Valleys of Green and Grey
“Ginny, wake up,” Ron said from somewhere above her.
“Goaway,” she mumbled, pulling the warm blanket up over her shoulder and burrowing down into the softness of her feather bed. “Too cold.”
“Wake up,” he insisted, resorting to pulling the covers off of her and turning on the witch light. “Hurry up.” He shoved her threadbare pink robe at her before leaving to wait for her in the narrow upstairs hallway.
She crawled out of bed, sitting on the side a few moments before attempting to find her slippers. Her body protesting each move she made in the predawn cold that had settled over the cottage she called home. The lazy black and white cat she shared her bed with most nights watched her sleepily before deciding not to bother getting up.
“So who did you bring me this time?” she asked as she joined her brother. It wasn’t all that unusual for him to arrive unannounced with a sick or injured Order member to leave in her care.
“You’ll see,” was all he said.
Ginny followed him down the stairs, trying desperately not to let her fears get the best of her. “It’s not Charlie, is it?”
“No,” he said wearily.
“Then who is it?”
“Ginny,” Remus said softly, standing up as she entered the low-lit kitchen. He didn’t stray far from the figure hunched over on the worn table.
“Gin,” Harry said in a low, husky voice. She stiffened automatically as he pulled her into a quick embrace. Things between them had never recovered from the ruins of their brief relationship, and it didn’t help that it seemed to her Harry was trying to win her back.
“Harry, Remus, is everything all right?” Her eyes strayed to the bundle of filthy, torn robes, trying to figure out who they’d brought to her this time to mend. Ron took up position behind Remus, wand at the ready.
“We flushed out a nest of Death Eaters in Bedfordshire,” Harry started to explain while she groaned inwardly, not really wanting to hear him rehash war stories at three in the morning. “A right nasty bunch.”
“Bellatrix Lestrange was there, that bitch,” Ron added bitterly. Ginny knew exactly how he felt because he wasn’t the only one who’d experienced the business end of that witch’s wand – she was still recovering from the lingering effects of her own encounter.
“What were they doing?” she asked although she had a fair idea already.
“They were getting their jollies with a spot of torture,” Remus supplied. She paled at the thought.
Harry came up behind her, sliding a protective arm around her waist, his fingers finding their way into the curls of her waist length hair. “It was bad.”
“How bad?” She slipped out from under Harry’s attempt at protection. She was no damsel-in-distress, and it annoyed her when he treated her as such.
“Two dead when we got there,” Ron said disgustedly, “and this one’s half dead.”
“Who is it?” Ginny asked; dread knotting in the pit of her stomach. If they weren’t telling her anything upfront, it had to be bad, very bad.
Her brother reached down and roughly snatched the tattered cloak from the nearly dead wizard. Filthy, unkempt white-blond hair spilled across the dark wood of the table.
“Malfoy,” she whispered in disbelief, taking a step back and running straight into Harry.
No one had seen Draco Malfoy since that horrible night on the tower when Dumbledore had been murdered and he had run off with Professor Snape. The exact details of what had occurred were a bit sketchy, and Harry wasn’t forthcoming with what he knew.
Remus prodded Malfoy to sit up a bit, and with a groan, he did, revealing a bruised and battered face. He never opened his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Ginny,” Harry said softly, using the opportunity to gather her in his arms. “I wouldn’t ask if this wasn’t so important.”
“Get him out of my house,” she cried.
“I can’t,” Harry said firmly.
“Get him out, now!”
“Ginny,” Remus said soothingly, “we can’t risk taking him to St. Mungo’s.”
“I don’t care where you take him, just get him out of my house!” she shouted. Harry tightened his grip around her waist.
“He’ll die if we take him anywhere else.”
“He deserves to die for what he did!”
“I don’t disagree, but he’s too valuable to let that happen just yet,” Harry stated firmly.
“Gin, I don’t like this any more than you, but hear Harry out,” Ron said wearily, pinning with a pleading look.
“I won’t take care of him. I won’t!”
“You have to. He’s no good to us in this state.”
“You should have left him to die,” she said bitterly.
“No one deserves to die that way, Ginny,” Remus interjected in an obvious attempt to be the voice of reason, “not even young Malfoy here.”
“And just what I am I supposed to do with him?” she asked tartly, extricating herself from her ex-boyfriend’s grip so she could put as much distance between Malfoy and herself as her small kitchen would allow.
“Get him healthy enough that he can be questioned by the Order.”
For the first time in a long time, Ginny pouted because it was obvious she was not going to get her way in this matter. Deep down she knew Malfoy was important – he knew details about Death Eaters that could prove useful to the Order, but she’d be damned if she’d be happy about it.
“Fine, I’ll do it,” she grumbled. “Take him up to the spare room, and be sure to burn that cloak. It’s disgusting.”
“That’s my girl. I knew I could count on you,” Harry said with a twinge of triumph in his voice.
Ginny returned his half-smile with a dark look. “Don’t think I’ve done this for you.”
He grabbed her arm to prevent her from ascending the stairs after Remus and Ron carried the unconscious Malfoy upstairs.
“I know, you’re just doing your duty to the Order,” he supplied for her.
“And I don’t like harboring the enemy either.”
“Believe me, I hate doing this to you, especially with Malfoy, but there is nowhere else we could stash him safely until he’s recovered enough to be of any help to us. I know how much you hate his family, especially after what his father did to you.”
“Don’t presume things you know nothing about,” she said tersely as she pulled her arm free.
“Gin,” he pleaded softly, “please don’t be this way.”
“Be what way, Harry?”
“This way! So bitter and angry towards me.”
“You just don’t get it, Harry. You never did, and you probably never will.” She hurried up the stairs before he could question her further about what she meant. Ginny had once thought that Harry Potter was cute and brave, but now she thought he was mostly just dense.
Malfoy was laid out haphazardly on one of the two narrow beds in the second bedroom when she arrived, sans his cloak per her request. His remaining clothing wasn’t in much better shape, unfortunately.
Ron was pacing like he always did when he was antsy and uncomfortable. “I don’t like this,” he was saying to Remus when she made her presence known.
“Neither do I,” she assured him, “but it seems I have little choice in the matter.”
Her brother turned to look at her, guilt written all over his face at getting caught. Good old, dependable Ron, one always knew exactly what he was thinking or feeling because he was completely incapable of keeping his emotions from showing on his face. She gave him a soft, reassuring smile. It was good to know that despite the all the craziness in the world, some things never changed.
“Ginny, I didn’t…” Ron started, turning beet red.
“I know. It’s all right.”
Remus was examining the small glass front cabinet where she stored all of her medicinal potion while her brother paced and fretted. “Do you think you have all you need?”
“I’ll manage.” She stepped aside before Harry could use the opportunity to brush against her when entering the room. “What I want to know is what I’m supposed to do when they come for him.”
“They won’t,” Harry said confidently.
Ginny had to refrain from rolling her eyes. “And just how can you be so sure?”
“Fidelius Charm, same as you, and you’ll be his Secret-Keeper.”
“That is asking an awful lot of me,” she said. “What if he tries to repay my kindness with killing me? Where’s his wand?”
“Snapped,” Ron supplied. “We watched his aunt taunt him with it before she smashed it.”
She shuddered involuntarily. A wizard or witch’s wand was an extension of that person, and to have that link broken in such a way was quite painful.
“What if I still don’t want to do this?” Ginny asked. Malfoy without his wand could be just as dangerous she knew well. After all, he’d had an intensive lesson in the Dark Arts with his Death Eater aunt the summer between fifth and sixth year. There was no telling what tricks he might have up his sleeve.
Harry came to stand in the doorway, effectively blocking any means of escape. “You will do it because it’s for the good of the greater cause.”
It was in moments like this, when Harry started speaking of the cause and honor and duty and the rest of that rot, that she honestly thought she could hate him if she tried. She was tired of the ‘cause’, tired of being hidden away, and most of all, tired of not being able to get on with her life as she saw fit. Just give her half a chance and she’d take care of Voldemort herself.
“Fine,” she sighed in defeat.
Remus performed the extremely complex spell that was the Fidelius Charm since he had had previous experience. Ginny accepted her duty as Secret-Keeper without complaint while Ron managed to keep his mouth shut. She knew how hard all of this must be for him, having to leave his worst enemy in the care of his baby sister went against every fiber of his being.
She saw them out afterwards, just as the sun peeked over the horizon, and Ron had eaten his fill of fruit pies. Harry kissed her cheek, quietly thanking her and giving her an even more quiet promise that he would make this all up to her after the war. It was all she could do not to pull from his awkward embrace. Remus kissed her hand in a gallant showing. Ginny lingered in Ron’s hug, while wishing things could be different. She didn’t get to see him nearly often enough these days, and she found she missed him desperately, even more so than when he left for his first year at Hogwarts.
“Well, Malfoy,” she said softly after returning to the second bedroom, “it looks like it’s just me and you. I promise not to kill you, but if you try anything stupid, I will hex your naughty bits off.”
She gathered the potions she thought she might need from the cabinet, along with bandages, and replenishing bowl of warm water and a soft cloth before setting to work. She removed his clothing, deeming them ruined beyond repair, before turning her attention to his tattered undergarments. They were going to have to go as well much to her disgust. The last thing she wanted to see was Malfoy’s bits.
It took her a little over an hour to examine and clean him, healing the small wounds and bruises with her wand, and applying potions and bandages to ones beyond her medicinal skills. Ginny couldn’t help but marvel at what once had to have been gorgeous porcelain skin marbled with a delicate matrix of blue veins. His chest was heavily bruised from spell after cruel spell the Death Eaters had delighted in hurling his way. Ginny didn’t have to imagine the look of sheer delight on the face of his aunt as she cast a Cruciatus because she saw it all too often in her nightmares.
“Oh, Malfoy,” she exclaimed softly as she finally caught sight of the mess that was the inside of his left forearm. The Dark Mark that had once marred his perfect skin was no longer visible; instead terrible gashes where it looked like someone had tried to cut it out and when that failed, tried burning it off. The whole area was swollen and angry red with infection. “What did they do to you?”
Draco groaned a little as she tenderly ran her fingers over the ruined flesh, muttering healing spell after healing spell to no avail. Ginny quietly shushed him as she cleaned the area thoroughly, and afterwards applied a thick yellow cream to the infected area and covered it with a good length of bandage. Once he was cleaned to her satisfaction, she put him in an old pair of Ron’s pyjama trousers and added an extra blanket to the bed. She sat with him until her eyelids grew too heavy ignore, and went to bed hoping that her charge would still be alive when she woke.
It was a long two days before Malfoy showed any signs improvement. His wounds were healing nicely, even his arm which looked far less infected than it had even though he was still running a bit of a fever. Ginny was quite pleased with her work, but she was still a bit worried that Harry and Ron had gotten to him too late. The wizard lying before her was painfully thin; his ribs were clearly predominate beneath his nearly translucent skin. He probably hadn’t had a decent meal in weeks, months most likely. He was terribly weak and fighting a nasty infection. She’d been giving a bit of clear broth along with a dose of fever reducing potion every four hours.
She was telling him her day so far, cooking a warm treacle tart and cleaning downstairs, late on the third day when his eyes finally popped open. He was disoriented and confused a moment before the instinct for self-preservation kicked in and he tried desperately to scramble away from her. The narrow bed and the wall didn’t allow for him to go very far.
“It’s all right,” she said as soothingly as she could under the circumstance. “I won’t hurt you. Now stop that before you reinjure yourself.”
“Who?” he croaked, his voice rusty with disuse. His eyes wildly searched the room. “Who? Where?”
“I’m Ginny Weasley,” she said, feeling a little thrill at the look of terror that clouded his features. “Don’t worry; I’m not going to hurt you. The Order has you under their protection.”
“That’s right. If you don’t remember me, you might remember my Bat-Bogey Hex?”
He closed his eyes and turned his face away from her, but body relaxed a bit.
“You’ve been quite ill,” she nattered on. “I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to wake up.”
“Hungry,” was his only response.
“Are you hungry?” He turned back to her, looking utterly defeated. “Of course you are. I’ll get you some broth and maybe some fresh bread.”
“Is that chicken I smell?”
“Yes, that is my supper. You’re not up to solid food quite yet.”
“I don’t care. I’m starving.”
“Your stomach will care and will revolt on you, and I don’t feel like cleaning that sort of mess up this evening.”
Ginny left him before he worked himself up to a snit. He didn’t need to expend energy on something as useless as an argument when he needed to put all his effort into recovery so he could get out of her house; and the sooner the better. It was too dangerous for him to be there.
“Why?” he asked her after he’d emptied his bowl of beef broth under her watchful gaze.
“Why what?” She handed a small slice of fresh bread with just a touch of honey butter as a reward.
“Why are you caring for me? I’d figure you’d rather see me dead,” he said without any pretense.
“I’d left you to die a horrible death if it’d been up to me,” Ginny said, suddenly feeling tired, “but I didn’t get a choice in the matter.”
“Why don’t you tell me how you really feel, Weasley,” Draco said dryly.
“You don’t want to know what I really think, believe me,” she grumbled. It was all she could do to not call him a murderer to his face for what he’d done to Dumbledore.
“Then why am I here?”
“You were just dropped on my doorstep. I was charged with getting you well enough to be questioned by the Order.”
“I don’t think I’ll be of much use to them.”
“That isn’t for me to decide.” She removed his tray, charming away any crumbs that might litter his bedding.
Ginny could feel his gaze following her as she went about checking his bandages and changing them as necessary, although he turned away as she tended his arm. Despite her best efforts, he was going to carry around a very nasty scar for the rest of his life, however long that might be. She finished her nightly routine by placing a pitcher of water charmed to remain cool on the nightstand along with a glass.
“There’s a loo is just across the hallway, but I don’t advise you to try to get out of bed on your own just yet,” she said from the doorway. “You’re as weak as a kitten so if you need to get up, you’ll have to call me.”
“Fabulous,” he muttered.
“Oh, and, Malfoy,” she said, turning back to face him, “don’t even think about doing anything stupid.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Good, because I don’t trust you as far as I can hex you,” she informed him tartly.
To be continued...
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