Chapter 4 : Remembering the Past
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“I think you should take it easy this weekend, Ginny,” Harry said as soon as he landed. He still wore shorts and a Harpies shirt as they had not flown in anger since the first day. Instead he had drilled something new into her each day. Dives, rolls, twists, spirals and a hoard of other moves. She of course could do them all, but he had helped refine her technique.
Ginny’s head snapped up towards him and out of her reverie of pain. “Oh, I was actually looking forward to see… flying tomorrow.” The blush was at least partially hidden by cheeks already red from flying.
The heat rose when Harry tried to hide a smile. “Um... perhaps we could just, you know, talk then.” Harry offered. He did not meet her eyes. “I mean,” he coughed slightly. “There is so much more to the game that doesn’t need to be discussed while sitting on a broom. And you need to get a few things.”
“That would be great,” she said quickly. Perhaps a bit too eagerly she thought, but then again this was all new. “Should I meet you here?” she asked.
“Sure,” he replied. “And, Ginny, leave the Harpies stuff at home.”
"Right, Gwenog will kill me if I walked around in kit before the press release."
"Kill is a strong word." He grinned. "But she might skin you alive."
"Prat!" To her own surprise she punched his shoulder playfully.
The action elicited a broad smile and a laugh. "She's got spirit."
"Of course, Potter." Her eyes narrowed. "Never underestimate me."
He held up his hands in playful defensiveness. “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
The next morning could not come soon enough. She was going to spend a whole day, a good part of it at least, alone with Harry Potter. Of course she’d been alone with him each day for the past week, but the time had been spent on the back of a broom flying drills. This promised to be something more.
"Stop this," she mumbled to herself. “He's your coach. You're just going to talk. There's nothing."
"You alright, Ginny?" her mother asked.
Ginny froze, wondering how much her mother had heard. "Just thinking about training, mum." She let out a nervous chuckle. "So much to think about."
"Of course, dear." Mrs Weasley turned to leave, her arms full of laundry. "Just let me know if you need to talk."
Ginny muttered some more to herself while walking out the house, this time being careful to keep her words silent. Outside, she Apparated to the Harpies stadium.
The morning air bit at her and for once she was glad that she did not have to fly. Her backside had been sore the whole week, but the pain had been pushed aside amidst her concentration and determination to not let Harry down. It hit her now. While rubbing her back softly, her eyes scanned the pitch for Harry, not really expecting to find him. To her surprise she found him sitting alone in the grandstand. Wondering why he was up there by himself, she made her way towards him.
"Hi," she greeted shyly and immediately cursed herself. She'd been alone with him for a week, but then again she was not used to talking to guys alone. A cold shiver ran down her spine as she began to tense.
"Morning." He stood slowly as she approached. He wore jeans and a black shirt, which hugged his body without being tight. His eyes sparkled for a moment, and all the unease ebbed away. The smile did not last, however. She vowed to herself that one day she would bring the joy out within him for longer than a moment. "You look," he hesitated for a moment. "Beautiful."
"And you are the image of handsome," she replied before thinking. This time there was no physical training to hide the blush. "Um." She hurriedly continued to try and change the topic. "What do you have planned for me today, coach?"
He shrugged, looking oddly adorable in his awkwardness. His eyes did meet hers at least. "I thought a trip to London would be a nice change. There are a few things to do there."
"Diagon Alley?" she questioned. "Wouldn't people notice us? Well you, not me," she added incoherently.
"No, no," he said hastily, eyes wide in alarm. "Gwenog would skin me alive." She laughed at the reversal of the scenario they joked about the day before. The momentary panic stricken look on his face only added to her laughter.
She did, however, manage to ask, "So where to then?"
He looked down at his feet and kicked a small stone lying among the chairs. "The Muggle part. Not sure how well you know the place."
"Never been there," she answered honestly. "I don't think many of us magical folk have."
"Oh, well that's good... I guess." He muttered something under his breath. Then he held out a hand. "Do you mind if I Apparate us?"
"Oh, of course not," she blurted out. His hand felt like ice when she took hold of it. "You know where you're going after all."
He gave a weak smile. "Ready?" he asked just like when they were practising.
"Ready," she agreed. The world compressed and then they materialized in an abandoned alley, which she knew had to be a designated Apparation point into London.
They only needed to take a few steps before being swarmed by hundreds of people bustling about along the crowded street.
Her chest tightened. "Where are we?" she barely managed to ask. Even on the busiest day, Diagon Alley had never been this busy.
"Oxford Street," Harry answered slightly uneasily.
"What are we doing here?" she questioned. The mass of people around them made Ginny want to go home and hide in her room.
Even though she barely knew him, she thought his expression looked similar to hers. "I wasn't really expecting so many people," he tried to apologise. "But it could serve a purpose."
"What could all these people, bumping into me help?" The desire to be away only grew and her field of vision shrunk.
"Moving out of our comfort zone, Ginny." His voice sounded firm, but there seemed to a slight tremor in it that she had not heard before. He took hold of her hand and began to lead her up, or was it down, the street. "In Quidditch, you'll be playing against older men and women. They know the game. They'll move into your personal space." Somehow the words did not sound entirely directed at her.
His words, however, hit a chord. Ginny felt her chest tighten further. As a Seeker she'd never really been in the thick of the action. "But players never crowded around you."
"Of course they didn't," Harry said loudly to be heard over the sound of people and cars. "I projected an aura of such calm when they were in my face that they thought me unaffected."
"You weren't! No one could ever phase you."
Harry sounded nervous now. "That's what I wanted people to think." He stopped walking and spun her round so that his face was barely an inch away from hers. She inhaled deeply, taking in his scent. The warmth of his breath touched her lips. "I never let people close to me, Ginny. I become nervous when people come too near."
"But…" The word was soft. Maybe only her mouth moved as she stared deeply into his eyes. They held even more depth this close.
"I made people believe, Ginny. During that first season I fought with all my strength to project a part of me that did not exist." He pulled away and continued walking.
Muggles continued to crowd around them. Occasionally someone bumped into Ginny and Harry as they walked. Her grip around Harry's hand tightened. She dared not lose him in this mess. Then the world quieted down. She had grown so anxious that their entrance into a store had gone unnoticed.
The place was vast. "And now?" she questioned. Harry just kept throwing surprises at her.
"You need to do some shopping," Harry replied.
Her eyes widened in horror. "I don't have any money, Harry. The Harpies only start paying once the season starts."
He placed a tender hand on the back of her shoulder and kept leading her deeper into the store. "My treat, Ginny."
“No!” she almost shouted. Then her voice dropped pleadingly, "I can't be indebted to you, Harry.”
"I'll get the money from Gwenog," he soothed. "This is for your training."
"Oh." Her mouth formed the word rather than saying it. "But how can clothes help me?"
"This is a sports store, Ginny." He began to explain. "You need some running shoes. Some good shirts to exercise in..."
"But I have all those Harpies things they gave!"
"Nice souvenirs those," he muttered. "But not always comfortable while exercising."
"What do you call what we did the other day then? They were fine for that."
"That’s just practicing some skills and a way for me to judge your worth. This is for some serious workouts. Jogging, some light weights, swimming and cycling."
"You want me to jog?" she questioned. "And what's cycling?"
He stopped walking to face her. "Hmm, perhaps we should skip that last one then. I assume you can swim."
"Of course I can swim," she said with an air of defiance. "And I would like to learn what this cycling is all about."
He smiled proudly at her. "That's the spirit."
A silence surrounded them as her heartbeat quickened slightly at the praise. Then the stillness turned slightly awkward. Harry ran a hand through his hair and together they began to study the place around them. "Ok, first we need some shoes."
A few hours later they exited the store. He’d gotten her a pair of jogging shoes, which were light and extremely soft. A few shirts made of the strangest materials. None of them were woven of natural things like wool. According to Harry they were scientifically designed to allow a person’s skin to breath. She only shrugged during the explanation. He might as well have spoken in Latin.
Harry banished all their items. He did not say where, but she assumed the bags had been sent to the stadium.
“Ok,” he said with a satisfied grin. “I think we’ve seen enough of all these people.”
“Thank goodness,” Ginny breathed out.
He took her hand again and led the way into a small alcove. Then they Apparated away from bustling people and rumbling cars. Ginny held her breath and waited for the world to materialise before her again. All the while hoping that they would not be in another crowded street.
Relief flooded over her when she found them standing in a park. "Now where are we?"
"A small park in Little Whinging," he answered. "I grew up in this park."
"Wow!" she exclaimed in wonder.
He looked a bit awkward. "I've never told anyone about this place," he continued to talk. "I lived with my Muggle aunt and uncle just a few blocks away ‘til my eighth birthday."
"Happy memories here?" she asked with a smile.
"Some of the worst," he answered darkly. His tone held no humour, only the deepest saddest truth.
"Oh, but why?"
"You are asking a lot of whys today. Actually you’ve been the whole week."
She stared at him in open stubbornness. "I wouldn't need to ask if you weren't being so cryptic all the time."
"Touché," he agreed. "So why did I bring you here?” He lifted his arms into the air and inhaled the fresh air. “This place has no meaning to you. All it holds is extreme pain for me." His hands dropped to his side and life seeped out of him.
She studied him while he spoke. The darkness, or sadness, in his eyes increased tenfold. Every inch of his body seemed tense. His one hand was clenched so tight that his knuckles had gone white and his arm shook. "Why?" he asked himself this time.
He began to walk and so she followed. No words were spoken, but she gravitated towards him. He stopped by a small bench and sat. She felt unsure of what to do until he patted the seat beside him. She obliged.
"Don't answer me if you don't want to," Harry began after nearly five minutes of silence. "But what do you fear? If a bogart were to appear, what would you see?"
Ginny followed his gaze out across the park. A man was playing with his son, while a woman sat on a blanket laughing at his antics. They looked so happy, a family. "I fear losing my family," she replied finding her voice. "I have six brothers, a mother and father. I love them all and the thought of not being able to hear one of them laugh again..." she let her voice trail off.
"Big family," he said in wonder. "Must've been wonderful."
She snorted. "Wonderful? More like a bloody nightmare. Always needing to fight for attention. Being the youngest of seven."
"But you love them and they love you," he whispered barely loud enough to be heard over the cool breeze blowing across the park. "I never had a family. Well not a real one."
"Oh, Harry," she said. Her eyes grew moist. "I... your aunt and uncle… no one ever mentioned… I just assumed... I don't know what I thought."
He shrugged his shoulders before leaning back against the bench. "I've never talked to anyone about this."
"Why to me?" she asked before thinking.
His head rolled backwards and he stared up at the clear blue sky. "You're different. I... I trust you, Ginny Weasley."
"I thought today was about teaching me," she laughed. “And here we are talking about trust." Her nervous laugh filled the air as her mind tried to comprehend what Harry was truly talking about.
He leaned forwards again. This time resting his elbows on his knees. "Seriously, Ginny. Think about what you fear. If all you take from today is the answer to that question then it will be enough for me... as your coach." He added the last part as an afterthought.
Her eyes closed and her mind wandered back to the Chamber of Secrets. It had been in her first year. The diary of a man called Tom Riddle had possessed her for nearly an entire year. The last time the diary took her nearly led to her death. Since then she'd not let a single man near her, save her brothers. It was the reason that the Harpies were the only team for her.
And then everything came crashing down. The pale haunted figure hanging over her. The life seeping out of her as the cold encroached. Even though Tom never did anything to her physically, he’d still invaded her mind, a place where no other being should ever have been. She let out a loud curse and jumped to her feet. "I... I need to go home, Harry." Her voice filled with panic.
"What?" Harry leapt up beside her. His hands touched her shoulders and she jerked away from him. Her view became distorted as tears began to well up. His eyes filled with confused hurt. "Talk to me, Ginny."
"I..." She removed her wand. "Let me go, Harry!" The world was spinning out of control. "Please."
"Anything," Harry whispered. He took a step back and she Disapparated.
"You're home early," her mother said as Ginny entered through the kitchen door. Ginny said nothing, but continued to run to her room. She didn't even bother to slam the door.
It didn't take long for her bed to move as her mother's weight settled on the edge. "What's the matter, dear?" she asked.
Ginny continued to cry. In those moments with Harry, the Chamber had become too real again, the memory too fresh. She'd allowed him to come near her and even allowed him to touch her hand. Her confused mind shuddered at the memory of Tom’s face so close to hers. The memory overlapped and began to merge with Harry’s face.
She continued to sob as her mother tried to soothe away the pain. "Whatever it is, Ginny, I'm here for you."
Harry stood alone in the middle of a park he'd hated. Ginny was gone. He dug his hands into the pockets of his jeans and kicked at a small pebble on the path. With nothing to do, and not knowing where she went, Harry removed his wand and with a casual flick Apparated himself back home.
The flat felt colder and even more desolate than before. A photo of a year old Harry with his parents hung above a small stone fireplace. Beside it hung another framed image of Harry standing between Remus and Sirius. He’d been sixteen when that was taken.
"Master Potter is home early," a small house elf squeaked. "Is something the matter?"
"I'm not sure, Kreacher," Harry sighed as he sank down into the couch. The fire blazing before him helped little.
"Master is not well," Kreacher wailed. "I'll fetch Master a drink."
"Make it a double," Harry barely managed to say. His eyes never once left the moving image of Sirius and Remus. Had he failed Ginny like them?
Kreacher emerged a few moments later with a tray of food and a single Firewhiskey. "You’re too good to be my House Elf, Kreacher."
"I live to serve, Master Potter," the little creature replied. Harry let his eyes be diverted from the past. Kreacher looked worried and his long ears drooped.
"I'm sorry that you have to be stuck with a man like me," Harry said as he took a bite from the sandwich.
"You've been a good master," Kreacher praised. “The kindest Kreacher has ever known.”
Harry did not move for the rest of the evening and the only time he moved the next day was to go to the bathroom. When he wasn't confused about Ginny and his feelings towards her then he wondered about her disappearance. After that he tried to push away the pain and the blame for the deaths of his parents and their best friends; it proved futile.
Thank you for taking the time to read this chapter. I hope some questions were answered while others were raised.
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