|SIYE Time:14:32 on 21st May 2018|
The Spirit of War
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Story is Complete
Summary: It is the summer after Harry's final year at Hogwarts but the war between good and evil is far from over.
As everything around them falls apart, Harry and Ginny discover a mutual understanding for each other.
(This is the first chapter of a previously published story. I felt the story wasn't going where I wanted it to go so I have deleted it. I'm really sorry to those who were enjoying it! But I thought I would re-post the first chapter as a one-shot because I like it).
Hitcount: Story Total: 2362
Harry opened his eyes slowly and blinked in the bright sunshine that was pouring in through the window. It could not be morning already. He felt as though he had only just closed his eyes to go to sleep. He rolled over and his hand brushed against something, someone lying next to him.
She stirred but continued to sleep. Harry leaned across her and felt for his glasses on the bedside cabinet. His fingers found the thin metal and he grasped hold of them. Lying back down on his pillow, he pushed the glasses onto his face, causing the images around him to come into focus.
With his head still resting on the pillow, he turned slowly to look at Ginny. Her flaming red hair fanned out across her pillow, her milky white face glowing in the morning sunshine. She looked so peaceful; Harry did not want to ever have to wake her.
But all too soon the fantasy was destroyed by a knock on the bedroom door. Ginny stirred again and opened her eyes. She looked across at Harry, who smiled back at her. She blushed slightly; a rosy-pink stain flushed briefly across her cheeks, and sat up. She was still wearing her jeans and a canary-yellow vest top. She grabbed her cardigan, which was hanging over the railings at the foot of the bed, and pulled it on hastily.
"Come in," Harry called out sleepily.
The door opened slightly and Ron's ginger head peeped through the gap.
"Um, just wondering if you guys wanted any breakfast?" he said to the bedroom floor.
Ginny stood up and walked across the room. Ron opened the door wider and stepped inside the bedroom as Ginny brushed past him. She disappeared into the corridor without a word or even a glance at Harry.
In the safety of her bedroom, Ginny perched on the edge of her bed and re-traced the events of last night in her mind.
Yesterday had been Harry's eighteenth birthday. But with all that had happened recently, there had not been much thought of celebrating. They had only arrived back at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place yesterday morning. It had not been their choice to return here, but Lupin had insisted it was the only place safe enough for them.
By the time they had arrived, unpacked their things and settled in, no-one seemed keen for a celebration. Harry had spent most of the afternoon alone in his bedroom. Hermione had resolved to her usual pass-time of reading every book she could lay her hands on, and Ron had spent the afternoon watching her in silence.
Ginny had been the only one of them to feel some sense of duty toward helping Lupin around the house. She spent the afternoon helping him clean the many rooms in the over-sized house, which had been neglected during the last few months. She then tried her best to assist with the preparation of dinner, which proved much harder than she had anticipated.
Lupin was a good enough cook in his own right - he had lived alone for several years, preparing his own meals. But having lived alone was precisely his main problem; he was not accustomed to cooking for four growing teenagers as well as himself. The task of preparing food in such large quantities seemed far beyond his magical abilities
Ginny, on the other hand, felt that she was more of a hindrance to the problem than a blessing. She had never had to cook so much as a slice of toast for herself and her helpfulness back to The Burrow had been limited to chopping the vegetables or setting the table, and even then she had been under the watchful eye of her mother.
But despite their lack of experience and ability, their enthusiasm to cheer up the rest of the house pulled them through. After two hours of confusion and chaos, they managed to produce a fine meal of sausages and mashed potatoes, in which Ginny felt rather proud of herself.
After dinner, which was consumed with as little conversation as possible, Lupin had stood up, his bottle of Butterbeer clutched firmly in front of him:
"Happy birthday, Harry," he said proudly, a smile stretching across his worn face.
"Happy birthday," the others had chorused.
Harry smiled weakly at them as they drank in unison to his eighteenth birthday.
Several minutes later, as Ginny was beginning to clear away the dishes, she realised that Harry had sneaked out of the kitchen.
As if she was reading Ginny's mind, Hermione said:
"We'll clear up if you want to get an early night." She gave Ginny a knowing look and nudged Ron unceremoniously. "Come on, Ron, do something to help."
Ron got reluctantly to his feet and began waving his wand carelessly at the dirty dishes, which rose from the table and flew across to the sink with a crash. Hermione was mumbling at him under her breath as Ginny slipped quietly out of the kitchen.
She walked silently along the hallway, glancing briefly at the discoloured patches on the wall where a number of paintings had once hung, and ascended the stairs. She stopped outside a door on the second landing and knocked gently.
There was no answer. She hesitated and was about to turn away when the door creaked open and she was suddenly face to face with Harry.
"I, um ... was just on my way to bed and I, er ... thought I'd stop by and say goodnight," she stammered.
Without speaking, Harry retreated back inside his room, leaving the door open and Ginny still standing awkwardly on the landing. She hesitated again, before following him into the dark bedroom and closing the door softly behind herself.
Harry was now sitting on the edge of his bed. Ginny could remember the last time Harry had been in this room, when he had shared it with Ron. That had been over two years ago, when the house had belonged to Sirius Black, Harry's late godfather. Now the house was almost empty and they each had a bedroom to themselves.
Ginny looked apprehensively around the dingy room. A single lamp burned dimly on the bedside cabinet, casting an eerie glow over the emptiness of the room. Harry's trunk lay unopened at the foot of his bed and a large birdcage perched open and empty on top of the chest of drawers. His snowy owl, Hedwig, was probably out hunting; it was unlikely that she was delivering any post for Harry, as he had no-one to write to outside of this house.
Harry looked enquiringly at Ginny and she came to her senses.
"Um ... so, you're OK?" she asked in a strained, awkward voice. She wished he would stop looking at her.
"Yeah. Don't worry about me." He gave her a weak smile.
She gathered herself, walked cautiously across to the bed and perched herself on the edge next to Harry. She sat and stared at her feet for several minutes, unsure of what to say, yet not wanting to leave.
"I'm sorry we had to come back here," she said finally.
"It's fine," Harry replied quietly.
Ginny sighed. She knew it was not fine. She lifted her head and turned to look at him. He let his eyes wander to hers and they looked at each other properly for the first time in a long time.
Harry was the first to look away. He stood up and stared out of the window.
"Lupin's right," he said quietly, "this is the only place that's safe anymore. Except, maybe, for Hogwarts."
"I wish we could've gone home," Ginny found herself saying, although she wished instantly that she had not said it.
Harry turned back to her. She watched him run a hand through his persistently untidy hair.
"Me too," he whispered softly.
Ginny blinked and felt a single warm tear escape and roll down her cheek.
Harry returned to her side and looked deep into her eyes. He raised a hand and touched her cheek softly, the tip of his finger gently tracing the path of the tear on her face.
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