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HP stories following Canon but PRE-OotP >> Outtake: Chapter 9 of TLRH by Ashwinder

Simple Text - To view MORE chapters use the chapter jump box to the right.
The Long Road Home, Chapter Nine

A/N: This is the unedited scene. Rated R, although nothing really happens…

Ginny's mother sank down into a chair, as if her legs had suddenly become too weak to support her. Her hand was still over her heart. "I thought it was over," she said softly, but as she continued, her voice rose. "It was supposed to be OVER!"

"What happened?" Ginny asked quickly.

Croaker began to tell them about a huge operation, which had been planned to bring in several remaining Death Eater cells. They'd been acting on information given voluntarily by someone who had been very well placed to name names. The Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office had had to become involved, but its involvement was only supposed to have been peripheral. Ginny's father had been sent out to Goole to bring in a collection of cursed Muggle items, but the owner had put up more resistance than expected. Reinforcements had been called in but not before Ginny's dad had been injured.

"What's the matter with him?" asked her mother anxiously. "Was he hurt badly?"

"I haven't got details," Croaker replied. "I've only had word that he's in hospital. It may well be something minor, but with all that's been happening today there have been quite a lot of casualties, and the Medi-wizards have to see to the worst of it first."

Ginny's mother had gone white, and Ginny herself wondered if this day could possibly get any worse. Croaker's use of the word "casualties" was rather alarming. Ginny jumped as the teakettle suddenly began to whistle. She'd forgotten that her mother had started it heating before they'd learned the real reason behind Croaker's visit. Mechanically, Ginny moved towards the stove with the intention of measuring out the tea leaves.

"Leave it, Ginny," her mother said sharply. "There's no time for that now. I've got to go to your father."

But before Ginny could even begin to turn back towards her place at the table, there was a pop in the room as Bill appeared. He looked quite dishevelled and he had a bandage around one arm.

"Bill!" her mother exclaimed. "Have you heard?"

"About Dad? Yes. I see you've already heard the news." He sat at the kitchen table and buried his face in his hands. "What a day! I could do with a cuppa."

"Bill, how could you! Your father's in hospital. We need to go to him."

"Calm down, Mum. It's not that bad. They'll patch him up, and he'll be home by tomorrow, I'm certain."

"How can you say it's not that bad if they're keeping him overnight?"

"He's only broken his leg, and they've got more serious cases to see to first. If you went to him now, there'd be nothing to do but wait around and worry."

Ginny, who had been preparing tea for her brother, let out a breath. She brought the teapot over to the table and filled four mugs with the amber liquid.

"He's broken his leg?" her mother practically shouted. "Why are we all sitting here drinking tea?"

"It's only a broken leg, Mum," said Ginny calmly. "They'll patch it up soon enough. What's the big deal?"

"Oh, you have no idea…" But then her mother seemed to catch herself, as if she'd said too much. "They seem to have patched you up pretty quickly," she went on, looking sharply at her oldest son's arm.

"Did it myself. I didn't want to wait around."

Bill casually reached a long arm out to the shelf behind him, took the bottle of Ogden's Old Firewhisky from it and added a healthy measure to his tea. Then he tipped the bottle over his mother's mug, before holding it up in offering to Croaker. The Unspeakable shook his head. "I'm on duty," he muttered.

"There isn't any sense in us all rushing off in a state to see Dad," Bill went on. "It's a madhouse over there at the moment, and we'll just be in the way. It's best if we take our time and calm down before we all descend on him."

Croaker gulped down his tea. "I'm off if I'm no longer needed. I'll just be getting back to work."

He had soon disappeared in a roar of emerald flames, and Bill made his mother sit and drink a second cup of tea spiked with Firewhisky before he'd let her even think of getting up from the table. Then another argument ensued when Ginny wanted to go to St Mungo's with the others.

"Out of the question, Ginny," her mother said. "You have to finish packing your things. And someone has to be here to keep an eye on supper."

"Who's going to be here to eat it?" Ginny asked in protest. "You're all going to be at St. Mungo's, and Harry isn't going to be home."

"We don't know when anyone is going to be back, Ginny, and you have to eat."

Ginny grudgingly gave in, although she knew right away she wasn't going to feel like eating anything. With nothing better to do, she finished up her washing and ironing, taking secret delight in cutting a few corners. She knew it was childish of her, but she needed to think about something, anything other than what was really going on around her.

She had just finished packing her trunk, laying Harry's Firebolt in last of all, when she heard a noise from downstairs. Going down to investigate, she found Bill had come home to give her an update on their father's condition.

"It's a bit worse than they thought. Leg's broken in more than one place, apparently. He's going to be fine, though. They've given him something for the pain, so he's happy, but they weren't going to be able to mend his bones until tomorrow. They've got a splint on it in the mean time."

"So everything's going to be all right," Ginny replied.

"Yeah. Mum is going to stay with him for a bit, though. He's all right, but she's pretty shaken up. I think she had some sort of nasty reminder this afternoon."

"What do you mean, reminder?"

Bill thought for a moment. "It's hard to explain. I barely remember it, but I think she's been through something like this before, only worse. You know, during the first war."

Ginny nodded, remembering her mother's extreme reaction earlier, although she didn't really understand. It was a subject that had never been brought up before, but she had the distinct impression that Bill knew more about it than he let on. He just didn't want to talk about it.

"Listen," Bill went on, changing the subject, "if you're going to be all right, I'm going to go back to St Mungo's to see what Mum is up to. If I don't watch her, she'll have taken over the place, and be telling the matrons how to do their job."

"Oh, won't they love that! She's had plenty of practice at it today."

The corners of Bill's mouth twitched. "I'm going to close the fireplace so no one can come through. We'll Apparate home, all right?"

"Is that really necessary?"

"I think so, yes. Now don't argue with me over this."

"Bill, I'll be fine."

"I know you will because I'm closing off the Floo. I'll see you later."

His tone brooked no argument, and Ginny suddenly didn't have the energy to protest. What did it matter? Either way she'd be spending her last evening at home alone. With the Floo closed off and the wards that had been put in place, no one but family members and certain designated family friends, such as Hermione, could approach the Burrow unless he came on foot or by broom. And who would bother?

She wandered into the kitchen now, wondering what to do. She had finished her packing, and although it was time for supper, she wasn't hungry at all. She lifted the lids of a few of the pots her mother had left warming on the stove, but even the aroma of her favourite foods didn't entice her.

She was about to go back upstairs and find something to occupy herself when a messy-haired figured suddenly appeared in front of her. She took a step back in her surprise before launching herself into his arms.

"Harry, what are you doing here?"

"They sent me home." He'd pulled her tightly against him and laid his cheek on the top of her head.

"But your owl said…"

"I know, but my boss said I could come home."

"Thank God." She drew back, intending to kiss him.

"Isn't your mother going to walk in on us?"

"She isn't here."

Ginny took advantage of the house being entirely empty for a few minutes. When she pulled back, Harry said, "Wow… Where is everyone?"

"St Mungo's."

"What?"

"I reckon I know what you were referring to in that owl today. Dad was involved in a raid and got into some trouble. Bill was just here and said he's going to be fine, but Mum had kittens."

"What happened to him?"

"Broken leg. He should be home tomorrow."

"They're keeping him with a broken leg? Are you sure he's all right?"

"There were a lot of other patients, apparently. They couldn't fix his leg straight away. They've made him comfortable and will see to him in the morning."

"And they've left you here alone."

"I wasn't finished packing. Listen, Mum left supper on the cooker. Are you hungry?"

"Yeah, I could do with a bite."

"Why don't you go upstairs and change, and I'll get us some supper then."

Ginny didn't bother to clean up the kitchen directly after their meal. Her time with Harry was almost at an end now, and she didn't want to waste it on mundane chores. Harry seemed to be just as aware as she that this would be their last evening together for a long time, and once they were both seated on the sofa, the Wizarding Wireless Network playing softly in the background, he put an arm around her shoulder, pulling her closer. She laid her head on his shoulder, and they sat there for a long time not moving and not speaking.

"I'm going to miss you," Harry told her, breaking the silence at last. "I don't know how I'll survive until December."

"Hush, Harry. I don't want to think about it." She had to swallow hard in order to compose herself. She'd been pushing thoughts like this out of her head all day. As much as she'd been worried about her father, the distraction had been welcome in a way, although in the end, one worrisome thought had simply driven out another. "We're just going to have to do our best to keep ourselves occupied…"

She trailed off, unable to go on without starting to cry. Harry must have understood. He hugged her even closer before tipping her chin up so that she could meet his gaze. His own eyes seemed a bit bright. "I'll be here when you get back."

"I don't want to go." She couldn't stop the tear that escaped this time.

Harry pulled her fully into his arms, and she felt him kiss the top of her head. "I don't want you to."

Then he buried his face against the side of her neck and held her for a while longer. Some unspoken communion between them caused them to pull apart just far enough for Harry to fit his lips against hers. This was going to have to last them for almost four months, and both of them knew it. She returned the kiss briefly, before reaching up to take off his glasses. She'd realised as soon as they started that neither one of them was going to rein in his passion for very long. Then she tangled her hands in his hair and pressed as closely to him as she could, while his arms tightened around her waist until they were nearly crushing her.

Instinctively she knew where this was going to lead, but she also knew she was going to have to say something soon. But she didn't want to stop him either. It felt as if her entire body was awake in a way it had only been a few times in the past. His lips had left hers and were hungrily exploring her neck now, while his arms loosened their grip and his hands began to move gently across her back.

She tilted her head back to grant him freer access. Just a few inches more and he'd be at a spot that she knew would send an electric jolt through her. Right… there. She shivered in his arms, gripping his head more tightly to keep him there. At the same time she felt his hands skim up her sides, stopping just below the edge of her bra.

She waited, anticipating his touch on her breasts next, but it did not come. Instead he raised his head to look at her. His hair was wild from her hands running through it, his eyes burned with green fire, and his breathing was ragged. She knew what he was about to ask of her, and in the next moment, as soon as he'd caught his breath, his words proved her right.

"Ginny, I want… Can we…"

She thought her heart was going break. "No, we can't."

"I know what I promised your father, Ginny. I promised we wouldn't do anything we shouldn't. But we wouldn't be doing anything wrong. I love you. You love me. It isn't wrong."

"I know, Harry, but we still can't."

"Why?" His tone was beginning to take on a desperate edge.

"Because it isn't the right time."

"Not the right time? How could it not be the right time? We have the house to ourselves. We don't know when we're going to see each other again…"

"I know, but it's not the right time." She looked at him pleadingly, while she felt the blush rising in her cheeks, begging him to understand so she wouldn't have to spell it out for him. And all the while she cursed to herself about the unfairness of it all. Of all the times it had to happen, it had to be now. If not for that, she would have given herself to him as she'd been longing to do ever since her birthday.

He stared back at her for a few minutes, and Ginny was beginning to suspect the was going to have to get on with it and tell him. But then she saw his eyes widen as realisation dawned over his features, and he went redder than she was. "Oh…" he said, moving away from her a bit. "Oh… I, uh, I understand."

He dropped his hands into his lap and looked at them. "Harry," Ginny said at last, "just because we can't make love, doesn't mean you can't touch me at all."

He looked back up at her, his expression a mixture of longing and guardedness. "Ginny…"

"What's wrong."

Harry sighed. "You're going to kill me, you know that? I want you so much. You don't know how much."

"Yes, I do. You don't think I want you just as badly?"

"What am I going to do without you?"

"You'll manage. We both will because we have to. And at the end of next June…"

"That's forever!"

"I know, but I'll be free then. Can you wait that long? Because that's the longest it can be. Who knows? Maybe we'll see each other before then. Christmas… Anything can happen."

"I wasn't just talking about sex, Ginny."

"Neither was I." She reached for him then, taking his face between her hands and pulling him closer. "I love you, Harry. That's all that matters."

She leaned in and kissed him, allowing all the depth of her feeling to pour into that one gesture as if she could brand an impression on his lips forever. When they came up for air, she'd pushed him backwards so that he's almost slumped sideways onto the sofa. She turned her attention to his neck then, pushing him further down until she was lying on top of him and his arms tightened convulsively around her. She found his lips once more and felt his hands slide from her waist to her hips, his fingers biting into her softness as he pressed the lower part of his body against hers. At the same time he made a growling sort of sound in his throat, one which caused a shiver of triumph to pass through her.

She shifted against him, moving her hips instinctively and seeking to produce the same sound from him. He responded by attempting to flip them both over, but the sofa was too narrow. Ginny felt herself falling and she clutched desperately at Harry with one hand, while with the other she tried to grasp the sofa. The only thing she succeeded in doing was pulling Harry down to the floor as well, while a slightly shabby blanket, which normally lay across the back of the sofa, slithered down onto them.

She began to laugh, and Harry joined her for a moment before leaning over her once more and pulling her into yet another kiss. When he broke away from her, he'd rolled completely over her, bringing the old blanket with him so that the two were covered with it, forming a sort of cocoon.

She couldn't see his eyes now in the darkness, but she could feel them on her. He brought up a hand and touched her face. She covered his hand with her own, leaning into the caress before turning and touching her lips to the centre of his palm. Then she took his hand in hers, knowing he was expecting her to bring it to her breast. But instead, she placed it somewhere that was somehow much more intimate, at the collar of her blouse.

She sensed a hesitation for a brief moment, and then she could feel the slight tremor in his fingers as he began to undo the buttons. His hands soon found their way to the warm skin over her stomach, while he began to nip his way along her neck. She caught her breath as she felt his teeth graze her collar bone. Soft hair caressed her shoulder as he continued to place random kisses along the upper part of her chest.

Her own hands, meanwhile, had been busy working the tail of his shirt free of his trousers and pushing it up so that she could explore his bare flesh in her turn. He pushed up on his elbows so that he could allow her access to his chest. The movement caused their hips to press together once more, causing her to gasp with pleasure at the intimate contact.

It wasn't fair, she thought to herself once more. She could feel how much he wanted her. The evidence was pressing against her very centre, making her feel a strange restlessness deep within. It demanded that she rub back against him, and she did so, eliciting a groan.

She was going to have to do something. One of them could find release at any rate. She began to reach for him, her hand delving beneath the waistband of his trousers, but Harry had other ideas. Before she reached her goal, he put his hand to her wrist and stopped her.

"No," he whispered. "Not like that. It's either both of us, or neither one."

"But…"

"Don't worry about me."

He was reaching behind her back, lifting her gently so he could unclasp her bra. Then she felt his hands on her bare breasts and rational thought left her. She'd never before experienced the sensation of his warm hands on her flesh like this. His fingers squeezed and flexed experimentally, and she wanted to cry out. Then she felt his lips begin to explore her, and she did.

The sound Ginny made probably explained why neither of them heard the telltale popping sound of someone Apparating into the room. There was no mistaking the voice however.

"What do you make of that, George?"

Ginny's heart had been racing out of control already. Now it seemed likely to hammer its way out of her chest as she and Harry froze in panic. She thought she heard Harry swear under his breath.

"I dunno, Fred, but it looks to me as if there's more than one person under there." The glee in her brother's tone was unmistakable.

"That it does, George."

"But Ginny is supposed to be here by herself, isn't she, Fred?"

Ginny felt like swearing herself. She felt Harry shift ever so slowly to one side. There wasn't much sense in pretending they weren't there now, but to have to blanket fall off of them and expose Ginny's state of undress would be disastrous. She was going to have to right her clothing as best she could.

"Who do you think she's under there with?" asked George.

"Can't be Harry. Mum said he'd be working late. George, you don't think she's cheating on him, do you?"

"Horrible suggestion, but it can't be anything else, can it?"

"So who could it be?"

"Malfoy?"

"Longbottom?"

"Creevey?"

"The bloke with two names… Finch-Fletchley?"

"Nah, he's a poof."

"Right."

"Whoever it is, I say we give him one minute to show himself before we hex him."

"That's an excellent suggestion. It a matter of our dear sister's honour, after all."

Harry must have thought it prudent to show himself at this point, for he pushed the blanket aside and raised his head. Ginny was still fumbling with her buttons, shock at being discovered like this making the task much more difficult than it should have been, but fortunately Harry had moved to the side that blocked the twins' view of her. Harry's hair was in even more wild disarray than usual, and his expression was an odd combination of fear and anger.

"Harry, mate!" exclaimed George. "We heard you were working late."

"Nice way to take advantage of an empty house," added Fred.

"Now that poses us a small problem. Just what were you doing under there?"

Harry couldn't reply. He was busy fumbling about for his glasses.

"You know, George, it seems to me that Harry promised Mum and Dad that he wouldn't do anything he wasn't supposed to. Now I don't know much, but I'm pretty sure you and our sister shouldn't be doing anything under a blanket on the floor. What do you reckon George?"

Ginny finally got the last button done up and scrambled to her feet. "Okay, listen you two. I don't know what you're doing here, but you can just get out."

"Sorry, can't do that," said Fred.

"Get out now, or I'll make you sorry."

George, instead of trembling with fear in the face of Ginny's anger, was looking at her strangely. He tilted his head to one side for a moment, before remarking, "You know, you'd be a lot more forceful if your buttons were done up properly."

"Is this a new style or something?" asked Fred. "Leave two buttons on top and then skip a few?"

Ginny felt her face flame scarlet. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Harry had turned almost purple.

"Hey, Harry," said George, grinning evilly, "if you need any buttons done up, I wouldn't ask Ginny to help you. She doesn't seem to have got the hang of it yet."

"GET OUT!" Ginny screamed at her brothers.

"We'll be leaving, won't we, George?"

"Yeah, I think our work here is done."

"You might want to make it look a bit more innocent, though. We came over to tell you to open the Floo. Mum came over from St Mungo's to see us, but she's ready to come home, and she's in no condition to Apparate."

"Yeah. Too much Firewhisky in her tea. She's a bit… unsteady."

"But I think she'd sober up pretty quickly if she saw the two of you in this condition."

Ginny's heart began racing again. As embarrassing as it was to be caught by the twins, it was far preferable to having her mother walk in on her and Harry. Even though her mother had been behaving a bit less like Mad-Eye Moody these days, the thought of her reaction to what had just been transpiring was frightening. She could deal with the twins later. For now, she was going to have to make it look as if Harry had just come home, and that meant cleaning up all traces of their supper together. Without another word, she raced into the kitchen.

The twins hadn't finished with Harry, however. Their voices drifted in from the living room. "So, Harry, how'd the two of you wind up on the floor?"

"I would think the sofa would be much more comfortable."

"Not to mention you had the whole house to yourself. Surely you could have found a bed…"

"I think Dad's going to have to add some new spaces to the clock if this keeps up."

"Soused…"

"In flagrante delicto…"

Ginny stuck her head back into the living room. "I thought you were leaving. If you're going to stay, make yourselves useful for once. On second thought, do me a favour. Open the Floo and get out." She held her wand up for good measure when the twins didn't jump to do her bidding right away.

"Harry, get upstairs. I'll tell Mum you just got home."

She heard the twins snigger when she said this. "Yeah, Mum's really going to buy that one, Gin."

"MOVE!"

Her brothers evidently knew they'd pushed her too far now. Fred turned towards the fireplace and opened it, before they both waved cheerily. "Don't do anything we wouldn't do," said George before the two Disapparated.

"That leaves us with a lot of choices, doesn't it?" commented Harry when they'd gone.

"Unfortunately there's no time now, is there?"

"Do you want any help?"

"No, I can do the washing up."

"I meant with your buttons…" he said, smirking.

Ginny had completely forgotten, but she scowled at Harry and threw the dishtowel at him, hitting him in the face with it. "You have to get upstairs before Mum gets back. I'll finish in here. And fix my buttons. When you hear her come in, we'll make it look good."

Ginny made swift work of the washing up and had the kitchen looking in its usual spotless order when she heard a noise coming from the fireplace. "Steady there, Mum," came Bill's voice from behind her.

"I'm fine, Bill," Ginny's mother tried to snap, but her words were slurred just enough to make it sound unconvincing. She jerked her arm from he son's hand and lurched toward the kitchen table.

Ginny put the kettle on, while her mother began rambling on about her father's condition. When the water boiled, there was a bit of a scene when her mother wanted another shot of Ogden's in her cup, and Bill had to hide the bottle.

In the middle of all this, Harry put in an appearance. Ginny's mother looked up immediately. "Harry, dear, when did you get home?"

"Just before you did, Mum," Ginny replied quickly.

Ginny's mother got out of her seat. "You can't have eaten; you must be peckish. They're working you far to hard, dear. You sit and let me get you something to eat."

"It's all right, Mrs Weasley, I'm really not hungry," replied Harry.

"It won't be a bother, dear." She began to walk none too steadily towards the cooker.

Harry watched her, alarmed. "Really, Mrs Weasley…"

"Come on, Mum." Bill was standing up and putting a hand on his mother's arm. "Let's get you to bed."

"But Harry…"

"I'll get him something, Mum," said Ginny to get rid of her mother as much as anything. "You go to bed. We'll be along soon."

Ginny's mother looked doubtful. "Well all right then. Don't stay up too late. You have to be off early tomorrow."

"Good night, Mum."

Ginny let out a long sigh of relief when her mother and brother disappeared upstairs. "We won't be able to stay down here too long," she said to Harry.

"I'll go up to bed now. I won't be making any trouble for you that way." He leaned close to her and kissed her cheek. "I'll see you later."

It was only after he'd disappeared up the steps that she realised that he'd said later and not tomorrow.



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