SIYE Time:9:22 on 20th May 2019

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.

Hitcount: Story Total: 47495; Chapter Total: 4115


A/N: As always, thank you to all of my reviewers. I don't like extensive author notes that answer questions or justify the story right there on the page itself (it feels a bit like cheating to me), so I respond to individual questions via reviews (usually in a somewhat timely fashion). So please review if you have a question or a comment, or read my responses to other reviews.

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For David,

Who thinks too much.

An Old Friend Through Quiet Ways

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Harry once said, when we were staying up late one night in the common room talking–I dunno, what do you call conversation that isn't small talk? Big talk? That doesn't seem right but you get the idea... Anyway, at some point in the conversation I said he was basically a member of the family and so Ginny might as well have been his sister. He remained pretty expressionless as he told me that Ginny had never exactly been a sister to him, and something that flickered on his face told me he meant what he said, but he hadn't said all that he meant.

“Yeah well, she's never exactly been a sister to me either if it comes to that.”

You'd expect the first girl after six boys to be regarded as something of a princess, and to Bill and Charlie, I'm sure she was. But those of us on the other side of the age gap saw her for what she was: the rowdiest, scrappiest, wildest travesty of a princess imaginable.

Even when she cried it was a battle cry. When she couldn't fight back her tears she fought through them, and when she couldn't fight through them she fought with them: she wielded her pain like a weapon in the psychological war she waged with what seemed like everyone. I couldn't protect her if I wanted to, and most of the time I half-invited third parties to take a crack at her just out of curiosity: I wanted to know where her limit was, where enough became too much–or if she even had such a point.

As such, my tolerance for pushy dames is pretty high, I think, and while most people may not describe Hermione as a vulnerable princess, from the moment we saved her from that troll I couldn't help but feel a greater sense of purpose for myself in being her friend. Sure, she was annoying and controlling, but my words seemed to have an effect on her and she was one of those rare souls who could do with taking it easy more often. Really, she's liable to work herself to death without me.

I revel in our antagonism–I always have, but over the years the feeling has changed some. In the beginning, the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Hermione was she was my enigma: everything about her seemed to be a complete inversion of myself. But somewhere in adolescence the mantra “she's the opposite” began popping up more and more frequently as “she's the opposite sex.

It all revealed itself in seeming flashes. First there was that moment in the girls toilet our first year when I felt she needed me, some time after that was the moment when I decided that I was willing to attend a massive spider convention if it might help catch the monster that attacked her. It wasn't till a few years later that I got to thinking she was the perfect person to take to a ball, followed by the moment when I resented, for the first time, that I wasn't the only one who'd noticed how pretty she was; and then when she sicked those canaries on me a while after that I was suddenly looking at life without her in it and realized the rather achey truth that I needed her badly.

And through all this I kept waiting for that moment when I'd suddenly be really in love with her and she with me and then we'd just... be together. I knew I hadn't already let it pass me by, somehow I knew that jealousy and desire and need, even when put together, aren't quite love. But days and weeks and months slipped away, and the moment didn't come. I started to worry–what if it never happened, what if she ran off with someone else, someone who could tell her for sure that he loved her? I began to feel time with increasing awareness, knowing the amount of effort it took even after you'd fallen in love to build a future with someone. I laugh now, because I was fretting about all this at the ripe old age of eighteen, but at the time eighteen was beginning to feel like thirty.

Then one quiet, drowsy, cloudy day I was fixing myself a sandwich while she read the paper when all of a sudden–without warning–I had loved her for years. In a moment, it seemed, that love was deepened and strengthened patiently over time. Or perhaps I'd been wrong about love and how it came about; maybe it didn't just attack you in turns, one piece at a time. Maybe it slowly came upon you–maybe it quietly, imperceptibly changed your mind, like an old friend who knew you better than you knew yourself. Maybe it was clever like Hermione.

...But see then I get all twisted around when I think about Harry and Ginny, who don't seem to follow any of the same rules regarding this sort of thing. I swear–it takes me about a half an hour of deep concentration to try and put myself in their shoes until I can really see how their relationship came about. Then it takes me another thirty minutes to get back to myself, by the way, so I don't attempt to understand it very often.

Both of them would probably be angry at me for saying it, but they weren't really friends first, not like me and Hermione. I wouldn't think they were right for each other at all, actually, if it weren't for the fact that at the same time they seem to love each other in a way I can't even comprehend. It was weird enough when Ginny couldn't speak in front of him, when she pined for a boy I was convinced she'd never get, just because back then I was twelve and I didn't get the feeling that anyone would ever want to snog anyone else.

But I did know, even then, that there was something about Harry–because no one, no matter what they said or did, had ever been able to get my sister to shut up for any length of time, but all Harry had to do was walk into the room to render Ginny as quiet as a bunny rabbit.

I was neither perceptive nor insightful enough to get it at the time, but I should have realized what this meant about Ginny and her old scrappy self. It meant that at some point she had gotten it into her head that Harry Potter was simply too good, and that talking in his presence or acting herself in any way would only repulse him. It meant that Ginny was far more complicated than I had once believed.

“Isn't it amazing,” Hermione said the day Harry kissed Ginny after the match, “How this all works out?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I mean that Ginny hid away all her spirit and assertiveness for years, because deep down she thought she was unattractive, and yet no matter how much she tried not to be abrasive in any way, Harry never looked twice at her... until now, when, it turns out, he winds up liking the real her even though she did her best to never let him see it.”

I hadn't thought of it that way, and I'm not exactly sure how she worked all that out, but I believe it.

It's easier for me to understand where Harry's coming from. Or at least, he's a bit more straightforward about it all.

“Bloody hell, she makes me happy, all right!” was the eloquent reply I got when I grilled him on his intentions after I caught them in the middle of something the night of Bill's wedding.

I arched an eyebrow cruelly, because I really didn't believe for a second that he was using her–just enjoyed watching him squirm, “That all?”

He swallowed, casting his eyes about him lamely, “She makes me really happy.”

I strung out another long pause, “Just 'really happy'?”

He gave me a penetrating glare, “Okay, but you remember thirty seconds from now that you asked.”

I should have stopped him right there, but my curiosity had gotten the better of me.

“She's perfect," He blurted, his face going red in a way that was not too sophisticated, but definitely Harry, “I mean, you know, to me."

He gulped, "There's something about her that reminds me of... life, or my real life, in the weirdest way. A lot about me–most of me, really, is sort of tied up with Voldemort. I used to wonder whether I'd have any identity if he ever really died... that freaked me out.”

He stared resolutely at the floor, and though he looked rather uncomfortable he was suppressing a smile and glancing up at me furtively, “But even if he hadn't come back–even if he hadn't picked me in the first place–or even if he'd never been born at all; I have no idea what my life would be like, or what I would be like. But somehow, I get the feeling I'd still love Ginny. Mad, eh?”

Hermione was amazed when I told her that, “It's mind-boggling–it's like their lives are built on each other's or something. But how can that be? Half of Harry's life had been set in motion before he'd even met Ginny, so how did she work her way backwards into his identity like that?”

I love it when Hermione's logic clouds her vision.

I grinned at her, “Magic.”

“Really, Ron, emotions are still fundamentally the same–even in the magical world.”

“Yeah but in neither world are there rules about how much it's possible to love someone.”

“Well yes,” she agreed, “It still doesn't really make any sense to me though...”

But maybe love doesn't pay much attention to the limits of time. Maybe it lives like a tree that seems to shade a certain area, until you try to dig a hole out of its reach and find that the roots are growing faster and farther than you can see. Maybe love digs in even when you try to shut it out, or try to be someone you're not. Maybe love knows how much you underestimate yourself–and maybe it sees the greatness you really are. Maybe it bides its time like an old friend, quietly waiting for you to see it, too.

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Stay tuned, there's more than just an epilogue coming!
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