Chapter 2 : Chapter Two
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Ginny opened her eyes, looking over at Harry. The sunlight was reflected in the bottomless green of his eyes, which were fixed upon hers with mild concern. Ginny realized that both of her children looked like him, and she wondered if this was a way of counterbalancing the multitude of red-haired children her mother had brought forth upon the earth. Perhaps she would have a little redhead of her own.
“Are you all right?” Harry continued.
“What do you mean?” Ginny replied.
“You tossed and turned in your sleep all right. It was like you were fighting with something.” Harry smirked. “At one point I even got up and moved your wand over to my side, just in case you sent a Bat Bogey Hex my way by accident.”
“Oh,” Ginny said, trying to return his smile. “Sorry about that.”
“Oh,” Ginny repeated. “I—I don’t remember, really. I found a few pieces of James’s Halloween candy last night and ate it before bed. You know what sugar does to me.”
She had never liked to talk to Harry about the things she encountered in her dreams. She supposed it was habitual; when they were young, she had never been able to talk to Harry about her problems because he already had too many of his own. She allowed herself to give some details once in a while—at timely points, like the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts or when someone on the street asked him what it had been like to fight a fully grown Basilisk—but she normally kept mum.
Still, part of her felt bad lying to him, especially when he looked at her that way. But secrets were normal, right? They were healthy. Surely he had some of his own, too.
“Yeah, I didn’t sleep very well, either.” Harry rolled out of bed, pulling on clothes and preparing to go to work. Ginny turned over onto her back, leaning against her pillows and watching him move about the room. She didn’t know if Harry enjoyed his job so much as just being able to get up and go to work like a normal person. According to Ron, the position required a lot of paperwork. It sounded awful to her.
“Do you want breakfast?” she asked.
Harry looked at the clock. “No, I’m running late. But thanks, Gin.”
“You’re welcome,” she said. No matter; her eldest son always wanted breakfast before lessons, and she would need to get up soon anyway to feed the baby.
She put her feet on the floor, adjusting the straps of her short nightgown and wandering down the hall. Albus was still asleep, so she decided to start working on James’s breakfast in order to avoid being interrupted by him while she fed Albus. Ginny moved downstairs and pulled some eggs and sausage out of the fridge. As she reached for her cookbook, searching for her mother’s baked beans recipe, she saw Harry move behind her out of the corner of one eye.
“I’m off,” he said softly, putting a arm gently around her waist and leaving a kiss on her cheek. She turned her face slightly, catching his lips with the edge of her own.
Ginny watched from the open doorway as he pulled his cloak on and walked out to the edge of the driveway, where he could Apparate with room for clearance. The memory of her latest nightmare still floated around her brain. It was an old one in which she stood before the mirror to admire herself in her bridal gown. When she opened the small journal that contained her vows, however, Tom Riddle suddenly appeared, and she was stolen away from Harry and her family into eternal darkness.
She blinked and looked up again. Harry was gone now. It was too quiet outside.
Ginny could hear James’s footsteps on the stairs. Breakfast would be a welcome distraction, provided she actually got it on the table, but it wouldn’t chase away her fears forever. She was glad to have a chance to talk to Hermione later.
Ron and Hermione lived in a relatively nice home at 22 Evesham Street, which was just far enough from the Ministry to allow for some peace and quiet but close enough so as not to require a prohibitively long journey by Floo or Muggle transit. Ginny enjoyed going to visit them because Hermione had a very successful vegetable garden and a lovely spot behind the house to enjoy tea while overlooking the city. Today would also be her first chance to see her new niece, Rose, since Hermione brought the baby home from the hospital a week ago.
As she walked up the driveway, past a classic sports car Ron had received from his father for his twenty-fifth birthday, Ginny reflected on the upside of being the first in her group of friends to have children. Luna had readily agreed to watch the boys for today, since she and her new fiancé Rolf were hoping to have children of their own in the next few years and they wanted some practice. Ginny had briefly pondered bringing James and Albus to meet their new cousin, but she decided that she needed to allow herself some peace for one day. Naturally, James didn’t complain—his honorary aunt and uncle always brought interesting magical creatures with them when they visited, though they had to promise Ginny thoroughly that no damage would be done to her house.
She walked over to the front door and knocked lightly. After a few moments, the door opened and her older brother stood there looking at her with a faint smile.
“Hey,” she replied, curving the corners of her lips skyward.
Ginny entered the house and Ron closed the door gently behind her. The house looked relatively clean, though not so perfect as to suggest that no one lived there. Ginny’s house had looked that way before James got old enough to make messes; now, following his little trails of toys and trash was just part of her daily routine. “Where’s Hermione?” she asked softly.
“In the kitchen,” Ron answered. A soft cry floated down the stairs, causing him to sigh. “I’ll be back. Go ahead, I think she just put the kettle on.”
Ginny tried to smile after him as he moved toward the staircase, but she couldn’t summon it quickly enough. The vague feeling of sadness was something that had stuck with her family members after Fred’s death, and they couldn’t shake it when in one another’s presence. Every stray red hair and faded sweater was a reminder of what they had lost, and it seemed like only more loss waited in the years to come. No new children could replace the beloved family Ginny had known as a girl.
She trusted that he knew she was happy to see him and moved toward the kitchen. Hermione was leaning on the wooden island, sipping a cup of tea and looking toward the wall. It was quiet even with the muted sounds of birds outside the window, and Ginny took a moment to find her voice. “Hey, sis,” she tried finally.
“Hi,” Hermione said, turning her head to meet Ginny’s eyes. Her sister-in-law had gray and purple splotches under her eyes, and a slight pinkness backlit the white space surrounding her irises.
Oh, Ginny realized. Another dream. More sleeplessness. Ron had let slip at one of their mother’s garden parties that Hermione sometimes experienced flashbacks to the war when she slept. It apparently took quite a toll on her. “How are you doing?”
“As well as can be expected,” Hermione replied.
Ginny paused, waiting. She did not like to intrude on Hermione’s unconscious.
“You know—the baby.”
She nodded, supposing that Rose could be the cause of Hermione’s unkempt appearance. She had experienced the same trouble with James, though Albus had been a bit kinder to her. “I was hoping to see her while I’m here to visit.”
“Of course!” Hermione managed a smile now; like most other women, she couldn’t pass up an opportunity to show off her new baby. “Oh, but I’ve been so rude. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Sure,” Ginny said. She watched Hermione move to the stove and pour some tea, preparing it with sugar and cream without even having to ask what Ginny preferred. This was an old habit for them now. In fact, Ginny still remembered sharing a secret cup of tea in the kitchens one night as she told Hermione how she felt about Harry.
“Here you go.” Hermione handed her the cup. “How are Harry and the boys?”
“We’re all doing well,” she answered. “What do you think of motherhood?”
“Aside from constantly feeling tired, I’m happy.” Hermione broke eye contact as she said it. “She’s very cute, but I can’t help feeling like we’ll bond more as she gets older. I’m very excited to teach her to read, and to see her first bursts of magic.”
Ginny smiled. “Hopefully she’ll be less destructive than her father was.”
“Was? You act like he doesn’t still know how to make a good mess.”
“Of course. James has such good role models in his father and his uncle.”
The conversation vanished for a few moments as the two women sipped their tea. Ron’s footsteps could be heard upstairs in the nursery, and the birds were still arguing over breakfast just outside the window. Then Hermione spoke up again.
“Well, should we go check on the baby?”
“Wait just a moment,” Ginny said. “She’s actually not the only reason for my visit.”
“I wondered about that, since you didn’t bring James and Albus.”
Ginny cleared her throat, hoping Ron would stay busy for a little while longer. She didn’t want him rushing in right in the middle of her getting this off her chest. “Do you remember that night in my third year when all the Gryffindor girls had to sleep in the main area of the common room because Peeves flooded our dormitory?”
“Of course,” Hermione said with a chuckle.
“And you remember what happened to me.”
Hermione’s smile fell. “I remember that you woke up in the middle of the night screaming. Parvati got you to calm down easily enough, but then you wouldn’t tell anyone what you’d been dreaming about. I figured it was something embarrassing.”
“I was dreaming about him. Tom Riddle.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“I dreamed about him a lot—right after it happened, obviously, but for years after that. Sometimes he’d be following me, and sometimes it would be me hunting people down and killing them.” Ginny swallowed, taking a sip of her cooling tea. “The dreams got better as I got older and put some distance there between us. The thing is, though, they’ve started coming back. I’ve had them two nights in a row.”
“You’ve got to do something about it.”
“I know.” She sighed. “That’s why I came, I guess. I thought you could help.”
“Well,” Hermione said, putting her empty teacup in the sink. “Actually, I do have an idea.” She walked over to the other side of the kitchen, retrieving her purse from a hanger on the wall. She opened it and pulled out her wallet, from which she drew a small piece of cardstock. “I’ve been through some difficulties myself.”
“I know,” Ginny replied sympathetically.
“I mean, even though I was able to cover up the ugly writing on my arm, I still couldn’t put what she did behind me,” Hermione admitted with a heavy sigh. “I’ve dreamed about Malfoy Manor, about the Death Eaters at the Quidditch World Cup, about the Department of Mysteries. One night I even dreamed that Ron was telling me off about being a know-it-all and not having any friends, and then Bellatrix was there, and he wasn’t—” She paused, taking a deep breath. “—you know, he wasn’t helping me—” Another shaky pause, and tears began to well up in her eyes.
Ginny frowned sadly. “Don’t cry, please. You don’t have to tell me all of this.” She knew Hermione had endured her share of nightmares—the war had been especially unkind to her, being Muggle-born—but she had never heard specific details before.
“My point is that I finally decided to go see someone about it all. I found a therapist who works with both Muggles and magical people. She’s a half-blood with training from St. Mungo’s. She really helped me work through my feelings, and I was even able to tell Ron, so now he knows what to look for when I start to get upset.”
Ginny glanced at her curiously. “Sounds like a good therapist.”
“Here’s her business card. She even charmed it so you can make the writing appear and disappear with a tap of your wand. It helps ensure your confidentiality.” Hermione slid the white card across the table to Ginny, who turned it over and read the precise script on the front. Dr. Bree Wesclox, Psychotherapist. “She’s in London?”
“Yes, toward the center of town. I can give you directions. It’s easy to find.”
Ginny slipped the card in her pocket. “Maybe I’ll give it a try.”
“You really should. It must be difficult to deal with all this, especially with Albus just having been born a few months ago. At least Harry can relate to you on the subject.” Hermione bit her lip, knowing that there was no decent way to recognize that fact.
“He doesn’t know,” Ginny said absently.
“Harry doesn’t know.”
Hermione sighed. “Well, she could help with that. Really, give it a try, okay?”
“All right.” Ginny nodded. One appointment can’t hurt, can it?
“Now, would you like to visit Rose?”
Ginny brightened. “Of course!”
As they moved toward the staircase, smiles lighting both of their faces now, Ginny couldn’t help but embrace the sense of relief she felt. In her mind, she was already planning out when she could bring Albus to meet his cousin, having recently realized that they would be starting as first years at Hogwarts together. And James, she thought, rounding the corner and smiling at Ron, who returned it bemusedly. Soon, nightmarish visions of Tom Riddle would no longer take up the spaces in her mind that deserved to be filled with all the love and beauty of her waking hours.
All that stood between her and freedom, it seemed, was a simple trip into London.
Thank you for coming by for another chapter! Hope you enjoyed this one. I’d love to know what you think of Ron and Hermione, and Harry as well. Does their post-war behavior feel realistic? Please leave me a quick review! :)
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