first place? Had something happened at Grimmauld Place?

Ginny forced herself to breathe, ignoring the pounding of her heart and the questions buzzing through her head. The only way she could discover who had suddenly appeared in her forest was to go over there and find out. Inching forward with painstaking slowness she took deep breaths and held her wand defensively out in front of her. She shivered: the mist of rain was beginning to soak through to her skin, adding to the chill of apprehension gripping her senses.

She had reached the other side of the body. Muddy hair obscured a hidden face. Ginny knelt in the damp leaves, placed her left hand on the ground, and reached out her wand to brush the damp hair out of the boy’s eyes. It was a boy; she could tell by the little she could see of him. Her hand slipped slightly, and her wand let out a tiny spark that alighted on his forehead.

His eyes fluttered open, registering the scene in front of them. Ginny jumped to her feet and backed up a step, holding her breath as though she could become invisible that way. She thought she could feel her heart quickening its pace, if that was even possible.

Ginny and the boy stared at one another for a moment, he disoriented, she suspicious. Then—


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