A/N: The lyrics are from the song Breathe by Taylor Swift. The characters belong to J.K. Rowling.
I see your face in my mind as I drive away
'Cause none of us thought it was gonna end that way
People are people and sometimes we change our minds
But it's killing me to see you go after all this time
She willed herself not to look in the rearview mirror. Tears stung her eyes, but she blinked rapidly to keep them at bay. "Don't look back. Don't look back," she mumbled under her breath--her own personal mantra. She focused on the motions of driving: her firm grip on the steering wheel, the pressure of her foot on the gas pedal, eyes firmly fixed on the road before her.
But it wasn't enough. She couldn't resist the pull of the man she loved and was leaving behind. She could feel his eyes upon her. She couldn't leave without one final glimpse of him, so she looked back, and immediately wished she hadn't.
He was standing there, right where she had left him: Hunched over with his hands in his pockets, gazing after her. He looked hopelessly lost and irreparably broken, so different from the strong, confident man she had fallen in love with. It was almost enough to make her turn the car around.
The car. The sporty little Jensen S-V8 that he had bought her, fiery red, of course. She had resisted the gift at first, refusing to take anything so extravagant, but he eventually wore her down. He had convinced her to learn to drive, certain she would love it. And she had. He knew her better than she knew herself. Her breath caught in her throat and she was forced to pull the car to the side of the road as sobs overtook her.
Music starts playin' like the end of a sad movie
It's the kinda ending you don't really wanna see
"Ginny! Where are you going?"
"I'm leaving, Harry. I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry, I have to go."
"Stop, Gin!" Harry grabbed her arm and spun her around to face him."Don't leave. I'm sorry! I-I know things are hard right now, but you said that you would wait for me."
Ginny laughed derisively, pulling away from the smell of liquor on his breath. "I've done nothing but wait for you, Harry! I waited five years for you to realize that maybe I could be more than your best friend's little sister. Then I waited while you searched for the Horcruxes, never even knowing if you were still alive. Not hearing a single word from you for months! Never knowing if you would come back to me, and wanting nothing more than to be by your side. And I've waited five years since you came back for you to figure things out! But you still don't know. You're still not ready." The ferocity faded from her voice as she continued, taking a step towards him. "I can understand that, honestly, I can. But I've waited eleven years, Harry. I'm tired of waiting. I can't do this anymore."
"Ginny, wait, please. I'm trying. You know I'm trying. I love you."
Ginny smiled softly and placed her hand gently upon his cheek. "I do know. I love you, too. But maybe love isn't always enough."
'Cause it's tragedy and it'll only bring you down
Now I don't know what to be without you around
Who would she be if she left him? So much of her life had been defined by him. She was the little sister of his best friend; the girl he saved from the Chamber of Secrets; the girl who replaced him as Gryffindor seeker; a girl with him in the Department of Mysteries; and finally, his girlfriend.
He was her first crush. When he pulled her from the clutches of death, he became her savior. Her schoolgirl crush morphed into a deep sense of gratitude and respect. As the years went by, she got to know him, who he truly was, and he became her friend. But there was something else, something she couldn't recognize at the time. Love. The moment he finally realized that he loved her too, she was lost. She was the same person, but now she was something more. She was complete.
Who was she without him? Ginny wasn't sure she could answer that question anymore. More than anything else, that scared her.
And we know it's never simple, never easy
Never a clean break, no one here to save me
You're the only thing I know like the back of my hand
Ginny wiped her eyes and glanced at her reflection in the rearview mirror. She was a wreck, which was appropriate considering that her life had just fallen apart.
She had just walked out on the only man she had ever really loved. The man who, in any other circumstance she would run to for comfort. They knew each other so well, understood each other in a way no one else did.
Sometimes he was the man she had fallen in love with: strong, loving, supportive. He would hold her and she felt like everything would be all right. They would talk, laugh, make love, and just enjoy being together. But these times were few and far between. More often, he was silent and withdrawn, speaking only in sullen or hostile outbursts if at all. Drinking excessively, and passing out early. Ginny had become well versed in reading his moods. She could tell at practically a glance when she could tempt him out of them, and when to leave him alone. She had done her best to hide that side from the world, but it was becoming increasingly more and more difficult. She was exhausted by the charade.
It had even started to affect her Quidditch performance. Just last week, her coach had pulled her aside to warn her that if she didn't start flying better, she wouldn't be playing in the next match. She was crushed, but when she got home that night, she plastered a smile upon her face and made up a story about how well practice had gone. She couldn't tell him. She didn't want him to feel bad, to start blaming himself...
That was the point when she finally realized that she couldn't do it anymore. This wasn't good for either of them. She was being stiffled while he was being coddled. They were both trapped. She had to get out while she still loved him, before the resentment took over.
He had tried to pull himself together for her, she knew that, but he had never seemed to be able to manage it. He would have a few good weeks, and Ginny would begin to to believe that things were finally changing. Then she would return home one night to find him passed out on the sofa, surrounded by empty bottles.
It wasn't fair.
He had already sacrificed so much. He should be living his happily ever after, but he wasn't. And now, by walking out, she was destroying what little he had left.
And I can't breathe
Without you, but I have to
Without you, but I have to
Overwhelmed with sobs, she gasped for air. It was too much, but she couldn't do this here, not on the side of some Muggle road. Slowly, she pulled herself together, running a hand across her face to brush the tears away, and trying to decide where to go. Her first instinct was to head to the nearest hotel, but she feared that her resolve would crumble in the night and she would return to him.
No, she couldn't be alone now, and she couldn't go back. That really only left one place: the Burrow. She thought briefly of apparating directly there, but knew that she was almost guaranteed
to splinch herself if she tried to do so in her state. Instead, she raised her shaking hand to the key. The simple act of driving the few kilometers seemed beyond her, but it had to be done.
She took a deep breath. "Breathe," she commanded. "I am Ginevra Molly Weasley. I'm a professional Quidditch player who grew up with six older brothers. I've had more parts of me broken than I can even remember. I can deal with one broken heart." The words seemed to calm her, even though she didn't believe them.
"Now, press on the brakes. Turn the key. Shift into drive. Check for traffic. Merge. Keep breathing. I can do this."
She pressed her foot down firmly onto the pedal, and sped away, savoring the rush of adrenaline as the wind dried her tears.
Never wanted this, never want to see you hurt
Every little bump in the road I tried to swerve
She had tried so hard to be patient, to give him time, to wait until he was ready. She understood that he had been through hell, and needed time and space to pull himself together, but it wasn't in her nature to be so patient. She was impulsive and fiery, but she had tried. God knows how she had tried. She knew that it would take time for things to get back to normal after Voldemort was defeated. She expected that. She understood that he needed Ron and Hermione more than he needed her. They had been with him through it all. She knew that one day he would realize that he needed her too, and she had been content to wait for that day.
As time had passed, they had become closer. They began dating once again. Two years ago, they had even decided to move in together, but something was always missing. It had been different than before. Something was holding him back, stopping him from being totally invested. Try as she might, she couldn't break through.
She had always imagined having the perfect life: home, family, career, but she now realized she would never have any of that with Harry. She needed to move on.
People are people and sometimes it doesn't work out
Nothing we say is gonna save us from the fall out
As Ginny pulled up near the Burrow, she found herself blinking rapidly to hold back the tears. She knew no one would understand. Harry was a member of the family, and the other Weasleys would never forgive her for leaving him, for hurting him this way. But they couldn't see beyond the on paper perfection. They missed the flaws. She had hidden them too well.
She couldn't do this. She couldn't face her family, couldn't tell them what she had done.
As she reached once more for the key, the doorway opened with a bang and Mrs. Weasley appeared on the front step. "Ginny, dear! What brings you here?" she smiled and began making her way toward the car. Catching a glimpse of Ginny's face, her tone changed. "What's wrong? Where's Harry? What happened?"
Ginny climbed unsteadily out of the car and made an attempt at a smile.
"I'm fine, Mum," she managed but the moment her mother embraced her, she broke down.
"Please, just hold me."
It's two a.m., feelin' like I just lost a friend
Hope you know it's not easy, easy for me
She sat up abruptly, heart racing. "Just another nightmare," she muttered softly to herself, lying back down. She rolled over, seeking comfort in the man who slept beside her, as she always did when the nightmares came. Only this time, he wasn't there. It took several moments before she realized that she was in her childhood bed, and several more before she remembered why. The tears began to fall again as she pulled her knees up to her chest and rocked herself back and forth.
It was over.
She couldn't understand how something that she knew in her mind was right could possibly feel so terrible in her heart.
"Breathe," she commanded herself.
And we know it's never simple, never easy
Never a clean break, no one here to save me,
She lay there for what seemed like hours, trying to sleep. Instead, images from their relationship chased each other around her mind; from their first meeting at King's Cross, to their first kiss in the common room, to the first night they spent together.
"Enough," she finally stated, climbing out of bed. She lit her wand, and made her way across the room to her old desk. Shuffling around in the drawers, she found a piece of parchment, a quill, and some ink. Pulling them out, she huddled over the desk and began to write:
You were always my hero. You saved me more than once. I wanted nothing more than to save you back, but I can't...
I can't breathe
Without you, but I have to
Without you, but I have to
It kills me to be apart. I want nothing more than to run to you, but I can't. I have to let you go. We have to move on. I have to learn to live without you, and you have to learn to live without me. My life has been tied up with yours for so long, I've forgotten how to be myself. I've forgotten how to do anything alone. I need to learn again. One step at a time, one breath at a time.
Brushing the tears from her eyes, she stared at the words she had written. Slowly, she ignited the corner of the parchment with her wand, captivated as her words transformed into ash.