Chapter 17 : Nearly Family
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Looking deep into her sister-in-law’s brown eyes, Hermione felt tears chase down her cheeks – the thought of Nyah slipping away… “Everything is fine. This isn’t about me…. it’s about Nina.”
Chapter 17 – Nearly Family
Ginny backed away from Hermione, shocked at the statement. Her brow furrowed as she sighed, “Not today, Hermione. Today is about life and family and celebration… not about sadness. We’ll have to face that all too soon with her birthday Saturday.” Ginny grabbed a butterbeer from the counter and turned away from her friend, lost in thoughts of Nina.
The room seemed to stand still as the women’s conversation drifted through the rooms of the Burrow.
“Just hear me out,” Hermione pleaded. “There isn’t time to wait.”
Nyah had run barefoot past the shed, headed for the pond with only the thought of Hedwig on her mind. She stood in the tall grass, allowing it to dance around her legs as she listened to the wind. It carried words and noises to her ears, as she strained to hear the sound of those irritating little boys who stole her owl.
The echo of twigs snapping nearby caught Nyah’s attention and she crept in that direction, her eyes constantly searching for Hedwig. There was a small group of trees huddled together just past the pond and Nyah squinted in the setting sun, hoping to catch a glimpse of the boys. She walked through the saplings as they swayed, the breeze increasing with each step Nyah took.
Wrapping her arms around two of the smaller trees, Nyah gazed at the sight of the Burrow. James and Albus remained hidden, and Hedwig with them. There were numerous new faces mingled with the familiar ones, and Nyah could do nothing but watch the interaction, longing to fit in.
Rose and Hugo were playing with an energetic little girl who looked to be about the same age as Hugo, her red hair tied back with a dark ribbon. Nyah smiled as she watched the little girl outrun Rose in a game of tag, the wind quieting down the longer she watched the children play.
A sudden chill grabbed Nyah’s heart as she stood there in the trees… fear. She had never been fearful at the Burrow, but there was a strong insistence from somewhere within her that she wasn’t safe. Cautiously looking around, taking in the scene, Nyah tried to pick up any visual clues but there were none.
She closed her eyes and focused on her other senses. Quieting her breathing as she had done for many years, Nyah was able to detect some movement beyond the old rickety fence nearby, but all other sounds were drowned out by the noise of laughter… boys' laughter!
Throwing aside the warning in her heart, Nyah jumped from the protection of the trees, just as James and Albus flew by on their broomsticks. Nyah’s small snowy owl was perched precariously on the back of Albus’ broom, which hovered just a few feet off the ground. She set off in a dead run after the boys, as a small ‘pop’ went undetected in the distance… two figures now crouched in silence just beyond the trees, waiting for their moment.
Nyah stumbled into the kitchen of the Burrow, gasping for breath and cursing a bit too loudly.
“If Mum hears you, or worse – Grandma, they’ll wash your mouth out for talking like that!” Rose warned, following close behind as Nyah grabbed a chair to sit in. “Roxanne, this is Nyah – she’s the one having the birthday.” Then to Nyah, she added, “Roxanne is my Uncle George’s daughter; he’s the one who works with my dad.”
The girls exchanged small smiles and hellos before Roxanne headed for the door, calling back, “Come on, let’s play tag!”
“I’ll catch up with you in a minute. I just need to grab my sandals,” Nyah said, heading for the living room. In the short time she had been outside, someone had moved the discarded sandals and Nyah had to play seek-and-find to locate them. The pair was finally reunited and Nyah took a seat on the stairs to put them back on as the sound of angry voices carried though a hallway.
Curious, Nyah followed the sound to the den just off the hall. The door stood ajar just enough for Nyah to see into the room. Mrs. Weasley was sitting on the couch, with George and his wife Angelina. Just beyond that, Fleur sat on Bill’s lap in an overstuffed chair. Someone was pacing and Nyah could hear whispers from others.
Hermione’s voice reverberated through the room, causing Nyah to jump a bit. “I know this must be difficult, but I’m certain… Nyah is your daughter!”
Frozen at the proclamation, Nyah had to remind herself to breathe. Her hands trembled as she pushed a stray strand of hair behind her ear, silently begging Hermione to continue. She saw her reach down beside the couch, pulling out the red bag that contained her treasures. Why does she have that? Nyah wondered.
“There are the dreams…” Hermione began.
Charlie’s voice interrupted, “You can’t base this on a child’s dreams Hermione. Think about what you are saying!”
“Let her finish, Charlie. There’s more – a lot more,” Ron barked at his brother.
Nyah tried to move to get a better view of Hermione without giving herself away. Hermione took a deep breath and calmly started again, “There were the dreams, but there’s also the chronological data, not to mention her physical features. But the most compelling evidence is here… in this bag.”
Hermione was looking at someone Nyah couldn’t see, holding the red bag in the air. Piece by piece, Hermione removed the items from the bag… the pictures, the wand, and finally... the blanket.
Molly gasped and stood from the sofa, reaching for the blanket. A smile spread from beneath the tears as she ran her hands over the knitting, examining the stitching. Laughing softly, Molly began pacing the small area of floor in front of the sofa, her eyes finally coming to land on Arthur, his eyes twinkling with tears.
“Do you remember?” Molly asked him, holding the small blanket even tighter to her chest. “Do you remember this yarn?” Her hand went to her mouth, as she was unable to speak any longer.
Arthur came to her side, taking up the story with a smile. “Molly was sick with a terrible cold when Ginny and Harry told us they were expecting, but she insisted on starting the blanket right away, refusing to rest like her wise husband told her to…” he began, but was interrupted as Molly gently tapped his arm.
“I sent him into town to fetch some yarn.”
“She told me to pick out the softest one I could find.”
“And when he got back, I nearly fell out of the bed in horror,” Molly cried, laughing at her husband. “Black! He came home with black yarn! For a baby’s blanket… goodness sakes… what were you thinking?”
Nyah could hear Mrs. Weasley crying, as Mr. Weasley said gently, “I was simply looking for the softest yarn – you didn’t specify a color, dear. Harry jokingly said it matched his hair, but that we had to add some red to match Ginny’s.”
A frantic voice ripped through the air, “So that’s it? Dreams, a couple of pictures, some dates, and a blanket? No – no. It’s not enough.” The sound of scuffled footsteps towards the door caused Nyah to take a step back as the woman’s voice got closer. “My daughter is dead, Hermione! How could you bring that child here and expect me to blindly believe such a story?”
Nyah’s breathing quickened and the tingling sensation exploded within her as she realized that her mum was standing right there – on the other side of the door. Without realizing her feet were carrying her into the room, Nyah gently pushed open the door as the air picked up around her.
Red, beautiful hair was caught in the breeze that carried into the room. Looking up, Nyah took in the face she had yearned to see for as long as she could remember. Her golden brown eyes met their mirror image in the woman before her as Nyah whispered, “Mum?”
Ginny’s hands flew to cover her face as she ran from the room, Mrs. Weasley running after her.
Hot tears spilled over Nyah’s cheeks as she looked at Hermione and Ron. “What did I do?” she cried as Hermione enveloped her fiercely. Ron stood nearby, his hand stroking Nyah’s head.
“That was her, wasn’t it? That – that was my Mum,” Nyah gasped between the tears. She pulled herself from Hermione’s grasp and folded her arms across her chest. “She was right here! I heard her,” she said, pushing away Hermione’s attempts to console her. “They were right… all of them! She doesn’t want me.”
Nyah’s breathing was becoming more erratic and the air was taking on a crisp feel within the room. Her eyes met the picture of the singing red-headed duo once more, and she reached for the familiar photo. With her hair pulling out of the ribbon by the force of the wind, she looked to Charlie, handing him the snapshot.
“Nearly family isn’t quite the same, now is it?”
“Nyah,” Ron started, as Hermione cried on his shoulder.
Shaking her head, Nyah grabbed the knitted blanket from Mr. Weasley and ran for the door. Giving it a good hard slam, she sobbed, “I don’t belong here… I don’t belong anywhere.”
A petite figure lay across the small bed in the old room, crying into the small flowered sheets. The bed was a small comfort as she searched for answers within herself. Ginny's mind and heart were in war with one another and she paid no attention as Molly sat gently rubbing her back, uncharacteristically quiet.
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Ginny had spent many days at the Burrow right after she and Harry’s return from France. At first, it was for the massive family support needed to get through planning and carrying out the funeral. It was a small, private ceremony held at the little church in Godric’s Hollow. A beautiful black marble headstone etched with owls, was placed next to James and Lily, signifying Nina’s final resting place. Ginny had actually slept on the soft, turned earth that night, not yet willing to part from her baby girl as Harry and Charlie stood nearby, keeping watch until dawn.
A few days after the funeral, Harry and Ginny made their way back home. For a short time, the couple spent every moment clinging to one another, and during the quiet days, Ginny found comfort in Harry’s arms. But it wasn’t long before it became painfully obvious Ginny was not well. Harry had returned to work, and upon coming home in the evenings, he usually found Ginny curled up in Nina’s bed, sobbing.
There was no getting away from it – the cottage was filled with everything about Nina; her clothes, her toys, her pictures… even the sound of her laughter seemed embedded in the walls, which seeped out in the quietest of moments. And then there were the screams in the night… Ginny would wake up from a sound sleep, certain she could hear her daughter calling for her. She searched the house top to bottom nearly every night, frantic to find the source of the screaming… but never found it… nor did she find her daughter.
Harry eventually moved them both to the Burrow, selling the small house near Godric’s Hollow. Ginny simply existed, finding no joy in life, and ultimately tried to push away everyone and everything that was important to her – including Harry. And then one night, many weeks after Nina’s death, a miracle happened… Ginny laughed… one small laugh, and the healing process began.
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Wiping her eyes on the soft sheet, Ginny sat and stared out the window, lost in her thoughts but comforted by her mother’s presence. “You know,” she started, pushing her hair behind her ear, “I remember so clearly the last time she laughed.” Tears sprang up in her eyes once more as she smiled softly. “Harry was driving that blasted car, and Nina was buckled in the back seat watching the scenery float by the window.”
Mrs. Weasley reached for a tissue as Ginny whispered, “I was singing…”
“The Hogwarts song,” her mother said, as Ginny began crying again, unable to finish.
“She loved it, you know,” Ginny laughed, “and Harry was teasing me… telling me to sing something else… and she was laughing. So soft and sweet – I can still hear it – here.” Ginny touched her chest and the women sat silently sharing tears. “Mum, it still hurts so bad.” Her eyes begged Molly to understand as she cried, “When will it stop? When can I say her name without pain ripping through me?”
She stood from the bed, too anxious to be still, not realizing that her words carried perfectly to the stairway landing where he listened, desperate to join her.
“I was there, Mum! I was there when she died and I couldn’t save her,” she cried, turning abruptly towards the window again. Silence hung in the room, waiting for Ginny to continue.
Her voice deepened somberly, “I remember waking up that night in St. Abra’s, not entirely certain where I was. The lights were off and there was no sound, except Harry’s breathing. I knew I was all right, because he was there. Then the lights came on… and he looked at me… and I knew.” She pulled her arms tight around her, shaking her head, “He was crying – crying in a way I’d never heard him cry… even when Sirius died. This was different… deeper – almost desperate. He just kept holding out his arms, saying he was so sorry… and that she was – she was gone.”
Molly wasn’t even bothering to wipe the tears – they were coming too fast – as she watched her daughter knowing that nothing she said could take away her daughter’s pain.
Ginny looked away from the window and directly into her mother’s eyes, silently demanding the truth as she asked, “Do you think it’s her?”
The bed creaked as Molly rose to her feet, gently taking Ginny into her arms. With a sigh, she offered a simple, “Yes, I do.”
Harry slumped to the floor just outside Ginny’s old room as her voiced carried though the air. Leaning back against the wall, his mind flooded with memories he had spent years trying to hide from… every word she spoke cutting through him like a knife.
He had insisted on driving all those years ago, wanting to see the countryside while they traveled through France. Ginny, always up for a new adventure, gave in and they drove for miles and miles that day. The scenery was breathtaking and despite a short thunderstorm, the weather had been perfect.
Ginny had been singing Nina’s favorite song when something jumped in front of the car. Harry stood on the brake and turned the wheel hard to the left, as he felt the wheels slip on the wet pavement. A scream ripped through the air and darkness overcame him.
Harry slipped somewhere between conscious and unconscious, trying in vain to grasp what had happened. The smell of smoke hung in the air and the taste of blood lingered on his lips. Finding the strength to open his eyes, Harry’s gaze landed on the broken windshield. He slowly turned his head, pain ripping through him, as did his awareness of the situation. The car was on its side, having slid down an embankment.
Held in only by her seatbelt, Ginny dangled precariously from the opened passenger door. If the belt gave way, she would fall another 20 feet to a small waterway below. Fear and panic had run rampant through his body, as he frantically searched his pocket for his wand.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” he quietly called to Nina, fighting the overwhelming pain, “Daddy’s here. Everything’s fine – don’t cry.” Harry could only faintly hear her cries, as though she was far away. He reached back as far as he could, relieved as his fingers brushed against a small shoe.
Calm, Harry – think of Ginny… think of Nina, he thought. Harry pointed his wand to the sky and cried ‘Curatio Vestigo!’ as blue sparks shot into the sky. He reached out to Ginny, her hand cold in his as he whispered, “Don’t worry, they’ll get here – help is – it’s on the way.” Darkness came over him once more as he slumped forward... a loud ‘crack’ resonating through the air.
The sound of the bed creaking from the next room brought Harry from his memories. He inched his way closer to the door as Ginny continued to talk to Molly. Harry knew that standing on this side of the door was safe – almost cowardly – but how do you help someone get over the loss of the most precious piece of their own heart….
Growing up, Harry had dealt with horrible nightmares and visions while his friends had to stand by and watch – unable to help, other than be there. At that time, he had no idea how terrible it was to watch someone you love go through that… until Ginny began having nightmares just days after Nina’s death.
She woke up nearly every night to search the house, convinced that Nina was calling for her. At first, Ginny woke him up, frightened by the noise, “Harry! Harry, do you hear that?”
Harry listened to the silence in the room, and whispered, “No, Ginny. Go back to sleep.”
Ginny would thow the covers off and tiptoe through the room, listening to the air, “There… did you hear that? It’s her… it’s Nina. Harry, help me find her!”
And the search would start through the house... always ending up in the same place… Nina’s room. Ginny would lay on the bed, pulling the stuffed animals close and cry herself to sleep with another days’ realization that her daughter was gone – ripped from her life. Knowing he could do nothing more than be with her, Harry simply held her tight as they shared that tiny space night after night.
Selling the house seemed to be an obvious solution, and Harry hoped that a new location would help Ginny let go of the past. They chose to renovate Grimmauld Place until a new home could be built. After a few weeks of constant work, with Kreacher working harder than any of the paid workers, Harry and Ginny moved in.
Ginny had a keen eye for decorating and Harry was happy to see her magically painting the walls, trying out different colors or rearranging the furniture to see how she liked it best. Every room was cheerful and inviting, light flooding in through the large windows giving no indication that the home was once used for dark purposes.
With Harry’s help, Ginny had transformed the old tower room into Nina’s room; not complete, but simply a room for remembering. The tower door itself had a concealment charm placed on it; no one save Harry or Ginny could find and open it.
The tower became a comfort for Ginny – a place to run to when the world seemed to tighten around her. The nightmares continued for ages, and it was always the same, waking up convinced Nina was calling for her Mum. It was then that Ginny would make her way to the tower, drowning herself in the memories.
About the time James was born, the dreams became sporadic, ceasing for long periods of time and Harry could see the joy coming back in her eyes as she took care of their newborn son. She was fiercely overprotective of James and then Albus, but when Lily was born, Ginny never let her out of sight… and Harry never questioned it, knowing full well, it was something she had to do.
He rose to his feet, leaning to the door for support. He found himself drawn into the small bedroom where Ginny stood. Their eyes met as he reached out to her, begging for forgiveness once more.
She smiled gently, touching his face and drawing him into a kiss. Lifting her easily into his arms, he took a seat on the bed as breathless words were exchanged between them.
Molly quietly closed the door, adding, “I’ll just leave you two. But do remember, we’re close by if you need us.”
Once alone, Ginny turned to look at her husband, searching his eyes for answers. “You know it can’t be her, right?” she asked staring at him, waiting for a shift in his face. “It’s not logical…”
Harry cut her off with a quick laugh, “Logic? Who said anything about logic? I’m sorry – I thought I married Ginny… not Hermione.”
After a right smart smack on the arm, Ginny stood to walk to the window once again.
“Ginny, quit trying to analyze it – we’ve got Hermione for that,” Harry told her as he wrapped his arms around her waist. The children were playing… Roxanne with Rose… Hugo with Lily… and Nyah, still chasing James and Albus while Ginny watched them all intently.
“What does your heart tell you?”
“My heart needs proof,” she whispered.
Harry kissed her gently and left her to watch the children from the window as he set about getting what she needed… proof.
Author's Notes: Thanks to the eHPfans for help with the spell cast to call the Mediwizards. I couldn't have come this far without the continued help and support of all of you! Thank you!!!
I'd would, as always, love to hear your thoughts on this chapter... please consider leaving a review in the box below.
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