Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter in any way, shape, or form. I also do not own the title or the lyrics to the song. They belong to James Blunt.
Acknowledgements: Banner by me. Beta to come.
Warning! This is an AU fic that does not follow Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There are still spoilers though!
Brother’s lie in shallow graves,
Father’s lost, without a trace,
A nation blind to their disgrace
Since he has been here.
They sat around the table in silence. Their heads were bowed, staring at the food that had gone cold a long time ago. The chicken on their plates looked delicious, but there would be no eating tonight. None of them could stomach it. After the most recent loss, they weren’t sure if they could ever stomach food again.
"Has anyone checked on her lately?" asked a petite redheaded girl, daring to look up and meet her mother’s eyes. There was no response and she took that as a no. "Has anyone seen the children?"
"They’re in Victoire’s room, Ginny. Teddy was looking after them all," her brother, Bill, responded entering the room. Despite the deafening silence in the room, no one had heard him enter. Ginny nodded her head. "And before anyone asks, there’s no news. Nothing, not a trace of him anywhere. I don’t want to say this, but we’re going to have to call it."
"Never," Ginny hissed indignantly. "He’s not one of them. Neither is Harry, neither is Dad. They‘re fighters. Not dead, just missing."
A heavy sob erupted from their mother and her body sagged. She continued to weep and sag until she was dangerously close to falling into her plate of food. Ginny wrapped an arm around her mother and Bill patted her on the back. "Y-you have t-t-to f-find him," she wailed. "You h-h-h-have to f-f-find them a-a-all!"
"They will," a girl with mousy brown hair said. As she reached across the table to grab Mrs. Weasley’s hand, her arm knocked over a glass of milk and she jumped up from her seat. "I’m so sorry! Look what I’ve done now. Hold on, I’ll clean this up." Whipping out her wand, she attempted to clean up her mess, but both her arm and her voice were shaking and she ended up crumpling down upon the floor. Ginny went to rush to her side, but Bill stopped her.
"Why don’t you go check on the children? And then maybe go see if you can get Hermione anything? I’ll handle it in here," he told her. Ginny, not wanting to leave her mother or Tonks in such states, swallowed and took a heavy step forward. She took her time exiting and took an even longer time walking away from the kitchen. She could hear her brother saying, "Tonks, it’s okay. Remus is fine and at home now with Kingsley and Mad-Eye."
"But what if he’s next?" she wailed. Another loud sob erupted from Mrs. Weasley. Ginny couldn’t take it anymore. She started up the steps and went into Victoire Weasley, her niece’s room. Despite the fact that they were falling out of their teenage years, both Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley were jumping up and down, a muggle mp3 player shared between them, singing the latest Hobgoblin’s single. The other children were no where to be found.
Ginny cleared her through. The two stopped jumping and turned toward the door. "We were just--" Victoire started as they clambered off the bed. Ginny waved a hand, but asked as to where the other children had gone. "Well Jamie, Rosie, Dom, and Fred went downstairs right after Dad came in to play quidditch cards in the den. Lily, Hugh, Lou, and Roxie made Aunt Hermione ’Feel Better’ cards," she said motioning to the mess of arts and crafts stuff that lay scattered across the floor, "and Albus left for the bathroom a minute ago."
"Alright, carry on," she said in a small, tired voice. Victoire and Teddy looked delighted that they weren’t going to get into trouble, so they hopped right up on the bed and started jumping again. As she wandered down the hallway Al passed her.
"Mum, are we going home soon?" he asked with a sleepy yawn.
Ginny looked at her son and saw so much of Harry. "Probably not. You and your siblings may just spend the night," she replied truthfully and she ruffled his hair. His black tresses had already been a disheveled mess and he tried to smooth it down with his hand, just like Harry used to. His green eyes simply taunted her to bring back memories she worked hard to oppress in hopes that it would make life just a little bit easier for her. It hadn’t.
It had been seven years. Seven long, hard years since she’d seen his face. One day he’d gone to work and then he’d never come home. The only thing they’d found of him were his glasses, which Ginny kept in her bedside table and slept with every night. After Harry, her father was taken on his way to the store. Now… Now Ron was gone. She sighed. Where had they gone?
"Hey guys," she said to the group of children that were being ushered out of the guest room by a rather frazzled Hermione. The brunette stopped in the doorway to look at her friend. Ginny smiled sadly at her friend and looked to the kids. "What are you doing?" There was a chatter about cards and glitter. Ginny turned her smile into a friendly one. "Hey guess what Teddy, Victoire, and Al are doing? They’re having a dance party!" The little ones cheered and rushed off to join the other kids. Ginny turned to her friend. "No news."
"I didn’t expect there to be any," Hermione replied truthfully. Ginny looked her friend over and begrudgingly admitted that her friend looked a little better despite the fact that she still looked like she was falling apart. They stood awkwardly silent in the hallway. They could hear bustling about in the kitchen below them and some screaming coming from Victoire’s room. Ginny took our her wand a placed a silencing charm on the door. She was startled when Hermione said, "They’re going to call it, aren’t they?"
Ginny swallowed. "Maybe not tonight, but soon…"
Hermione shook her head. "Maybe they just should. We all know the truth."
"Hermione," Ginny said sternly, "don’t talk like that."
"Why not? Why not talk like that?" Hermione cried, hysterically throwing her arms up in the air. "Why not call it? We all know that he’s gone. He’s a Disappeared. Just like Harry, just like your dad. Just like Fred was before they killed him and just like countless others are. The Disappeared don’t come back unless they’re dead. Stop pretending that it‘s not going to happen like that!"
Ginny shook her head and placed her hands over her ears like a small child. She’d been strong for this long, she wasn’t going to let Hermione’s grief and pain get to her. She knew and she felt in her heart that Harry, her dad, and Ronald were still alive. They were fighters, they wouldn’t give up. They’d find their way back to her, alive. "That’s not true, that’s not true!"
"Mum?" The voice was unusually quiet and she turned on her heel to the top of the stairs where a the children, who had gone downstairs to play quidditch cards, were standing. Her eldest, James stood shell shocked in his footsteps. Fred, George’s son, started back downstairs into the kitchens. Rose, Hermione’s oldest, burst out into tears and buried her face into her cousin Dominique’s shoulder. "Is that true? Are they really dead?"
"No," Ginny replied quietly, making her way to the kids. "We don’t know… we don’t know what’s going on with them really. That’s why they’re Disappeared. We’ve talked about this before, remember?"
Rose visibly paled at the sound of this, rushed to her mother, and the two cried together in a heap on the floor. Ginny felt her stomach doing somersaults as Dominique and James stared at her, their eyes wide. Ginny and the Order had spent so much time trying to keep the kids in the dark for as long as possible and now, with one simply argument it was gone.
"So you’re saying that…?" James trailed off, his brown eyes glazing over. Ginny nodded, he too turned around and went back downstairs to the kitchen in an angry fit. Dominique and Ginny stood awkwardly in the stairwell for a moment before her fourteen-year-old neice started toward her own room. She turned around when she reached the white door and looked at Ginny thoughtfully.
"I won’t tell the younger kids," she said quietly, in a sad, small voice. "I can’t account for the others though."
When the door was closed, Ginny silently turned to Hermione and Rose, but found that they had retreated into the guest room. So she went downstairs to find James and hopefully shed some light on the situation. Not that there was much light to shed. For years they’d been telling their kids that from what they knew, the others were alive. They’d been saying that they’d come home, this was just a temporary situation. That excuse could only work for so long though.
Teddy was the first to find out, as he was the oldest. He was listening into a conversation they were having and had burst through the pantry door when he’d heard. Victoire, and Oliver Wood’s boy Calvin, were next to find out when they heard Tori’s grandma talking about it shortly after Arthur’s disappearance. Just last week Percy’s girls, Molly and Lucy, walked in on Ron and Ginny talking about it. Now, four of the other kids knew. It was really only time until Dominique found out. Ginny could attest to the fact that Fred would keep quiet. Hopefully, Rose wouldn’t be able to say much. James though… Ginny knew James would spill the moment he got the chance.
Sighing, she entered the kitchen. All eyes were on her and she stopped. "What happened?" her mother asked, eyes filled with tears again. Ginny looked around the room. She could see Fred, wrapped tightly in his mother’s arms, but she couldn’t find James. The backdoor was wide open, revealing a dark, starry sky.
"Hermione wants you to call it. She thinks it‘s silly not to," Ginny told them, shifting uncomfortably. She knew the answer, but she asked anyway. "Where’s James?"
"He stormed out of here a moment ago," Ginny’s brother Charlie replied. Ginny didn’t know when he had arrived. She simply blinked and nodded.
"I’ll take Taylor upstairs," she said, taking his six-year-old daughter by the hand.
Her mother protested. "You really should go get James. It’s not safe for him to be out there!"
"Mum, he can’t leave the yard, you have more protective spells than Hogwarts out there, and I will. I’m just gonna let him blow off a little smoke," Ginny replied a little untruthfully. She was actually going to go get Teddy and have him to talk to James because as much as Ginny loved her son, she could never get through to him. Teddy, however, was his favorite relative, even if they weren’t technically related. He looked to Teddy like an older brother and to Teddy’s dad as his own.
When Taylor was settled with the other children, who had taken to jumping on Victoire’s bed and cast Teddy and Victoire to the floor, she turned to Teddy. He smiled sadly at the situation and in the blink of an eye, turned on his turquoise hair (James’ favorite) and walked outside. Ginny followed behind slowly, closed the backdoor behind him, and turned to Fleur.
"I think… I think I need a night alone," she told the blonde.
Fleur nodded, muttered something in French and scurried upstairs to get beds ready for the children. In the beginning Ginny never would have said it, but she certainly was thankful for Fleur. Only Merlin knew where Ginny’s change of heart came from, maybe it was Harry’s disappearance or maybe it was becoming a mother herself, but Ginny liked Fleur now and saw the ways of the French girl. Other than Hermione, Fleur was Ginny’s favorite sister-in-law. Fleur, Merlin bless her, always picked up the pieces when things seemed to be falling apart.
"I’m going to head out when Teddy brings James back in," she announced and there was a collective nod of heads. Bill turned to her.
"What time will you be here tomorrow?" he asked. Shell Cottage had become the Order’s meeting place after her father’s disappearance.
Ginny chewed on her lip as she thought. "I have to work tomorrow. Do you want me over before then?"
"You could come for breakfast," Fleur said as she entered the kitchen with a pile of sheets in hand. Fleur‘s accent had faded over the years and it was barely noticeable anymore. "You really should eat more. You’re all skin and bones."
"Thanks," Ginny replied and nodded. Truth was, she only ate as much as she could stomach, which wasn’t much anymore. Fleur was always trying to stuff her with food.
While she waited for Teddy and James, she helped her brother do the dishes. Nearly the entire meal was shoved into the garbage can. Molly Weasley’s cooking had gone to waste for one of the first times since the beginning of time. They worked in silence and listened to the silent chatter behind them. George and Angelina quietly bowed out, taking Fred with them and leaving Roxanne for the night. Charlie didn’t stay long, saying that he had to get home because Taylor needed to get to bed. Nymphadora fell asleep at the table. Ginny’s mother gently woke her and they apparated home together. It was finally silent and Ginny could hear herself think.
"The quiet is nice," her brother said finally. "I don’t get much of it lately."
"I’m sorry," Ginny replied. "Would you prefer if I took Hermione?"
Bill shook his head. "No," he replied. "You’ve got enough going on and I’m sure she’d be more comfortable with you, but I think it’s just better that she stay here."
Ginny nodded, remembering that when Harry first went missing she spent a good week in her old room at her mother’s house. Hermione, she figured, would do the same. An awkward silence fell between them. Ginny wondered what could possibly be taking the boys so long. Her thoughts were interrupted as Fleur came downstairs.
"Teddy’s gone home and James is tucked in upstairs," she said and Ginny stopped drying the dish in her hands.
"Oh," Fleur said, realizing that she had missed part of the story. "Teddy apparated James back inside the house. It was part of their deal or something. You should go talk to James though." Of course, Ginny realized. Ever since Teddy had gotten his apparition license, James had been absolutely obsessed with it. He asked Teddy to apparate him everywhere.
Ginny put down her dish and rag. "I’m going to go talk to him and then I’m going home," she told her brother. He nodded. Fleur replaced her as the dish drier. Bill and his wife shared a small, happy smile before getting back to work. This small gesture made Ginny sad and with a heavy heart she started up the stairs.
"James," she whispered into the dark room.
"Mum?" he asked and there was a scramble to get off his cot. He met her at the door, slipped past her, and waited for her in the hallway. She quietly shut Victoire’s bedroom door and followed him to the stairwell, where they sat on the top step. Finally he said, "I’m sorry."
"No James, I’m sorry," Ginny replied. "I should have told you the truth."
"You were doing the right thing." Ginny was taken by his son’s act of maturity. Maybe he was ready to handle this, even at ten. After all, Harry was not much older than him when he found out the truth about everything. James already knew almost everything, except for what he’d found out tonight. "Teddy explained it all and don’t worry, I won’t tell Lily or Albus or anyone else. Teddy made me promise not to."
"Teddy covered everything, did he?" Ginny said and noted that she really needed to thank Teddy tomorrow.
James nodded. "Are you going home now?"
"Yes." She stood up and wiped off her pants. James did the same and started back toward the room. "James, take care of Al, Lily, and your cousins."
"I will, Mum," he said.
"Is Rose still with Aunt Hermione?" James said that she hadn’t left the room since the incident. Ginny bit her lip. "Check on her tomorrow, okay? Explain it the way the Teddy did."
"Alright, I will," James said tiredly. He yawned and started back toward the bedroom. Ginny waited until he’d closed the door to apparate back to her home, Godric’s Hollow.
And I see no bravery in your eyes anymore,
A/N: Yay! New story! I don’t do AU very often. I don’t know, this song really just got to me though and I wasn’t going to post this story until I was finished with it, but I’m on Chapter 5 now and just decided that it was time to post. Hehe. So much for that. Anyway, please leave a review! And look for my other story that’ll be coming out soon called "Josie."