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This Devilry by academica
Chapter 7 : Chapter Seven
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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The sickly green liquid splashed across the floor, seeping into the wood and filling in the cracks between the boards. With a sigh, Harry picked up his wand and used it like a mop, moving it back and forth and scrubbing the liquid into a frothy frenzy. Where the bubbles faded and popped, only clean, dry floor emerged underneath. But the man of this house had much work ahead of him, a fact he was reminded of as he glanced over at the small collection of rat droppings in the four corners of the attic.

Harry picked up the mostly empty glass bottle of liquid, hoping he could get downstairs and mix up a bit more of the potion before Ginny woke up. He was grateful that his mother-in-law had been so generous to share her recipe for homemade Mrs. Skower’s cleaning solution—which was brewed using non-toxic ingredients to ensure that any children who tasted it wouldn’t be harmed—now that he had a child who could walk and talk and a second who would reach those milestones before long. Harry suspected Molly’s decision was likely inspired by the birth of the twins, not to mention the way her pocketbook was forced to stretch just a bit more with each new addition. Still, part of him wished he had braved the paparazzi and just gone out and bought the regular stuff, if it would save him time and mess. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the rat poison; Ginny’s version was much more effective than the store-bought remedies they’d tried.

The reason was obvious, once one perused the ingredient list. They had to use it sparingly, both in terms of cost and in order to keep it far away from the children.

Harry glanced around the attic, feeling pleased with his work. Staying home with Ginny had given him a good deal of free time to clean up the space, and it was nice to get to work with his hands instead of sitting behind a desk. He had gone through the boxes and condensed their contents so that he could eliminate many empty boxes. The remaining boxes had been carefully pushed against the sides of the attic and stacked neatly to form a low wall around the perimeter of the room. In his mind, having to take over this task was lucky, because otherwise how long would it have been before he realized that a family of rats had moved back into their home?

He climbed downstairs with the bottle of cleaner in hand, moving quietly past the bedroom and padding into the kitchen in sock-clad feet. He had to look around the shelf for a moment to find everything he needed, but once he had it, he levitated the ingredients that wouldn’t fit in his arms in front of him and went back toward the attic entrance.

When he passed the bedroom, Harry heard Ginny turn over in bed, and he had to struggle slightly to get back up the stairs soundlessly without dropping some of the chemicals floating before him. Soon he would be done, and then he could show Ginny the finished attic. He knew she would appreciate his surprise; like him, she was fonder of subtle gestures than overly maudlin, romantic shows of affection.

As Harry closed the door behind him, he wondered if his father would think less of him for this. Then again, Mum wasn’t much for grand displays either, was she, Dad?

On the second floor of the house, Ginny gently put her feet on the floor, still debating whether she wanted to get up. Last night when she’d fallen asleep, her stomach had been turning over and over like an endless sequence of tidal waves. She faintly remembered waking up just after midnight to empty her stomach’s contents. For now, though, she seemed to be feeling better, or at least her stomach wasn’t awake yet. She decided to take advantage of the moment and go see about some breakfast.

She moved slowly into the kitchen and pulled the waffle maker down off the fridge. Her father had deemed the appliance suitable for an anniversary gift and dressed it with a tale of the adventure he had in purchasing it while on vacation in the United States. Though she rarely used it, just looking at it put a smile on her face because it brought back the memories of her father’s pride and happiness. This morning, she had the added bonus of being able to prepare a quick breakfast without watching it.

As the waffle cooked, Ginny sat down at the table and started to think about her list. It was stupid to worry over her displaced ingredients, she supposed, when she should be using her energy to work toward her recovery. The missing potions would turn up in time, and besides, she was feeling better today. She would be just fine.

*

A few hours later, Ginny found herself back in Bree’s office, with Harry sitting next to her and gently squeezing her hand. In her lap rested a creased bit of parchment upon which she had listed all the happy memories she could recall and a few more ideas about things that would keep her calm. She and Harry had already exchanged pleasantries and small talk with Bree, and the few moments of silence she now faced told her that it was time to move on with business, time to begin this process at last.

“I’m nervous,” she admitted aloud.

“That’s all right,” Bree said, and her voice was gentle and reassuring to Ginny. She glanced up from her piece of parchment and looked at the therapist. Her hair fell in soft waves that framed her face and she looked comfortable despite her business casual attire. Her eyes were focused on Ginny, but there was an interesting juxtaposition of their calm blue color with the almost expectant way in which they waited for Ginny to speak. The therapist was sympathetic, but she was not lenient. She spoke again. “Remember that we’re only going to talk about your list today. We’re only going to discuss pleasant things. Our real work will begin next time.”

Ginny wondered if Bree’s serious final statement was meant to reassure her. She swallowed, nodding, and carefully unfolded the list of memories in her lap. “The first thing I wrote down was James’s birth,” she said. “My pregnancy and delivery were easier with him than with Albus, and he was my first, so… there’s something special about him.” She couldn’t help but smile when she talked of her children, and she felt glad that she had decided to open with this memory.

“What sorts of things come to mind when you reflect on James being born?”

“I just remember this warmth spreading throughout my whole body when I got to hold him. It was in my bones, my skin, even my heart. My head got all fuzzy, like when you drink too much Butterbeer or—” she paused, looking at Harry. “I guess it was like getting a bit of chocolate after you’ve had an encounter with a Dementor.”

Harry smiled back at her. “You could barely stand to let him go, even long enough for the Healers to clean him off and wrap him up in a blanket. You kept looking over at him, making sure that they held him carefully and wanting them to give him back,” he recalled. “I knew right then, looking at you, that you’d be a fantastic mum.”

As she looked at him, Ginny found the same feeling returning to her once again. She never wanted to let this moment go. She had not pictured herself experiencing such intimacy in the anxiety-provoking atmosphere of a therapist’s office, but it was like she could forget everything that had happened as long as Harry was sitting there next to her. She wasn’t stupid; she knew as soon as she moved on, it would all come back. She would be frightened, and Harry would be unable to help her, unable to cross the walls she’d built so high around herself. Inwardly, she begged Bree not to speak or probe, not to ask for more. She just wanted to sit here in the silence.

But it was not Bree’s voice she heard; it was his. “What’s the next one?” he whispered, and there was a breathless, almost exhilarated quality to the words.

“The first day of our honeymoon in France,” Ginny replied. She glanced to see Bree still watching them with quiet interest. “We were hounded by cameras and reporters all day at our wedding, but the first day of our honeymoon, it was just Harry and me again. It was so lovely just walking along the shore, with the breeze…”

“You didn’t even want to go to France, remember?” Harry chimed in. “It was Fleur’s idea, and you thought that your tastes were so different from hers and you would absolutely hate it, but Bill offered it as a wedding gift and you couldn’t help but accept. And then you really loved it after all. You said you should have given Fleur more credit.” He chuckled a little. “Seems to be a hard lesson to learn, hmm?”

“Yes, it does,” Ginny said, and to her surprise she laughed, too.

They spent most of the session in this way, trading memories and thoughts and falling in love with one another all over again. Ginny found herself wishing it hadn’t taken such drastic measures for them to have this simple, powerful conversation. When her list was complete, she tore her eyes away from Harry and looked at Bree. “How do I use this?” she asked. “How will it help?”

Bree adjusted her position slightly and leaned in a bit closer. “You’ve shared some very special things with me today—you both have, as a matter of fact. We’re all going to relive these memories again and again until they become more powerful than your fears. But that will take confrontation of those fears. You’ll need to be brave, Ginny. I think having Harry here by your side will help you accomplish that.”

Ginny and Harry both nodded.

“Do you have any questions?”

“What is it like?” Ginny said, looking from Bree to Harry. “Legilimency?”

“It can feel weird. For me, it was really cold,” Harry said. “I didn’t want to let it happen, so it hurt a bit. But the pain lessens if you start to fight back against it.”

“So I’ll know if the treatment is working?” she asked, looking to Bree now.

“Yes. You’ll know if you’re being successful. It isn’t my intention to cause you pain, though you should know that’s a risk with this particular treatment. Instead, I’ll try to give you verbal feedback about what I’m seeing when I enter your mind.”

“Okay,” Ginny said. That sort of immediate feedback would be nice. “What else should I do to prepare—you know, for next time?”

“Honestly, I think you should try to get some rest. Have something nice for dinner the night before, and spend some time relaxing with your boys and Harry.”

Ginny nodded, and Harry patted her hand gently. “I think I can do that.”

“Great.” Bree smiled. “Now, what’s your schedule like for next week?”

*

After the session, Harry and Ginny had to go their separate ways. Harry had agreed months in advance to do a photo shoot advertising the latest addition to the Nimbus broomstick line, and Ginny had received a letter that morning inviting her to lunch with her mother and Hermione in Diagon Alley. She and Hermione had tea often together and she had gone for lunch at her mother’s house more times than she could count, but she had to wonder what had caused them to send a spontaneous invitation to have lunch out, considering what a shut-in she had been lately.

She approached the restaurant on foot and saw her mother and Hermione sitting in conversation at a table outside. When they saw her, they waved her over and opened their arms to her for hugs. Ginny smiled and returned the friendly gesture.

“Go on, have a seat!” Hermione exclaimed. She looked extremely excited to have had the chance to put on some makeup and get out of the house for an hour or two. Ginny didn’t have the heart to tell her there were dried bits of formula in her hair.

“You should have something substantial, dear,” her mother suggested, opening the menu. “You look a little pale. Did you have breakfast, or just a spot of tea?”

“I ate breakfast,” Ginny replied. “I am pretty hungry now, though.” She glanced down at her own menu, poring over sandwiches and salads, pasta dishes and hearty soups.

“Are you sure this is all right, Hermione?” Molly pressed. “Out here in the open—”

“Nonsense, it’s fine. Why should we be restricted just because they feel like poking around with their cameras? Besides, we’re not fresh or in high demand these days.”

Speak for yourself, Ginny thought. “Perhaps I’ll have the fish and chips,” she said.

“Yes, that sounds lovely,” Hermione agreed. As she spoke, the waitress came around, and the three of them placed their orders. Molly chose a small salad and cup of soup.

Ginny took a sip from her complimentary glass of water and noticed a piece of parchment and quill in the center of the table. “What’s that?”

“Ah, to business,” her mother answered. “Ginny, I don’t know if you’ve talked to Bill recently, but Fleur had a baby boy last week.”

Ginny put her glass down. “I thought she wasn’t due until next week.”

“That’s right. He came early. His name is Louis. Isn’t that cute?”

Ginny tried not to make a face over the elaborate French pronunciation.

“Anyway,” Hermione cut in. “We’re hoping to throw her a little baby shower. She insisted that no one see her until she’s had a bit of time to rest, but next weekend seems like as good a time as any. We were hoping you could help us.”

Ginny sighed. The last thing she wanted to do was attend another party at Shell Cottage and withstand the stream of vague concern that would undoubtedly issue from her relatives and family friends. After her last experience, even the thought of going near the ocean made her lose her appetite. “I don’t think I’d be much help.”

“Sure you would,” Hermione said. “Ginny, honestly—I’ve just had a baby as well—I can’t be expected to take control over this whole thing. You have more free time.”

Ginny frowned at her. “Why not ask Audrey or Angelina, then?”

“They both work full-time, dear, remember?” her mother said.

“Mum, really, you know that I can barely keep up with Fleur’s taste. The last thing I would want to do is disappoint her in her… fragile state.” This was not entirely a selfish move, Ginny thought, considering that Fleur might actually get violent if the party celebrating the birth of her first son didn’t meet her precise expectations.

“Ginny, please, I’m sure it would mean the world to Bill,” Hermione said softly.

“You know, I did enough for Victoire’s birthday party, I think,” Ginny said, standing up. “I really should go. I need to relieve the babysitter. I’ll look out for the invitation.” She looked at the waitress apologetically as she passed, turning the corner quickly.

“Ginny, wait!”

She stopped, turning to see her mother chasing after her.

“Sweetheart, I know you’ve been through a lot. Hermione is just sort of a worrier, you know that, and motherhood has taken its toll on her recently. She’s not herself.”

Ginny nodded. “Mum, I’m serious. Ask someone else to help out. I just can’t do it.”

“You know, we can always take care of the boys for you, if you need us to do that.”

“What?” Ginny stared at her.

“Arthur and I would be happy to watch them for a few days—even a few weeks, if you need it. James loves coming to see us, and we barely know little Albus yet.”

“I barely know him yet,” Ginny retorted, coldness lacing her tone.

“It’s just an offer, dear. Just know that we’re here if you need us,” Molly said gently.

“Well, I don’t,” Ginny replied harshly. “I’m taking care of things just fine on my own.”

With that, she turned and stalked away, leaving her mother standing sadly in the street. Molly couldn’t fathom just what had gotten into her daughter lately. She worried if what she had read about in the tabloids might be embarrassingly true. Shaking her head, she turned to go back to the table and work on plans with her daughter-in-law. As usual, she couldn’t just deal with one of her children at a time.



Author’s Note:

Sorry that you had a bit of wait for the next chapter, but as usual, I hope it was worth it! Things never quite seem to get better for Ginny, at least not for long. Maybe that will change in time—who knows? I’d love to know what you think of this chapter, especially my depictions of many of our beloved canon favorites. Won’t you please leave a comment or two in the review box?

Thank you again for reading, and chapter eight is coming soon!

-Amanda


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