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One-Shot #4 - Too Soon

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Oct. 21st, 2006 | 11:42 am

Title: Too Soon.
Fandom: Harry Potter.
Author: Ellie M.
Challenge/Prompt: None.
Pairing: Harry/Ginny, implied Ginny/Anthony.
Genre: Angst, War-Fic, AU.
Rating: PG-13 with light R for a paragraph.
Word Count: 3,282.

Synopsis: “I know,” she answered, glancing up to meet his gaze. “But I think your tea leaves meant more than one person, Anthony.”

Author's Notes:

Wrote this at 1 AM and finished maybe around 2:30 AM. This is a completely AU fic, taking place during the end of the war. I've always wondered about that, and it's an interesting thing to think about, how the series will end. This is a mix of CQ and book canon as well as fan rumours and one of my many ideas of how the final battle will go. There's a large mix of characters in here, so my thanks to Megan and Xellas - you'll see why in a bit. My thanks also go to this piece of artwork by mudblood428, which inspired me quite a bit.

Enjoy!

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Too Soon

Knock, knock.

The young artist glanced up from his sketchbook, sunlight filtering through the window and playing across the charcoaled lines and curves. The sketch was lightly traced around the edges, darkening as details were filled in, lips and jaw and a fall of hair curling behind an ear. The eyes came last – they were never quite right, though, not with this subject. His fingers were smudged with pulling shadow along the neck and shoulders, and with a charcoal-stained hand, Anthony waved at the door, casting it into transparency, revealing the figure on the other side.

What he saw wasn’t entirely expected.

His eyes widened, and suddenly he wasn’t at the window seat anymore, but moving quickly, stumbling in his haste to the doorway, wrenching it open. The sketch lay facedown on the worn carpet, the charcoal rolled under a large red armchair, and the young man took little notice.

“What’re you doing here?” he whispered, staring at the visitor with disbelief. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

The young woman smiled sadly in response, shrugging. Her robes were immaculate and unstained, skin unblemished save for horrifyingly familiar freckles. Her appearance didn’t betray her how she came to arrive there, wand tucked safely in her sleeve, fingers callused more so from Quidditch than from magical battlefields. Her bright brown eyes were quick, but they had lost their spark, empty with the past and the knowledge of death and war.

Ginny.

The name was forced out, unwilling to be spoken too soon, uncertain if the young witch in question was supposed to be here. Certainly there were years before this meeting. It had only been a few months and – oh God, but it really was her. His eyes dropped to her throat, where a delicate chain hung, dipping into the neck of her robes, where he knew a tarnished locket lay. He had given it to her himself.

But how could it really be...

“I know,” she answered, glancing up to meet his gaze. “But I think your tea leaves meant more than one person, Anthony.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So it had come to this.

Ginny had expected the climax of a great war to end in a much more dramatic setting; she couldn’t help it – it was just expected, and maybe she had a touch of flair for the theatrical. The final face-off could have taken place in some dank and gloomy graveyard (it certainly would have been fitting), or maybe in the Tower of London. The Department of Mysteries wasn’t bad, either, full of cloaked shadows and spinning rooms, doors that betrayed you and whispering drapes that snatched life from laughing souls.

The youngest Weasley felt cold. If anything, she wouldn’t have minded to finish this in the Great Hall, even. Hogwarts would have been a grand battleground. This wasn’t Hogwarts, not to her, though the room plagued her at night, when she was too tired – her guard would be down, and the hissed words would come, the curling script, the glistening writing on the wall, the cry of dying roosters.

Ginny Weasley was trapped in the Chamber of Secrets, where it had all began for her.

She didn’t understand how it happened. The Hogwarts library, she recalled dimly. Hermione had needed the final piece of information to locate the Horcrux, and the library at the school was her best bet. The castle had been abandoned not long after the war had started, students shut up in their homes and held close to their mothers, dying in their arms or standing to protect them. The stone walls echoed with the laughter and chatter of happier times, but now darkness held thrall over Hogwarts, over London, half of Europe, the minds of the Wizarding World.

Loose parchment and tattered books lay scattered across the flagstones, and Hermione ran a finger along the spines of dusty tomes, muttering frantically under her breath, grip tight on her wand. She dared not strengthen the light of her Lumos, and Ginny stood by, hexes and curses at the ready, tensed, wrapped in a Shield cloak from her brothers.

Hermione had been the first down.

It was Ginny’s fault, really. She was worrying over Harry, who she knew sprinted up to the old Headmaster’s office to find the Hat. Perhaps there was another clue that it could share with them, and Gryffindor’s sword might be useful. She wasn’t paying attention, and then all of a sudden, they were surrounded by swirling cloaks, black fog and leering masks.

“The wards,” Hermione gasped. “They’ve taken down the wards on the grounds.”

You couldn’t Apparate or Disapparate on Hogwarts grounds. The rules had changed, and before Hermione could fire a spell, she was quickly silenced with a Stunner to the chest. The Stunning had been new – Luna came to the conclusion that they were Stunning to capture them instead of killing. Hermione had agreed, adding that it was possible they would torture an Order member for information once they were Stunned. The Shield cloaks had been useful to prevent that, but sometimes they weren’t as fortunate. The jets of red reflected off Ginny as she ran, dark cloak billowing behind her, praying its defense spells would hold until she reached Harry, Ron, Luna, Neville, anyone.

The Order should be nearby. If she was a few months older, Ginny would have Apparated to find them. But as such, she couldn’t, and so she ran, years of Quidditch and months of chasing after Horcruxes pushing her on. She flew up marble staircases, long-silent paintings bursting into sound and horror as they noticed the flocks of Death Eaters and the first student to grace the halls of the castle in a year.

Cold was creeping down the corridors, cracking the glass window panes and curling around her heart. Ginny’s breath came in sharp gasps, puffing out clouds of steam, and the ominous rattle echoed in the halls. Dementors. She swore mentally, grip tightening on her wand as she scrabbled for her memory, her Patronus.

What was a happy memory?

“Harry!” her voice rang out, and Peeves, the damned poltergeist, drifted past her, cackling and giggling nastily. The little man hadn’t chosen a side and still delighted in despair, bells jingling and grin ominous as he twirled and flipped in the air.

“Ickle girly Weasel with hair so red,” he sing-songed, “Best run fast, or you’ll end up – dead!

Ginny ignored him, biting back a sharp retort, doors and knights flying past her. Behind, she could hear Peeves’ indignant shriek and a hissing-pop as he rushed over her and vanished into the ceiling. Harsh laughter and taunting words followed, and soon it was raining with Christmas. Reds and greens shot past her, sizzling the tapestries, killing the spiders and freezing the air. She heard a distant hoarse shout, and Ginny knew it was either Ron or Neville.

Not Harry, please, not Harry.

The gargoyle was in sight, and the dark-haired youth was already rushing down the stone steps, wand held out and green eyes blazing.

“Harry!”

“Ginny, behind you!” he shouted, and the girl spun around, a curse on her lips.

The Stunner knocked her down before she could cast it.

* * *

Rennervate.

Fluttering lashes, a groan, and she was up, pushing a shaking hand against wet stone to rise up into a sit. Tiny trickles of water, drips and a roaring silence met her ears, and Ginny’s eyes flew open, wide and startled. Her hand darted to her wand, but she was met with bare cloth on her hip instead of the leather scabbard where she kept it. Brown eyes scanned the area, and her heart pounded painfully against her chest as the young Weasley realized where she was.

Salazar Slytherin’s stony face leered down at her.

“Oh God...”

“This time, you did wake.”

Ginny whipped around, fists curled defensively, body tight and ready to spring. Her wand was gone, but she had been taught a few things by the Order before setting off into war, and she knew a well-placed blow could be as good as any defense spell. But be that as it may, she was unprepared for what stood waiting for her in the half-shadows of the Chamber.

Tom,” she hissed, expression contorting into a hateful grimace of mingled fury and fear.

“It is I, yes,” admitted the darkly handsome youth as he strode slowly over to her. His hands were clasped loosely behind his back, robes billowing silently and step mute on the slick stone. “Or should I say, it was me? My, my, how confusing; it still is me.” The echo of Voldemort’s past chuckled coldly, looming over Ginny with a smile that had too much delight and malice all at once. “I am not dead yet, my dear.”

Ginny was horrified, recoiling from the translucent Riddle, uncertain if those smoky fingers could snatch at her, curl around her neck, hold a wand and murder. She knew full well that his mouth could work, English mingled with hissing and eerie laughter. “Harry killed you,” she snapped out finally, willing her voice not to shake. “Voldemort’s last, but you’re dead.”

“Not yet,” he corrected, still smiling all too widely. “Weren’t you listening? My dear sweet Ginevra, how much you’ve grown since our last encounter.” Dark eyes roamed over her body, and suddenly Ginny realized that her Shield cloak had been torn away; clad only now in her white uniform and grey skirt, she was terribly exposed. The water from the Chamber had seeped into her clothing while she was unconscious, the white transparent against her pale skin, molding against her.

Ginny crossed her arms and stood quickly, bare feet scraping against the stone floor, stance defensive in more ways than one. Her stomach twisted when she noticed that none of the others were here. “What have you done with Harry?” she whispered.

“No doubt your precious hero is locked in an epic battle with my future self,” came the blithe reply, the nightmare’s eyes finally coming to a rest on Ginny’s thigh before rising to meet with the furious gaze of his captive. “But I do not wish to speak about him. You are here, and it is time I finish what should have been done years ago.”

And suddenly he was against her, ghostly fingers sliding up her thigh and skirt, undoing fraying buttons and hems, tearing at hair, the wall digging into her back as she writhed against him, tried for a wand that wasn’t there, a spell that refused to be cast. He chuckled against her neck, teeth nipping, lips bruising hers and all the while, she wished for Harry, her wand to kill this man, the Death Eaters, and she wanted it to stop.

“I thought I told you before, Ginevra,” murmured the nightmare against her skin. “I will never stop. I am always here because you want me to be. This is not the Dark Lord’s doing, but your own.”

“No...”

“Your own black fantasies and wishes. You wanted me. Thoughts sweet as honey, pure and innocent, like every little girl’s. What do you taste like now, I wonder? Has time changed you?” Ginny gasped as his lips trailed lower, over her abdomen, fingers drifting so dangerously close. He chuckled as she began to moan, break down before him, hips jerking and back arching. “We shall have to see.”

And then it stopped, the writhing heat and unbearable touches, twisting words like poisoned mead, sweet and intoxicating. Ginny sat slumped against the stone wall, clothes still as they were, mind spinning and words stumbled from cracked lips in soft moans and pained groans. What spell...?

“Did you enjoy that?” came the soft, icy whisper.

“You bastard!”

Long, cold fingers toyed with her wand, stroking over the worn wood. Ginny raised her gaze and her hands gripped the wall, supporting her as she stood. She swallowed roughly against the dryness in her throat. How long had she been here? Were the others dead, was the war over, did they think she had died? She trembled with cold and trepidation, eyes watching her wand, calculating how fast she could lunge for it, tear it from his grasp.

“That isn’t an answer,” Riddle said, words sharp with anger.

“Where are the others, Tom?

“You waste your hope,” he said dismissively. “The war is already in our favour, why concern yourself with those that face death as the inevitable?”

“You’re lying. We’re winning this war, and you will die. Voldemort will die. The war is over, don’t you see? We have the final Horcrux.” Ginny’s words were quick, stubborn and fierce.

“They do not know what the Dark Lord has planned. He knows what your side knows. It is only a matter of time, and soon, you will all fall like flies.”

“And me?” Ginny demanded, eyes steely, burning with anger and upset.

“You are already dead, Ginevra.”

Ginny chose that moment to strike, pushing herself off the wall, breaking into a run and lunging at the ghostly Tom Riddle, fingers closing around cold air and bony wrist, brushing over her wand. She could feel the old wood warming, the spell sparking the air and the wand tip before she could move away. She pulled her hands back, spun, red hair whipping through the damp air, eyes darting for a counter-attack, for her family, friends, allies. The first spell burned over her shoulder, slicing through fabric and skin.

A familiar, dark-haired figure stood at the entrance to the Chamber.

Harry –!

The second spell didn’t miss.

Avada Kedavra.

Ginny Weasley was dead before Harry could catch her.

* * *

In the days to come, Voldemort was defeated and the world returned to peace. Families rejoiced for the return of loved ones from the war, others grieving quietly amidst the celebrations.

The Order had lost half to the cause, Moody and McGonagall among them. They had fallen near the end of the war, and that was when Harry stepped up to take place as the head of the Order. Molly was adamant, but what choice was there?

The Weasleys had lost two, Percy and Ginny. The former, in an act of redemption, had thrown himself in the way of a Killing Curse meant for Ron.

Ginny’s death was a mystery. Harry had found her in the Chamber of Secrets after defeating Voldemort in Dumbledore’s study. The creature had crumpled in a heap of black robes and ash, the gleaming eyes the last to go in a flash of scarlet hatred. He had smiled before those final moments, though Harry was certain he imagined it. The Horcruxes were destroyed, he had no way of returning.

Frantically, Harry had searched the castle, Ron in the library to help Hermione, the Order scouring the grounds for straggling Death Eaters and survivors. The old Hospital Wing had been reopened as a make-shift infirmary until aid from St. Mungo’s arrived. The place was a battlefield, bodies and rubble littering the once-proud corridors; the Order had arrived just in time, Neville Apparating out to warn them. Ginny had been gone by then. Harry was pulled into a duel before he could go after her, and then he found himself staring down the black pipe that led to the Chamber.

He heard voices. He ran, burst into the grand main Chamber just in time to see a jet of emerald light, rushing wings, deathly silence and a splash. The ghost of Ginny’s voice echoed throughout the stone arches, a lone word still living from cold lips – and then that, too, died with its owner.

...Harry...

Harry’s heart constricted, and he ran towards the limp form in the shallow water. He scooped her up into his arms and her head fell back, pale throat exposed to him where it was painfully obvious that no pulse fluttered there. Gently, Harry had slid his hand to the back of her head, fingers tangling with dripping red hair, and cradled her in his arms; he pressed his forehead to hers, kissed cold and unmoving lips, and whispered her name – she did not stir. Silent sobs shook his shoulders as Ginny Weasley stared up at the ceiling with a faint smile haunted with death.

He didn’t know why she was smiling when he found her. But then he realized it: she had seen him before the curse hit.

There was no trace of who cast the Avada Kedavra. The wand found in the Chamber was Ginny’s own, and a Prior Incantato revealed that it had cast the spell. No one understood it; the only answer was that she took her own life, and that made no sense to anyone, nor did anyone accept it as an explanation. Molly Weasley refused for people to dig into the case any longer, demanding that her daughter be left in peace, and so Ginny was.

There were too many funerals for Harry to attend. Ginny’s had been the last. And as he stood there, hand tracing the name of the young woman he loved, something other than sorrow gripped him. He was being watched. He gasped in pain, clapped a hand to his forehead.

I am not dead yet.

And while he tried to understand why, the burning did not stop tearing across his scar.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ginny Weasley perched herself on the large, red armchair, a cup of tea in hand but now cold and still full. With a sigh, she placed it back on the table and glanced up at Anthony, who sat on the sofa nearby, face pale as he listened to her recount the events. Her hand had come up to toy with the locket around her neck, thumb stroking fondly over the clasp, the metal tarnished and marked with curses that had bounced off it. Ginny told him that the miniature truly had been a great help to the war, delivering messages and keeping her company on quiet nights before attacks.

Anthony watched her as she spoke, her detached calm as she relived war, death and loss. Tom. She was a Gryffindor, strong, stubborn and proud – maybe that was why she didn’t crumple, but he knew that couldn’t be right either. She smiled at him faintly, almost apologetically.

“I don’t know if we won,” she finished softly. “I died before it could happen. I like to think that what I said to Tom was true.”

“Ginny...”

“Don’t you?” she interrupted, tipping her head inquisitively.

“Don’t I – what?” came the perplexed answer, the young man staring at Ginny with a mixture of confusion and concern.

“Like to think we won. I do. I’m sure we did. Are Harry’s parents here? Cedric or Sirius? Maybe Percy and... Professor Dumbledore? They’d like to know we – we won...”

Ginny paused for a long moment, and then, it happened; expression slowly crumbling and she pressed a hand to her eyes, shoulders slumping. Anthony stood quickly and made his way over to her, arms pulling her close to him, pressing a kiss to her forehead. The young woman curled into him, gripped his clothes, trembling; she was dead and couldn’t go back. Harry thought he was going to die in the war, but no one had expected...

“Shh... m’sure we won, Ginny... not your job to worry about it anymore, yeah? Not here.”

She shook her head against him, biting back a harsh laugh, settling on a choked sob instead. “We didn’t. He’s still there, in the Chamber. I left too soon.”

Anthony’s eyes prickled, and he blinked back the feeling. He sighed against her, breath stirring fiery strands of hair.

“Too soon,” he echoed quietly as his hand stroked her back. “You did.”

FIN.
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Comments and critique? Leave 'em here, and do be gentle.

Love!
-Ellie

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Comments {3}

The Foul Temptress

(no subject)

from: pre_raphaelite1
date: Oct. 21st, 2006 04:20 am (UTC)
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I. Love. You.

This is just... God. This is soo incredibly brilliant. The whole plot and idea is fantastic. And it's so visiual in the chamber. I can see her running toward him.

Plus Tom? And the ending? *shivers* So beautifully creepy.


“I thought I told you before, Ginevra,” murmured the nightmare against her skin. “I will never stop. I am always here because you want me to be. This is not the Dark Lord’s doing, but your own.”

“No...”

“Your own black fantasies and wishes. You wanted me. Thoughts sweet as honey, pure and innocent, like every little girl’s. What do you taste like now, I wonder? Has time changed you?”

That is just amazing. His voice is so utterly dangerous, seductive. And telling her that it's her doing... Guh.

And You've captured Anthony just wonderfully, darling. Really. And with him telling her at the end that she did leave too soon? *flails*

Beautiful work.

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Rose

(no subject)

from: gestaltrose
date: Oct. 21st, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
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I was rec'ed here by pre_raphaelite1 I absolutely love her Anthony. This captures him very well. Ginny, perfect. Your words paint wonderful pictures in my head.

"He sighed against her, breath stirring fiery strands of hair."

I see it. Thank you.

Rose

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RoseWill (SecondSilk)

Fic: Too Soon

from: rosewillread
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
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Wow.
Excellent fic. I love the scenes with Anthony bookending it.
The Chamber is wonderfully creepily portrayed. Tom/Voldemort is fabulous. And the sense of returing, the dawning horror in the ending.
Great drawing of the atmosphere of the war.

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