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Storm by dreamgazer220
Format: Short story collection
Chapter 1: Broken Dreams
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Disclaimer: Title inspired by Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, which is also the song that I got in the challenge prompt. Also, the quote "Those that love is" from Prisoner of Azkaban is also paraphrased here.
Harry Potter was alone.
It had been a year since the war ended, and a year since the Wizarding World began to heal itself, as families leaned on each other for support, as people mourned over the loss of their loved ones. Harry had tried to grieve with them - even though they had defeated Voldemort, they had lost so much in the process. He didn’t feel much of anything at all.
His losses consumed him. His parents, Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Cedric, Dobby, Hedwig, Fred, Dumbledore. The ones that had hit him the hardest stayed with him like a boulder stuck in his heart, unable to break free from where it sat. Sirius had once said that those who love you never really left, but it was hard to believe him when he felt completely and utterly alone.
Harry had to get out of the Weasley house. Once a warm, welcoming place that felt like home, the Burrow had become a shelter of grief. There were so many people to lean on there, and Mrs. Weasley continued to cook and bake and care for them all, acting as if she hadn’t lost her son in the battle because of him. Miraculously, she still considered him a war hero.
They all did. That was his new nickname from The Daily Prophet, but he didn’t feel like a hero at all. He felt like a failure.
Through all of this heartache, it had been worse to be around Ginny. He knew it had been his own damn fault that he’d lost her - he’d pushed her away at Dumbledore’s funeral, thinking it would keep her safe. They may have kissed during the Battle of Hogwarts, but relationships weren’t fixed by a simple kiss at the right time.
Harry wanted to reach out and talk to her, but he was reminded of how he saw her with Seamus in the Room of Requirement when he came back with Ron and Hermione - huddled close together, foreheads pressed against each other, hands linked as though they were each other’s only lifelines. When Neville filled them in a bit on what had happened to his other home while they were away, Harry was glad she’d found someone to lean on.
A year later and she was still with Seamus. Harry hadn’t expected it to be so permanent. It left a bitter taste on his tongue, the need for her to be happy warring with the jealousy that she found the happiness with someone else.
Harry walked down the cobblestone streets of Godric’s Hollow, his grief the only thing to keep him company. If he could feel it, then at least he would know he was still alive. Some days he felt like he was living in a nightmare - the only relief he found was in that his scar didn’t burn. That reminded him that defeating Voldemort hadn’t been a dream. That, at least, had been a reality.
But then, if that was his reality, so was everything else.
The village was sound asleep at this hour. Windows were cloaked in darkness, shop doors closed for the evening, not a soul wandering the streets except for the poor, broken war hero that was the great Harry Potter. If only Rita Skeeter could see the him now. She would have a field day.
Harry had started his journey aimlessly, but it seemed as though his feet knew where to take him, where he needed to go and be able to process everything. The last time he had been here it was his first time, with Hermione by his side - it was amazing how much things had changed in a year. It was amazing to think that she and Ron were already engaged. Now he stood at the foot of his parents’ grave alone, his emptiness crashing to the forefront.
“Hey Mum, Dad,” Harry greeted. His voice sounded strange to him - foreign and hollow. “I’m sorry I didn’t think to bring flowers or anything… I wasn’t exactly planning on being here today. I suppose I just needed a place to clear my head. So much has changed since the war ended, and now I feel like I don’t have a purpose. What’s a Savior to do when there’s no one left to save? Except himself, maybe.”
He laughed bitterly, crouching down and resting his hands on his knees. His voice caught in his throat, and suddenly, the words came spilling out of him, the ones that’d he’d been too afraid or too selfish to speak before.
“Sometimes I wish that I had stayed dead. I’m sure Neville would have been able to figure out a way to kill Voldemort - he killed the bloody snake, after all! I just feel like it would have been easier for everyone. Mrs. Weasley wouldn’t have an extra head to fuss over, and Ron and Hermione wouldn’t have to feel guilty about their engagement while I’m still struggling to accept Ginny’s apparently not new relationship with Seamus.
“All I’ve ever wanted was for her to be happy. And after he woke up from the hospital, and they fought, I thought I really had a chance there. I thought I could save us. But as it turns out, only I could save the world and still not get the girl.”
He wished that this was a time where his parents would appear to him as ghosts. His mother could give him a much needed hug while his father would give him advice on women and life after the war. He had been so focused on winning the battle that he’d never even thought about what was to come after it. Victory had seemed like such a false hope.
Harry stood up, taking in his parents’ grave and trying not to remember the names of all of those who had died for him. He raked a hand through his unruly black hair and hated that he caused all of this devastation. His dreams weren’t the only ones that were broken. But did they have to stay that way?
“I know you wouldn’t want me to give up. So I have to try one more time - even if it’s stupid, if she laughs in my face,” Harry continued after a few moments of silence. He was relieved that his eyes were dry, but the stress was slowly working its way into the back of his neck. A small inch of hope ignited in the bottom of his stomach at the mere thought of seeing her again. “And I’ll come to see you more often. I promise.” He took a deep breath, feeling the weight lessen slightly that was crushing in on his heart. “I love you.”
He took one final look at the grave, then turned on his heel and Apparated on the spot, a single destination in mind.
It was time for him to go home - and win back the girl he loved.
Chapter 2: Demons
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Disclaimer: I own nothing but the storyline. Everything else belongs to JKR. Title inspired by the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons.
It was over before it could begin.
Before he had the chance to lift his wand to disarm the Dark Lord, she crumpled in front of him, lifeless and pale. Voldemort’s face twisted as a cold laughter sounded throughout the otherwise silent Great Hall.
Harry woke with a start, the sound of the Dark Lord’s cruel laugh still ringing in his ears as sweat trickled down his face and the back of his neck. He sat up in bed, relieved that his scar wasn’t burning like it used to. It hadn’t hurt in the last five years - he didn’t want to think about the possibility of it aching again.
He turned and looked to the side, seeing his fiancé sleeping peacefully next to him. Her long, red hair sprawled out on the pillow beside her. Harry let out the breath he didn’t realize he was holding, touching her arm just to be sure. The warmth from her body radiated underneath his cold hands and he felt his shoulders sag with relief.
It wasn’t real. Ginny was still alive.
Carefully, he slipped out of the bed and went over to the window. The air was turning crisp and he closed the window, blocking the chill wind from getting inside their flat. He knew she liked to sleep with it open, especially in the summer, but now, autumn was quickly approaching. Nights were growing colder and soon they’d have to fight about the fresh air. At least that was a fight he could handle.
Harry blinked, rubbing his bleary eyes and knowing that he wouldn’t be able to fall back into a peaceful slumber, despite the early hours of the morning. The sky was still pitch black, dawn sleeping over the horizon. He hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since the day the war ended.
He was convinced his nightmares would never stop. Some of them were real memories, back to haunt him - some of them were of the bodies he’d discovered laying across the Great Hall, the students and professors alike who had died on his account, fighting in a battle he’d never wanted. Some of them hadn’t happened, images of Ginny laying amongst the dead, or Voldemort rising yet again and killing her out of spite of his happy ending, images of Ron or Hermione sacrificing themselves for him without him being able to talk them out of it.
Harry began to creep out of the bedroom, thinking about making a cup of coffee to keep him company in the darkest hours of the night. But as his hand gripped on the door, he heard stirring.
“Harry?” Ginny asked, her voice groggy. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong, love,” he assured her. “Go back to sleep.”
“Did you have another nightmare?” she replied, and he heard movement. A silent lumos bathed the room in a dim light as she crossed the room, her bare feet muffled as they moved over the carpet.
“It’s okay,” he replied, his voice low, strained with stress and tiredness.
“Harry, I thought we were out of the phase of you keeping secrets from me,” she said, her tone clipped. Even in her exhaustion, she still managed to chide him.
He couldn’t help the smile that spread over his face. This was the woman he loved. This strong, fierce, independent woman who had fought to stay beside him. Even when he was convinced she was going to choose someone else, deep down he had known that she was going to come back to him. They were written in the stars - and considering he’d never been very good at Divination while at Hogwarts, it said something of his confidence that Ginny and he was the one thing he knew he could count on.
“We are. It’s not a big deal. It was over before it could begin,” he assured her.
“But it was enough to wake you up in the middle of the night. Are you going to make some coffee? You’ll never fall back asleep that way.”
“Maybe sleep is what I’m trying to avoid.”
Ginny’s arms found their way around his waist and she drew him closer. “Have you thought about taking something to help you sleep?” she suggested. “You’re going to need your rest if you have your interview with the Ministry tomorrow morning.”
Gently, he pushed the hair over her shoulders. “I’m ready for the interview, Gin. I just - I don’t want to go back to sleep. I don’t want to risk closing my eyes and seeing what I saw just before I woke up,” he admitted. “But you go back to sleep.”
“I have to be up in a few hours for training,” Ginny argued. “If you’re staying awake, so am I.”
“Want to play a game of wizard’s chess?” he offered, knowing it was useless to try and convince her to go back to sleep. The game became a tradition, before they’d mended their relationship completely - when one of them wouldn’t sleep, they would set it up in the Weasley’s living room or Harry’s brand new flat and play until the sun rose.
“Only if you tell me about your nightmare. The only way to get it out of your head is if you talk about it,” she pointed out, tugging him closer.
Harry rested his chin on her shoulder. She smelled faintly of vanilla. “It doesn’t matter,” he whispered, his lips near her ear. He felt her shiver at his touch. “It wasn’t real. You’re here with me, and that’s all that matters.”
She pulled away slightly and even in the dim light, he could see her frown. “Was it about me?”
“All of my worst nightmares are about losing you.”
“I’m here,” she said quietly. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Not anymore,” Harry corrected, and he was pleased that there wasn’t any bitterness in his tone. He knew that she had settled with him - that there was a certain Irish bloke that had captured her heart long ago - but that was in the past. She seemed as though she really loved him again. Maybe it was possible for true love to find its way back. Written in the stars, and all.
“No,” she agreed. “Not anymore.”
Without warning, Harry pressed her lips against hers and she kissed him back without hesitation. He pulled her closer to him, hands tracing the familiar territory of the flesh on her sides. She moaned softly in his mouth as his tongue found hers, and he carefully started pushing her back to their bed, plans of making coffee and playing wizard’s chess forgotten as her body moved against his.
His nightmare escaped the darkest parts of his subconscious as clothing started to disappear, falling unceremoniously to the floor.
As long as he had her, Harry knew that he could conquer anything.
Chapter 3: Fix You
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Disclaimer: Title inspired by the song “Fix You” by Coldplay. Everything else belongs to JKR except for the plot.
If Harry thought the last nine months were terrifying, that was nothing compared to the fear that he was feeling now.
It started slowly in his stomach, twisting his insides into knots as Ginny’s first cry of pain rang out through her childhood home. Harry hadn’t thought the Burrow would be a suitable place for the birth of a child, but as Ginny constantly reminded him, their flat wasn’t exactly ideal either. And at least at the Burrow, there would be more people around. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were both home, and Mrs. Weasley was sitting by her daughter’s side as their midwife, Evelyn Kingston, started spewing out instructions on what to do. There was something in there about breathing.
Harry could hardly remember how to breathe. He had levitated the towels over to Ginny and Evelyn as instructed, and though Ginny had taken some potions to help with the pain, they had been told that they would only do so much to help her.
Ginny cried out again and Harry bit into his knuckles. The cries reminded him all too much of someone being tortured under the Cruciatus Curse. How long would this be going on?
He wanted to be there, he had to be there for the birth of their son, their firstborn, but he couldn’t take the sounds. The pain. He stared helplessly into the living room, his knuckles tight and his face as white as a sheet. At least the other children were gone today.
“I need you to push, Ginevra!” Evelyn was saying, her voice amplified to be heard.
“I… am… pushing!” she insisted.
“You’re doing just fine, Ginny dear,” Mrs. Weasley said, patting her daughter’s hand as she sat next to her bedside. The place that should have been reserved for Harry, at least before he vomited and Evelyn snapped at him to make himself useful.
Now all they could do was wait.
There was another scream and Harry couldn’t take it anymore. Although this sound was different, it was still agonizing to hear, reminding him too much of the nightmares that continued to plague him. Seven years after the war and the same ghosts came back to haunt him. He walked out of the living room, out through the kitchen, and into the small, gnome-filled garden that was now a familiar and comforting sight.
Once in the fresh air, Harry took a deep breath, trying to get as much oxygen into his lungs as he could. He wished his parents were here. Bloody hell, he wished his parents were always there, but Harry had known they had seen him get married to the woman he loved. He knew they’d watched the day he finally won her back, the day when he thought his demons would silence. He remembered it so clearly.
Another agonizing screech and Harry covered his ears. Once a coward, always a coward. The great Harry Potter couldn’t even be in the same room as his own son was born. What did that say about him?
He tried to tell himself that her screams were a sign that she was still alive. He hadn’t lost her, but there was always a chance, wasn’t there? Evelyn had warned them as much - and she’d said she’d do whatever she could to keep them both safe, but sometimes there were complications. Even in Ginny’s near perfect health, things could still go wrong.
But Harry had just gotten her back. He couldn’t lose her now.
Still reeling from the outburst at his parent’s graveside not hours before, Harry almost opened the door to the Burrow without knocking. He might have, if it were a different time, but he stopped himself in time and raised his hand to the door.
Maybe Ginny was still with Seamus - maybe she wasn’t. Maybe they were engaged and she was stupidly happy with him, and Harry was about to get his heart handed back. But he wouldn’t be Harry if he didn’t try just one more time. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he lost another chance to be with her.
Finally, she came and answered the door just as he was about to leave. She was as beautiful as ever, wearing an infamous Weasley sweater with a ‘G’ written on it. It always amazed him how she could look like a redheaded goddess in a bulky sweater. Her hair was tied back and her brown eyes were perplexed when she saw him standing there.
“Harry. What are you doing here? Now’s not really a good time -”
“Is it ever a good time?” he demanded.
Ginny sighed, and instead of letting him in like he thought she would, she stepped outside and closed the door behind her. She leaned back against it. “Listen, George is having a bad day. I really should be inside with him - Mum’s about to burst into tears at the sight of him.”
“This won’t take long,” Harry promised. His confidence swayed and his heart beat rapidly in his chest. “I just had to see you.”
“Why?” she asked. “We’re not together anymore, you don’t get to just drop by unannounced. What if Seamus was here?”
“No,” she mumbled, and something swam in her eyes that he couldn’t quite catch. Sadness? Regret? Bitterness? “He’s not. He’s with Dean… that’s not the point, though.”
“I know. The point is, I should have sent an owl or checked in via Floo Network, but I wasn’t near any of those things and I didn’t want to lose the impulse.”
“So now visiting me is just one of your impulses? Harry --”
“Will you just let me talk for once?” he asked, irritation flooding into his voice. Ginny barely even winced - she never lost his gaze, but still, there was a hint of guilt that swam in him. “You’ve always been making the decisions about us. Lately. And I do want you to be happy. And if you’re honestly, truly, stupidly happy with Seamus, I promise that this is the last you’ll hear from me and I’ll go back to being your brother’s best mate.”
“I told you how I felt!”
“You chose someone else. I know. And Seamus and I talked that day in the Leaky Cauldron because I truly thought he’d make you happy. Now, though… are you, Ginny? Are you happy?”
“I can’t possibly be happy all the time, Harry. That’s so unrealistic.”
He locked his gaze with hers, studying her once familiar brown eyes and found his answer.
“Tell me the truth. Do you, or do you not, still have feelings for me?” he asked, moving closer to her. She backed up at first, at least until his hand reached out and grabbed her waist. He drew her closer to him, and he didn’t realize until now just how much he’d missed having her in his arms.
“I loved you for a long time, Harry. I’m not just going to get over that over night.”
“That’s not an answer to the question.”
Ginny’s brows knotted on her forehead, the conflict clearly evident on her face. He probably should have waited. Waited until he was sure she and Seamus were over, waited until he didn’t feel like he was quite barging in unannounced. But he also knew that if he didn’t get this out now, it would suffocate him. It was now or never.
“Ginny,” he breathed out, reaching to cup her cheek in his hand. “Do you still love me?”
“I -” she began. She paused, her brown eyes staring up at him, helpless. And that was when she surprised him and she was the one who closed the remaining distance between them, pressing her lips against his. He kissed her back immediately, his arms snaking around her and drawing her closer, near lifting her feet off the ground.
Harry tried to focus on that feeling now. The warmth and desire that had flooded through his body at her familiar touch. Ginny’s cries from inside the Burrow, and he blinked rapidly, trying to get images of her lifeless body crumpling before him out of his head. Those had only been nightmares. Not real.
Panic ate inside of him, the blood rushing to his head. Evelyn’s words kept ringing in his ears, and he’d never forgive himself if something happened to Ginny and he wasn’t there.
What was real was happening inside - the birth of his son. He was a bloody Gryffindor, he was Harry Potter! If he could defeat the Dark Lord, he could go back and reclaim his spot by his wife’s side and be there for her when she needed him most.
He straightened himself up and was about to go inside when he saw Mr. Weasley coming out of the house. His heart lurched in his throat.
“What happened?” he demanded, walking over to him. “Is she okay?”
“She’s doing great,” Mr. Weasley assured him, his face a little pale. “But Harry, you should come inside. Your boy is almost here. You should be there to welcome him.”
Harry nodded, throat dry, and together they started walking quickly back to the Burrow. A new rush of butterflies came through his veins, hope and nerves colliding together.
“Almost there!” Evelyn was yelling, and Harry all but rushed to Ginny’s other side, relieved that the sofa wasn’t pushed up against the wall. He gripped onto her hand and she locked eyes with him, and he could see the fear and the anxiety and the hope running through them.
“I’m going - to bloody - kill you,” Ginny insisted through agonized gasps. She was sweating profusely, but Harry still thought she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
“You can when you’re done,” he assured her, grinning at her.
“There’s the head!” Evelyn exclaimed. “Come on, Ginevera. Just a few more and - here he is! You two are officially proud parents of a baby boy.”
Ginny relaxed immediately, and Harry’s grip on her hand loosened as Evelyn came over and carried a small baby in her arms. She cleaned him off before gently resting him in Ginny’s arms, and Harry was suddenly hit with an overwhelming sense of joy and pride.
Somehow, even in the darkest of times, through a war and all of the other horrible things that had happened, there was hope in this world. How was it possible that such a tiny creature could bring him so much light and happiness?
Ginny looked up at Harry, her eyes shining. “Harry, would you like to hold him?”
“Please,” Harry croaked out, and he’d completely forgotten about Mr. and Mrs. Weasley in the room with them and Evelyn - all of his attention was on his beautiful wife and his newborn son.
She glanced over at Evelyn, almost as if asking for permission, and when she nodded, Ginny carefully handed him over to Harry. He wasn’t sure what to do at first - what if he dropped him? - but he held out his arms and the moment the baby was in them, a new sense of warmth filled his entire body. The only other time he’d ever remembered being this happy was on their wedding day.
Harry stared at his newborn son with wonder and amazement. “I’ll protect you,” he whispered, gently rocking him back and forth. “I promise. I won’t let anything ever happen to you.”
That was the moment - the real, true moment - that Harry realized he wasn’t alone anymore. He didn’t have to fight through the darkness and wonder if the next day would be worth living; he already knew that it would be. All of the pain and the suffering had been worth it.
Harry had a family. His own family.
“What should we name him?” Ginny asked, breaking the spell that had entranced him with his son, reminding him that there were other people in the world.
“James,” he whispered, still looking at the infant in his arms. “James Sirius Potter.”