“I think I figured out why I always blame myself.”
“Yeah, it’s because you’re a noble git who takes responsibility for everyone’s wellbeing.”
“I’m being serious.”
The auburn-haired woman beside Harry rolled over, meeting his emerald green eyes cautiously.
“Why?” she murmured softly, her hand brushing over Harry’s beneath the covers.
Sometimes a silence could speak a thousand words, and this was one of them. Harry paused, and the couple’s gazes locked for a moment. It was only for a heartbeat, really, but in that heartbeat the ease of decades together conveyed oceans.
“It’s because,” he began, delicately, “I think, well, with the Dursleys–”
Ginny scowled. She was so expressive, Harry thought; so vibrant and though she wasn’t an emotional person, her ferocity when angry was terrifying, in an admirable way, and her thousand-watt smile when happy made Harry feel as if he was a young, hormonal teenager in love with a girl again.
Harry had paused, as if something was caught in his throat, blocking the words from escaping, but he cleared his throat and carried on, trying to not look at his wife’s hard, blazing look that he had come to love.
“With the Dursleys, well, if I didn’t blame myself, who would I blame?”
Before he could get in another word, Ginny quipped, “The fucking Dursleys like they goddamned deserve, pieces of shit. Human scum.”
Harry found his eyes watering–from what, he could not tell, but the tiniest hint of a smile had crept onto his face despite the heavy situation.
“That’s right. I’d have to admit that it was the Dursleys, and with that comes anger–because if I got something I didn’t deserve, I’d be angry and miserable and feel robbed, so it’s so much easier to just convince myself that I did something to deserve it. Dropped a plate. Didn’t do my part in cleaning the house. Whatever.”
Ginny’s hand now gripped Harry’s firmly: not a death grip, but she still held onto him as if he would disintegrate if she did not clasp onto him firmly enough.
“Yeah. And with, like, Sirius and stuff…”
Harry’s throat tightened, a pained look upon his face for a moment. He did not meet Ginny’s eyes but he did not need to–she was rubbing her thumb in reassuring circles on the area of skin between his thumb and index finger, and that was all the comfort he needed.
“Well, it helps to think that I had some control over it. That I could have prevented it. It makes me feel less helpless, that I’m not just going to lose everyone I fucking love and that there’s something I could do–can do–to prevent-to prevent people I love from… from dying.”
The liquid in Harry’s eyes had formed into teardrops now. Harry was not a particularly tearful person, but there was something about talking as if everyone’s death had not been his fault, had not been so fucking preventable and as if Harry had not failed everyone like he had felt and expressed for Merlin knew how long–there was something about that which was so liberating yet so painful and guilt-inducing.
At that point, he was not looking at Ginny, but at some undefined point in the distance, and his vision was blurry–it already had been without his glasses, but now it was blurred with tears as well as stupid longsightedness–but he did not need vision to know from so many years of marriage that Ginny was leaning in to kiss him.
The kiss was not necessarily neat, nor was it heated–this was far from the time for passion–but it was short and sweet and assured Harry that she was there, along with her firm grip on his hands. She moved her other hand to the small of Harry’s back and rubbed circles on there, Harry burying his face in the nook of her shoulders.
“Do you love me?” she asked quietly after a while.
“Of course, Ginny, you–”
“Am I dead?”
“How long have you known me?”
“I still appear to be up and running, Harry.”
There was a pregnant pause before Ginny asked another question.
“Do you love Ron, Hermione–do you love my family in general?”
Harry seemed to take a moment to muster the strength to reply. “Yes.”
“Are they dead?”
Before he could say a word, Ginny added, “And if you dare blame yourself for Fred, I might actually cast the Bat-Bogey Hex on you.”
“Where’ s my wand?”
Harry took a deep breath–inhale, exhale–and rolled over, his back now turned from Ginny. Ginny repositioned her hands so that they were holding his torso from behind, kisses being pressed into his back.
“You don’t cause death. People who you love–who love you–don’t die because of that love. They died because there was a fucking war. Okay?”
Harry’s voice was neutral, for Ginny had told him this practically a thousand times over. Harry knew better than to attempt to rebut it.
“And, Harry. You didn’t deserve abuse. Nobody does. I wouldn’t even wish it upon those fucking scums of the Earth Dursleys. If it makes you angry or embarrassed to admit that, that’s normal. You can cope with it. You have so many people who love you and will a hundred percent help you along the way. Like me. If you ever feel angry or lost or helpless, I’m here. And it’s not weakness to seek help or to show upset at an honestly upsetting thing–it’s a show of strength, of strength that you can seek out help and it’s only human to be upset at something as horrendous as those bloody Dursleys.”
She stopped speaking and instead brought her hand up to Harry’s jawline, tracing it with her fingers–they were calloused from a lifetime of Quidditch, but there was still something inherently soft and sweet and wonderful about them.
“Thanks,” Harry managed, his voice croaky. It sounded as though he had been crying. “Don’t-don’t look too into it, okay? It’s just… just, like, a coping mechanism. Or something. Ask Hermione.”
Ginny kissed the back of Harry’s neck before saying, “It’s also an awful habit to get into. But… Thanks for talking to me. Sometimes you don’t talk and… well, it’s not good.”