There was nowhere to hide, in the Muggle world or the magical one, neither home nor abroad; there was nowhere to escape from the sheer oppressiveness of a festivity in which fortunate people alone could partake.
The young woman had taken off her shoes and now walked bare-footed over a sandy and almost deserted beach in Dieppe, Seine Maritime, Normandy, carrying only a pair of espadrilles absentmindedly in her hands. She enjoyed feeling the sand against her skin, breathing in the cold February salty breeze which playfully messed her hair, listening to the roaring waves, looking at the grey-blue horizon which reminded her of the concept of infinite, of the notion of forever. Yet, eternity was cruel, and all her senses, sight, smell, tact… re-told her the same tale; that she was alive and, thus, he could not be with her.
She truly appreciated her love ones’ good intentions, how everyone around her had avoided, for quite a while now, ever mentioning the dreaded, yet fast approaching, day. Her brother and his fiancé had thought it a good idea to remove her from the familiarity of her everyday surroundings, hoping that a change of scene would trick her grief away. It’d been Hermione’s plan, she had no doubt about it. She had, after all, been the one who had offered the French property that her parents had bought when she was a child, for their stay. They had never mentioned to her why they had chosen that specific time of the year for a mini-break, merely reasoning that they could all do with a bit of sea air. How kind, but how naïve, Ginny thought. After all, even if they weren’t openly celebrating the fact in consideration for her, they were in a relationship, just as she had once been. Her mother had come too, she suspected, so that it wouldn’t be just the couple and herself.
It was time to go back to the group. She had managed to make a lame excuse to separate herself and go roaming through the beach but she knew them well enough to realise that, if she didn’t return soon, they would worry. She walked very slowly towards the cafes that lined the seafront, her shoes now on her feet. She spotted her party from a distance and smiled, but her smile was sad. Harry would have been so happy to have been able to be there with them. What a life he had had! filled with deaths, danger and neglect . But in the end he had found friendship and love, and to him that had mattered above all else, just as it had done to her.
“Ginny, goodness, at last you got back!” exclaimed her mother rising to embrace her.
They were all sitting at an outdoor table of one of the cafes that overlooked the front, despite the fact that the wind still felt rather fresh. What she dreaded the most was the customary visit to the shops, shops completely littered with every conceivable sickly-sweet and heart-shaped gift, not to mention the champagne and the roses. On the other hand, it was not right for her to, even indirectly, prevent her brother and her friend from enjoying their day. Harry would have certainly never wished for this on account of his death. At that moment, as if reading her daughter’s mind, Molly Weasley suggested to Ginny alone that they go and take a look to the chateau-museum at the top of the hill. Hermione realised at once that the two women were making provision for her and Ron to spend time on their own. She prodded him discreetly and a few moments later they left to explore the place.
But the chateau could wait. Ginny was now reminiscing again, distractedly playing with her wedding ring. It had been after all a most beautiful day, when they were married, on May Day, Beltane, with spring in full bloom. She now took in her arms the best present that Harry had ever given her, her child of three and a half months. She looked into his bright green eyes and smiled at him and then at her mother, mischievously reminding her of how angry she had been at first. Molly, at that point, suggested that they get back indoors, that the weather was not right for the little one, even if he was, predictably, pretty well wrapped up in an outfit she had knitted herself. Molly then got up and Ginny, with her boy in her arms, followed her. She kissed her baby tenderly, as she attempted to flatten his young flaming red hair, which like his Daddy’s, appeared already hard to tame.
After a warm hot chocolate, Ginny, feeling a little restless, put on her baby carrier and mother and daughter took a stroll into the town. The young witch spotted in the distance an impressive Gothic building that turned out to be the celebrated church of St Jacques. Overwhelmed by a slightly odd but powerful feeling as she stared at its facade, she walked inside, her little boy very close to her chest. Molly sensed again her daughter’s need for privacy and stood outside admiring what a tourist told her was a statute of St James.
After pacing up and down, as if in a dream, Ginny kneeled by one of the side naves and lit a candle. As she did so, she thought of Harry again. Suddenly, she felt compelled to hold with her right hand the emerald bracelet that he once gave to her, the one that had served as a connection when he had been alive. Was she dreaming? Could she feel something again? But that was impossible! She now remembered Sirius’ mirror and how once he had passed, the link had ceased. Yet, she had the strangest feeling. It was as if Harry was reaching out to her, telling her not to feel sad for him, that he was in peace, that she must try to be happy and, evenutally, find love again. Surely, that was it, she was losing her marbles, losing him had finally got to her! But the flame in the candle grew stronger, as if fueled by a magical force, even if she was now inside a Muggle place.
She understood at once and said practically aloud: “Harry, my love, thank you, I now know you are looking over us, from wherever you are. Yes, I will try not to miss you so much, it's just that it's not easy!” Her eyes filled up completely. She let her tears come. She stood there awhile but finally, in semi-acceptance, decided she couldn't leave her mother waiting any more. As she came out, Molly could clearly see tears in her daughter's cheeks but she understood only too well that no words could provide any comfort. Silently, holding each other's arms, they proceeded towards the “Café des Tribuneaux,” where they had arranged to meet Hermione and Ron.
On their arrival, they found them already waiting there sharing a pot of coffee. Hermione explained to them how much the town had changed since she first used to holiday in the resort, how the place had been an important port for Anglo-French trade and tourism up to the opening of the Channel Tunnel. “But time goes on," she casually said, "what the town has lost in commerce, has gained in tranquility.”
“Time goes on,” Ginny repeated this phrase a few times, almost automatically. She held her bracelet once more and she knew that that had been Harry’s message; not to stagnate in the past, to let go, to carry on living.
From that moment on, the romantic songs played in the background became a bit more bearable. She had been lucky once, she should rejoice in that; she had experienced love, intensely, passionately, selflessly... and nothing in this world or the next could ever take that away from her!
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