Chapter 1 : when darkness falls
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At night, when he thinks she’s asleep, Harry sneaks out.
Ginny lies awake every night and listens to him leave. She doesn’t sleep until he returns, until he slides back into their bed and wraps her in his arms, smelling inexplicably of smoke and rust and city.
Maybe she’s blind or in denial or just plain foolish, but she knows it’s not an affair. She also knows – from many nights of sly peeking – that Harry always takes his Invisibility Cloak, his Sneakoscope, and his wand with him. At this point in their marriage, she’s accustomed to his peculiar secrets, but that doesn’t make her any less curious.
She doesn’t try to talk to him about it. Instead, one night, she casts a tracing charm on him, hides his Cloak, and listens in smug victory as he stumbles around the room, disoriented. Eventually, he leaves without it, like she knew he would.
And then Ginny throws on the Cloak and follows him.
He takes her to London, the seedy side of London that she’s never really seen – the underbelly of the city. Without his Cloak, he’s visible, vulnerable, exposed; he looks older and more fragile than usual. But he walks without fear, his Sneakoscope in one hand and his wand in the other, purpose in every step. As far as Ginny can tell, he walks without a destination.
Then the Sneakoscope goes off. And, as Harry follows the noises of the Dark Detector into an unlit, decrepit building, the pieces click together in Ginny’s mind. When he returns to the street, one Stupefy and two selective Obliviates later, she’s waiting for him, the Cloak folded over her arm.
Harry stares at her for a long, burning moment. “I should have known,” he mumbles, finally, with an almost-smile. “You really should’ve been in Slytherin.”
“Harry.” She doesn’t have to say anything else; she gives him everything – sympathy, frustration, sorrow, helplessness – in one word, two syllables, five letters.
He looks at the ground. She’s stripped him of his purpose; without it, he seems to deflate. “It was a robbery,” he tells her, mechanically. Then his voice shrinks. “I’m not doing anything wrong, Ginny. I’m not. I can’t just let these things happen, not after everything. I just – I just want to help.”
Ginny pulls him into her as the sirens break the night. Their bodies blend into one another and their limbs intertwine; they are fused together, bound by the war, by the lives they saved and the lives they lost, by a lifetime of playing as heroes. But it’s time to grow up now.
He smells like sadness and she sucks it in, so that maybe he won’t have to.
“It’s okay,” she whispers into his skin. And she repeats it, over and over again, as they return home, as they slide back into their bed, as she wraps him in her arms, as he starts to quietly cry.
“It’s okay,” she tells him.
He just wants to be someone’s hero again.
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