...And Nothing Sweeter Than a Lover's Last Kiss by muggledog
Summary: She's gone. A great light has gone out, and a family grieves.
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Chapter 2: Shea Remembers
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Author's Notes: This is a repost; some of you out there may have read this, before the admins took it down; well I've made up my mind--in no small part because I know now why a fic containing either Harry or Ginny's death cannot be a oneshot, much as I wish it could. Nevertheless, I understand the reasoning, and I want to be clear: I am NOT an enemy of the H/G ship. Though the amount I write for it may not be the best indicator, it is my favorite ship, along with R/Hr--but this is not an R/Hr site.
…And Nothing Sweeter Than a Lover’s Last Kiss
Harry Potter had finally achieved his dream: He had finally defeated the most evil wizard of the time, Lord Voldemort, had a good career as a member in his father-in-law’s office in the Ministry (after growing up famous, he wanted a job that would be relatively obscure, and Arthur Weasley was over the moon that Harry would be interested in working with him), but most of all, he had his gorgeous wife, Ginny Potter, and their children Matthew Francis Potter and Shea Lillian Molly Potter, and life was about as good as any one could have managed. Out on broomsticks teaching Matthew and Shea all about flying and Quidditch when Ginny’s back was turned, enjoying Friday night dinners with his brother and sister-in-law Ron and Hermione Weasley, who to everyone’s surprise, were, for the time being, childless. But even so, Harry reckoned that he had the best life, and nothing could get any better.
But apparently, it could get worse. Much worse. Recently, Ginny began to complain of frequent headaches that were often followed by moderate nosebleeds. When she first approached her mother on the subject, she and Molly Weasley both dismissed both the headaches and the nosebleeds as stress-related, as Shea and Matthew were both still very young (Matthew was seven, Shea four) and demanded a lot of Ginny’s time and energy. But after five weeks of headaches, plus Ginny reporting that she often got very congested after the nosebleeds, and sometimes remained so for days, Harry got worried and scheduled an appointment with their family Healer, former classmate and close friend, Neville Longbottom. Neville’s outstanding skill with Herbology and his kind demeanor had served him very well as a professional Healer, and he had been named Matthew’s Godfather (Hermione Weasley was Shea’s Godmother as well as aunt). To put it mildly, after a few tests were taken, Neville came back with a heartbreaking surprise: Ginny had cancer of the throat.
Almost immediately, Harry and Ginny agreed that she should be put under care, going through all the Wizarding world’s best cancer treatments, including the Periclymeas Diet, which was the pureeing of all Ginny’s food and put into a potion containing juniper root, root of a magical plant called Kangh Lily and dried and aged tail spikes from a Swedish Short Snout Dragon, and a treatment known as The Hobbes Method, which was the Wizarding world’s answer to the Muggle cancer treatment Chemotherapy. It worked somewhat. After nearly half a year of eating three perfectly square meals in the Periclymeas Potion (which Neville had lovingly and patiently taught both Harry and Ginny), and going three days a week to St. Mungo’s for The Hobbes Method, Ginny’s cancer had gone away, and for a while, life was back to normal.
But then, just the other day, Ginny had been with her mother (the kids were at their aunt and uncle’s) while Harry and Arthur had to go on an unusual Saturday call for a badly planned prank involving a Muggle pickup truck, when she fell seriously ill, and Molly, frightened, took her to St. Mungo’s. With tears in his eyes after examining the tests, Neville informed Molly Weasley that she ought to call the rest of Ginny’s family, as he said it might even be that Ginny wouldn’t last the night.
Harry came in first. He was pale and shaking, trying with all his might to remain strong for Ginny’s sake.
“Hey, love,” he said softly, smiling at her.
“Hey,” Ginny whispered in an exhausted tone.
“Oh, Gin,” Harry said, his lip trembling, “I…I don’t know what to do…Merlin, I’m so scared. I love you so, so, so much.”
“I’m scared too, baby,” Ginny said. Harry took both of Ginny’s hands firmly in his own, kissing them passionately. She smiled. She knew, of course, and never questioned, that Harry absolutely loved her, but to have him beside her in this moment meant so much.
“Harry,” she said after a moment, “will you send Hermione in?” Harry nodded, and stepped out. Hermione approached Ginny’s bed.
“Hi, Ginny,” she said, “you look good.”
“Don’t say that,” Ginny said, “we both know what’s happening to me.”
“No!” Hermione said, “you’ll make it! I know you will, you’re so strong Ginny, you’ll make it, I know you will. I…” both women started sobbing uncontrollably, hugging and kissing each other.
“I’ll miss you so much, Gin…” Hermione sobbed. Overwhelmed, Ginny could not reply. Finally, after a few minutes, she pulled herself together.
“Mione, are the kids here?” Hermione nodded. “I want to see them.” Hermione nodded again, and left, returning with Harry and Matthew, Shea was in Harry’s arms.
“Hey, Captain Matt,” Ginny said, knowing of Matthew’s fondness for Muggle ships and shipping industries, “how are you, Cap’n?” While trying his hardest to not cry and remain strong for his mother, Matthew could not answer. Gently, Harry laid Shea down on the bed beside Ginny. Harry observed his kids. He wasn’t sure if Shea even understood what was going on, but he could tell by his tired, sad eyes that, despite his strong front, Matthew knew exactly what was going on.
“Mommy, are you sick?” Shea asked in her child’s concern. Ginny nodded
“Yes, Shea, I’m a bit sick.”
“Where does it hurt?” She asked.
“Well,” Ginny said, grinning sadly, “it kinda hurts here,” and she indicated her heart.
“Do you want me to kiss it to make it better?” Shea asked. Ginny nodded, and bent her head down to where Ginny had pointed and gave it a soft kiss, and Ginny began to sob. Matthew, too, let his strong front crumble and began to cry as well, climbing up beside Ginny’s other side. Shea was crying as well, her mother’s hand securely around her.
“Oh, my babies,” Ginny said through her tears, “I love you both so, so, so, so much. Mattie,” she added turning to her son, “will you do me a favor and care for Shea? I had two wonderful kids so that they could have a friend in each other, care for each other and be there for each other.” Matthew nodded.
“I love you Mum,” he said to renewed sobs.
It was too much for Harry, seeing his strong wife lying there helpless, waiting for death to take her, cuddled up to the two kids she had given her everything to love, care for and protect, and his heart tore into shreds, and he left the room, unable to take any more.
For a few minutes, he stood in the hall, looking at his feet, and then broke down, sobbing uncontrollably. Arthur Weasley ran forward to comfort him. The hall by Ginny’s door was packed with Weasleys. Fred and George stood off to the side, silently crying, tears running down their faces. Bill sat, his face in his hands, his body shaking as Fleur softly massaged him. Charlie stood grim and silent beside his mother, who was devastated beyond tears. Even Percy was there, pale as a sheet and shaking. Ron and Hermione stood in each other’s arms alternately crying and comforting the other.
“Harry?” Hermione said as Harry began to calm down, “I think we need to get the kids and take them home. I expect this has been a bit much for them.” Harry nodded, and he, along with Arthur and Molly, went into the room to find both Matthew and Shea asleep on Ginny’s chest, while Ginny hummed lullabies to them. She was not keen on letting them go, but understood that they needed to go get some rest from the overwhelm.
“I’ll take them,” Hermione volunteered, and with help from Fleur, took the kids to floo home.
“I’ll be back,” both Hermione and Fleur assured their husbands. Harry and the others, on the other hand crowded around Ginny to make their goodbyes. All the while, Harry sat beside her, holding and rubbing and kissing her hands. All the brothers said their goodbyes tearfully, hugging Ginny with all their might.
“I’m sorry,” Percy said, breaking into tears, “I’m so, so sorry, Gin. I’ve been probably the world’s worst brother to you lately. Please forgive me.”
“I do,” Ginny whispered, and Percy hugged her with all his might. As he stood up to make room for his mother, his eyes locked with Harry, and something in both of them clicked, and Percy hugged Harry.
“I forgive you too,” Harry said.
“I’m sorry for how I treated you, too,” Percy said, “I can see now that you two love each other to the nines, and I’m sorry I doubted you’d be a good husband to my sister.” Thus saying, he turned away and all but ran out of Ginny’s room. It was down to Arthur and Molly, who, as one, embraced Ginny, both sobbing, no, weeping, screaming, howling…they didn’t say anything to each other; there was nothing they could say, they could only cherish their final embrace.
Finally, Arthur and Molly stood up and made their way to the door. Harry initially made to follow them, but softly, Ginny said,
“Stay, Harry.” He nodded, and as Arthur and Molly tearfully blew her kisses, Harry slowly returned to the bed and climbed in with her, hugging her close to him. If he thought he had cried all his tears in the hall, Harry found them falling again as he held the only woman he loved to him. Smiling, she reached up and brushed the tears away.
“I can’t believe I’m loosing you,” he said through his tears.
“You’re not loosing me,” Ginny said, “I’m leaving a bit of me in Mattie and Shea, and Ron and my other brothers, and Mum and Dad…” at that, she started to cry too “…oh, Harry, I’m going to miss you all so much. Especially the kids, I’m going to miss their lives. I won’t get to check under their beds for monsters anymore, I won’t see them go to Hogwarts. I won’t be able to watch them grow…” she wept harder, while Harry held her tight. Finally, she calmed down a bit.
“You know I’ll always be here right?” she asked, running her hand over his heart. He nodded.
“Oh, Ginny, my Ginny, my love. I’ll miss you so much too,” Harry sobbed, “I love you so much, sweetheart, and I always will…” he continued to whisper sweet nothings in her ear, sobbing with her.
“I’ll always love you with every fiber of my being too,” Ginny whispered, pulling Harry as close as she could. Ginny reached up and gave Harry a passionate, loving kiss right on the lips, and on his cheeks, nose and forehead. As he kissed her back, Harry knew he would never forget her kisses. Finally, they both fell asleep, overwhelmed.
And when Harry awoke, she was gone.
As he walked through the gates of Hogwarts, Harry reflected how he constantly wondered when he would be walking through these gates again. Had he been able to choose, however, it would not have been for the funeral of his favorite witch of all time. But Harry knew of the special moments he and Ginny had shared here, and the fact that this was the place that had brought them together, Harry knew that this would be the place he would have wanted to say goodbye.
He entered a bit before everyone else with Matthew and Shea. The ceiling had been un-enchanted for the funeral, its bleak grey colors fitting. Still, Harry hardly even noticed, for his attention was on the black coffin surrounded by beautiful floral arrangements centered approximately where Dumbledore’s chair would have been had the Head table been there (it had been removed for the funeral). Just knowing that in the cold, heartless coffin his love slept was overwhelming for Harry, and he broke down crying again, joined by his children. He enveloped them both in a passionate, strong three-way embrace, feeling their combined grief. Finally, he approached the coffin, holding Shea in his arm, and holding Matthew’s hand with his other, and all three said their final goodbyes to the one they loved as dearly as possible.
Finally, the others began filing in. First, holding each other tightly, came Ron and Hermione, and it was impossible to tell who was more upset. Nothing needed saying between the three adults and children, and they all hugged each other. Neville came in next, with Luna Lovegood, whom he had been dating for about a year. They made a beeline for Matthew and, as one, hugged him tightly. Both Luna and Neville — though especially Neville — loved Matthew dearly, and Harry knew that one of the moments where Ginny had really known what she was doing was when she named Neville Matthew’s Godfather. The Weasleys, led by Arthur and Molly came in, all either with tears running down their cheeks, or crying outright. Hagrid came in, almost out-sobbing Molly as he looked down into Ginny’s coffin. McGonagall followed Hagrid, walking over to Harry. Her hair was not in its usual bun, nor did she have her usual stern, thin-lipped, cool, calculating expression and demeanor. Instead, she looked sincerely grieved, and gave Harry a quick hug.
“You will be all right,” she said in a quiet voice that shocked Harry, “you will get through this; your children need you, and you need them.” Harry began to cry at the truth and significance in McGonagall’s words.
“Thank you,” he whispered. She smiled and moved to her seat. Harry also sat down in the front beside Hermione and Ron, who was beside his mother. A friend of Arthur’s, who was a magical Minister from Ireland, stepped up to the podium to begin.
“We are here,” he said, “to celebrate the life of a woman who was very dear to you all: She was a fine witch, possessing ample amounts of cunning and power, she was able and unafraid. But she was, more importantly, a fine, fine person: She had a heart that was only capable of love, and she loved you all. She was a fine mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Her name is Ginevra Molly Weasley Potter…” Harry didn’t truly listen to the preacher, but snuggled up to his kids. McGonagall was right: They were all he had now, they were his pillar of strength, and he was theirs. For some reason, as he looked at Matthew, who had his hair, but Ginny’s eyes and facial shape, and Shea, who had the Weasley hair, but his eyes, his sadness suddenly resettled itself in his chest as a burning, powerful, passionate feeling of love and pride. These were his kids, but more importantly, they were Ginny’s kids and he would love and protect them, cherish each moment with them, and make sure they remembered just how much Ginny loved them, through him, Hermione, Ron, Neville and all the other family they had. He watched Arthur take his place at the podium behind Ginny.
“There is no way,” he said in a congested voice, “to say how special my daughter is. When most people hear me say that, they assume that I’m merely talking about the fact that Ginevra was the first girl in so many generations of male Weasley children. Well, yes, I’m proud of that fact, but she is special to me for no other reason that she is one of my children, and I love her so much because of it. I sometimes fear that, at various times, the boys thought that Molly and I loved her more, which isn’t true at all; I love my sons every bit as dearly as I loved Ginny. But I think many parents would prefer that their children say goodbye to them, instead of saying goodbye to their children, and as I stand here, I think the same, and I hate right now, the disease that took my child from me way, way too early. When she was young, I always used to think that a day like this could never come, that I could protect her from anything and everything out there. But I couldn’t protect her, and reality slapped me hard in the face and reminded me that, however much I wanted it, I couldn’t always protect my baby. And on this day, she was taken from her father and mother, and Molly and I will miss her. I miss you Ginevra, and I love you so much. Thank you for being a part of my life.” The tears had returned to Harry’s eyes as he joined the others in applauding Arthur’s speech, and slowly got up to deliver his own eulogy.
“I…I…” Harry fought his emotions and tried to speak coherently, “I…will always wonder how I got so lucky as to marry Ginny Weasley. I think that one of the things I’ll always remember was the feeling that I got after the wedding, when all of her family welcomed me so joyfully as one of them, and one of the biggest wishes I’ve had since I was a boy–to finally have a family to be a part of–came true. But Ginny was always a very special member of her family to me. She never hesitated to make me see when I was wrong by whatever means she needed, and she could make me laugh in ways that even Fred and George–sorry, Gred and Forge could not —” there was a murmur of quiet, subdued, but appreciative laughter at Harry’s joke “ — and she just made me realize how special life was. When Mattie —” Harry smiled at his son, who was cuddling and crying on Ron’s lap, and Shea, crying very exhaustedly on Hermione’s lap “ — was born, I realized just how much life was special, and how happy I was to live it with her. I was always afraid of how much I think at times I hurt her. I should have befriended her much sooner than I did, and not have tried so hard to turn her away, even if it had been to protect her safety, which has always been my top priority.
“I never wanted this day to come. I wanted everything to be good in life, and I always wanted her to be with me through it all, but…I realize now that everything will be good, because I was married to Ginny, and I did manage to have times both good and bad with her. We survived a war together, we had fun together…we had the most beautiful kids together. I still wish we could live through what’s to come together, but I am so grateful for everything we had, and I will always, always cherish that.
“I don’t know what the future holds; I don’t know if I’ll ever remarry or not, but I do know, Ginny, that I love you with every breath I take, and I always will. I’m going to take good care of the kids, sweetie, I promise. I miss you so much, and I always will, but I will never forget you, Ginny, and I will never stop loving you.”
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Chapter 2: Shea Remembers
Author's Notes: You might not, or may well be, aware that this story is one I've invested a lot of love and emotion into, and that is one of the reasons I am always thrilled to recieve a review, because I put this love, emotion and effort into this for you, as readers, so I beg you, review, and tell me with all honesty what you thought. Knowing that is very rewarding, believe it or not.
I also want to publicly announce that this chapter was included, initially against my so-called "better judgement" (this is one in a series of four oneshots featuring the deaths of Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny). However, my judgements were based on a rule this site has, where Harry and Ginny cannot die in a oneshot; a rule I, by and large, did not understand. A moderator of this site was kind enough to explain exactly what the rule was put in place for, and so now that I am informed, I wish to publicly show my support of this rule.
People always ask me what it was like to lose a mother as young as I was. I don’t know how to describe it, except that, being four when she died, I can hardly remember her. And I hate it. Even Matthew, my brother can remember her better than I can. Dad knew her forever, but neither he nor Mattie ever talk about Mum. Even Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione don’t like to talk to me about her, and even though I’m only eight, I still understand why they keep quiet; I know it’s painful for them, but don’t they understand it’s still painful for me, too? Everyone says I look just like my mom but have my dad’s eyes, but I can’t picture her. But if I really strain my ears, sometimes at night, when it’s really quiet, I can hear a lullaby Mum would sing me to sleep to when I was an infant. Everyone also goes on endlessly about how wonderful Mum was, and I don’t doubt it, but then I ask what made her so wonderful, and they just go silent. I know, I know, I’m up to my neck in self-pity, and I must sound ungrateful, which I’m not; I love Dad so, so much, and I’m so grateful for everything he’s done for me; he’s raised me with nothing but love and has never been anything less than wonderful to me and Mattie.
“Hey, Shea, love, it’s bedtime,” Dad says, coming up to me, snapping me out of my reverie. I looked out the window and saw that it is indeed dark out. Man, it’s so quiet without Mattie here – he’s off at Hogwarts, see, it’s his first year. I wonder what Mum would have done, had she been here. Probably cook up food to rival Grandma’s food, cover Mattie in endless kisses, and make sure the world knows exactly how proud she is…
“A Knut for your thoughts?” Dad asks me softly, again breaking my second reverie. I shake my head.
“No,” I responded smiling, “I’m off to brush my teeth.”
“All right, then, I’ll be up in a second to tuck you in, okay, Firefly?”
Later, after Dad had finished tucking me in and had kissed me goodnight, I chanced to look out my window, and saw a shooting star. I closed my eyes tight and hastily made a wish on that star with every fibre of my being: I want to know about my mother.
Three days later, my wish came true.
Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione were over. Uncle Ron had finally gotten Aunt Hermione pregnant…EEEW! And Dad wanted to celebrate. Dad had gotten some Firewhisky and had settled down with Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione in the living room, while I roamed the house, not really interested in talking about grown-up things with them. My roaming took me to virtually every room, including the library, which was also a study for Dad…I suppose Mum must have used it, too, when she was alive.
And then, suddenly, I found myself staring at her, from a picture on Dad’s desk. She was side by side with Dad, and it looked like they were very young. My guess was that it must have been not too long after their honeymoon. She smiled at me from gorgeous brown eyes; her hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail, a look that very much suited her. Her smile radiated happiness, warmth, and a world of love for my father, but I could not take my eyes off of her eyes. They twinkled merrily, were deep and dark, and the brown was so much like chocolate…I knew that if I was ever scared, I’d only have to snuggle into her embrace and look into her eyes and everything would be okay again.
And then, without warning, memories flooded me; they were bad, terrible, scary…memories I wasn’t even aware that I had in me. Overwhelmed, tears started to flow down my face, and I started to cry as I took the photo off of Dad’s desk and hugged it to my heart. Slowly, I left, my sobs coming on stronger with every step I took as I headed towards the living room.
“…and so he’s flying towards me, right,” Uncle Ron was saying as I got closer, clearly telling one of his famous Quidditch tales (he plays professionally), “and throws the Quaffle. Now this was a well-thrown ball, mind you; lots of topspin and good side-to-side movement kinda like those Muggles who toss balls all night for that American Muggle sport…what’s it called…anyway, he throws the ball, and…and…” Aunt Hermione tugged him on the sleeve and indicated my presence.
“Hello, Shea, how…what’s wrong?” she asked. Dad looked at me concernedly. “Shea, what’s…?” she started to ask, but stopped, seeing the back of the picture frame I held in a death grip to my chest. Gently, she tried to pull it away, but I held it tighter, my sobs coming back. Aunt Hermione stopped trying to take the picture from me, and her own eyes pooled with tears; she knew what photo I was holding. She hugged me with all her might.
“Harry,” she said in a broken voice over my shoulder at Dad, “Ron, I…we need to tell Shea…about Ginny.” Dad’s eyes also pooled with tears. I’d never really seen him cry before, except for at Mum’s funeral, but I can hardly remember that.
“Yeah…” Dad said in a husky voice, “we do. Er…do you think we should bring Mum and Dad over? They’ll want to be here for Shea, as will Remus, no doubt…”
“Yeah, all right,” Uncle Ron said, “I’ll go Floo them all.” He spoke in the same tone as Dad, and shuffled slowly from the room.
“Shea, I am so sorry for not telling you about your Mum,” Aunt Hermione said, starting to cry, “she was my best friend, and I loved her so deeply, and even though it’s been four years since she died, it still feels like yesterday, and it still hurts so much.”
“Come here, Firefly,” Dad said barely over a whisper. I crawled over to him, and he hugged me with all his might.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am, baby,” Dad said, “I was also very wrong to not talk to you about Ginny when you asked. I gave you a lot of extra pain, and that was a very, very stupid, uncaring thing for me to do. I…” he choked a bit “…I hope you can…can forgive me, and I want to make it up to you…in any way possible.” At that moment, Dad was interrupted by the arrival of Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Remus. Uncle Remus isn’t related to us, but he’s the closest thing Dad has to an Uncle, and so I’ve come to see him as that. Everyone, including Uncle Ron gave me hugs and apologized to me.
“Here, join me on the couch, Firefly,” Dad said, patting the couch where he had sat down, and I crawled up and into his embrace.
“So, what do you want to know?” he asked me.
“Everything,” I said, “I want to know what Mum was like.”
“Hmmm…the only way I can think of to describe her,” Dad said, “was loving, but extraordinarily powerful, strong; she had one fiery temper, let me tell you, but she could also be one of the most playful people I’ve ever met, even more devious at times than your uncles Fred and George.” He grinned and looked at the rest of the family, “remember that time after the cocktail party at Bill and Fleur’s wedding?” A chuckle ran through my family.
“Yeah,” Uncle Ron said, “she made snow.”
“And we had a snowball fight,” Aunt Hermione said, chuckling through her tears, “even though it was July.”
“Will you tell me about it?” I asked. Dad nodded.
“It was just after we had all stuffed ourselves with cocktails…” Dad began
“…and we saw Ginny over near the far side of the Burrow’s back yard, doing something, and, curiosity getting the better of me, I walked over to determine exactly what she was doing…”
“Ginny,” Harry said, frowning, “why are you making snow?” Ginny turned to face Harry, smiling very mischievously.
“Shhh, Harry, I’m going to throw a snowball at Phlegm,” Ginny replied, chuckling, as she sculpted some of her handmade snow into a perfect ball.
“I’d be careful, Gin,” Harry warned, “Fleur doesn’t have the same sense of humour that we do.”
“Really?” Ginny said in mock surprise, looking thoughtful, “then I guess I’ll just have to…” and ignoring the fact that Harry was quite close, gleefully tossed the snowball in his face.
“WHY YOU…!” Harry bellowed in shock, but he couldn’t hold in a small chuckle, which grew into a laugh as he looked at Ginny (while wiping snow out of his face) who was laughing heartily, but still looking ever so slightly worried and fearful, scared she might have hurt him or made him mad. He gave her a genuine smile to show that she had not made him mad or hurt him.
Attracted by Harry’s shout, Ron and Hermione wandered over with identical expressions of curiosity on their faces. When she saw Ginny’s snow, Hermione’s smile became just as mischievous as Ginny’s had been, and Hermione winked at Ginny, made herself some of her own snow, and tossed it at Ron, hitting him like Ginny had hit Harry.
“Quick,” Harry whispered to Ginny, “give me some snow.” She obliged him, and he quickly made up a snowball which he tossed at Ron as well. Hermione then threw another at Ginny, beginning a two-on-two snowball fight between them. Fred and George, the lovers of mayhem that they were, quickly formed their own team to take on the teams of Harry and Ginny and Ron and Hermione. Later, the ruckus growing, Bill and his bride came over to see what was going on. Fleur looked offended that they were more interested in their snowball fight than celebrating her marriage, but Bill whispered something in her ear, and she softened, but only marginally. Ginny, however, took the opportunity of her change in concentration to, disregarding Harry’s warning, toss a snowball at Fleur, who, after her shock dissipated, took it remarkably well.
“Oh man,” Dad said, “those were the days…”
“Yeah, they were,” Uncle Ron said, “really, our last days of true childhood.”
“Why?” I asked, curious.
“Well, not long after your Uncle Bill’s wedding, the whole war against you-know-who really started,” Uncle Ron explained. I shivered slightly. Dad had raised me and Mattie to understand Voldemort as best we could, call him by his first name, and was very open to answering all the questions we had about Voldemort and how Dad brought him down. I’m so proud of Dad for what he did, but even though I know Voldemort is gone, I still get scared at the idea of him.
“You broke up with Mum for a bit right?” I asked Dad suddenly. The moment I had done so, I wish I hadn’t. I’d never seen Dad look so sad or haunted. Almost imperceptibly, he nodded.
“I did,” he said very quietly, “and there are few things I regret more…especially now.” He started to cry. “I never got to spend enough time with her; I’ll never forgive myself.”
“You got back together, right?”
“Yeah, in fact, it was only two days before that snowball fight I just told you about…”
“...I had just arrived from my aunt and uncle’s house, and was in good spirits, knowing that I would never have to go back there again. But when I first saw Ginny, I lost all my happiness. She pretended to be happy to see me, but I knew she was lying. I could tell…”
Dinner at the Burrow was tense that evening. Both Harry and Ginny clearly were uncomfortable in each other’s presence, and to everyone present, it was clear how much of a strong front both Harry and Ginny had put up, so that people wouldn’t worry.
After dinner, Arthur Weasley cornered Harry, beckoning him over to a quiet corner of the living room, near the fireplace.
“Harry,” he said, “would you mind if I ask you just how you feel about my daughter?” His voice was mild, but the underlying question did not go unnoticed by Harry.
“I…I care for Ginny very, very much; she means the world to me.”
“And do her feelings mean anything to you?”
“Yes.” Mr. Weasley looked at Harry with a puzzled expression, but Harry could still tell that he was acting; he wasn’t truly puzzled.
“You say she means the world to you, Harry, and that her feelings matter to you, and yet you break up with her, denying her that which meant the world to her, perhaps to both of you,” Mr. Weasley stated.
“I only did it to keep her s—”
“But Harry,” Mr. Weasley interrupted him; “she won’t be any safer apart from you than she would be with you. My family has all but adopted you as one of our own since Ron first met you, and I’ll eat stinksap before I think Voldemort doesn’t know that; he’ll be after all of us regardless of your relationship with Ginny. Personally, I think we all need, in these last few months of peace, to do whatever makes us the most happy. You’ll forgive me, Harry, but you and Ginny are both very obvious, and it is crystal clear that both of you would be happiest together – throughout the war. Ah, it looks like my youngest boy might have realized something along those lines, too.” Harry followed Mr. Weasley’s line of vision, and sure enough, there, cuddling on the couch, was Ron and Hermione. Suddenly, powerfully, every truth that Arthur had just spoken, hit him painfully hard, and with a jolt, he realized that wasn’t the only thing that had hit him, and almost without him noticing, tears pooled in his eyes. He blushed and looked at his feet.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Mr. Weasley asked kindly.
“You’re right about everything,” Harry said in a voice dripping with self-disgust, “somewhere, somehow I always knew it, but I disregarded it; I pretty much forced myself to believe that what I was doing was right.”
“You’ve lost so many of those dear to you, Harry, I understand your fear,” Mr. Weasley said compassionately, “but I think everyone has that fear right now. I’m terrified of losing Molly, Ron is surely terrified of losing Hermione…Harry, this will be the hardest thing any of us has to do, but Voldemort being who he is, we have to do it, and do it we shall, with our loved ones by our side.” Harry focused his vision intently on his shoes as his shoulders began to shake.
“No one’s ever given me advice like that,” he said brokenly, “Sirius never r – really got the opportunity to h – help show me when I was wrong.” Mr. Weasley put a reassuring hand on Harry’s shoulders.
“I may not be to you what Sirius was, Harry, but I’ll always gladly give you advice whenever you need it. I suppose once you and Ginny are at that stage, I’ll have to be the one to give you that talk – speaking of which, you should go see her, Harry.” Harry swallowed a painful lump, nodded, and began to search the house.
Harry found her in the kitchen, sitting on a countertop. Mrs. Weasley was doing the dishes, and Harry wondered if Ginny and Mrs. Weasley had had a similar talk. From what little Harry could see of Mrs. Weasley’s face, she looked worried, and Ginny looked defeated. Harry’s heart shrunk into a little ball.
“H – hi, Ginny,” Harry said nervously. Both Ginny and Mrs. Weasley looked at him, shocked; clearly, neither one had heard him approach. “Can we talk?” Harry asked with more certainty in his voice. Ginny nodded.
“My room?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Harry said, “we’d be unlikely to be disturbed.”
“I don’t know,” Ginny said, suddenly looking amused, “Fred and George don’t care at all whose room you’re holed up in, if it’s a moment they can interrupt, they will.” She laughed, sending multiple shivers down Harry’s spine; it was so free and heartfelt, not to mention hearty and every bit as contagious as any disease – except for the fact that her laughter left you feeling good, whereas a disease tends to make one pretty miserable. Harry and Ginny walked up to Ginny’s room, and sat down on her bed.
“Ginny, I am so sorry,” Harry said without preamble, “I’ve been…I’ve been cruel to you lately, basically. I never should have broken up with you just to keep you safe. I knew all along it wouldn’t work; I just…refused to see it as being true. Your dad helped me see that just now. Please, Ginny, I want to be your boyfriend again; you make me happier than I could ever say, and complete. I promise I will be here for you throughout this war. I love you so much, Gin, and I promise I will try my hardest to never hurt you again. I was just so scared of losing the one person who meant so much.”
“I’m scared, too, Harry. I love you so much, too, and I want to be there for you too.”
“Then let’s weather this war together…and with Ron and Hermione, of course.”
“Harry, I’m proud of you. I understand why you broke up with me, and I totally understand that, even though we all fear the same thing you feared, I can see that your fear must be greater, but I think that as long as we can be together, regardless of how we fare, we’ll be happier for having won and lost together.” Harry nodded and snuggled into Ginny, who gave him a warm kiss on his forehead.
“Come on,” Harry said grinning, “it may be that Ron and Hermione are still cuddling in the living room; let’s go join them.”
“My brother finally told Hermione how he feels about her? All right!” Ginny said boisterously, causing her and Harry to burst out laughing, all the way to the couch.
“Sometimes I wonder,” Dad said, “how much fun the wedding would have been had that not happened, or whether we would have even had that snowball fight.”…
“That was more than a wedding,” Grandma said from where she was sitting next to Grandpa on the couch, “we were celebrating the fact that we still had people to love and lives to live.” Everyone nodded.
“Was Mum smart?” I asked. It sounded like she must have been.
“Very,” Grandpa said.
“I think her friendship with Hermione may have helped,” Grandma said, smiling at Aunt Hermione. Uncle Ron looked thoughtful.
“I don’t know,” he said mildly, trying not to offend Aunt Hermione, “I think she’s always been smart, especially practical wisdom. Like the meeting we had here just before the war.”
“I don’t think you need to tell an eight year old about that,” Grandma advised Uncle Ron sternly.
“Molly,” Dad said, “you know I’ve been very open with both Matthew and Shea about the war, so they would – you know – understand why their daddy was famous. Go on, Ron.”
“Well, as the war drew nearer, the Order of the Phoenix had decided to keep the location of their meetings fluid, never holding a meeting in the same place twice. I think they figured it would keep the enemy confused, which it most likely didn’t, but…”
“…even so, that was how they ran things, and that particular night, the meeting was held here. Your dad, Shea, demanded that he, Hermione, Ginny and I be able to attend, saying that he reckoned that, along with him being wrong about breaking up with Ginny, he was wrong about turning down the Order’s offers of help. Initially, the Order’s members were happy that Harry had made what to them was the mature, right thing to do, but as soon as he told the rest of the Order his plans, things became a fiery debate. One that was not all that productive, might I add…”
Remus Lupin looked concernedly at Harry. “I just meant that we need to look out for your best interests, which is why I agree with Molly, Harry. I did not mean to sound like I doubted your ability to fight.”
“But the prophecy!” Harry said stubbornly, “the prophecy says that only I can bring him down…and that I’m fated to do so.”
“We know about the prophecy,” Mad-Eye Moody growled, “and we know that Dumbledore did think that it did directly apply to Potter…maybe we should just let Potter and his friends go through with their plans.”
“Are you mad, Mad-Eye?!” Mrs. Weasley screeched, “I won’t allow any of them to go out there and get mixed up in this war! Only overage wizards can fight!”
“Which we are!” Ron said angrily.
“Nonsense!” Mrs. Weasley barked, “you’re still far too young, and all of you will stay right here where it’s safe.”
“That’s just the problem though,” Ginny spoke up, quietly, “it doesn’t matter. We can all, every one of us, join Harry, or we can hide away in the most safe stronghold, but either way, you-know…I mean, V—V—Voldemort will find us, and wherever that is, whenever that is, we’ll have to fight. I’m not sure there is even such a thing as a safe area in this war.” Harry looked over at her with clear pride all over his face. Bill Weasley’s shoulders slumped.
“She’s right, you know,” he said meekly.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t keep them all safe,” Mrs. Weasley stubbornly argued, though by her voice it was obvious she was losing steam.
“Unfortunately, it does,” Bill said, “Ginny’s right, you could keep moving all over likely the world, going from safe location to safe location, but you’d only be delaying the inevitable.” Slowly, Lupin nodded.
“Very well,” he said, though clearly reluctant, “we’ll go along with this, Harry, but…” and he proceeded to lay out a plan that, for the most part, went in line with Harry’s plan, but also had changed things where he and the other adults felt that Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny would be safer, and then the meeting concluded. After everyone had left, Harry walked over to Ginny and pulled her into a warm embrace.
“I’m so proud of you,” he said lovingly, “I don’t know if any of us could have so eloquently touched on what the main problem of this war is. I love you.”
“I love you more,” Ginny said half serious, half playful, kissing Harry.
“And then it was like the Order had never disagreed with us, and everyone milled about, congratulating Ginny on a ‘magnificent speech’. I don’t know what made them change their minds so quickly, or what, but I think we all knew that their words of congratulations to Ginny were quite hollow; I think they were scared out of their wits by the truthfulness in Ginny’s statement.”…
“She really did have a lot of practical wisdom, now that I think about it,” Grandpa said reminiscently. Grandma and Aunt Hermione had tears in their eyes, and Aunt Hermione’s hand was placed protectively on her stomach.
“You know, I used to do that when I was carrying Ginny,” Grandma said brokenly, looking over at Aunt Hermione. “I knew my children might be growing up in dangerous times, and yet…I don’t know, the Healers had told me I was carrying a girl, and I was so excited, and yet I was so scared that something might happen to her. It’s so ironic; I was scared of her dying from you-know-who, or his Death Eaters, and instead, she dies of a disease more commonly associated with Muggles.”
“Wizards can’t get cancer?” Aunt Hermione asked, looking intrigued.
“They can,” Grandma said, “but not as frequently as Muggles. You know, if I had known that was how my baby was going to die, I think I would have cherished every moment I had with her even more than I did.”
“Was she nice?” I asked. Chuckles ran through all of my family that gave way to choked back sobs.
“She was a jewel,” Grandma said.
“Had a heart of 24-karat gold,” Uncle Ron agreed, “when she wasn’t taking after the twins and pranking someone, that is.”
“If anyone needed help in my classes who were in her year, she’d be the one to give it her best to help them out,” Uncle Remus said.
“I’ll never forget, plain and simple, how loving she was,” Aunt Hermione said, to more tears coming down her face.
“I remember, just before coming over to the Burrow back in the summer just before our fourth year, when we went to the Quidditch World Cup, I didn’t feel well, but I decided not to tell Mum or Dad, I mean it was just a headache, but I also knew Mum would fuss a bit, and suggest I stay at home until I felt better, but Harry was going to come in three days, and I wanted to be able to greet him with Ron and his family when he came…”
“…and so I kept quiet. It was a dumb idea, Shea, really, really dumb, because by the time I arrived, my headache had gotten much worse, and to tell you the truth, I think my stomach was bothering me a bit. Anyway, Ron and the twins wanted to give me a…er…frenzied welcome, especially since they could see I wasn’t very happy at that moment, but Ginny immediately seemed to sense that I didn’t feel well…”
“Hey Hermione, come on up to my room, I want to talk to you about some stuff,” Ginny said, giving her brothers a ‘back off’ look, “hey Ronniekins, I think Hermione would be ever so grateful if you would take care of her trunk.” Ginny winked at Ron, and took Hermione’s hand, leading her towards her room. Upon entering, she shut the door.
“What’s wrong, Hermione? You seem a bit pale,” Ginny said concernedly.
“I don’t feel so good,” Hermione admitted.
“Lie down then,” Ginny offered, indicating her bed. Smiling gratefully, Hermione did so.
“Miss Granger, what ails you?” Ginny asked in a mock doctor’s voice, earning a weak chuckle from Hermione.
“My head’s aching,” Hermione responded, doing her best to play along, despite the fact that her head was truly throbbing, “and my stomach is kinda bothering me.” Ginny gave an honest frown for a moment, and then waved her wand, causing a goblet full of some strange potion to appear on her bedside table.
“Drink that, and try to drink all of it,” Ginny said quietly, “it might not agree with you, especially if your stomach is unsettled, but it’ll help the headache.” She waved her wand again, causing a bucket to appear, and grinned cheekily. “Just in case,” she said, causing Hermione to giggle again. Ginny then went over to her dresser and pulled out a spare nightgown.
“Here, change into this and get under the covers,” Ginny said, “it might be a bit small, and I’m sorry how ratty it is. Believe me, if I had anything better to give you, I would,” she added, blushing darkly.
“Thank you so much Ginny,” Hermione whispered as vehemently as she could manage, “erm…could you…you know, charm the door for privacy?” Ginny bit her lip.
“I’m sorry, Hermione, but no. I learned the hard way that the first thing the twins do if they discover a door that’s been charmed for privacy, they’ll do whatever they can to disturb it. But I will silence it, so no one will hear you if you’re…you know…”
“Yeah. It’s a start, at least.” Hermione smiled, changed into the nightgown and got under the covers.
“Is your head feeling any better?” Ginny asked. Hermione shook her head negatively. Ginny’s brow furrowed again, and she quickly ran a diagnostic spell over Hermione.
“You have a mild fever,” she informed Hermione, “you should rest and take it easy, and hopefully, by tomorrow, you’ll feel like new.” She grinned. “Can I do anything?”
“I…er…I don’t know why, but…well…when I’m sick I always feel…lonely…can you stay with me?” Hermione asked roughly.
“Of course I will,” Ginny said, taking Hermione’s hand in her own, and stroked it. Tears pooled in Hermione’s eyes, and with her thumb, Ginny gently brushed them away, and hesitantly leaned in and kissed Hermione’s cheek as she fell asleep.
“I love you,” she whispered.
The next day did indeed find Hermione feeling “like new”, and in a post-illness fit of joy, happily joining Ron and Ginny in de-Gnoming the garden in preparation for Harry’s arrival the following day. Sweat poured down their faces as they worked, but Hermione’s cheer was infectious, and they swapped jokes and tales about Harry, Ron told every Quidditch joke in the book, and Ginny loudly, so that Ron couldn’t miss one embarrassing word, chronicled for Hermione the making of love potions and their effects, symptoms, and side effects. They both doubled over at the colour of Ron’s face when they had finished. Mrs. Weasley then called lunch, and suggested that, since it was such a lovely day, and they had worked so hard and done such a good job, that they eat it outside, which all three of them eagerly agreed to, however, when they were outside, Hermione turned to Ron.
“Do mind if we go over there?” She indicated a spot a few yards from the garden, “I want to talk to Ginny alone for a couple of minutes.” Ron shrugged, and taking that as assent, the two girls walked over to the spot that Hermione indicated and sat down, tucking into their sandwiches.
“Ginny,” Hermione said slowly, “I can’t thank you enough for your taking care of me yesterday. I…I don’t know how to say it…I felt…loved, but not like how I feel loved by Mum or Dad…anyway, thanks.” She concluded awkwardly.
“You’re welcome,” Ginny responded, “I was happy to do it. I…” suddenly, she blushed darkly to the roots of her hair, “…I…erm…I do love you, Hermione, and I never want you to be lonely, I…er…” she looked at her feet, embarrassed beyond measure “…you’re like my sister that I never had…and believe me, I’ve wanted one like nothing else…I mean I don’t want to sound ungrateful; I love my brothers with all my heart, but…I’ve just enjoyed every minute I’ve spent with you since I’ve known you. I love laughing with you, arguing with you, talking with you…taking care of you. I love every minute of it…” Hermione swore there were tears pooling in her eyes, and there was a definite lump in her throat, but she managed to keep the tears in check. Beaming, she gently put her hand under Ginny’s chin, and brought Ginny’s eyes back to her own.
“You’re like my sister too, Ginny, and I love you. I may not have six brothers, but believe me, being an only child is difficult too, and I would have given anything to have a sister, too, but now, I’m not so sure I need to. I want you to know that I love talking with you, arguing with you and laughing with you, too, and I will happily take care of you when you need it. I love you, too, Ginny.” The girls looked at each other for a few minutes, and then threw their arms around each other, hugging each other fiercely.
“OH MY GOD!!” Ron suddenly screamed. Neither Hermione nor Ginny had heard him approach, and broke apart, startled. “You two are…are…lesbians!” Ron said, shock evident in every part of his body. Ginny and Hermione locked gazes for a minute and then burst out laughing.
“No we’re not…lesbians,” Hermione managed to say, fighting her mirth and trying to get a breath, so she could form a coherent sentence.
“Except that I love Hermione with all my heart,” Ginny said winking at Hermione, causing them both to double their laughter.
“But you hugged!” Ron said, now sounding appalled. Ginny stopped laughing almost at once.
“Hermione is my sister,” she said angrily at Ron, “and I love her. I don’t love her romantically, that would be a bit too weird, but I love her, and so I suggest you get used to it.”
“I knew from that moment on that Ginny was someone special, someone whose company I cherished, and whose love meant more to me than anything of any value, and something I kept safer than if I owned the Hope Diamond.”…
Tears streamed down Dad’s cheeks as Aunt Hermione wrapped up her story. I regarded her with a blank look, however. Her story was the one I liked the most, aside from Dad’s (no offence to Uncle Ron), but the end didn’t make much sense. She looked at me and giggled.
“Sorry, Shea,” she said, “I guess I just didn’t know how else I could describe how much your mother’s love meant to me. I assume you can understand that.”
“Yes,” I responded, and it wasn’t much of a lie. I had no idea whatsoever what the Hope Diamond was (I had a hunch it was something Muggle) but I did understand what Aunt Hermione said about keeping Mum’s love safe.
“How are you doing, Firefly?” Dad asked me.
“I’m okay,” I responded, “I think I’ve heard…enough…for now.” Dad nodded.
“It’s time for dinner anyway,” he said, looking at his watch, “you all are welcome to stay.”
“If it’s okay with you, Harry, I’d like to stay the night,” Aunt Hermione said, and Uncle Ron nodded.
“Absolutely,” Dad said smiling, “now let me go stir something up.”
Dinner was fun, but then any dinner with Uncle Ron, Aunt Hermione, Uncle Remus, Grandma or Grandpa usually is. Dad can actually cook well, and he surprised the others with his skill, which he attributed to Mum’s tutorage. Uncle Remus told dad that Grandpa James, who died long before I was born, couldn’t cook worth beans…actually, he couldn’t even cook beans. I held the photo of Mum and Dad throughout dinner, but I liked it when the conversation turned away from Mum. Not because I didn’t like talking about her, or thinking about her, but we’d done so much of it, and I was…overwhelmed, but I also enjoyed just sitting there, looking at her. I pictured myself in Aunt Hermione’s place, sick, and dependant on Mum’s care. I don’t think I would have felt lonely either if she had been with me. Finally, Dad turned to me.
“Bedtime, Firefly,” he said.
“Already??” I gasped, “I wanted to ask if Uncle Ron could take me on a broom ride!” I pouted sweetly, but in truth, I only wanted to go on a broom ride to breathe a little fresh air and try and properly sort out my thoughts.
“I tell you what,” Uncle Ron said, “since your aunt and I are spending the night here, I’ll take you on a broom ride first thing tomorrow, okay?” I nodded, and proceeded up to the bathroom to get ready for bed, stopping by Dad’s study, to put the photo back. After I had showered and used the toilet and was brushing my teeth, someone knocked on the door to the bathroom. After checking that my bathrobe was secure about me, I told the knocker they could enter, and Aunt Hermione stepped in the room.
“Hi, Shea,” she said quietly.
“He’o, Aun’ione,” I responded, my mouth full of toothpaste.
“Sorry? Didn’t quite catch that?” Aunt Hermione said with amusement. I spat out the toothpaste.
“Hello, Aunt Hermione,” I said much more coherently. She put down the toilet cover and sat down on it.
“I just wanted to tell you, Shea, how much I love you,” she said, “and I want you to know that, being your Godmother, I…I want to be here for you, if and whenever you need me. I know I could never love you or care for you the way Ginny could – and did – but if you ever need or want someone to talk girl stuff with, or just need a snuggle, I’ll always be right here for you, okay?” I nodded.
“Can I snuggle with you now?” I asked timidly.
“Of course you can.” I climbed into her lap where she sat on our toilet, and buried myself in her. It wasn’t like being in a mother’s lap, but even so, knowing that there was still a woman out there who loved me meant so much. Aunt Hermione, with one hand, held me close and tight, and with the other, picked up my hairbrush (Dad’s hair couldn’t be brushed to save his life!) and started to gently brush my still-damp hair.
“I love you, Aunt Hermione,” I said, my words somewhat blocked due to the fact that half of my face was buried in her shirt.
“I love you, too, Shea,” she responded, kissing me on the head, “and so does Uncle Ron,” she added as an afterthought. I chuckled. We remained in our embrace for a few more minutes until Dad came in and said that I needed to be in bed. I followed him in, changed into my pyjamas, and got under the covers. Dad sat down on the chair beside my bed, and looked at me for a moment. Then, he took out the photo I had put back in his study, and placed it on my bedside table.
“I want you to have it,” he said.
“Don’t you want it?” I asked. Dad shook his head.
“I’ve got plenty more,” he responded.
“Thank you, Daddy,” I said, “I love you.”
“I love you too, Shea, with all my heart.” He bent down and kissed me softly right on my nose, where I love him to kiss me. As per our custom, he stayed by my side as I fell asleep. I yawned, stretched, and closed my eyes. I love you so much, Mum.
Harry Potter watched as his daughter slowly fell asleep. She grinned in that tired way that suggested she was at peace with the world as her eyes closed. He grinned at her Weasley yawn, big and obvious, and his heart contorted as he watched her left hand almost subconsciously come up to her face, where she rubbed her nose, and then, almost as if it was being dragged by an invisible force, slide up her face into her hair, gripping her pillow. Harry fought the urge to laugh and cry as he remembered watching Ginny doing the exact same movements as she fell asleep beside him. In reality, they had spent many a night as boyfriend and girlfriend, and then as husband and wife, but for Harry, it would never be enough.
Gently, he kissed his daughter’s soft forehead and whispered ‘goodnight’, and then walked down to his kitchen where his brother and sister-in-law were waiting for him. Harry opened the pantry and pulled out a bottle of French wine, uncorked it, poured three glasses, and then they raised their glasses in a silent toast:
To Ginevra Molly Weasley Potter, we will always love you, and never forget you.
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