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Chapter 36: Home
High up, up in the empty air that hovered above Earth, there was total, complete darkness. Only one or two shimmering stars hovered in the night sky, as though the rest of them were all out celebrating with the World. Down below, in the city of London, light and noise and festivity was everywhere. There wasn’t a single street or house devoid of noise, a single street or house devoid of light, a single street or house devoid of joy.
In a private hospital room Muggles could not see, a young girl was curled in a ball, sleeping on an abnormally comfortable camp bed in the corner. Her parents were watching her quietly.
Ginny shifted in her chair, looking away from her child and to the dimly floor instead. Her bottom lip was in between her teeth, her eyebrows furrowed, her eyes narrowed. She was debating something in her mind, something serious.
Should she bring it up now – or leave it? Leave it for another time – or for forever? No. She definitely couldn’t leave it forever – she definitely had to know. Maybe not now, but sometime. Sometime soon. But what was wrong with now? What wasn’t wrong with now? Maybe she could - ? No. That would be stupid. She sighed audibly, causing him to divert his attention to her.
“What’s wrong?” he muttered, leaning forwards. He brushed a strand of her hair that was falling into her eyes behind her ear and gazed at her troubled face in concern.
Slowly, her head turned to look at him. She remained silent, staring at him, struggling to make sense of her thoughts. They whirred and whizzed, speeding on by, not giving her a chance to grab one and analyze it.
“Gin?” he murmured, his hand on her neck. His voice instantly soothed her, and she took his hand off of her neck and held it instead in her lap, covering it in her own. Her fingers brushed his blue scars and, for a brief, painstaking moment, she hated herself.
Silence engulfed them again. Harry sat, patient, letting Ginny have her time to say what she wanted so desperately to say.
She played with his hand in her lap, carefully, in case she could rip open the veins…
Suddenly, there was a loud, earth shattering bang out in London, followed by shrieks and cheers and yells that even Harry and Ginny could hear. Colours of red, yellow, green, gold flashed in the night sky – shouts of, “Happy New Year!” could be heard, echoing in streets, houses, minds, hearts…
She made up her mind. New year, new start after all – isn’t that right? she thought tentatively, trying to convince herself.
“Harry,” she whispered, holding his hand in hers and raising her eyes to meet his, “This year, you’re going to - to tell me everything. An-and I’m going to tell you everything,” she continued on quietly, but strongly, as Harry seemed to want to interrupt, “And we are going to be completely, truthfully honest to each other. And when we get out of this place – you are going to tell me what happened. Everything.”
Harry remained quiet for several minutes. The flashes of colours stopped, and cheering quietened. His eyes were dark, as though in his mind he was contradicting everything she just said. A sudden fear shot through her: what if he refused? What if he just flat out refused, and never, ever spoke another word of it, or to her –
“Okay,” he muttered, covering her hands in his own, voice devoid of emotion, “If that’s what you want.”
Ginny’s eyes widened; she had expected a little resistance, a little hesitance. But Harry seemed to accept what she had just said, and agreed to it and – a faint smiled tugged on her lips. “It’s what I want. Definitely,” she whispered eagerly, nodding slightly.
“Then okay,” Harry murmured, pulling her towards him. She fell onto his bed beside him and he pulled her to his chest lovingly, “Now sleep. You’re exhausted,” he kissed the top of her head and massaged her back. He closed his eyes, hating what he had just agreed to – telling her everything. Everything. He had never, ever, told anybody everything before in his life. He had always held secrets, whether they be big secrets, or small secrets. He thought of all the pain, torture, agony that he had gone through – something he was now going to put her through. But, somehow, there was this tiny part of him that wanted to tell her – to start over with her, and have a complete, honest relationship, to have someone know everything. He wondered vaguely how he was going to start, his thoughts becoming more and more distant before they were replaced with the blissful unconsciousness of dreams.
It was the seventeenth of January. Nigel was giving Harry and Ginny their check ups – though, instead of checking them up separately, today was different. Today, he was checking them up together.
“Thank you, Ginny,” Nigel said graciously, motioning that Ginny could sit back down. She did so, sitting on the bed beside Harry; he automatically wrapped his arm around her waist as she did.
The couple remained silent as Nigel pressed through their charts in more detail than usual, circling important points here and there and scribbling notes on a piece of parchment. They watched – a bit in fascination, a bit in confusion – as he turned to the last page.
Slowly, deliberately, he closed the charts and read over his notes. Nigel nodded, then turned in his chair to face the couple.
“I’ve read through all of your charts and all of the notes printed on you both – you have both respectively had brilliant progress in health status and, you are both now ready to leave the hospital.”
There was a stunned silence. Ginny’s face didn’t move, and she sat still – frozen. Harry’s mouth dropped slightly.
“L-leave?” he stuttered.
“Leave,” Nigel nodded, “Of course, there are a few instructions – you must stay at the Weasley’s until I see fit you are both capable of living without assistance, you must take a certain potion every night, you must come in for weekly checks – that will turn into monthly checks, and, in turn, yearly checks.”
Ginny was still frozen. Her brain felt like it had been submerged in water: everything moved slowly, even Nigel’s voice, and everything seemed so, so surreal. How could they be leaving? The hospital had practically turned into their second home… she felt Harry’s hand pull her closer to him, and she turned into him, wrapping her arm around his neck and digging her head into his shoulder.
“Thank you,” Harry muttered, wrapping his arms around Ginny, “Thank you for – for everything…”
“It’s my job, Harry. It’s my job.”
Dropping the last of Ginny’s books in the duffle bag, Hermione leaned over and zipped it shut with ease. With all the stuff that had been stuck into it, it should’ve been bursting at the seams – but thanks to Hermione’s magic, it all fit in comfortably with plenty of room to spare.
Ginny sighed, gazing around the bare hospital room. All of her stuff that had made the room her room was now in the duffle bag – now the room was just a plain, old, ordinary hospital room. She felt a twinge of nostalgia.
“It’s time to go, Ginny,” Hermione whispered, gazing at the red head, “You okay?”
Ginny glanced from Hermione to the room and back again. “Fine,” she nodded, smiling shrewdly, “Perfectly fine.”
Leading the way, she opened the door and headed down the hall to the special lifts that were only used with Healers permission. Nigel was already standing in it, with Harry and Ron, Ron with a duffle bag swung over his back, Harry leaning on a pair of his own crutches.
Ginny and Hermione entered the lift silently, and the silence continued as it started dropping down smoothly to the reception.
Finally, the lift stopped, but no one opened the doors. Ginny was closest to the button; she faltered, then turned around.
“Thank you Nigel,” Ginny smiled softly, walking forwards and hugging her Healer tightly, “We owe you everything.”
“Not everything,” Nigel disagreed lightly. He smiled, “You had the hardest part, and you excelled.”
“That’s not true,” Ginny argued, a smile still on her lips. She knew of the hardships of behind a Healer: of the long, sleepless nights; the stubborn, traumatic patients; the horrible choices that, if you chose wrong, could end in a loss of life; the loss of your own life, spending most if not all of your waking hours in the hospital… “I know how frustrating it is to have patients who are stubborn and stupid and – and I imagine we were a nightmare,” she added, glancing over at Harry. He was staring at the floor; he sensed her gaze and looked up, grinning.
“Well… it was worth it,” Nigel said, nodding.
Still smiling, Ginny turned around and pressed the button; the doors slid open, and the five of them made their way into the reception.
Ron spotted them first, and he swore colourfully.
“Ron, what did I tell you about swearing?” Hermione said quickly, glaring at Ron. He ignored her, turning to Nigel.
“I thought we had them kicked out?” he said, glancing to the corner. The rest of them followed his view; getting quickly to their feet, fumbling with their cameras and Quick Quote Quills, were several excited journalists and paparazzi.
“Merlin,” Hermione mumbled quickly, withdrawing her wand.
“We did – they must’ve sneaked back in,” Nigel said quickly, glancing back towards the main reception, “I’ll get Mungo’s Security,” he ran quickly towards the girl behind the desk, pushing in front of the patients and talking quickly to her. She nodded rapidly and wrote something down.
“Sorry,” Harry muttered, glancing from the now approaching reporters to Ginny. They could hear the cameras whirring already, “This is my fault.”
“No it’s not!” Ginny protested, walking slowly beside him, “It’s the stupid Daily Prophet and the idiots behind the desks.”
Ron was now blocking the reporters, accompanied by several Security wizards, causing the reporters to shout.
“We only want a word - !”
“One picture - !”
“What’ve you got to hide - ?!”
“The Security will keep them away,” Nigel breathed, stopping beside them, “The best we can do is get out of here quickly – but safely,” he added, glancing at Harry. Harry didn’t respond, and instead stared in a spot in front of him, hobbling forwards quicker than he normally would have, jaw rigid.
They travelled via Ron and Hermione’s car, Ron driving. He drove uncharacteristically slow, but made up for it by jumping traffic.
Harry stared out of the window, biting his lip. His eyes followed the cars and jumped from one advert to another pedestrian – but his mind was paying no attention.
He was overjoyed, of course. He was finally free, for the first time in his life. That fact hadn’t hit him yet; it was too large, too amazing to take in and accept all in one moment.
He was also slightly anxious; he knew, now, that he and Ginny were finally going home, that he would have to tell everything. Not that he would have to, but that he would tell her. She would demand it, and she had earned it. He worried about how he was going to tell her – blunt truth, or less dramatic mild version? Of course, she would know immediately if he told her the less detailed story.
Should he lie?
He jumped slightly as someone touched his hand; turning his head, he saw Ginny staring at him in concern, stroking his hand softly with hers.
“You okay?” she mouthed, eyes brimming with tears. He nodded slowly, taking her hand in his.
Hermione shut the door behind Harry as he clambered awkwardly out of the car, leaning on Ron. She quickly passed over the crutches when he was steady; he took them, fastening his hands swiftly into them.
The front door opened; Molly and Arthur appeared in the doorway, Sirius on Molly’s hip. There was a sudden amount of screaming, and a blur of red and green shot out past Arthur’s legs.
“Mummy! Daddy!” Lily screamed, running to them, still in her pyjamas, “You’re home!” she squealed, just restraining herself from jumping on Ginny and Harry.
“We’re home!” Ginny grinned, leaning down and hugging her daughter. Lily laughed excitedly, throwing her arms around her neck; smiling, Ginny straightened, still clutching Lily to her hip.
“Be careful - ” Harry said quickly, hobbling forwards.
“We’re fine!” Ginny smiled, bouncing Lily up and down on her hip. Ron and Hermione had disappeared into the house, taking Molly and Arthur with them. They loitered in the hall, the younger couple telling their parents about the reporters.
Together, the three of them made their way slowly up to the house, walking at Harry’s pace. Ginny walked into the hall, turning around, getting ready to close the door. Harry paused in the doorway, glancing over his shoulder at the empty street outside.
He smiled as he shut the door.
He was finally free.
He was finally home.
A/N - 25/6/2009. IMPORTANT!
oh god. i am so, so sorry.
basically, when i went back to continue this story, i hated the writing and style. so it's going under complete revampment and you can find it:
it will be the same story plot, but possibly different events and reactions, definately different writing styles and i am confident that 'hope' will be daddy returned 2.0. new and improved.
i hope you all forgive me for being such a lousy updater! :3