Chapter 1 : As Morning Unfolds
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The morning is young and the night is old as she tiptoes down the stairs, her candle casting a glowing halo to purge the shadows surrounding her. All is well, and all within the vicinity are tucked away within their beds, all save for her: a lone figure moving in the midst of an unmoving photograph.
There is no one awake to hear the creak the door emits as she carefully pulls it open, no one to see her slip outside into the open air. And for this she is thankful, as she knows she should not have left the walls of her home. Even if her safety is assured, no matter if she strays too far for the eye to perceive; she can wander only as far as her heart will allow.
But Ginny Weasley does not wander in this moment that is ensnared between two times. Her path is clear, calculated and chosen even before her steps had begun. Her feet, bare and unhindered, gleam a milky white against the damp grass as the moon gently kisses her toes. In this light, everything is ebony and white, and perhaps the many shades in between. Not that she notices this, just as she has ever noticed before, on nights—or mornings—identical to this one in which she is now living. She notices only what is just beyond the tree whose leaves and branches meld together as one.
A tiny house, like a postcard whose subject is hiding in the distance. She squeezes through the opening at its front, a door which forms an awkward shape for passage. Inside, it smells of the sweetness of straw that has been left alone for one day too long. As if it has been built yesterday, the wooden structure attacks her senses with the sharpness of pine. This causes a smile to play across her lips; it is just as she recalls. She curls her legs beneath her, quietly piling yellow straw against her, absent in mind but not in thought.
The hens stir only slightly; she is careful not to wake them, and they, in turn, are careful not to drive her away. Ginny likes the balance that she has established in her pursuit to lift the daily burdens from her chest.
She relays to them the thoughts that enter her mind, her chatter, whispers, never ceasing. It is a constant that infuses itself into all other sounds—the wind outside, the cricket symphony—until even she is surprised to find herself still speaking. Even though she is conscious of every uttered word.
The bird nearest to her and dearest to her, unnamed to everyone else but her, blinks a bleary eye and stretches a feathered head to meet her touch.
Hermione. The name sounds sweet upon her tongue. The so-named hen at her feet does nothing in response; over time, it has learned that when this word is said, it is referring to something else, other than itself. Something that puts a tremble into the fondness of this girl's strokes. This word is spoken far too many times, even so that the hen, who hardly comprehends its own feelings, knows that something is wrong. Amiss. Bringing a sense of longing with the wind that will linger for hours before dispersing.
Longing, Ginny says aloud, because of comprehension. She furrows her brow, then finally lapses into silence. She wants only what she cannot obtain; she has accepted this fact, and so will do nothing but be wistful. And she needs that which she does not want; she certainly has not asked for this particular path. She does not wish to think of another woman in the way that she does, but that is how it is and that is how it needs to be. She cannot explain this logic, only be certain that it is true. She cannot say why she must find beauty in each movement Hermione makes, the way in which her hair and eyes catch in the light, the methods she utilizes to deflect these things. Perhaps this is not logic at all; she does not know.
The morning is here and the night is there as she carefully descends down the ramp's gentle slope and falls into the green grass below. The hen watches her from above, its feathers golden in the waking sunlight. As she has practiced many times in the past, her steps are hasty and silent; even she can hear only a soft swish against her feet.
The door is ajar, though this is only just as she has left it, and with the intent of stealing back inside. The wood slides against her hand and then comes to a close with a click.
She tiptoes up the stairs, not needing the candle she has forgotten and left on the very last step. Everyone is quiet still, everyone asleep. She slides into her bed and pulls the blankets to her chin, wanting, needing, to dream of her…
She sits, silent and awake, for she is plagued by dreams and sleep that still refuse to come. A sigh escapes her lips, warm breath rushing along her own skin. Then it stops abruptly; she has heard a creak just outside her door. She holds her breath and waits as moments tick by and the sound has passed.
The mattress emits a subtle groan as she moves toward the edge; her feet touch the floor before she has time to think, something she is much to curious to berate herself for. She peers around the corner with her hands lingering upon the wall. A wall which forms a corridor, a corridor which leads to but one single room that is past her own.
Just inside, Ginny is sleeping with a smile curving her cheeks. Within the tangles of her hair are tiny pieces of straw, yellow mixing with red like a cacophony of autumn leaves. Hermione touches her hair, wishing that her own was just as soft. Wanting to lace her fingers through Ginny's but needing to restrain herself from that which she longs to have as the morning unfolds.
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