To Guard the Way
A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1.
Ginny managed another hasty diffindo
that turned the middle vampire to dust, but the room was small and they were moving at her really quickly. They were virtually on top of her before she could even fish out a stake for hand-to-claw combat. She was about to jump back out of the room when three hexes came firing past her. One beheaded the remaining demon. One blasted a vampire apart. The third was a gout of flame that incinerated all the other vampires before they could dive for cover.
Hermione fussed, “Ron! Now we don’t have anybody to interrogate!” She cast a quick aguamenti
, and water gushed over the fires in the room.
Ron snapped, “I wasn’t going to let another vampire jump on Ginny’s neck! After the other times, I’m surprised I don’t have grey hair!”
Harry said, “Let’s look at their map.” But the table had been set on fire, and then the blasts of water had done at least as much damage as the flames. “Or not.”
Ginny was glad Ron had blasted everything in sight. After all, it was her neck on the line in a cramped room with five super-strong monsters. She said, “Let’s check in the other room. Maybe there are some victims who’ll talk to us.”
Hermione grumbled, “I hope so.”
Harry said, “We have to protect Ginny first.”
Hermione nodded unhappily. “But she’s the Vampire Slayer. She’s supposed to be able to handle this kind of thing. And now we don’t know where the other vampires are going.”
Ron said, “Let’s take a look at your map, while Harry and Ginny check the other room.”
Ginny stepped over to the barred door and slid the bars off, then unlocked the door. She gestured for Harry to step back and be ready. He moved back a couple yards and held his wand out.
She swung the door open and prepared to leap back out of the way, or attack, whichever she needed to do.
She flipped on a light and winced. There were six dead bodies completely drained of blood, with horrific bitemarks all over their necks and arms and legs. All of them also had chunks bitten out of them by inhuman mouths. Ginny guessed the demons did that. There was one middle-aged man who was moving feebly. Some of the bites on his neck and wrists looked fresh. And very painful.
The man whimpered, “Please… Please… No more… I won’t tell you anything… Just let me die…”
Ginny closed her eyes and checked. She couldn’t feel any other vampires or demons around. She called out, “Hermione! Are there any more vampires here, according to your map?”
Hermione said, “Let me get it laid out and refresh the spell… Okay. No, the house is clean. Although my spell doesn’t pick up demons.”
Ginny asked, “Are the other vampires still moving?”
“It looks like they stopped, or else they’re moving really slowly. But it’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s like they’re… They’re after something not on the map.” Hermione gasped, “They’re after Bones Manor!”
The man groaned, “No! I won’t tell you how to get past the wards! You can kill me, but I won’t
Ginny patted him on the shoulder. “The vampires are gone. We’ll get you to a medi-witch. It’ll be okay.”
But the man didn’t look cheered up. “They’re gone? They’re going to attack the manor now? You have to stop them! They have Master Edward in thrall, and he’ll let them all in! And they have a Death Eater to attack the wards so they can get to the house! Miss Sarah is there, and little Miss Susan. It’s my job to protect the manor, and I have failed!”
Ginny pulled Harry into the room. “You know who this is?”
The old man feebly shook his head no.
Ginny pushed, “Look at his forehead.”
“You can’t be… The Boy Who Lived? Here?”
Ginny insisted, “Yes. It’s Harry Potter. You haven’t failed. You held on until The Boy Who Lived could rescue you, and now he’ll save them. Then he’ll get you help.”
“The Boy… Who… Lived…” The man’s eyes rolled back in his head, and he passed out.
“Ginny, you know I hate that stuff,” Harry complained.
She said, “I know. But he needed to, well, believe. And you’re what plenty of people believe in.”
“But I’m not-”
She cut him off by covering his mouth with three fingertips. “I know,” she murmured softly. “But you have to face facts. Maybe it was your mum and not you that let you live when you were a baby, but it was you when you were a firstie. And when you saved me. And when you fought off a hundred dementors all by yourself. And when you won the Tri-Wizard Cup-”
“I had lots of help,” he blushed.
“-not as much help as Krum did, or Fleur, you know. But then you dueled Riddle and lived. And everything else you’ve done. You are
special. And the fact that you don’t believe it just makes you not a complete prat.”
“Like Malfoy,” Ron added.
Ginny blushed bright red, because she didn’t want anyone else to hear what she was saying to Harry.
Ron looked at the man and said, “We’ll get a medi-witch out here as soon as we can, but Hermione’s ready to go to Bones Manor.”
Ginny frowned, “And how are we supposed to get there? Can any of us apparate there? No, we don’t know where it is. And it’ll take an hour to fly there on our broomsticks.”
“Not mine,” Harry pointed out.
Hermione stepped over. “I’m ready. Now here’s what we’ll do. I’ll apparate as close to the house as I can with Harry. Then we’ll come back for you two.”
Ginny said, “No. I want to go first. It’s what I’m supposed to do.”
Harry said, “I don’t want Ginny going in there without backup.”
“Me either,” insisted Ron.
Ginny said, “You’ll only be a few seconds behind me.”
“Not a chance,” said Ron.
Harry frowned, “I don’t like it. A few seconds is all your fights take. You could be dead by the time we get there.”
Ginny said, “I have to go first, because I’m the one who’ll know if there are threats around us when we apparate in!” She thought for a second and added, “And where they are, too.”
“Ooh. Good point,” Harry reluctantly admitted.
Ron asked Ginny, “How about you and Hermione apparate there and come back, then the two of you take us?”
Hermione checked, “Ginny? Do you think you can apparate well enough to side-along someone safely?
Ginny winced. She made herself admit, “No. I wish I was better, but I’m not nearly good enough. I’m barely good enough on my own.”
Hermione said, “We’re out of time.” She grabbed Ginny’s arm and disapparated.