As promised Harry was present for the practices leading up to the World Cup tournament. Ron and Hermione both tried to talk to him but he wouldn’t talk much. He spent every waking hour training for the matches. At night he tried to sleep, but it was pointless. His sleep was interrupted by thoughts of Ginny or of Voldemort who it seemed was enjoying unbridled freedom in Harry’s head again. After three nights of no sleep he had the team healer give him a couple vials of a sleeping draught to get him through until after the final.
Through the first week of the tournament Chudley easily made it to the semi-finals. In the semi-finals they beat Ireland in a tough game. The final would be Chudley versus Bulgaria. Harry would be facing Viktor Krum for the third time.
Harry was pulled from what little sleep he’d managed by an owl pecking at his fingers. He recognized Ellie, Ginny’s owl. It held out its talon, a note attached. "Get out, not damn interested," he grumbled and swatted the bird in the face.
The owl squawked loudly and returned, now pecking harder and harder at his fingers. "Get out!" he smacked the bird away again. It screeched as it tumbled away.
Ron entered the tent after hearing the commotion. "Blimey Harry, don’t kill the damn owl! Take the note and throw it away, but killing the owl’s not gonna fix anything."
"I don’t need any help Ron," Harry sneered.
"Yeah Harry, you do, you just won’t let us," Ron countered, frustration mounting in his voice. "Just like always, you shut us all out. Read the damn note."
Harry grabbed the owl which promptly clawed his arm. He begrudgingly took the note. Ellie squawked again and clamped her beak down on his fingers. Blood ran down his hand. "Ouch! Damn bird."
"Harry, mate you’ve hardly talked to me in two weeks, not said a word to Hermione. Mum’s owled you at least a half a dozen times and you don’t answer her. Ginny’s owled you since you’ve been here, I know that for a fact. What are you going to do run away from all of us?" Ron lectured.
"I don’t know; just leave me alone for now. I’ll be ready come game time." Harry fumbled with the envelope.
Ron’s voice softened, "Harry, I know what she did hurt, just don’t ignore her. Read the note, please."
He grasped a small canvas bag stowed near the bed and opened it. Inside was all the post he’d received in the last two weeks. The letters from Molly he’d read, but didn’t feel like responding. The letters from Ginny were unopened. He couldn’t cope with it, and he’d be damned if he was going to bother with her post before he played in the final. At least he still had quidditch, and he wanted to win, he did not need any more distractions.
He stared at the envelope in his bloody fingers. He didn’t understand why, maybe Ron’s speech got to him, but this one he opened.
I’m writing this knowing that you won’t be reading it. Ron has told me that you won’t open my letters. Just so you know, I’ll keep sending them, for a while anyway.
I do miss you, every day. I know I’ve hurt you deeply and can only hope you will be able to forgive me for the pain I’m causing you. We have to talk, if you won’t talk to me in person we can do it by owl, patronus, or floo. I don’t care which, but we have to talk!
I’m traveling with the Harpies now. You would know that if you would answer my letters. In my last letter I mentioned that I would be at the World Cup pitch and asked that you visit me last Tuesday. I now know you didn’t read that letter, but I waited for you on that night, until well past midnight. I cried myself to sleep when you didn’t come by.
Please let me explain. We have too much history to let ‘us’ die.
All my love,
Harry wiped a tear from his eye and put the note back in its envelope. One more day and he’d be free of quidditch and practices and everything. He could be gone again, a whole summer free of everyone. No expectations, no false hopes. Just him, evidently the way it was supposed to be.
"Harry, are you okay to play, you don’t look good?" Viktor asked with genuine concern for his friend.
"Fine," Harry answered brusquely. "I’m sorry Viktor, life’s just not been good, that’s all," Harry apologized.
"You need a break, that’s all," Viktor offered. "Well game on." Viktor strode onto the field with his team.
Harry joined up with the Cannons and took to the pitch as well.
Harry pushed off hard as the whistle sounded. It felt good to be flying; it was the only thing that felt good lately. Harry sped around the pitch looking for the snitch. Viktor wasn’t having much luck either. This match was the toughest yet between the two teams. At the six hour mark both teams were using reserve Chasers and the Bulgarian team had switched to a backup Keeper. Ron was still holding fast.
Viktor and Harry hovered near mid field neither of them could see the snitch as they took a brief rest. Harry sped off to search the north end of the pitch. Viktor went to the east. The match was now at eight hours and both coaches were berating their seekers. The score was Bulgaria 120, Chudley 110. The snitch would still decide it.
The game entered its ninth hour. It was now dark making the snitch even more impossible to see. The magical stadium lighting was good, but not as good as daylight. Harry finally drew a bead on the snitch and made his way towards it flying so his pattern looked like he was searching. The snitch was closer to Viktor and he couldn’t take the chance that Viktor would figure it out. When he finally sped for the snitch Viktor gave chase, Harry had about a two broomstick lead. The snitch bolted and the chase was on. It took Harry another ten minutes but he finally wrested the snitch and flew above the center of the pitch. He’d done it.
He flew around to gather his thoughts and found himself staring into the Chudley box seats. All the Weasleys were there, even the one he most wanted to see, who was unfortunately the one he least wanted to see as well. He landed at center field of the pitch to be with is team. The team slapped and grabbed him in victory. He smiled, ungloved his hand and grabbed the snitch with his bare skin effectively making it his own. ‘Best seeker in the league,’ he smiled to himself.
The victory celebration at center field kept going, official pictures were taken, press photos were snapped and quotes given. Ron made his way over to Harry. "Great job mate, great!" He hugged Harry roughly and didn’t let go. Hermione was waiting next and Ron released him only long enough for Hermione to grab him.
"You were fantastic, Harry, you did great." Hermione tried to kiss him on the cheek barely making contact as he pulled away from her. She tightened her grip on his arm keeping him from escaping.
"Ron, I’ll be back around the start of the season," Harry promised trying to break free.
"Don’t just take off Harry, don’t. Let us help." Hermione offered.
"You’ve helped enough, I don’t need any more of your type help." He glared at the female third of the trio.
Harry stared at them. "I need to be on my own, you both know how I am. A few weeks ago I’d have worked through my feelings by talking with Gin…But not now, she’s the reason I need to be alone. Ron, I’ll keep in touch, I promise."
Up above the fireworks started to explode and he looked up to watch them. When he looked down he was caught by Ginny’s eyes. She was wearing his old jersey.
He shivered as a cold chill swept through his body, any remaining happiness left him.
"You did well," she complimented him. "I’m glad you won, you worked so hard all year. I am very, very, proud of you."
Harry sighed. "I don’t know what to do, what am I supposed to say?"
She shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. "Ron says you don’t even bother to open my letters."
"I opened the one today," he looked at the ground.
"Harry, I need…" she explained.
"To find yourself, yeah I know. It was in the letter," he cut her off bitterly.
"We have to talk, Harry, please. If you want me to beg I will, please." Ginny’s eyes pleaded with him to accept the offer. She took his chin in her hand and attempted to pull his face to hers "Please talk to me." He jerked his head back from her touch.
"You win then, meet me here in three hours." He turned away from her to leave, Molly blocked his escape.
Mrs. Weasley grabbed him and smothered him in a hug. "Harry honey we miss you, please come see me, us. I know its tough on you, but we’re your family."
"I miss you too Mum," he said as he struggled to free himself from her clenches.
Harry looked up and around at the gigantic stadium one last time and apparated to his tent. He changed from his robes, showered and then went to the press room for his interviews. When finished with the interviews he signed autographs for a while, he didn’t necessarily care for it, but he didn’t hate it. Mostly it was quidditch fans, not hero worshippers. His fans fell into two main groups, the first was younger and female which made him uncomfortable, like he was constantly on display. The second group of fans was young boys dreaming of being stars themselves. This was his favorite set of fans because they talked flying and strategy. After the autograph session he trudged back to his tent.
Quickly he packed the tent and did the reduction charm on his belongings. He was packed and ready to go.
He landed his broom in the center of the pitch, Ginny was waiting for him. "Hi Harry, I need to start with I’m sorry… I am so, so sorry for hurting you…"
"At Christmas you said you wanted to be married, what changed? You said you loved me, but now you don’t?" he asked directly with a stony expression on his face.
"I still love you." She tried to hold his hand.
"Then why didn’t you say ‘yes’?" He pulled his hand away.
"I should have let you know what I was going through, but I wanted to do it in person," she tried to explain.
"You were able to tell every other damn person," he interrupted. His voice got stronger. "It isn’t like I have anything at stake right?" His voice got louder again, "It doesn’t affect me does it?"
"Harry I just…" she started again.
"What hurts the most is that I should know better…If I’ve not learned one stupid lesson from my life I should have learned by now that me being happy isn’t the plan. It never was…from the day I was born to today. Everything that ever felt good is a precursor to having that same thing ripped away." He paused before going on.
"But it’s cruel, because it only gets taken away after I start to think I can be happy, so it hurts that much more... I really thought with you it would be different….I get my hopes up for nothing. I should know better… I’m so stupid," he finished.
"You are not stupid," Ginny growled fiercely. "It’s me that needs to get fixed Harry, not you. I need to grow up, to become myself." Ginny’s voice calmed. "I’m just the opposite of you. You never had a chance to be a kid. You were forced to grow up when your parents died. I’ve never had to do on my own and now I need to, to become whole… You surprised me with the proposal, I’m not ready yet, I know it." She tried to hold his hand again, but again he pulled away.
"About the ring…" Ginny began fishing the box from her handbag.
"I don’t want it…" Harry cut her off.
"NO, let me finish!" she interrupted his outburst. Ginny’s eyes filled with tears, she spoke softly, "It’s beautiful, and it’s...it's beyond anything I imagined in my wildest dreams."
"That’s because it’s you. The diamond has the same perfect oval shape as your eyes. And the rubies mimic the deep red your hair is in the twilight. The emeralds are for all the times you find a way to wear green, because I know you always try to match the color of my eyes. Every part of it is you." He looked at her sadly, looking directly into her eyes for the first time since the conversation started.
"Keep it, sell it, whatever…I don’t ever want it back." He shrugged.
"I don’t want to lose you, but I need you to give me space so I can sort myself out," Ginny pleaded, tears rolled down her pink tinged cheeks.
"Space? Fine then…Have all the space you need. I hope you find yourself…bye Gin." He turned away, stepped over his broom and kicked off.
For the next fortnight Harry stayed in the muggle world riding his motorcycle across Europe, camping in the woods and doing what he did best, find ways to be alone. His journey of solitude kept everyone away. The only exception was Ron, he’d send a patronus once in a while, not letting him know where he was, but letting him know he was doing as best he could. Every day was a challenge as he struggled to sort his feelings and manage his anger.
The nightmare started slowly. Fog rolled in over a small graveyard hidden deep in a black forest. Moonlight filtered down through the canopy of trees. Harry was cautiously winding through the headstones wand drawn in defense.
"Welcome!" shrieked his nemesis. "Little Potter has come back to me, so weak that even after his supposed victory he is not fully free of my influence. I see now you understand the power of the true Dark Lord. Come Harry…See the vision I have for you tonight."
Voldemort glided around a large obelisk shaped marker before transforming to mist and seeping through the doors of a large mausoleum. Harry followed the vapor and slowly pushed the heavy bronze door to the crypt open. A stained glass window set into the far wall glowed eerily as the moonlight sifted through the pattern of colored glass. Stretched out across the top of the grey stone tomb in the center of the floor was Ginny. A dashing Tom Riddle stood by her holding her hand and running his fingers through her red locks fondly caressing the young woman lightly, almost lovingly.
"Ah, yes so nice to have my beautiful princess back with me. Of course they always come back to their first true love the maidens do," Riddle calmly goaded Harry. "Well you have once again failed Potter, haven’t you? She was smitten with you for a while, but she is mine again to do as I please."
"NO, no get away, I stopped you in the chamber. I can stop you now," Harry screamed.
"Wrong dear boy, wrong…She still belongs to me…does she not still dream of me? Please, you know the truth…" Tom’s voice patronized Harry.
"NO, she wants me, she loves me!" he yelled to the ghostly figure of Riddle.
"Then why did she not take your ring, you foolish twit?" Voldemort continued his teasing, "Alas had you left her for me the first time, your current state would have been avoided."
"No you can’t have her!"
"Then perhaps one of her many suitors will claim her again now that she has disposed of you… again?" With a flourish of Tom’s hand the images of Michael Corner, Roger Lathrop and Dean Thomas shimmered into existence. More men materialized. Anyone Harry vaguely remembered eyeing Ginny in the past appeared, waiting for her to choose.
"She is quite attractive this one, she’ll find a new beau soon. What will happen if she finds a new love?" Riddle mocked him. The crowd of men elbowed Harry away from Ginny and closed in around her prone body.
"No, you can’t have her!" he swung wildly punching the men he could reach and casting spells at any he could not hit directly…
Harry thrashed in his sleeping bag, falling off the cot in his tent. The impact of his face with the floor woke him. His skin was clammy and cold beads of sweat clung to his forehead. He looked about crazily searching for Ginny. All he saw in the dim light was his tent, the soft patter of rain on canvas leant a sense of eerie calm to the night.
‘What if I’m not what makes her happy?’ he wondered. Harry thought back to the night of the battle and his trip into the forest to sacrifice himself. He did it so Ginny could live, so she would live and be happy. He pictured them together on that night, but now looked at the scenario from a different perspective. ‘How much do I love her?’ He realized how difficult the following months would be. He loved her enough to let her find her own way no matter how much it hurt. He rummaged around in his pack and pulled a quill, ink bottle and parchment from within and started composing the most difficult letter he’d ever have to write. The sixth attempt was passable, he rolled up the note and stowed it in his rucksack so he could give it to Ron for Ginny.
I haven’t a clue where to start. I’ll just write what enters my mind. I wish I knew why you didn’t confide in me, it hurts horribly that you don’t feel like you can trust me. What did we work on that whole summer? I deserved better didn’t I?
When you turned down my proposal I had to get away. I can’t stay at the Burrow or at our place because all I’ll do is obsess over you, and I know that will depress me to no end. So I’m going to stay on the road this summer. If you want or need to reach me find your brother. Ron will know how to contact me, at this point he is the only person I trust.
After the World Cup game you asked me to give you space and I will. As hard as it will be for me to do this, I’ll let you find your way without interference from me. I hope when this is over we can start trying to be ‘us’ again. If it becomes apparent to you that ‘us’ isn’t in the cards I ask that you let me know. So for now, take your time and discover who you are or who you want to be. Try not to forget that I’m waiting for you. I’ll leave further contact up to you. I will miss you, I already do.
I Love You Chaser Girl,
Ron was waiting for him at the muggle pub when Harry arrived.
"Hey mate, glass of stout?" Ron offered him a glass of beer, which Harry gratefully accepted. Harry pulled up a chair to the bar height table.
"Hey Ron," Harry muttered.
"Thanks for meeting me, ‘Mione’s got the next book almost ready, another week or so tops. Mum and Dad say hello," Ron said.
"Tell them ‘hi’ then," Harry said back. "Ham sandwich and chips please," Harry said to the waitress. The two friends talked about the book and quidditch while waiting for Harry’s lunch. The waitress brought their plates.
"Where have you been?" Ron questioned.
"Riding, just riding. I don’t really pay attention to where I’m going. I just can’t stay in the same place too long." Harry sighed. He started in on his lunch plate. "If I think I might like to visit a certain place I just go." He munched some chips.
"Berlin was alright, Prague was really nice. I overheard a retired couple talking about it so I went. It really is quite beautiful."
"Ginny said ‘hello’ to you," Ron replied. "I know she misses you."
"Did she say that?" Harry questioned between bites.
"No, not outright. She fishes for information without really asking the question she wants answered," Ron responded.
"Pass her this please." Harry passed him the rolled up note. He swallowed the last of his sandwich and gulped down the last of his stout. "I’ll be in touch." Harry got up from his seat and faced his friend. "Oh Ron… thanks, I needed this." Harry left the pub leaving his friend at the table.
Hermione had finished the second installment of their adventures leaving a copy hidden in London for Harry to proof before sending it to The Quibbler. Enclosed with the manuscript was a two page apology letter from her, detailing her account of the situation and how she felt terrible for not telling him. He used Edgar to send a note saying that the manuscript was fine, he accepted the apology. In a second note he asked Ron to keep Edgar for him since it was hard to travel muggle style with an owl for a pet. Ron mentioned he had a stack of post for him if he was interested. None of it was from Ginny, he wasn’t particularly interested. He’d pick it up the next time the two met.
The last weeks of June had passed with only one relevant event. Hermione caught up with Rita Skeeter and turned her in to the Ministry of Magic for registration, she would now be tracked in her bug form which would certainly put an end to some of her ‘exclusive’ interviews. Hermione turned down Harry’s reward on principle. Harry spent most days sightseeing, flying on his Firebolt, jogging or working out. Other days he spent drinking and alone, just the way he liked it.
He’d had lunch with Ron again. Ron mentioned that Ginny said ‘hello’, but there was no letter for him. Ginny hadn’t written him in a month. This was tougher than he thought it would be, his heart felt empty.
Ron caught up to Harry early in July at a fishing pier near Dunkirk. Like the last visits they talked for a few minutes. There was no note from Ginny, just Ron’s assurance that she did indeed want to know about him, even though she was too stubborn to ask outright. Harry left in a worse mood than when he arrived.
A week later Ron asked to meet him in Diagon Alley for lunch, they were to meet at the joke shop first. Harry arrived and saw Verity behind the counter. "Is Ron here yet?" Harry asked.
"No, I don’t think so. I think George is in the back if you want to wait in private." She pointed to the back of the shop. Harry nodded and wound his way to the back of the shop.
"George, you back here?" Harry called as he entered the stock room. Nobody answered. He sat on the bench near the table and rested his head. He closed his eyes and waited for his friend.
Harry stirred as the bench rocked gently beneath him. Another person slid onto the bench. "That you Ron?"
"No," Ginny answered softly. Harry looked to her immediately, searching for her eyes. She avoided his look. "I’m supposed to meet him here for lunch."
"Me too," Harry replied. "I think we’ve been set up." Ginny turned to face him. "What’s happening Gin? You haven’t written, or anything. I’m at a loss for what to do next. I just know nothing is right anymore."
"Harry…" She leaned her head back and stared at the ceiling as if searching it for the right answer, "…I’m still so confused. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. I think I’m improving, but days like today I’m not so sure."
"Confused about what?" he questioned.
"About who I am and what I want to do in life."
"I thought you wanted ‘us’?" he questioned.
"I do, but there is more to life than just us, right? I do love you Harry, and someday I want ‘us’ again, but not until I can become my own person," Ginny explained, "So for now, can you please find a way to let me be? Don’t push, it will just make it harder on me. Try to trust me."
Harry swallowed his heart and nodded ‘yes’ to her. He stood to leave, she stood next to him. Slowly she took his hand. He didn’t fight it; instead he pulled her hand towards him softly. Ginny leaned into him resting her head on his chest, he slipped his hands around her waist. The couple shared a very tender embrace.
Ginny released the hug and stepped away. "Bye Harry." She hurried from the stockroom, wiping her eyes as she exited.
"Harry my boy, have I got a deal for you." George pushed his way in as Ginny was leaving. He soon started talking business with Harry. Ron joined in a little later wearing a self satisfied smirk.
The last three weeks of July passed along in a blur of nondescript days spent traveling, working out and flying. Fortunately for the most part he was training more and hardly drinking at all. The brief meeting with Ginny allowed him to see she still cared. Only one other day stood out as significant, the day he visited the joke shop to check on some business with George.
"… are really cool George, really cool." Harry admired the new mini firework that was going off in front of him. As he watched the sparkles in the window he saw someone he needed to meet with.
"George, take these outside and put on a demonstration for the next few minutes okay?" Harry requested.
"Why, they sell good from here and…"
"Do it George, trust me. I want you to have a very public display for the next ten minutes or so," Harry said as he left the store. George packed up the items and went to the street to show them off to the crowd.
Two blocks down Harry caught up to the person he was looking for, and pulled the man into a side alley behind an old cistern. Harry kneed the man in the stomach before slamming him against the wall. He cast a silencing charm, and then pulled the man up by his hair. Dean Thomas was terrified. That particular look was replaced with a look of pain as Harry’s fist collided with his jaw. A volley of punches later Dean was a mess, his jaw broken and dislocated, and his nose pushed over to the side. Both of his eyes were swollen and already exhibiting a purplish-black hue. His nose and lips poured blood. Harry let him fall to the ground landing in the mud oozing from the cistern. Dean drew sharp shallow breaths, unable to fill his lungs without yelping in pain.
Harry’s final acts were to shove the article about Ginny into his broken mouth, crack Dean’s wand in two and lean down to deliver the following message. "If you can talk after this, find her, apologize to her face and suffer the consequences. If you can’t talk, then hand her a note saying the same. If I find out you didn’t do this, or you try to rat me out I’ll put you the same place I put Voldemort. Don’t make me come back, understood?"
Dean bobbed his bloody head ‘yes’…
Harry flexed his hands thinking about it, his knuckles felt fine now. He eventually found a private healer discrete enough to keep his identity a secret and allowed her to fix the broken bones in his hands. He smiled at the memory, ‘That was a good day.’
Harry looked at his watch it was slowly ticking off the seconds; fifty eight, fifty nine, midnight, plus one, plus two, plus three. It was his birthday he was now twenty years old; nineteen years older than he ever should have been if the curse had worked. It hadn’t of course and he became the Boy-Who-Lived and with it his fate was sealed. ‘Happy Birthday,’ he whispered silently to himself. He stood up and stepped from his tent into the sweltering night air. He strengthened the protective wards on the tent and then made sure the cloaking charms were still in good order protecting his camp. ‘Pop’ he was gone.
He landed near the Burrow. Lights were on in the kitchen which was odd since it was almost one in the morning. Why exactly he needed to go to the Burrow was not a mystery. The last few years he’d celebrated his birthday there. Well it was the only place that he celebrated his birthday, the Dursleys never celebrated it and he knew that was why he was here. He saw Molly in the window with a freshly iced cake setting it where he knew the sideboard was. She looked out the window to the lane. He didn’t know if she knew he was there. She appeared to be the only one up. He walked slowly to the door.
"Mrs. Weasley," he whispered. She quickly opened the door. "Silencio!" the spell hit her immediately. "Sorry for the jinx Mum, if you call any one else I leave, okay?" She nodded yes.
"Is anyone else awake?" he asked. She nodded no. Harry released the spell and was engulfed in her hug.
"Merlin Harry, I prayed you would come see me tonight, come in," she whispered and pulled him into the kitchen. She cast a silencing charm so they could talk without waking the others. "Talk to me Harry, why don’t you come around?"
He grabbed her in a hug. "Mum, I don’t know where to start. What she’s doing is tearing me apart on the inside… I’ve wanted her for so long, and she…" the words spilled out flowing like water. He poured his heart out to the only person he thought he could talk to, his Mum. He continued, letting out all the bottled up emotion that was eating him from the inside.
"Oh Harry." She cradled his head onto her shoulder. "I wish I could fix this, make your hurt go away." She pulled away and sat him at the table. Molly poured a fresh iced tea for him and one for herself before sitting down.
"Dear you don’t look well; you aren’t eating right are you? And you don’t look like your sleeping very well either." She clucked over him in worry.
"No, but did you expect any different?" he replied.
"Not really," she said with a sigh, "have the nightmares come back?"
"Yeah, pretty often, I’d almost stopped having them you know, after the day Ginny and…" His voice faded out. "But now they’re back."
"Harry why aren’t you here? You never come around. Distancing yourself is not helping you, or Ginny. It’s confusing to the rest of us," she lectured him gently.
"Because I love her Mum, more than I love myself," he confessed. "I’ll tell you a secret that only she and I know about. The night I went in to face Voldemort I knew I was supposed to die, the whole prophesy stated as such. I knew the death curse failed once on me because of my Mum’s love for me. I hoped my love for Ginny would see me through, and it did. As he cursed me I focused my mind on her, how it felt to know she loved me, and how I loved her. It worked and I lived, but that’s not the important part. When I went in to face him, I only did it so that even if I died she would live and could try to be happy." He sipped his ice tea.
"Now is the same thing, I love her so much I want her to be truly at peace and happy. Even if as she grows she figures out we weren’t meant to be. In the end I want her to be happy and have true love…even if it isn’t with me… She can’t find freedom if I’m a constant reminder, so for now I’m letting her go. I left it up to her to write me, and she hasn’t... not once all summer… It hurts." He drank again from his tea. "I don’t come around because we might meet, and I don’t want to make it harder on her. Plus, everything here reminds me of her and makes it that much worse on me."
"I see…" Molly patted his hand. "How did the scared eleven year old boy I saw at King’s Cross turn into such an amazing young man?"
"Harry I know her actions have hurt you, but I need you to know that she loves you very deeply. Its not easy on her, she’s trying to figure out who she is, who she needs to be to make herself happy and complete. None of my other children ever went though this, and honestly Harry, it scares me. She’s more vulnerable now than I’ve ever seen her. Some days she looks lost, like she did the summer after the chamber. She stays with the team, but she complains that she’s alone. The only person she wants to confide in is you, but she’s pushing you away, and you’re running further and further from all of us."
She caught her breath and went on, "I’m worried. Ginny’s having nightmares too. She writes to you, but then throws the letters away because she doesn’t think she should send them. She wears your jersey, I’ve seen her. Some nights I’ve caught her taking the ring out and staring at it. She’s fighting her way along as best she can."
Molly took his hand. "Don’t close the door Harry, leave it open, please leave it open to her."
"I’ll try, I’ll try. I should go." He stood to leave.
She stopped him. "I have a cake and some gifts for you." She handed Harry a small package and a letter and pointed to the chocolate cake ‘Happy Birthday Harry’ penned across the frosting in golden icing.
He opened the package; it was from Molly, Arthur and the rest of the family. Inside was a photo of the whole family including Harry and Hermione, set in a simple wooden frame. Ginny stood in front of Harry, safely tucked in his arms. The photo was from the party when Ron and Harry made the Cannons. "Thanks Mum," Harry said half-heartedly.
"I know it’s not anything expensive or fancy, but it was all I could think of to give you that let you know that we love you. All of us," Molly explained. "I held them here, we didn’t know what else to do."
The letter was from Ginny.
Here’s hoping you have the best of birthdays. I know saying it won’t make it so, but I do hope you have a good day. I know it’s my actions that are making it so tough and I apologize. Again, all I can do is ask for forgiveness now and promise to explain when I can. Happy Birthday Harry.
I know I betrayed you by not talking to you, I can’t change it, but I certainly wish I could. You are correct, you deserved better. I’m not so sure that you don’t deserve someone better than me. I’m torn Harry, I want to talk to you, but I can’t face you. When you wrote that you would give me space I did not think it meant you would not contact me at all. I’m afraid that you’ll relapse into depression and nightmares. Or worse, feel as though you aren’t loved. You are loved, by me, even if you don’t believe it.
You left it up to me to write you, I want to but I’m afraid I’ll just end up running back to you instead of figuring myself out. Being on the road with the team is making me push forward with my life. I’m focusing on my life but it is difficult to sort out. This is not what I envisioned at all. I keep living one day at a time hoping when this is over we can still be together.
Dean Thomas stopped me after one of my games the other day (I’m playing on the Harpies summer exhibition team) he apologized profusely for selling out to Rita. He looks different, his jaw and nose aren’t quite the same as I remember. I sent my batty friends his way, and he now has a very uncomfortable set of boils on his nether regions. Thank you for ‘encouraging’ him. I assume if you’re still mad at him, you must still care about me.
There is a purpose in all this. If you want what we saw together in the mirror then I have to get my head straight first. We can’t be ‘us’ until I can be ‘me’. Please just give me a chance.
He put the letter in his pocket. "I do need to get going, bye Mum."
"Can I tell them…her, that you stopped by?" Molly asked.
"Tell them whatever you want, but please make sure Ginny knows I read her letter." With that he slipped through the door to the porch. ‘Pop’ he was gone.
Ginny stepped sleepily into the kitchen on her birthday. "Morning Mum," she mumbled. It was her first day back after training camp and she was still tired from the rigorous workouts.
"Morning dear. You have some post already." Her mother passed her some packages and letters. The first was from Ron and Hermione, it was a nice card and a new set of Quidditch gloves. The second letter came from Aunt Muriel. The third package was from Bill and Fleur, it contained a card and some new shirts were enclosed. The fourth letter made her heart skip.
I’m writing this not knowing if you want to hear from me or not. I’ve left it up to you to contact me and you haven’t, so I’m not sure.
Happy Birthday! I’m sure your family will make sure you have a nice day. I won’t be stopping by because I’m sure you still need your space. Please know that my first thought on this day will be of you. Hope you have a good day.
To answer your question in my birthday letter, yes I still care, I care very much. Sadly those feelings don’t do much more than make me hurt. I don’t know where we stand. You asked me to leave you alone and I have, it is easier to just avoid everyone.
As for your statement about still loving me, thank you for saying it, I hope you mean it. It’s hard being apart from you. All I can figure is that the only reason for you to say ‘no’ was that I’m what you need the break from. I don’t know, I’m trying to understand. I’m glad you are resolving some of your troubles. Please write to me.
I truly miss you Gin.
In September I’ll be back with the Cannons and have Edgar back with me. I would like to hear from you, please owl me.
"He wrote," she said softly, followed by a small sigh.
"Yes dear he did." Molly rubbed her daughter’s hair and smiled gently, saying in a soothing voice, "He’s a good man, and he loves you so much."
Ginny blinked rapidly and nodded in affirmation.
The expression on Molly's face turned to one of protectiveness. "Don’t lose him." she said sternly.
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