Chapter 22- Many Happy Returns?
“… I just wanted to say goodbye.”
“But, Isendre, I don’t understand. Where are you going that we can’t contact you?”
Ginny shot a glance at the room where Draco and Lucius were secluded and sighed, running a hand through her dark-again hair. “I think you’ll find out soon enough.”
Bellatrix and Narcissa peeked at the door just as it opened. Sure enough, a grim-faced Lucius pulled the sisters into a corner and began to talk. Draco emerged from the room a few seconds later looking worn, and Ginny went to him.
“How’d it go?”
Draco sighed and ran a weary hand through his bleached hair. “Not too badly, actually; he was more surprised than anything else. I think the part that upset him the most was that we’ve lied to them this whole time. I thought he was going to hit me for a second there.”
“Do you know why he didn’t?”
Draco shrugged. “I assume it was because I told him I was his son.”
“You what?! Draco, you know we aren’t supposed to reveal the future!”
“What did you honestly expect me to do when he asked, Ginny? Lie some more?” Draco closed his eyes for a moment in exhaustion. “She’s already pregnant with me, anyway; it’s not like they’re finding out something they didn’t know was coming.”
Ginny hesitated for a moment. “How did he take it? That you’re his son, I mean.”
Draco shrugged. “No worse than anything else I said. Come to think of it, this explains some of those weird looks he shoots me in the future.”
“Miss Weasley, Mr. Malfoy.”
The two looked up from their conversation to see Dumbledore standing beside them, looking semi-transparent.
“I’m afraid I can’t delay it any longer.”
Ginny glanced at Draco, who nodded at her. “That’s alright. I think we’ve finished up here, anyway. Thank you for all your help, Professor.”
Dumbledore simply nodded. The world faded in a swirl of colors.
Ginny opened her eyes and had only enough time to gasp before she landed hard on the lawn of 13 Grimmauld Place. She lay there for a moment, trying to get a handle on the thoughts racing each other through her brain. Was it really possible? Was she finally back? Without thinking, Ginny sat up quickly and nearly fell over again from the pain that shot through her skull; when falling from the sky, one should really try not to land on one’s head.
“Ow… you’d think he could’ve found a more convenient way of sending us back.”
When only silence answered her, Ginny looked around for Draco; there was no sign of him.
“I guess Dumbledore must’ve sent him straight to Malfoy Manor.”
Ginny sat there for a few minutes more trying to decide what to do. The smartest choice would obviously be to get up and go inside before some Muggle came along and asked her why she was sitting in the snow. Though, despite this solid reasoning, despite the frequent bouts of homesickness that had assailed her over the last few months, and despite the cold sinking steadily into her bones, she found that she wasn’t quite ready to face everyone. How would she react to seeing her oldest brother when he just recently had been six years her junior? How was she supposed to face Harry after meeting and befriending his parents, something that he’d never had the chance to do? A chill ran down Ginny’s spine at a new thought; how could she possibly see Remus again after she finally had an idea of what his two best friends had meant to him… had meant to her?
How long she sat there in the snow, Ginny didn’t know. Those terrible thoughts chased each other around in her mind until she was nearly dizzy with worry. All that she knew was she was thoroughly chilled by the time Kingsley Shacklebot, returning home from his job at the Ministry, stopped a few feet from her, stunned.
Shivering furiously, Ginny nodded through teeth that were beginning to rattle.
Shacklebot just stood there staring at her, obviously shocked. It wasn’t until Ginny sneezed a few minutes later that he shook himself out of his reverie. Wordlessly, the broad-shouldered black man lifted the redhead effortlessly from the ground and carried her up the drive and into the house, being careful to close the door quietly behind him. The moment they were safely inside, though, Shacklebot began to run.
Ginny was too cold by this time to realize, or care, where they were going in such a hurry. She just lay in Kingsley’s arms, utterly exhausted, and bumped along for the ride. It was a remarkably short time, though, before she recognized the door he was slowly pushing open as that leading to the kitchen. A moment later, the motion stopped and Ginny found herself being set on her feet, head spinning. Through her dizziness, she could hear voices.
“Kingsley should be home anytime, Molly. You might as well put dinner on the table.”
That voice was familiar… who was it? Ginny thought through the fog in her mind for a few moments before it hit her. That was her father’s voice! And Molly… Molly was her mum’s name! Ginny fought to open her eyes, well aware that Kingsley’s steadying hands were the only thing keeping her upright. The conversation continued.
“Mum, take a chill pill. Why are you so tightly wound lately?”
That was Charlie… or maybe Bill… oh, but how she’d missed them both!
“You would probably be, too, Charlie, if your only daughter had been missing for five months!”
Ginny tried to form words, to tell her mother that she was here, but her mouth felt like it was full of mush. Kingsley noticed this and decided to speak for her.
The older redhead looked up, eyes bleary from the constant stresses that had been plaguing her for the last five months, and she didn’t even notice her daughter past her tears.
“Oh good, you’re here. Dinner is almost ready, and-”
“Molly.” Kingsley’s voice was gentle, and he pulled Ginny carefully in front of him, right into her mother’s line of sight. “Look.”
Molly peered at her daughter for long moments, obviously under the impression that she was hallucinating. A few minutes later, though, when the apparent hallucination took a hesitant step forward, her hands came up to her mouth in amazement.
“Ginny… oh my baby, is that you?”
Ginny tried again to speak, but this time found her throat clogged with tears; she contented herself with a single nod.
Mrs. Weasley dropped to the floor all at once, tears streaming down her face, sobs tearing from her throat. Ginny found that she, too- though for reasons very different- could no longer stand either.
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