|SIYE Time:19:54 on 16th October 2018|
Light From An Open Window
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Category: Post-OotP, Buried Gems
Genres: Angst, Fluff
Story is Complete
Summary: A warm summer night, some pensive thinking, a broomstick ride-the beginning of a new friendship and perhaps something more. Harry sees Ginny in a new light, and Ginny falls in love all over again. A night of dark memories, light-hearted conversation, deep understanding, and the glimpse of light peering from a newly opened window. In five parts. Written from the alternating perspectives of Harry and Ginny.
Hitcount: Story Total: 10997; Chapter Total: 2419
LIGHT FROM AN OPEN WINDOW
The silence stretched out into the dark. Ginny’s mind continued to reel, darting from sadness to bewilderment to rage like a half-crazed dragonfly. No wonder Harry had been acting as he did. How did anyone manage to cope with such a revelation, particularly when it involved them in such disastrous proportions?
So this is why he had been trying to push them away. He wanted to protect them. Well she’d be damned if she’d let him have his way. Harry Potter had to wake up and realise that his friends, including new ones, would be by his side always. And it wouldn’t hurt if certain other people realised that as well. Ginny scowled. Her already low opinion of the actions of adults had taken a sharp fall. She settled on a steely, determined look.
“So…so, you’ll have to fight…him?” she asked.
“Yes,” Harry replied, somewhat vacantly. Ginny’s fingers itched to shake him to wake him out of his reverie. Then she mentally shook herself for wanting to do such a thing. He’s not one of your brothers, Ginny she scolded herself.
“You know we’ll fight with you though, Harry. You don’t have to…”
“No Ginny,” he said, not even looking up at her. Emotion had returned to his voice. He was serious now. “You can’t. I have to do this alone. It’s what the prophecy says. Besides, it’s much better that way. Nobody else will have to die for me, except me. And I will do it alone.”
Ginny was silent a moment. How could he think like that? Merlin! What had happened to the twelve year old boy who had turned up at the Burrow one morning, frightening her out of her wits with such a maddening crush? Where had that smiling, laughing boy gone? Why had he been replaced with this grave, humourless boy…no — man almost?
“I don’t think so Harry. I don’t think you really want to be alone,” she said firmly.
“Yes I do,” he whispered.
“Because it’s better that way. Safer. Easier?”
“For who?” Ginny retorted. “For us? I hardly think so. Ron and Hermione certainly won’t take lightly to you pushing them away. And I definitely won’t either. And you? You don’t want to be alone Harry. Loneliness is too hard to bear.”
“What would you know?” Harry said, raising his head and freezing her warm brown eyes with a icy green stare.
Ginny surprised him with a frozen look that mirrored his own. “You of all people, Harry James Potter, should realise that I know far more about loneliness and guilt than anyone else, excepting yourself. But I had people around me who didn’t give up on me, or scorn me for what I’d done.”
“Nobody died for you,” Harry said sardonically.
“No, but they very nearly did! Harry, I’ve had to live with the fact that I could’ve kill so many, including Hermione! And you! He used me, and in the end it was to get to you! I had so much guilt after the Chamber, that I didn’t know if I wanted to go on living! I was sure that no one could possibly forgive me ever again. But they did, Harry. Nobody blamed me, Harry, just like no one blames you. We’ve both been used Harry, but it’s not our fault.”
Harry was now staring at her, somewhat aghast, his eyes opened wide in realisation of what they had both just said. But Ginny didn’t see it. She was lost now. Lost in a swarm of memories that had been buried so deep she’d thought never to see them again.
She saw herself. Standing in a long dimly lit corridor. Dark stains glistened on her school robes and on her hands. All around her was silent, and yet Ginny could hear a voice whispering to her.
“That’s right Ginny. I’m your friend. You’re my friend. I understand you Ginny. No one else does but I do. I want to help you Ginny. Tell me how you feel today. Write to me Ginny. Tell me everything…”
She remembered seeing those horrible words painted on the wall, and then trying in vain to recall what she had been doing the night before. Rumours flying rapidly about the words having been written in blood, and then her horror at the sight of her robes. A small connection beginning to form in her mind. Could she have…? Had she really…? Was it possible…?
“It’s okay Ginny. You’re a good girl. I would know if you’d done anything. You’re an obedient girl. You always do as you’re told. You tell me everything. Tell me all you can…”
The first attack on the students. Rumours that Hogwarts might have to close. The Heir of Slytherin. Who was it? She stood trembling in a corner, clutching a black book in her pale hands. She didn’t know why, but she had to get rid of it. Writing in it only made her realise terrible things that she didn’t want to know. It was an irrational thought, but it poured through her head all day, only stopping when she heard the other voice…
“…I’ll look out for you Ginny. You just keep on being a good girl, and do what I tell you. Everything will be okay. Just listen to me, your friend…”
Then he had it. Harry. He had found the diary. What if he read it? What if he guessed that she might somehow be behind the attacks. She still wasn’t too sure on anything herself, but to have Harry hate her, despise her, denounce her…She had to get it back. And she missed her friend. She needed to talk to someone. Someone who wouldn’t judge her. Someone who would understand.
“Is that you Ginny? You’re back. I was expecting someone else. Never mind. What is it you say Ginny? What do you think you’ve done? That’s terrible Ginny. Are you sure? Don’t worry, you just take the advice of your friend…”
Then Hermione was Petrified. Ron and Harry were despondent without her. Ginny felt the darkness within her. It was growing and growing, blotting everything else out. Huge chunks of her memory were missing now. Who was she? What was she? Whatever it was, she had to make it stop. A small part of the determined Ginny fought against the darkness. She had to tell Ron. He’d always been close to her. He would help. And maybe Harry too. They’d make it stop.
But she didn’t tell them. She told her friend instead. He’d also always been there for her.
“I will always be here Ginny. Ron has other friends now, he doesn’t need you. He has Harry. Who is Harry? Tell me about him…”
And Ginny told him. She pored out every detail she could remember, from the bedtime stories her mother had told her, to what Ron talked about, to her personal crush. And then she confessed her fears. How she didn’t think he could ever like her, especially now…
“Why now Ginny? What have you done?...That’s terrible Ginny. You can’t do things like that and expect to get away with it. Never mind. Just listen to your friend, and he’ll sort this out. You just do exactly what I tell you…”
Coldness. Intense coldness. Weakness. The darkness overwhelming her. All the light blotted out. And the voice, constantly in her head…
“Don’t fight it Ginny. You have to do this. You’ve done evil. You’re evil. I will fix this, but you have to disappear. The world can’t have you exist anymore. You’re evil. Your brothers will despise you. Ron will forget you. Harry will hate you. You have to go. Don’t fight against me, Ginny…I am in control…I control you…”
How could she? Didn’t she realise that she would die? They would all die if they followed him. It was inevitable. Hell, he would probably die anyway. She’d been close to death before. Surely she should understand.
Then her words washed around him, and he felt the mounting anger dissipate into a dawning realisation. Of course Ginny understood. She knew the loneliness, the helplessness. He smiled wryly. He’d had to save her from it all, and now it seemed she had turned the tables and was trying to save him. Not from the perils of the Dark Arts, Death Eaters and the Dark Lord, but from his own morbid seriousness. She was still wrong. They shouldn’t be fight Voldemort with him, but Harry began to accept that he may have no choice. Just another thing that’s being taken out of my hands. He couldn’t protect his friends, not in the way he’d like to. But while he was annoyed, and fearful for them, at the same time he was grateful for the unconditional love and support they gave. That was something worth fighting for.
As he collected his thoughts, Harry tried to express some of what he felt to Ginny. But when he turned to face her, she was staring at nothing, a glazed look in her eyes. Her forehead was wrinkled with tense lines, and her mouth in a tight line. Her whole body was stiff and taut.
Was it the prophecy? Should he have told her? Harry was wracked with guilt for a moment. It was too much for himself to take in sometimes; he shouldn’t have inflicted Ginny with it.
But wait — they had been discussing something else. Or rather, Ginny had mentioned something else. Was that what was plaguing her? He’d never seen Ginny like this. After her first year she’d always seemed so strong. She grew so fiery. He’d rarely given any thought to how the Chamber must’ve affected her, because she never gave any outward signs.
Stupid. You don’t just “get over” being possessed, attacked and nearly killed in your first year at school.
Hesitantly, Harry reached out and rested his hand on Ginny’s. She blinked, and looked down at their hands. She looked up at Harry’s concerned face, and blinked again, as though trying to shake away the remnants of her dazed state.
“Was it…was it the Chamber?” he asked quietly.
Ginny bit her lip and nodded, small tears reflecting in her eyes.
“It comes back now and again. I think I’ve moved past it, and then I hear his voice again…”
“Yeah…the voices are the worst,” agreed Harry. The voices were what plagued you in the middle of the night: who caught and held you, until you were too weak to fight anymore. Then they proceeded to destroy you from the inside out with rambling emotions of guilt, fear, frustration, anger and worst of all, desperation.
It wasn’t just the voices of his parents anymore. They were still there, the echoes of his mother screaming, and his father yelling out — the last moments of their lives that the Dementors had reawakened. But now they had been joined by Cedric’s voice whispering across his nightmares, asking why he had insisted they go together into death. The voice of Sirius demanding to know why people had to die for him, when they were perfectly happy living. Why was Harry so special?
Ginny wiped her eyes on her sleeve. “I…I think it’s gone now. Thankyou Harry.”
“For what? What have I done? Why do people keep thanking me?” Harry jumped up and began pacing across the platform. Ginny sighed, and shivered as she threw off the final coldness of the memories. And we come back to this again. Really, he’s got to stop this, or he’ll drive me crazy, and I might have to do something drastic.
Ginny was tired of the depression and darkness. The Chamber had scarred her so deeply, but through sheer determination she managed to push it away. She dealt with it, but didn’t let it rule her. Those days of being dominated by something else were over. It was very rare that it got away from her now. She was going to teach that determination to Harry. He could either accept that freely or she’d force him to. Ron and Hermione’s method of letting Harry be was not working. Neither was Dumbledore’s habit of feeding him information bit by bit. Harry needed brute force to pull him to his senses. And if no one else wanted the job, then she had better pull her socks up and get on with it.
In a well practiced way, she thrust the last weakness of her memories deep into the recesses of her mind. Biting back a grim grin, she firmly pulled up one sock that had fallen in wrinkles around her ankle. Now to wait for the moment.
“I haven’t done anything worth thanking me for. Not really.” Harry ran his hand through his hair and sighed. “All I seem to do is lead people into danger. I told Cedric to come with me: to take the Cup together. And look what happened to him, just because he was with me, and they didn’t need him around. He never even had a chance!
And Sirius! He wouldn’t have even gone to the Ministry if I hadn’t! I should’ve known there was no way that Voldemort could’ve gotten hold of him. He was never in danger until I dragged him there! And you!” Ginny started, but Harry waved his hand, and shook her away. “Riddle even told me that the only reason he had dragged you into the Chamber was because of me! He was after me. You were just the bait. And because Riddle wanted me, you almost died!”
Ginny made a noise that sounded as though her throat had gone hoarse. “Harry…” she tried, but he continued over the top of her.
“It’s my fault my parents are dead!” he cried.
“Harry…!” A little louder this time, her tone was indignant.
“If I hadn’t been born with that stupid prophecy,” he continued morosely, “Voldemort wouldn’t have come after them! I ruin everything…”
“HARRY JAMES POTTER! Can you even hear what you’re saying?!” Ginny cried. Harry spun to stare at her wildly.
“What you’ve said is unrealistic, and you know it. Yes, life has been harsh to you, but you’ve got no right to sit and wallow in it! If that’s all you can be bothered doing, well I don’t think I want you as my friend. And I’m surprised the Hat placed you in Gryffindor. In fact, I don’t think you deserve to be in any house!”
She glared at him, a fire in her eyes, and her arms folded severely across her chest. Harry got the vague impression of being thrown into a dragon’s lair. He couldn’t speak, but just stood staring dumbly at her. Part of his brain wanted to yell back at her, tell her she didn’t know, didn’t understand, to leave him alone. It’s what you would have done if it was Ron or Hermione he told himself. And then they would have backed down, too frightened to anger you further. But he strongly doubted that Ginny Weasley would back down. He had the feeling that if he tried to fight with her, he would come off very badly.
Instead, his shoulders slumped, and he dropped to his knees.
“What am I to do Ginny?” he asked despondently.
Instantly the fire her mood cleared, and her face softened in sympathy. Ginny reached down and took Harry’s hands in her own. “I know you blame yourself, but you mustn’t. You have to realise that you need your friends, just as much as they need you. Only by sticking together can we defeat anything. You don’t have to anything alone.”
Coldness still enshrouded his heart, but as Harry looked into Ginny’s concerned face he felt a glimmer of warmth spark someone deep within him. It flickered a moment, as though it would die, and then held firm. A tiny seed, growing where he thought nothing could ever live again.
They settled down on the platform. Ginny sat closer to Harry, and the warmth of her body nestled around him like a cocoon. There was a peaceful, contemplative silence. Ginny sighed, and Harry realised that she hadn’t let go of his hand. He looked down at her small fingers twined around his. He smiled a little, and twisted his hand to grip hers as well. Then he stared out at the stillness, taking in the view properly for the first time that night.
Apple trees blocked some of the view, but there wasn’t a lot to see. The Burrow was back behind them, hidden by a thick clump of tall conifers. Harry couldn’t hear anything. No traffic noise, no households murmurs, not even Ron and Hermione, who were up to who knew what. Despite the prevailing mood, Harry couldn’t but chuckle silently in his mind and shake his head. Surely they were the most unlikely of couples — bound to raise a few eyebrows at school in the coming year.
Ginny moved a little, and Harry wondered. Maybe his friends weren’t the only ones who’d be the object of whispers. But in this case, he still had a pressing question.
“Why?” he asked aloud softly.
“Hmm? Why what?”
“Why do you do it? Why do you bother?” Harry frowned. Surely Ginny had better things to do, or at least her own problems to deal with. Why did she bother with him, when they hadn’t even really been friends before.
Ginny had a confused look on her face. “What do you mean? Yell at you?”
Harry hesitated a fraction, and then nodded.
She bit her lip and looked away. “Because…because…weren’t you listening?”
“Listening?” Now Harry was confused. Listening to what?
“Earlier. At my window. I said…things.”
He cast his mind back and a flood of soul-searching words flew back at him. Merlin, it seemed so long ago. Had that really happened tonight? He blushed as he remembered that he had heard every word perfectly. He could probably quote her word for word too, or at least close to that.
Ginny read his blush correctly, and blushed herself. ‘I…I care, Harry.”
“About me.” It wasn’t a question.
“Ye-es. And Ron and Hermione, and…and…”she trailed off.
“But the point is you care. How much do you care, Ginny?” he asked pointedly.
She couldn’t look at him.
“Why…” he started again.
“Why, why, why. What does it matter why? I just do. I can’t help it. I see you hurting and I want to help. I see you and Ron and Hermione laughing and talking, and I want to be a part of it. I see you flying on your broom, and I want to fly with you. I want to help, because I care. I always have and I probably always will…”she cut herself off as she realised she had said too much. Harry went silent.
Did it matter that Ginny cared so much for him?
He remembered Ron telling him that his little sister had had a huge crush on him for the longest time, and then Hermione informing him last year that Ginny had “given up” on him. She’d been teased by her brothers, Malfoy, other students about being part of the “Harry Potter Fan Club”. He’d never teased her, but he also hadn’t taken much notice. Had he hurt her, by ignoring her feelings?
It might have been due to the emotional pressure that he had been under since the night at the Ministry, but Harry was suddenly painfully aware of just how much he had ignored about Ginny Weasley. And if he had any more room for feelings of guilt, then he had just added some more.
“Ginny, I — I’ve been such a prat.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, puzzled.
“How could I have not noticed you for all these years?”
Ginny was finding it a little harder to breathe properly again. Damn Harry Potter and the way he made her feelings get all jumbled up! Was this what it felt like to have your dreams start to come true? Or was this still a dream? Maybe she had fallen asleep at her window, and was dreaming about the touch of Harry’s fingers still entwined with her own. Ginny closed her eyes, half-hoping that if she didn’t open them then she could stay that way forever.
What a night! They’d been from soul-wrenching personal confessions, to awkward new friendships. Thrown in some disastrous revelations, painful memories, and yelling and whispering. Together they’d trespassed beyond the border of despondency, and hauled each other back. Merlin! — she’d yelled at him, and in doing so even managed to frighten herself with just how like her mother she could sound!
Most people do this over a long period of time, she mused. Typical Harry and I, we have to do it all at once in a marathon session. Well, neither of us has much patience, do we? Although I think it’s fair to say that I seemed to have exercised a fair bit of it these last few years!
Harry was still staring at her, and the depth of his gaze sent a shiver down her spine. It wasn’t love that was in there, but a kind of recognition. For now, she’d settle for that. Close friendship. They had hurried to get to this point. From now on they would have to slow down. She smiled. Who knows? Maybe she’d be able to coax something more from the boy beside her. One day. Give it time.
Harry was still trying to get a grip on the rambling feelings he was experiencing. Ginny Weasley! What on earth…? And she was smiling — at him. The peace that he had felt earlier settled around him again. It was because of Ginny. He had thought that earlier, and now he was sure of it. She did something to him that lessened the pain in his life. She didn’t make it go away — nothing was likely to do that — but she made it more bearable. Ginny’s light companionship gave him strength and hope. He felt selfish in that he didn’t want it to stop. Was he right to demand this of Ginny? She’d be in danger being close to him, but that didn’t seem to worry her.
Harry sighed. He still couldn’t see how he deserved any of what his friends did for him, but it felt nice to be loved in such a way. And if he had to face countless horrors — if he had to battle Lord Voldemort himself in a deathly duel — then he was glad to know he had this particular group of friends surrounding him. He wouldn’t be able to bear it if any of them were hurt or killed, but there was no stopping any of them. Ron’s humour and mateship; Hermione’s wit and concern; Ginny…yes, Ginny was part of that close network now. As she should be. He had them all, and he’d be damned if he’d let any dark lord snatch them away without a bloody good fight first!
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