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Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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Deciding it was time for some fresh air, Ginny quietly slipped out of the back door and began walking, careful not to wake anyone in this early hour of the morning. Relishing the raw feeling of grass on her bare feet, she set off towards their makeshift Quidditch pitch, knowing that it had never failed to clear her mind. Though it was dark, the silhouette of the field up on the hills was beautiful, lit by the bright moon. With a new sense of urgency, she quickened her pace, unable to wait any longer for some much needed amnesia.
When she had finally reached the old, weatherworn broom cupboard, Ginny hastily pulled her hair back with an elastic band, grabbed Ron’s Cleansweep Eleven and all but sprinted out onto the field before finally kicking off. She let out a huge sigh of relief as she succumbed to that familiar feeling of mindless exhilaration, taking off at full speed towards the opposite goal posts. As she took a few laps around the field and practiced some of the new shots she had been dying to try out, she almost forgot herself in the game. But it wasn’t long before the sky began to lighten and she heard panicked voices calling from the house. Spinning in midair, Ginny squinted into the sun before finally spotting her family spilling out of the front door and, finally seeing her, taking off towards the field. Sighing, she touched back down on the rough grass, meeting her mother’s streaming face first.
“Oh thank goodness!” she whimpered, clutching her daughter tightly and sobbing into her shoulder
“Mum, let go. I’m fine, I’m here.” Ginny replied, half exasperated, half guiltily.
She should have known what her mother would think upon discovering her empty bed. Voldemort’s reign of terror was finally over, but the Weasleys, along with the rest of the wizarding world, were finding it exceedingly difficult to grow accustomed to safety. After months - or years, really - of sheer panic, it was difficult to accept that they no longer had to worry.
Ginny pulled away from her mother, meeting the eyes that were so shockingly identical to her own, and offering what she hoped was a comforting smile. Only now that she looked around at the rest of her family could she fully appreciate what a true spectacle they were, clad in their mismatched and undersized pajamas, each with flaming red hair and looking thoroughly out of breath. They looked distinctly relieved, but she knew that like she, they were all still hurting.
After returning the Quidditch gear to the broom cupboard, Ginny followed the rest of her family back to the house, doing her best to ignore Ron’s jibes about her borrowing his Cleansweep.
As they entered the sitting room, Ginny could feel her family’s inquiring looks on her back but, avoiding eye contact, she hurried up the stairs to her room. Slamming the door after her, she slumped onto her bed, suddenly exhausted. Thanking her stars for the hundredth time, she relished the one good thing about being the only girl of the family; her own room. Not bothering to change out of her clothes, Ginny crawled under the covers. But it was only then that she remembered why she had been dreading today. Fred’s funeral.
Suddenly wishing Harry was there to hold her, she felt yet another familiar pang in the pit of her stomach. Harry, whom she had always known was brave and good beyond his years, was finally being recognized as such by the rest of the world. Ginny inwardly cursed the idiots who had been so painfully slow to realize the obvious. Of course he was deserving of all their attention, though she knew he hated it, and to be completely honest with herself, she hated it too. Harry had always been the boy who had saved the world from Voldemort, but now that he had finished him off for good, he would never be seen as anything but the world’s great hero. Ginny knew that Harry, the Vanquisher of Voldemort, had always been too good for her. Not because of the great things that he had done, though that was certainly enough, but for his unswerving selflessness and his overwhelmingly kind heart. But now that he was getting even more attention, would he finally realize it too? With that unsettling thought, she drifted off to sleep.
“Ginny, Ginny wake up.”
Slowly opening her eyes, Ginny quickly turned away from the offending noise, wanting nothing more than to drift back into her peaceful oblivion. But unyieldingly, she felt two delicate yet assertive hands take hold of her shoulders and gently shake her once again. Resigned, Ginny slowly sat up and, to her surprise, saw Hermione perched on the foot of her bed, looking anxious. “I know you only got to sleep a few hours, but we need to leave soon, and you still have to get ready.”
She must have just arrived, for she was still wearing her jacket, and her bag was sitting in the corner of the room. Ginny realized that, upon arrival, Hermione must have come directly up to Ginny’s room to check on her. Overwhelmed by her jumbled emotions, she sat up quickly, clearly startling Hermione, and hugged her tightly. After only a second, she felt her best friend return her embrace, clearly trying to transfer some of her own strength into Ginny. But after only a moment, Ginny pulled away.
“Who else is here?” she asked, almost scared to hear the answer.
“Nobody new, besides me,” Hermione replied slowly. Ginny wondered if, somehow, Hermione had sensed the reason for her question.
Sure enough, she continued, “Harry’s meeting us at the…. church, he told me he wouldn’t be able to go over there with us, though.” Ginny sensed the word funeral in the offing, but it was for other reasons that her eyes filled with tears. Was he avoiding her?
A look of heartbreaking sorrow and understanding met her gaze before her friend pulled her close again. She knew Hermione believed it was the thought of the funeral that saddened her, but she didn’t bother to correct her. “Is George already there?” Ginny asked, pulling away and blinking quickly to clear her eyes of their unbidden tears.
Hermione nodded. Of course he was. For obvious reasons, the loss had hit George harder than it had for any other members of the family. Lately, he had become almost unbearable to be in the same room with. They all loved him, but were clueless in how to relieve his pain. So eventually George had begun pouring all his feelings into funeral planning. Ginny knew that his assumption of the task had taken a great burden off her parents’ shoulders, who had recently seemed incapacitated by their own sorrow. So naturally, George was already at the venue, making sure everything was perfect.
Finally meeting Hermione’s eyes, Ginny attempted a half-smile as she stood up and started for the shower. It was going to be a long day.
The Weasleys and Hermione arrived at the funeral with 15 minutes to spare, just enough time to accept the well-intentioned sympathies from the rest of the guests before making their way into the church. The great room was beautifully arranged. The decorations had a subtle elegance about them that, despite his rather showy exterior, Ginny knew Fred would have loved. Looking around, Ginny was pleased to see that the guests had abandoned their traditional blacks, and had instead dressed in bright colors for they, like she, had surely deemed that an event celebrating the life of Fred Weasley was no place for anything dull or traditional. With a pang, Ginny remembered Bill and Fleur’s wedding when Fred had told them that when he got married, they could “all wear what you like”. Little did he know at the time, he would never get the chance to have a wedding.
And just like that, reality hit Ginny like a ton of bricks.
She felt as though a hole had been crudely punched through her heart and the pain of it made her want to double over. The unyielding permanence of death had never been clearer to her than it was now, and this overwhelming realization threatened to push her over the carefully constructed barrier she had built for herself. But it was then that she noticed a jet black mess of hair and, for a moment, forgot about her pain. The instant brown eyes met green, he was weaving through the crowd toward her. She knew her pain had been clearly visible in her eyes, especially to him, who knew her better than anybody. As he reached her, she opened her mouth to say something but at that moment, order was being called and all around them, the guests were taking their seats. Ginny quietly took her seat next to her mother in the front row. Mutely, Harry slid into the one between her and Ron, who was gently cradling a clearly distraught Hermione. Harry gave Ginny one last searching look before turning to the front.
One after another, Ginny watched school-mates and Wheezes co-workers alike walk up to the podium to share their memories of Fred. Even Professor McGonagall, or Headmistress McGonagall as she was now, had something to say, for as she herself pointed out, she hadn’t been able to help developing a soft spot for Fred, even if he was “one of the greatest trouble-makers Hogwarts had ever seen”. At that, Ginny couldn’t help but smile to herself. Yes, nobody who had known Fred would have denied his role in the countless shenanigans that had followed him and George everywhere.
Ginny looked up at Harry, curious to see if he was sharing this reminiscence. But as she looked up, she was startled to see that he was already watching her with an intense look in his eyes that she could not recognize. She quickly looked away, sure she had made a mistake in revealing her thoughts.
Lost inside her own head, Ginny was only jerked back to reality when the crowd suddenly stood up and slowly made their way to the back door. Dazedly following the stream of people, she soon found herself in the magically enlarged back seat of a car with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As she took in her surroundings, she knew that without a doubt, this cabin had been magically enhanced. It looked more like a limousine than an ordinary muggle car. There was an extravagant minibar set up across from them and, to her amusement upon spotting it, a small chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Any Muggle that entered this car would probably have fainted on the spot. As she continued to look around, she felt a twinge of discomfort as she realized that Hermione had not ceased in her continuous flow of tears. Ron’s shirt was now almost entirely soaked through on the left shoulder and now donned a rather spectacular collection of mascara stains that she knew Mrs. Weasley would magically siphon away upon first sight. But Ron hardly seemed to care, his eyes were nearly as bloodshot as Hermione’s. Suddenly feeling heartless, Ginny panicked; why wasn’t she crying? This was her brother’s funeral, no decent person would be sitting here as dry eyed as she was.
Ginny felt the car shudder and come to a stop. Supposing they must have reached the graveyard, Ginny pushed open the door and looked around. The first thing she noticed as she climbed out of the car was the distinct smell of pinecones, but as her eyes adjusted to the light she was met with a sight far removed from what she normally pictured a graveyard to be. The place looked much more like a park, with beautiful patches of flowers growing across rows of headstones and large trees that, she knew in better weather, would offer shade from a harsh sun blazing. As it were, the day was dreary and overcast, leaving shade to be the last thing on anybody’s mind. Even when considering the weather, as she looked around, Ginny was comforted by the idea that, if she had to choose, this would not be such a horrible place to be laid to rest.
Ginny spotted a mound of fresh dirt off in the distance and with a jolt, found that there was a fear in her heart so strong, it rendered her unable to move any closer. How does anyone do this? How could she bring herself to walk calmly to the spot she knew would represent the horrible finality of it all? But as wild, half-formed thoughts of taking off in the opposite direction flashed through her head, she felt Hermione slip her arm through her own and, each absorbing the other’s strength, they began to walk.
Sooner than she had hoped, they approached that horrible hole in the ground and, staring into it, she felt weak in the knees. Hermione slowly detached her arm from Ginny’s and, giving her a weak smile, slowly made her way to Ron, who was clearly having troubles himself. Jumbled escape plans swarmed her mind again before she felt a strong arm slowly weave around her waist, seeming to hold her up, as if its owner knew that she would soon crumple to the ground without it. Harry had come, but with so many worries occupying her mind, she found little room to ponder this gesture.
They were soon joined by the rest of the guests, all looking worn, but none as much as George who, clutching his stomach, surged through the crowd and knelt in the fresh dirt, letting out a howl of anguish. He was soon joined by Percy, tears streaming silently down his face as he crouched next to his brother, holding his shoulders comfortingly. Of course, Percy had been there when it happened. And given the circumstances, she couldn’t imagine the guilt he must be feeling. Only earlier on that horrible day had he finally reconciled with the family after years of estrangement. She was sure he had been looking forward to the rest of their lives to make up for that betrayal, but the promised years had been cut short and Percy was left to bear a guilt he would never be able to assuage.
The burial passed with minutes that felt like hours, each one sending unforgiving throbs of pain through her heart. But she had suffered through it, and it had finally ended, and she had been ushered to a car, and at last, at long long last, they were driving away from this nightmare. As they drove, Ginny looked out of the window, absorbed in the sunset and determined not to repeat her mistake in looking at the others.
As they pulled up to the Burrow, she realized they must be the last ones back. The lights in the house were on and, in the distance, she saw a figure huddled with its arms around its knees, staring out over the pond. She got out of the car and, pulling away from Harry, made her way towards the figure. As she drew closer she realized two things; it was George, and he was crying.
He wasn’t sobbing, it was clear he was past that stage of grief. No, he was simply sitting there, tears streaming quickly down his face and leaving clean tracks in their wake. She sat next to him, wishing to offer some sort of comfort. But as she opened her mouth, she realized she had never known what to say in these situations. Sure, she had grown to be strong for her family, the rock found it the unlikeliest of its members. She had been strengthened by her role as the only girl, youngest of seven brothers. But offering comfort to someone she loved in this much pain required a different kind of strength.
Turning his head to look at her, George seemed to know that she wasn’t going to be able to help him. A look of understanding and disappointment in his eyes, he stood up silently and walked away. Shocked, Ginny simply sat on the rocks for a whole minute. She had failed him, when her brother, whom she loved dearly was in the deepest pain he had ever known, she had failed to offer him even the simplest words of comfort. Anything to show him she cared.
Finally, she succumbed to the tears that had been welling up inside her. It was just all so unfair. Fred, of all people, the one who had never failed to put a smile on each of their faces, was the one to pay the ultimate price for all of their freedom. And with a force of crashing waves on her heart, she finally allowed herself to fully comprehend how much she would miss him.
And just like that, she was sobbing. She jumped to her feet, unable to allow the world to get away for what it had done to her… for what had done to him. Grabbing the nearest stone, she howled as she threw it with all of her might onto the water. Frantically, she grabbed another, heaving one after the next with increasing panic and with harsher sobs until finally she felt her manic arms being forced to her sides. Desperately, she fought against her restraints, screaming as she tried to break free. Blinking through her tears, she was finally able to make out the identity of her captor. Losing strength at last, she collapsed into Harry’s arms and sobbed freely into his chest. His arms encircled her, holding her up and stroking her hair as he rested his head on hers. Through her sobs, she was unable to hear what he was whispering into her hair.
As she slowly calmed down, she felt him sit, holding her in his arms all the while.
Finally able to gather her thoughts, Ginny pulled away and blurted out “You know you don’t have to stay with me just because my brother died. If you’re going to leave you might as well just go now.”
“Is that what you think?” said Harry, a look of actual relief on his face
Wounded, Ginny pulled herself even further away from him and hugged her knees, determined not to let him see how much his words and facial expression had affected her. She could feel him trying to pull her back towards him, “No, you don’t understand!” he said, and she was disgusted to hear that he was laughing even harder now.
“What don’t I understand, Harry? I understand perfectly well how many girls want to be with you right now, and I also understand that you would happily pick any one of them over me, as you should! So please, for both of our sakes, don’t insult my intelligence and don’t put off the inevitable!” She knew she was being unfair in yelling, but right now she couldn’t help but receive a savage pleasure from unloading some of her anger onto him.
“Listen, Ginny” he said quietly, suddenly serious with look of such intensity and purpose in his eyes, she couldn’t help but fall submissively into silence “Please do not ever think anything like that again, because you clearly do not understand at all. And honestly, I have nobody but myself to blame for that. Because it’s been my job to remind you every day and to never let you forget. I know that I failed you, even if we both knew why it had to be that way. But even still, I never dreamt that there was any way you didn’t know, that you didn’t somehow feel it.”
Ginny didn’t know where he was going with this, guarded as always, she was unwilling to comprehend whatever he was clearly trying to portray to her. His eyes still searching her face, he seemed to know somehow the battle that was raging inside her head because he soon grasped her shoulders, forcing her to look into his eyes.
“Do you have no idea how I feel about you at all?” He whispered, his green eyes burning into her brown ones “I thought of you every day I was gone, I used to take out the map and just watch your dot, wishing that you knew I was thinking of you, and that by some miracle, you were thinking of me too.”
Not daring to believe, she pulled away, and she saw a flash of shock and desperation in his eyes before he released her “Oh” he said quietly after a long pause, and she was shocked to hear that his voice was quavering “It’s alright… you don’t have to tell me. Of course I understand if you want me to go… you’ve always... well...” But as he trailed off and made to stand up, she suddenly understood and with a sob, threw herself into his unexpecting arms.
He was completely still, clearly shocked, for what felt like a whole minute. But then she felt him exhale and with a force that nearly knocked her backwards, he returned her embrace, his arms holding her against him with such sincerity she wondered if they would ever let each other go. She felt his lips in her hair as he shakily whispered her name. And at the sound, for reasons she could not explain to herself or anyone else, she was sobbing uncontrollably against his pounding heart.
A/N: Hey guys!! Sorry for the depressing-ness in this chapter. I felt like there was no way to write a post-Battle of Hogwarts Ginny without letting her grieve Fred. Plus, I feel like we all needed a chance to say goodbye to him as well. But I promise things aren’t quite as depressing from here on out. However, as for drama in general… I can promise an abundance
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