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Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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She brushed her hair and her teeth, just like she had done every day for the past twenty or so years. She put on the fluffy gold bathrobe with the Gryffindor insignia on the breast pocket that her mother had made for her last Christmas, and then she went downstairs to begin making breakfast for her family. Harry was already in the shower; he would leave at about eight thirty and meet Ron and Floo to the Ministry. Ginny had teased him for a while about how Apparition would be much faster, but being on the run had sort of put him off Apparition and she could understand that. James, their oldest, was surely sleeping in. At least he wouldn’t wake up the baby.
When the toast was done, she fluffed the eggs slightly with her wand and set them on the table. She went upstairs into Albus’s room first. As she cradled her two-month-old son, she remembered with some degree of fondness how she had foolishly granted Harry full power over what to name the baby so long as she could have another one. You’re lucky you’re so cute, she thought as she gently rocked him.
Quiet footsteps padded to the doorway. “Mum, I’m hungry.”
“Mmm-hmm. Eggs and toast,” she said, turning to James. “Go on, I’ll be down soon.”
As she fed Albus, she flipped through a Muggle book containing lessons on colors and numbers. She had learned to multitask from her mother, for whom she now held an entirely new appreciation. A story first, and these after lunch, she thought. That would be enough for James to focus on during their homeschooling time today. Idly, she realized that Harry was calling her name, coming to kiss her good-bye.
It was an ordinary day—or at least Ginny wanted it to be.
There were always snakes in those sorts of dreams, like the one from last night. They wound and twisted their way about the black emptiness of her mind in tight circles, flicking their tongues out at her menacingly and hissing in eerie choruses. Ginny always feared that there would be a basilisk as a grand finale, but not yet.
In her most recent nightmare, she had been walking down a corridor at Hogwarts. She carried no schoolbooks nor the cheap broom she’d borrowed from Charlie to use for Quidditch; instead, she wandered silently under torchlight. Even her bare feet made no sound, though she felt the distinct sensation of exposed skin on stone with every step.
Suddenly, she was not alone. A small boy turned the corner in front of her, heading in the opposite direction. In a few steps he would pass her. However, when he glanced up and saw her, he adopted an expression of horror and turned, running as fast as he could back to his point of origin. Ginny frowned, finding this curious, but the version of her in the dream kept walking as if nothing was wrong. As she continued, more students emerged from around corners and through doorways, and each of them turned and fled in fear as soon as they caught sight of her.
As she neared the end of the corridor, she realized that it led to nowhere. No doors or other corridors turned off in either direction. She thought to turn around and try going back the way she came, but a mirror on the wall at the end caught her attention. Isn’t that strange? she thought. Had she just never noticed it before?
Ginny walked up to the mirror. When she got close enough, she noticed tears rolling down her cheeks. Where the salty water touched, her skin peeled away like snakeskin, as if the tears were burning it off but causing no pain. She gingerly touched a piece of tarnished flesh only to have it flake off in her hand, revealing cold gray stone underneath. She picked frantically at her face, causing more damage.
Ginny opened her mouth to release a soundless scream, but it only sparked a torrent of water to gush from the corners of her eyes. Soon, she was entirely Petrified.
She still couldn’t move for a few terrifying seconds when she came out of the dream.
She usually woke up from them aching in her bones, and sometimes she just laid in bed next to Harry without moving and kept her eyes closed. It was frightening to be trapped in her own head, but often it felt more formidable to wake up and realize that the events in her nightmares had happened and she had to live despite them.
Ginny drifted into the kitchen, putting her hair into a lazy updo and checking the calendar. Victoire’s fifth birthday party was on Saturday, and she had agreed to make some cupcakes for Fleur. While her French sister-in-law was excellent at frosting and adding toppings, her dirty secret was that she burned everything she put into the oven. Ginny’s theory was that she was a bit too forgetful for baking. Knowing that it would mean the world to her brother, Ginny decided to help out.
After she cleaned the dishes with her wand and arranged with the teenage girl next door to watch the children briefly, Ginny fetched her purse and headed around the corner to the grocery store. As she went, she mentally pondered the list in her bag. It was a little game she played with herself, a way of passing the long hours she spent each day as a housewife. She had yet to make it through a whole week’s worth of groceries before having to double-check the list, worried that she’d forgotten something. Most of the time she had, but sometimes she hadn’t. She was getting better, and this trip’s short list of baking ingredients would be good practice. Flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, vanilla, and sprinkles and cream cheese for the frosting. Oh, and I have to buy some of those muffin papers. Victoire will love them.
She stepped through the double doors, feeling that slight surprise that came whenever she was faced with Muggle technology in her new home, and walked past the registers to the baking aisle, picking up a small plastic basket on her way. She found the flour and sugar easily and placed them in the basket. She had to search a few minutes to find the vanilla, but fortunately the sprinkles weren’t far from it. As she picked up the baking powder, she thought hard to remember what she had left on her list. Things that are in the refreezer section, right? she thought, mixing up her Muggle words like a small child. Yes, right. Butter and cream cheese are what’s left.
She retrieved the items and turned onto the bread aisle, making her way up toward the registers again. However, a sight several feet ahead of her stopped her instantly.
A young man stood at the end of the aisle, comparing two loaves to see which looked the least lumpy. A few tendrils of his black hair fell into his eyes, but otherwise it was slicked into a traditional short style. He was wearing a crisp black suit with a barely visible white shirt underneath. After a moment, he noticed her staring at him and looked up. His friendly smile, unfortunately, did not reach up to his dark eyes.
Ginny froze. She remembered those eyes, cutting deep into her each time she opened the diary and let him take her on another journey. He never showed her his mistakes or embarrassing moments—she girlishly believed, for a while, that he had none—but took her to shining moments in class or around for Prefect duties. His eyes always said come with me, trust me, you deserve to have an adventure, Ginny.
The man’s lips parted, perhaps to ask the strangely gawking young woman if she was alright, and Ginny whipped past him in the aisle. As she chose a register at the far end of the store, away from prying eyes, she begged him mentally not to pursue her, not to dare speak in that silky voice. Nonsense, he’s dead. The man who comes home to you every night killed him. Those are not his eyes. His voice is no more.
She fumbled with her Muggle money a bit more than usual—her father would be disappointed, perhaps—but Ginny finally escaped, carrying her bags in both hands as she walked briskly back home. She had forgotten the muffin papers entirely.
“And what do red and blue make, James?”
“Purple,” James said, pointing to the color’s name in large text on the page.
“That’s right. See?” Ginny smiled, lazily turning her wand and causing the red paint and blue paint to mix together until they formed a deep purple hue. “You like it?”
“Which one do you like best so far?”
James pointed to a bright green splotch at the other end of the page, traces of the original blue and yellow lingering at its edges.
“What’s it called? Do you remember?”
“Almost. It’s ‘green.’ Remember, you have to growl when you say it.”
James laughed, giving it a try. “Grrr… grreen.”
“That’s it,” Ginny said, smiling at him again. He was making good progress for a two-and-a-half-year-old. “Good job, sweetheart.”
“Can I show Alby?”
“Albus. And not right now, he’s sleeping. Maybe later.” Ginny stood up. “I think that’s enough school for today. Why don’t you go outside and play with your toy broomstick?”
“Okay.” James slid off his chair. “Cupcake?” He pointed to the fridge.
“No, those are for your cousin’s party on Saturday.” Ginny supposed she could just conjure up a replacement with magic, but it would never taste the same as the other eleven she’d made the old-fashioned way. Fleur’s complex palate would know the difference. “Go on, you have to practice for when Uncle George comes to visit.”
James headed up to his room, surely going to retrieve his small wooden bat and the lightweight bowling ball Harry had charmed into a mock Bludger, while Ginny cleaned up the mess in the kitchen. She passed her oldest child on the stairs as she ventured up to Albus’s room. The baby was still napping peacefully, and she decided to try feeding him again later. He’d let her know when he next felt hungry.
“Be careful!” she called after James as he went back down the stairs.
Determined to not be the kind of mother who never let her children have any freedom, Ginny ignored the urge to supervise James closely and instead sat down at her writing desk. She cleared away a few bills that were scattered across its surface and took a fresh piece of parchment out of a drawer, unrolling it on top of the desk. As she fished for a quill that was still in good shape—that house elf they’d borrowed for a month when their first child was born had a nasty habit of chewing on them—and the inkwell, she pondered what she should write for this week’s submission.
Ginny missed Quidditch. She had stayed in the game until she was seven months along with James, and now she desperately worried that she might never return. She missed the freedom that accompanied swooping through the air, the breeze blowing her red hair into loose tangles and carrying her up where she swore she could see the whole world. She also missed her teammates, most of whom were newlywed women, some with a baby or two just like her.
Since she and Harry hadn’t exactly had a frank conversation about how many more children they wanted to have, Ginny had resigned herself to working on other projects more suitable for a young mother and homemaker, at least until the kids were old enough for her to return to the pitch. One she really enjoyed was writing short sports articles for the Daily Prophet. She treated them like lottery cards, however, and only allowed herself to send one per week for possible acceptance. So far, she hadn’t had a hit; then again, Quidditch wasn’t as exciting in the off-season.
This week, she decided to try something different, a portrait of a young woman who was already showing promise in her first few scrimmage games with the Tutshill Tornadoes. Hillary Essex, a freshly graduated Ravenclaw, had acquired a small following as the Chaser who seemed incapable of making less than two goals in a row. The girl was pretty and looked like she might have a good sense of humor—and Ginny, with her ties to the Boy Who Defeated the Dark Lord, didn’t usually have a problem securing afternoon teas with other famous figures in the wizarding world.
She rifled through old issues of the newspaper, carefully clipping each story related to the player she ran across. These would provide her with some background information, and maybe even an interesting hook to begin her article. The more personal touches would come later, after she actually met up with Hillary in person.
Smiling vaguely, she wondered if the girl was too young to remember Ginny’s brief heyday as a Chaser and reserve Seeker for the Holyhead Harpies. Perhaps not.
Sighing, she looked out the window. It was a pretty fall day, with leaves drifting gently down from the trees. It was perfect weather for one of the pick-up games she used to have with her brothers in the Burrow’s backyard when she was a young girl. She still wasn’t used to having a life that resembled normalcy, and as a result, it always felt like something was missing. Plus, the dreams came in the prolonged lulls.
Ginny leaned back in her chair. Perhaps it would be a good time for her to pay a visit to Hermione. They didn’t get to see each other as much as they would like now that Ginny had Albus and Hermione had recently given birth to her first child, Rose. Now that she considered it, Ginny wasn’t sure why she hadn’t gone over to visit them. Hermione might be feeling lonely, too.
Tomorrow, Ginny thought. But I have to write this background material first.
So this is my new project! I’m hoping to keep my focus on mainly this story for now, and I’d love any feedback you have about the first chapter. I’m hoping to make it sort of scary and interesting imagery-wise, and to also explore one of my pet subjects, mental illness. I know Ginny isn’t everyone’s favorite character, and I tend to agree, but hopefully I can make her likable for you :)
Anyway, take a moment to leave me your thoughts! Chapter two coming soon!
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