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In Her Absence by luvinpadfoot
Chapter 18: Photographs
Chapter Eighteen: Photographs
Ginny dried her eyes. She knew she couldn’t spend the rest of her life holed up in her bedroom. She was driving herself into madness doing nothing. At first her thoughts had been blank, she’d numbed herself to keep from thinking of Lily.
Now her mind was full of everything she’d tried to keep from remembering, Lily’s disappearance, the lack of suspects, the utter incompetence of the Ministry to find her.
But with those thoughts came the beautiful memories. The way Lily’s eyes twinkled when she was up to something, her toothy smile that had always been just a bit too wide, her melodious laughter. Those were the things Ginny couldn’t believed she’d ever forgotten, or even just managed to block out.
She liked thinking about Lily in spite of the situation. Lily was always going to be her baby, no matter where she was.
Ginny walked downstairs to the quiet living room. On the mantle over the fireplace she lifted several photographs that had been turned face down. The first was a family portrait, one they’d gotten done just after Lily got her first Hogwarts letter. She was overjoyed and kept turning around to smile at her parents, first Harry then Ginny. The teenaged James and Al were smirking mischievously at each other, clearly up to something although Ginny had never figured out what.
The second was just of Lily. She was in her Quidditch gear and holding a broom, her long red hair flapping in the wind. She winked at her mother and her face would form a half grin, thrilled at being a seeker on the Gryffindor team.
The third was of James, Al, and Lily when they were young. Lily was about five, Al was seven, and James was eight. Al was stacking blocks on the ground while Lily and James rode around him on their toy brooms, unable to fly higher than three feet.
Ginny remembered that day in particular because later on Harry had taken James on his first ride on a real broom and Lily had pitched a tantrum when she couldn’t go as well.
The memory brought new tears to Ginny’s eyes, but these she didn’t wipe away. They were different from the ones she’d had the last few weeks. Lily was such a beautiful girl, always optimistic and cheerful.
“Ginny?” A sleepy voice asked. Ginny spun around to see Teddy on the sofa. He looked utterly distraught and Ginny realized she hadn’t spoken to him since all of this happened. He’d been away on his honeymoon with Victoire, but he must have come back early.
He looked like he had fallen asleep on the sofa. “Teddy, I’m so sorry,” she said, the tears rolling down her face.
“Don’t apologize to me,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m the one who’s been out of the country. Is there- is there any news?”
Ginny shook her head. If there had been any news at all Harry would have known about it. Instead they were left to figure things out alone. “She’s a beautiful girl, isn’t she?” Ginny asked, gesturing towards the moving pictures.
Teddy nodded, his throat tight. “I should have been around when it happened. I knew going to Italy with Vic was a bad idea. I should have been here.” He turned his head away from Ginny so she wouldn’t see the tears in his eyes.
At twenty-five Teddy was very in control of his life. He had married his Hogwarts sweetheart, was working his dream job in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and had seemingly moved on from the loss of his grandmother the year after he left Hogwarts. Everything in his life was going well, except for Lily’s disappearance.
“There was nothing you could do,” Ginny said, finding comfort in comforting the man who was practically a son to her.
Teddy hadn’t wanted to go so far away for his honeymoon, but had agreed at the urging of his wife. Now he felt that Lily would still be around if he hadn’t left home. “Look at me being so selfish,” Teddy said as he rubbed his face. “I shouldn’t be making you comfort me. I just came to bring you this.”
Ginny took the well worn picture from his hand. It was from his wedding earlier that summer. Lily was dancing with her father, laughing every few seconds as he said something amusing. She looked beautiful in the deep olive green dress that that Victoire had chosen for her bridesmaids.
Teddy pulled his hand away and ducked his head, embarrassed. “I’m sure you have a lot of pictures already, but the photographer took pictures of the whole wedding party. There are a couple of Lily, but this one’s the best.”
Ginny covered her mouth in sadness. She hadn’t noticed Lily dancing with Harry at the wedding, she’d been too busy keeping James, Roxy, and Freddie in line as George hadn’t seemed bothered by their antics. Her face contorted as she tried not to cry.
“I’m sorry.” Teddy looked horrified that he’d made her cry. Ginny had been like a mother to him and his was only making her more upset. “I didn’t mean to- I’ll go.”
Ginny shook her head and sank down on the sofa. She was still clutching the picture in her hand as Harry and Lily twirled around time and time again. “She looks so beautiful, doesn’t she?” Ginny asked, trying to hold back the tears. It wasn’t working and they began to stream down her face.
Teddy nodded. “She looks so happy.”
“She loved that you and Vic were together,” Ginny said, smiling through her tears. “She wanted to be related to you so bad.”
Teddy nodded, but he couldn’t form the words he wanted to say. The lump in his throat had grown even larger and seemed to cut off his voice. When he finally regained it he asked the question that had been on his mind ever since he’d heard Lily was missing.
“Do you- d’you think she’s coming back?”
Ginny took a pause before answering, but there was only one way for her to respond. “Yes. I-I have to. It’s the only way I can function, believing that she’ll be back here.”
She looked shaky to Teddy so he didn’t say anymore on the subject. He’d have to go to Harry for any real information on the investigation, or get what he could from the within Ministry itself.
“I’m sure the Ministry assigned the best Aurors to find her. If anyone can bring her home, they can.” Ginny looked off into the distance. Hermione and her brother had told her the same thing, but Ginny wasn’t able to latch onto the idea. Harry was out looking for her, that was what really mattered.
“Victoire made me promise that we’d go back to Italy when Lily’s found,” Teddy said, sensing that more reassuring was needed. “She loved it there. She’s fluent, you know. I’ve never met anyone who could learn as many languages as her. French, English, Italian, and I think a little Portuguese.” Ginny nodded, although she wasn’t really paying attention to Teddy’s words. “She wants to take Lily with her, when we go back I mean.”
“Lily would love Italy,” Ginny said, finally able to latch on to a topic in his words. “She always said she wanted to go somewhere out of the country. Harry never could take her because of his job, but we always said someday…” She trailed off, regretting every moment of refusing Lily.
“She’ll love Italy when she goes back with us,” Teddy said.
Ginny’s eyes were red and she covered her face with her hands, making Teddy a little nervous. “Is someone here?” He asked anxiously. “Someone I can get?”
She shook her head mutely, trying desperately to get her emotions under control. Her mother’s words came back to her. She needed to be the strong one for her family. Harry was doing everything he could with the Ministry, she needed to be the rock for her children to lean on .And Teddy was included in her children.
“I’m fine,” she said at last. “Sometimes it’s hard. It can get really hard.”
Teddy nodded. If Harry and Ginny were like the parents he never had, Lily was like his little sister. He always protected her, whether it was from her teasing older brothers or herself. He had made sure he was someone she could always come to for help or advice.
He’d never realized, though, how much it would hurt if she wasn’t able to come to him. She was his favorite cousin, sibling, family, whatever the potters were to him, she was the most important.
A few tears fell from Ginny’s eyes as she tried to keep composure. “I just want my baby back,” she explained to Teddy. “I need her with me.”
Teddy loved Lily and wanted her back more than anything, but he couldn’t understand a mother’s need to know her child was safe. He sat stiffly on the sofa, waiting for Ginny to cry herself out because he didn’t know what to do or what to say.
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