Chapter 1 : Chapter 1: The First Puzzle Piece
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A/N: This is all from Ginny’s point of view and starts in September 25th, 2002 when she is 21 although it will jump about some as far as time. You’ll see what I mean pretty quickly. There is NO back-story, although it will unfold and this is intentional! Also each chapter is approximately one day. Happy hunting.
“We have to go!” Ginny screamed at Harry, ignoring the roaring in her ears. “He’s dead but Ron and Hermione are still holding off the others!” Tears were streaming down her face, leaving trails through the grime that covered her from head to toe. She stared in horror at the tall, dark haired teen that was not moving amidst the chaos. They were in the middle of the battle and if they did not go soon they were going to be killed. “It isn’t over Harry! Please!” She smacked his face before she pulled him into a quick hug and whispering in his ear. “We need to go.”
She seemed to have finally reached him because he nodded and took off running for where Ron and Hermione were fighting side by side with the DA and faculty, against hundreds of Death Eaters. Ginny glanced back, not even seeing the Forbidden Forest in the distance. She saw first the empty robes that had once belonged to Tom Riddle and then finally her gaze was drawn unwillingly to the still body of their Headmaster. She held in a sob and turned back to the fight. It was not over; not even close to finished.
Ginny sat up panting and drew a ragged breath. She clutched the sheet tighter as she looked around her room realizing belatedly that it was just a dream… a dream that she had relived more times than she cared to remember. She rubbed her tired eyes and slowly stood, cautiously making her way out of her room in her flat… well the flat she shared with Harry. Her heart still raced as she tread the familiar path and quietly opened the door to Harry’s room, trying not to wake him. It was a futile effort. “Another dream?” He mumbled sleepily from his bed. Harry always awoke at the slightest noise and she watched as he ran a hand over his chiseled face. She didn’t need to answer though because he lifted his blanket and opened his arms. She climbed in gratefully and he pulled her in close to him. “It will be all right Gin, go back to sleep.”
It wouldn’t be, Ginny knew as she heard his breath deepen back in to sleep. She was never fine when she slept and sometimes she wondered why she even bothered to try and sleep in her own bed except that she knew her mother would have kittens if she found out that her daughter often slept with her flat mate. She was already quite unnerved about them living together although it was completely innocent. Ginny sighed and tried to relax in the one place she truly felt safe, Harry’s arms. It was the only place where she really felt that she could let her guard down. Ginny inhaled deeply, taking in the clean smell of his t-shirt, reveling in the familiar. She put her arm around his lean frame and felt herself drift in to a fitful slumber.
Ginny watch him dance with Celia… beautiful, thin, blonde, smart and charming Celia. Her heart constricted and her whole body was awash with jealously and a longing for what would never be. She had been asked to dance twice at the Victory Ball but once had been her father… not even her brothers were willing to save her from being a wallflower. Self-pity and a loathing of her own weak heart filled her as she turned her face away from the merrily dancing couples. Everyone was thrilled that Voldemort had been defeated a month earlier… even if the Death Eaters were still actively killing. She should have been happy too despite the fact that no one wanted to dance with her. She was a hero and had the Order of Merlin. She should have been glad that Harry had found someone… she should have been in high spirits but instead she felt her heart slowly break in to a million pieces.
Ginny jumped slightly as she woke for the second time and Harry’s arm pulled her closer to him. “Another one?” She nodded wordlessly against his hard chest where she rested her head. “It’s all right you know, they’ll fade eventually.”
She laughed derisively not wanting to mention the fact that she was dreaming about his ex-girlfriend. “It’s been over four years since he died.”
He sighed. “I still have dreams.”
“You’ve never woken me by climbing into my bed.” She reminded him and grinned as she remembered the first time she had made the trip to his room. She hadn’t even lived with him for a whole month before she’d tentatively opened his door seeking refuge from her nightmares. She may have resented her mother’s meddling but Molly Weasley had always been there for her when the nocturnal hells terrorized her. Harry had welcomed Ginny in to his arms, watching over her as she slept and helped quell the fears that tried daily to break her. Although sleeping together had been awkward at first it had soon evolved into a system of mutual comfort. She envied his strength but she knew he had fought hard for it and that he too still struggled with inner demons.
“You’ve usually come in to sleep with me before my nightmares gets too bad.” He shrugged. “You help me sleep better.”
Ginny giggled. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were flirting with me.”
“You’ve found me out then.” He yawned before running a hand over her hair. “Do you think you can sleep?”
“I’ll try.” She whispered and closed her eyes.
“Do… do you want to move in with me?” Harry asked her cautiously.
Ginny just gaped at him. “Seriously?”
He laughed at her expression. “Well I am losing my flat mate to matrimony in a month and I figured that you’d want to get out of the Burrow. All you’ve been complaining about at training is how your Mum is driving you batty.”
Ginny nodded and sighed dramatically. Her mother had been horrified when Ginny had been accepted into the Auror training program and her constant nagging about the dangers surrounding Ginny had steadily increased until it was a lecture every morning before she left for work. “Mum will be furious but she trusts you so I don’t think it will be much of a problem.”
His expression remained neutral. “It’s your decision but if you want, there is a room waiting for you. I’m not taking on anyone else.”
It wasn’t a tough choice. “I’d love to move in with you.”
The scene shifted and suddenly she was facing the business end of Lucius Malfoy’s wand. “What shall I do to the blood traitor before I kill her?” His voice held contempt as he spoke to Peter Pettigrew, a small sniveling man who held her arms from behind as she thrashed against him. She tried to swallow the terror that was threatening to overwhelm her.
Pettigrew’s putrid, hot breath blew across her cheek and she felt bile rise in her throat. “I think that having her strip for us would be appropriate for someone who fucks mudbloods.”
She looked around desperate for a way to escape but no one seemed to have noticed that she had been caught. Everyone else was trying to apprehend the retreating Death Eaters before they got off the Hogwarts grounds to Apparate away.
Malfoy’s belittling words penetrated her frantic brain. “You might be turned on by fat, ugly, blood traitors Wormtail but I find her…” his eyes roved over her as he spoke. “… unsatisfactory. I think I’ll just kill her.” He smiled maliciously, raised his wand and started to speak but Ginny reacted quickly. She stomped hard on the instep of Pettigrew’s foot and ducked when he let go of her. The green light flew close over her head, hitting the other man.
She snatched her wand from the short man’s pocket as he fell and pointed it at the tall blonde before yelling, “Stupefy!” Her spell hit him straight in the chest.
Ginny’s eyes flew open once again and she let out a ragged breath. “Again?” Harry’s soothing voice helped to calm her.
“It was that time with Malfoy and Wormtail.” She sighed and was glad she didn’t have to explain further. He’d know what she was talking about. “I should probably get back to my bed or you’ll never be awake for work tomorrow.”
She made to rise but he stopped her by not letting go. “You won’t be awake either if you don’t sleep and then Kingsley will have both our heads.” She raised a questioning eyebrow. “I told you… I sleep better when I sleep with you. Why are they so bad tonight?”
“I don’t know exactly.” She said evasively although she was pretty sure that she had a good idea what was causing them.
He titled her chin so that she met his eyes. “We’ve been best friends for years Gin and we have been through so much together. You’ve lived with me for over two years now. You know you can tell me anything.”
She almost said, “No I can’t”, but mentally shook herself and finally muttered. “I don’t know.”
He studied her and she wanted to squirm away from his intense gaze. “We made a pact to be open with each other my seventh year and we always have been. Secrets can kill Ginny.”
His haunted look made the guilt in her swell. She was keeping a secret but she couldn’t tell him everything or she’d lose him and that was unthinkable. Sometimes he was the only thing that kept her sane when the voices of past evils started screaming too loud. “I know Harry.” Her brain brought her back to when Remus had nearly died. Once again Dumbledore had kept vital information from Harry and he had nearly lost the last Marauder. “The two of us swore we wouldn’t ever keep any more secrets.”
“So why are you keeping them now?” He asked quietly.
She felt a tear escape her eye as she put her head on his shoulder, relishing in the sensation of being held by him. She could tell him most of the truth. “It’s so stupid but I’m worried about what will happen when you get married.” It had been on her mind since she had heard one of the secretaries talking about having a date with him. She had realized then that someday she was going to lose him and when that happened she would lose her fragile sense of security- her ability to be her real self with someone else. She’d lose the normalcy that she so desperately craved. Ginny had put up a good front for everyone else and they truly believed that she was as strong as she pretended to be. Everyone saw her as whole and happy but her reality was so far from the outward façade that she was not sure that she could ever go back and undo the web of deceit that she had created for her family and friends.
It was different with Harry. She had him because he was the same and he had her to understand his moods. He also pretended for everyone else but the truth was that neither of them were completely healed nor were they truly whole. His breath had left him after she spoke her fear out loud and he didn’t respond. What he did finally, after several long moments, was burst into laughter. “I didn’t think you’d laugh at me.” She muttered mulishly.
He sobered immediately. “I’m not getting married. Ever.”
“But…” She looked up at him. “Then why are you dating?” She felt stupid after she said it. He probably wanted companionship.
“What are you on about? I’m not dating anyone!” He sounded extremely confused.
“One of the secretaries said that she had a date with you tomorrow.” She admitted sheepishly realizing that she had just owned up to eavesdropping. “I heard her telling a few of her friends that she had a lunch date with you.”
“She what?” He raged and then calmed somewhat but his expression was still dangerous. “I have to meet with one of the secretaries tomorrow to go over the schedule for our trip to America. I made it for lunch time because I wanted everything set as soon as possible and I am swamped tomorrow morning.”
Ginny laughed and felt the relief move through her. “So she made that up?”
“She certainly did.” He snarled and then moaned. “Damn! I still have to meet with her tomorrow.”
“I can come with you. I don’t have anything planned for lunch.” She offered.
“That would be great.” He squeezed her shoulder gently. “Why were you so worried about that?”
“I just… I don’t want to lose you.” She finished lamely. “You are the only person I get to relax around.” She didn’t even let her guard down around Ron and Hermione. They were happy now… they had moved on, married two years ago and were now trying for a baby. Ginny did not want to ruin that for them by crying about the bedlam that was her life.
He was silent for several moments. “You could get married.”
“It won’t happen.” She denied. The only person she could ever marry didn’t want her and she’d long ago accepted that she would spend her life alone. She did not like it that way but she knew that it would be unfair of her to marry someone else when she was in love with Harry. The only thing that made her life bearable was having him close. She could survive this way.
Not that it matter since she hadn’t been asked on a date by anyone in over a year. She’d only been on two dates anyway since she’d left Hogwarts and both had been unqualified disasters. She knew that part of the reason was her reluctance to open up to anyone and she never flirted anymore. She had made the effort while still in school but now it seemed so pointless. She wasn’t really fit to be in a relationship. Her mind was a jumbled mess, filled with darkness and pain. She’d only drag some poor sod along for the ride if she tried to date. “I’m not getting married either. No one is going to understand me like you do and I couldn’t marry someone who I couldn’t be completely honest with.” This much was at least true.
“Are you sure?” He searched her eyes while she nodded slowly. “Then I guess we’re stuck with each other.”
“You’re grouchy sometimes but I pretty sure I can handle that.” Ginny said and then yawned. “I think I’ll be able to sleep now.”
She heard the amusement in his voice. “Good. We have a secretary to deal with tomorrow.”
She sighed contentedly, safe for the moment in knowing that she was not going to lose him and fell into a dreamless sleep.