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SIYE Time:2:58 on 17th August 2018


In The House of the Quick and the Hungry
By Laura Laurent

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Category: Post-HBP, Buried Gems
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Other, Ron Weasley
Genres: Angst, Comedy, Drama, Fluff, General, Humor
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 531
Summary: The finer aspects of Ginny Weasley's life, all entwined, in their own way, within the story of how she wound up with Harry Potter.

THIS STORY IS NOW COMPLETE!
Hitcount: Story Total: 43782; Chapter Total: 4061







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Their Best Boy
~*~
For everyone who’s waited so patiently





The months following the death of Dumbledore proved to witness a rise in the number of occasions on which my family was forced to communicate with me. The twins were as impudent as ever, but within myself I was reasonably able to nullify their condemnations due to the fact that they’d never liked me much anyway. To some extent I was able to apply the same logic to Ginny and Ron and Harry, but even I couldn’t deny that lukewarm as their affections might have been they were all three fairly reasonable people who didn’t have enough resentment to waste on people that didn’t really deserve it.

Sometimes I visited Mum and Dad alone, and these occasions were pleasant enough, but it was difficult to find time when I could be assured of encountering them alone without being obvious about it, because that year Hogwarts had been closed to all students past their OWLs in lieu of the need for more competent witches and wizards at home to help defend their families. A wise move on the part of the board of executives, I thought, but it did mean that Ginny was at home for most of the year, and rather tense and irritable about it.

In October of that year a large-scale attack on several muggle and mixed families throughout the country forced the Grangers out of their home and into the Burrow, where they could be better protected. Mr and Mrs Granger were nice enough to me, but they were rather out of their element here in the magical world and as much as Dad’s ardent fascination with all things non-magical served to amuse them, I knew that they longed for the day when they could go home and be dentists again.

Charlie came home as well, and if I thought that he would give me the silent treatment I was surprisingly mistaken. He told me, on no uncertain terms, how he felt about my abandonment, but once finished ripping off my head he seemed to find it adequately severed and did not see fit to be passive aggressive from that point forward. This was a relief, because he seemed to execute a fair amount of control over the twins.

Bill was forgiving, but he no longer thought much of me and his indifferent stance hurt me more than resentment from Ginny, Fred, George, Ron and Harry combined. Not that the latter was around much, granted. Upon turning seventeen he moved out of his relatives house and into the village where his parents had lived and Ron and Hermione were somewhat suspended between there and the Burrow, where, if you’ll remember, both their parents now lived.

But Harry seemed to be avoiding the Burrow as much as possible–he was doing something mysterious with his time, for the most part, and I was greatly relieved that no one at the Ministry pressured me to try to find out what that was. They seemed to have guessed (correctly) that they might be more successful if they sent You-Know-Who himself to ask Harry what he was up to. But that aside it was unfathomable to me why Harry made himself more and more scarce as the year went on because on the few occasions that I did observe him at big family dinners and such he seemed to be markedly content. Incidentally, Ginny simultaneously grew more and more upset and nervous, and it was beyond me why no one talked about this or went after her when she left a room in tears. It’s what I would have done.

Finally in June there came an incident with which I was unable to remain unconcerned and uninvolved. I don’t remember what it was about the company or the conversation that set her off–actually I don’t reckon I ever knew in the first place, but she slipped out and I just had to find her. It was our old game, and so it came as a shock to me when I caught her in Ron’s room and instead of allowing me to hug her and assure her that we all loved her very much she snarled at me through red eyes and dampened hair, “Get out!”

“Ginny–what’s the matter?”

She took off her shoe and chucked it, hard, at my head and screeched, “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

At this point I became a bit miffed. Really, how was I supposed to help her when she threw shoes at me? I stood there bewildered for a moment as she heaved labored breaths,

“There’s nothing you can do, Bighead,” she said brokenly.

“Ginny–“

She closed her eyes, indicating that she was done seeing reason, “Just–go.”

She really meant it. I felt a stab of pity for myself and horror at what I’d done. Never once, in all the other times that she’d thrown things at me did I get the notion that no longer would I be able to help her when I wanted to. I turned and left, feeling worse, I know, than she did.

~*~

Several important, irrelevant things happened in the week that passed between then and the next moment I’d like to bring to attention. The war was now being fought so heavily and the fog of uncertainty was now so thick that you could hardly make out the vague outline of tomorrow. As such, we hadn’t the emotional energy to even be surprised when Deatheaters descended in droves upon the Burrow that fateful day. Half the Order, also known as my family, was already there for Sunday dinner, and the other half appeared shortly thereafter, followed by swarms of Aurors about a quarter of an hour after that.

I had never seen so many people fighting at once, and while currently we had them all engaged with manpower to spare, I could feel our resistance waning. Through the smoke I saw George creeping away from the fight in a rather uncharacteristic manner, and only when I saw the small group of Deatheaters huddled low and congregating in the thick wooded copse beyond our garden did I understand what he was up to. He disillusioned himself and glanced around behind him, no doubt looking for possible help. He spotted me, and only me, for everyone else was already occupied.

“Reckon I’m going to go and see what the tossers are up to,” he said, as if he were headed to the store for more bread. He had to be daft–there were at least six or seven of them there already and from the looks of it they were what this whole uproar was trying to conceal.

“Surely you’re joking!” I spluttered, almost indignantly, “I mean, surely–you can’t be serious…”

“I’m completely serious,” he said, eyes fixed on the huddle, and then added with a backward glance, “and quit calling me Shirley.”

I ignored his ill-timed humor and tried to tell him what to do, “Go and fetch–“

“There’s no one to fetch and no time to fetch them,” he answered shortly.

“You’ll be killed,” I said.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, are you coming or not?”

And without waiting for my response he sallied forth. Cursing his rashness, I disillusioned myself and followed him. For a long time he crouched nearby (far too nearby, I felt) unseen, listening to their exchange. I saw the wisdom in this, at least: the Dark Lord’s innermost circle often kept their plans completely secret, even to those who would be executing them, until the very last minute. This helped to stop important details from falling on the wrong ears, and also gave the less dependable members no time to fully consider the consequences of their dastardly deeds.

I heard only a few scattered words from their discussion, as I had located myself further back from George. As far as I could tell, there seemed to be one or two of them that did most of the talking. These were, no doubt, the ringleaders. Once I heard one of the others pose a question that seemed to inquire as to the importance of what they were about to do, to which one of the ringleaders replied coldly, and I distinctly heard the words, ‘hostage’ and ‘bait.’ Not that this told me much, but George seemed to have heard enough, because he crept slowly closer and silently cast a charm I didn’t know on one of the figures who wasn’t speaking, effectively freezing him in place. He repeated this action on three more men before the ringleader, addressing one and receiving no reply from underneath the white mask, cast about him and spotted George’s faint outline on the ground, while I leapt up from where I knelt and yelled, “Stupefy!

Two of those still capable of movement descended on me, while George battled the remaining one. It occurred to me, through the commands he began shouting at the men I was dealing with that he was none other than Antonin Dolohov. The ones I was fighting were by no means brilliant, but there were two of them and before too long I had been disarmed. They didn’t even waste the time to stun or kill me before they dashed off towards the house, clearly trying to salvage at least a part of their plan.

As I stood there, without a wand, at a loss of what to do… I don’t know if my time ran out or I just gave up on the brainteaser that my life had become but I saw Dolohov raise his wand and somehow I knew this curse was fatal and an inspiration that has only blessed me with its presence once or twice in my life came bursting into my head like a cavalry with flags waving and trumpets blaring. Oh what an exit this would be!

And so without regard to timing I dashed out to stand between them, and it worked as I’d planned–almost. He wasn’t quite finished saying the incantation when I’d done it, and though he didn’t fumble the words I knew I’d screwed him up somehow.

He meant to kill George–not that he had any objections to killing me instead, naturally, but the wrinkle was enough to throw him off and the result wasn’t the typical flash of green light and rushing sound of death, but a sluggish, quavering glow that burned and ate me alive as it spread. The longest three seconds of my life passed then; the pain was pure and simple destruction.

When all at once it was over. I stood still, with a strange feeling that must only be known to people who have died–in which the brain is like clay, and all thoughts seem still and frozen. My time for thinking had expired: I was cashing in my life experience.

I felt a cool, unearthly stream lapping around my ankles though apparently no one else could see or hear it. Dolohov had been incapacitated in the confusion, and he lay now at my feet with the purest expression of terror on his face, looking up at a man he’d already killed.

My observations ceased to be my own. Everything I was seeing now was the solution, and I felt a bit stupid. It was like I’d turned the page of my life to the answer key and it all made sense now, but the discovery was dulled and meaningless because I knew I hadn’t figured it out for myself. I wished, just once, to have the puzzle back again, to be alive once more and in the dark so that I might find the secrets of life myself, and this was the only thought that seemed to be mine.

I swayed and fell to the ground as the battle fire began to dwindle around me, and then eventually flicker, until only the victors remained–the Deatheaters had fled. I looked at the sky, and failed to feel the deep, subtle thudding of a pulse against the thickness of the earth clod. Funny, but without it there doesn’t seem to be a difference between your body and the dirt and you are the earth–just staring up at spangled space.

It took them a moment to find me. George had gone back for help and been detained, no doubt, in his return. It was no one I knew that came upon me. They seemed to recognize me, however. Their voices sounded unimportant and very far away,

“Blimey! It’s–“

“Run and get a healer–I think he might still be alive.”

“We should find Arthur–or Molly, don’t you think?”

“Get a healer first!”

Then from what was in reality a great distance there came a scream that cut through me as if it had been uttered in my ear.

“Percy–no!

Nobody bothered to try to stop Ginny as she hurled herself across the scene to where I lay. She almost landed on me as she fell to her knees and promptly forgot what to do with herself.

“It was you!” she cried in debilitating dismay, “That green glow was you…”

She sobbed and snarled at someone who tried to pull her away, and I could vaguely hear a Healer say, “…nothing we can do… been cast… just wait.”

Ginny turned her eyes to me as if appealing for support,

“P-percy p-please don’t d-die!”

Her voice was strung with the stumbling, panicky fear akin to loosing control while tripping too fast down a gravel hill. I remembered how just a week ago she had refused, once again, to speak to me, and I longed to bring it up but by now the curse had robbed me of my nervous system and I could not even appreciate the small warmth of her hands as the squeezed at one of mine or the hot sprinkle of tears.

“Not you, Percy!” she sobbed, "You can’t just die!”

And I witnessed her pain like it was my own. I felt the horrible, burning recognition and I knew I’d spoiled a bit of the ending for her, as well. This was the cruel part of what I’d done.

She rammed her eyes shut and tried to block it out but she’d seen it all: the answers were seared into her mind in flashing ink. She read the forgiveness before she’d had time to let her anger fade, and she had forgotten all the hurt before she even had time to understand why it was unimportant. She had been thinking I was the one she liked the least, and now without getting the chance to like me first she was ripped to the conclusion and made to find that I was actually her favorite–and when they pulled her away she’d never see me again.

I thought of Penny–in hiding somewhere in the states, as I’d insisted, and I knew that she would be all right, though I longed to see her and kiss her again with the most powerful yearning yet. But in a moment the voice of Ginny came impudently, sweetly to my ears once more,

“Percy?” she sniffed. She knelt over me still, but now Fred and George knelt beside her, though the latter still blended with the sky behind him, and some feet away Dad held Mum as she ululated in his arms.

Tears coursed unchecked down Ginny’s face, though she no longer seemed to feel them. I hadn’t seen her cry so hard since she was just a little girl and Fred and George and Ron used to leave her behind–and I was the one to whom she turned.

The past few years ached like bruised flesh between us, and when she lowered down and embraced me on the ground the intimate pain was so intense that to my amazement I felt my eyes growing watery. It occurred to me then that the real and greatest power of Ginny was here, in the enormity of her heart–such love wraps itself around you and clutches out tears whether you’re dead or alive.

“We love you,” she whispered, straightening up as my vision began to darken, “I love you.”

I thought she looked very sweet just then, and there was beginning to dawn on her the faint, doleful glow of a story having come full-circle. Abrupt as it had been, all had been forgiven, and Ginny loved me fiercely once again. The same was true of Fred and George, and even Ron and Harry, wherever they were, but whether because she was the youngest, the smallest, the prettiest, or just the one kneeling right in front of me the spotlight shined on her in those last few moments of my life, as she cried furiously on Fred and George, who cradled her and rocked her and soothed her like she was their own hearts sobbing in their arms.

The stream flooded my ears as the sound went mute, and I felt the ethereal water rising to engulf me, the very last vestiges of life in my body slipping away. It was sad–that we hadn’t had more time. What we had was altogether much too short, but I was home, and though I couldn’t feel the significance of it then, I am exactly what I always wanted to be: their Best Boy, and there’s nothing that will ever change that now.






A/N: Whaddya think? Do I still got it? Review?
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