|SIYE Time:17:32 on 17th May 2022|
Category: Post-HBP, Post-Hogwarts
Genres: Romance, Tragedy
Warnings: Sexual Situations
Story is Complete
Summary: *March DSTA Romance nominee*It is said in the Wizarding World that witches who wish at midnight on Valentine's Day will have their wishes granted. But is love a little bit too late for a certain female Weasley, burdened by the physical and emotional scars that remain from her experiences during the war?
Hitcount: Story Total: 22813; Chapter Total: 5098
Many thanks to GINNY__POTTER258 for saving me from making many, many mistakes with this story. Thanks girl!
This fanfiction is dedicated to every single blind or otherwise disabled person in the whole wide world. Be courageous, and realise you're not alone.
ACT 3: The Coward
When Ginny stepped through the fireplace of the Burrow’s kitchen, preceded by Fred and George Weasley, she was stunned at the sensory onslaught that attacked her ears. She stopped in her tracks for a moment, until from behind Bill prodded her forward. What seemed like twenty, maybe twenty-five different voices chattering at top volume surrounded her. Then, as they noticed her, they fell silent, and the silence was almost as deafening as the noise.
But it was not her to whom the silence was directed at.
“Merlin’s beard,” said Bill. “What’re all of you doing here? And what’s with the cake…and the feed-up…and the enlarged walls…and…”
“Bill?” said the voice of Mrs. Weasley. “Guess what…Fleur’s pregnant!”
“Pregnant?” said Bill, utterly bewildered. "Pregnant?"
“Congratulations!” chorused a bevy of voices.
Discreetly, Ginny made for the door, the layout of the Weasley kitchen already memorized in her head. Her cane tapped in front of her. At around where the door should have been, it met up against resistance — solid, static resistance, like a wall.
“Oh, sorry, Ginny,” came a familiar voice, “the kitchen’s been enlarged…come on.” And a soft hand gripped her forearm.
“Hermione? Wha…what are you doing here?” said Ginny, delighted.
“The whole Order’s here, Ginny,” said Hermione. “Mrs. Weasley threw an impromptu party the moment she found out Fleur’s pregnant this afternoon. She wanted a sort of surprise for Bill, didn’t tell him until now…he doesn’t look very happy though…”
Ginny sighed. She really didn’t want twenty Order of the Phoenix members to observe her red nose, sniffles and tear tracks and then come down on her like a ton of bricks. She didn’t need their sympathy, didn’t want their sympathy…only wanted to be alone.
“I’m going up…don’t feel well,” she said shortly.
Irritatedly, she tapped her way up the stairs, gripping the banisters for support. She was tired, drained both emotionally and physically, and she wanted nothing more than a warm bath and a long sleep in her comfortable, cosy bedroom.
“But…what about the party? Your mother won’t be very happy if you miss out on her first grand-child’s pre-birth celebration…” said Hermione.
“She’ll deal with it. I’m tired,” snapped Ginny from the landing. “Speaking of which, hurry up and get a kid, so Mum has got something to do other than nag her already-adult daughter.”
She stumped off to the bathroom.
Feeli ng for the towel rack, Ginny looped her towel over it. Pulling her wand from her bathrobe pocket, she waved her wand and cried “Engorgio!”, and immediately felt the tingle of magic on her skin as the room enlarged. She could feel the tiles widening beneath her feet.
Then Ginny aimed her wand where she knew the shower stall was, and waved her wand, muttering beneath her breath. Walking towards it, her fingers came into contact with a Ginny-sized bath tub. Another wave of her wand and it was full of hot water. She could feel the steam on her face.
Ginny undid the belt on her bathrobe, and hung that on the rack. Pointing her wand at the door, she muttered “Colloportus!”
As she slid into the bath, she sighed, feeling the warm caresses of the steaming liquid envelop her body, soaking away her cares, the soap suds absorbing her burdens, and at least for a little while she could pretend nothing was wrong.
There was a knock at the door, and Ginny turned towards the direction of the sound, annoyed at having her intensely private moment interrupted by some…
“Who is it?” she called out.
“It’s Hermione,” came the bushy-haired witch’s voice.
“Come in, I’m only taking a bath.”
“Umm…I think…in that case…” said a rather flustered-sounding Hermione.
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, Hermione, we’re all witches,” said Ginny, with a giggle.
“It’s okay, I’ll just talk to you through the door.”
“What’s so important that you have to interrupt my bath?” asked Ginny curiously. She grabbed the soap off the soapdish.
“Well…I thought you looked rather…forlorn-and-I-wanted-to-make-sure -you’re-alright,” said Hermione, the last bit coming out very quickly.
Ginny sighed. “I’m fine.” She hesitated before deciding she might as well tell the truth before Bill gave them a second-hand account. “I just had an ‘It’ in the office.”
“Oh, Ginny,” said Hermione. “You poor girl, and none of us realized… Are you okay? I’ve got some Dreamless Sleep potion among my toiletries, just in case…and I’m quite sure your mum’s books say something about memories…maybe you could borrow a Pensieve and stick everything in there a while…”
Ginny stifled another giggle, clapping a hand over her mouth and laying her head back on the bath tub’s sill. Run to a book and read about precedent scenarios, that was the first thing Hermione did.
“I’ll just look up ‘Getting Rid of Painful Memories for Ginny Weasley, by Hermione G. Weasley’ then,” she called out.
“Be serious. These ‘Its’ can damage your career at Gringotts, Ginny. Did Fangmar notice you?”
“Errr…” Ginny didn’t want to lie, not to Hermione, who was just trying to help in her own way. And yet…she knew very well what was coming if she replied in the affirmative. The heck with it. She wouldn’t lie to her best friend.
“Yes,” she said.
“See what I mean? Look, when you’re done we’ll go find your mum and see whether there’s any way we can…I don’t know, repress the memories or something…”
“No! I don’t want to forget,” said Ginny loudly. “I want to remember, but things are so tense lately I just…someone just mentioned a name during lunch and I get like this, I don’t…”
“I’ve been thinking,” said Hermione, interrupting her.
“Uh-oh,” muttered Ginny.
“You need a break. You’ve been working non-stop the past three months, and you haven’t gone out sightseeing or shopping or anything. You just come home and work on your paperwork or something.”
“To sightsee, I need to be able to see, damnit!” snapped Ginny angrily, but Hermione plunged on.
“Ginny, I take more breaks than you do. You’re just working non-stop at Gringotts, and you’ve never even taken one day of leave. You’re going to get out of here and you’re going to join the party,” and here Hermione raised her voice just slightly, “and you’ll do it even if I have to drag you out of there.”
“What? No way!”
“Yes. You’ll go down there, eat something hearty and forget your diet for a change, smile and have fun!”
“Yes! Promise me at least one hour downstairs, circulating and talking. No excuses, Ginny. And I’m serious about dragging you out.”
“What, modest Hermione’s actually going to see me starkers?” said Ginny. “I’m waiting, Hermione. Drag me out.”
“Very funny. I’ll wait in your bedroom. Do hurry up in there.” After a pause, “And don’t make me Summon you downstairs, nude and all.”
Clad in her bathrobe, warm, dry and as relaxed as one could be given her circumstances and her past, Ginny sat on the edge of the bed, as Hermione brushed her hair carefully. Ordinarily, she would have done it herself, but Hermione had insisted.
“You know,” she said, “this is one of the things I really hate about being blind. I don’t get to do anything by myself. I’m dependent on others. And they think I can’t do things, y’know, and they say ‘Oh, let me help, let me help,’ just tripping over their feet to help poor blind Ginny…” said Ginny bitterly.
The hairbrush completed another lap of her fiery-red hair, but it didn’t begin again. Clearly Hermione was thinking.
“Well…” began Hermione. “I do suppose…yes, yes, that is… Well,” and Ginny could almost hear her shrug, as the brush resumed its work, “sometimes things are just like that. Life begins when something bad happens. Then you see how you go about facing the challenge, and later on you reap your rewards. That’s all life is, really.”
“Yes, but what rewards do I reap when I finish this?” said Ginny sadly.
“Ginny Molly Weasley, do I have to slap you to get you out of this pitiable funk?” demanded Hermione. “Snap yourself out of it, girl. This is not the Ginny I know.”
Ginny bristled at this comment, but didn’t say anything. She wasn’t in the mood, frankly, and was mentally steeling herself for the party and all its attendant nuisances and frustrations. She hated this party thing, and she hated it even more when she had to open her mouth and ask, “Hermione, what am I wearing downstairs?”
She heard Hermione pad over to the wardrobe and riffle through its contents. “Hmm…something casual…yet not too casual…maybe this…”
Ginny sighed in frustration. This was yet another aspect of her life that she hated. The fact that she hated it, though, she usually kept secret from everybody…even herself. But at times it spilled out into the open. Hermione had helped her through those situations, strenghtening the bond between the two witches…
“Here’re your potions and lunch, Miss Weasley,” said a gruff male voice she identified as Trainee Healer James Thuxley. A tray nudged her elbow.
Ginny carefully marked her page in ‘How to Read in Braille, by Agnes Agammemnon’, and took the tray.
“Thanks,” she said.
As she began eating, the trainee Healer could be heard scribbling something on the roll of parchment which lay on the chest of drawers by her bedside. Healers wrote their remarks and reports in that parchment, and Thuxley was probably writing down that she had taken the next dose of potion.
“Alright, I’ll be seeing yer,” said Thuxley gruffly. “An’ try not to make a mess out of the food tray, you.”
Ginny bristled at this remark. “I don’t,” she said icily, “and even if I do, bear in mind I’m practically blinded.”
“Oh, don’t be feeling sorry for yerself all the time. You war victims are always depending on others an’ goin’ around moping an’…”
Ginny didn’t hear what else war victims purportedly did. For the scenes of Neville’s heroic sacrifice flashed before her eyes. The peace of his features as he came to rest on the dusty earth…hs hands, falling neatly by his side…the unnatural paleness of his face… And she remembered the others…Sturgis Podmore…Percy… Padma Patil…Michael Corner…Seamus Finnigan…
Worse, she recalled the ones who didn’t die. She knew Dean Thomas lay in St. Mungo’s with half a right arm. She knew Lavender Brown lay in the Dai Llewellyn Ward with cursed bite from Fenrir Greyback which, though it wouldn’t turn her into a werewolf as he hadn’t transformed yet, would leave her face unrecognizably scarred. And all because the members of Dumbledore’s Army had decided to join the Order of the Phoenix, along with Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny…
She threw the tray from her lap. She didn’t hear the contents scatter all over the place, it probably had an in-built Balancing Charm.
“Oh yeah,” said Ginny furiously. “Going round moping, eh? Let me tell you; those of my friends whom the Death Eaters didn’t kill are in St. Mungo’s with half an arm and half a face, and they’re like that because they decided to stop the Death Eaters and defend you ungrateful cows, you bloody snot-brained git!”
Whipping out her wand from under her pillow, Ginny jerked it in the direction of Thuxley’s voice and muttered her favourite incantation.
“Well, of all the…” began Thuxley, but then his voice was cut off by a bat-like screeching that emanated from his rapidly-reddening nose. “Wha…what the…bloody HELL, GET THEM OFF OF ME! AAARGH!”
There was the off-chance he might be sensible enough to reach for his wand, too, so Ginny said “Petrificus Totalus,” and flung herself out of bed. She flung her own robes on over the hospital robes, picked up her cane and walked resolutely towards where she knew the doors were.
Another Healer burst in just as she reached the doors. “And just where are you…” came a raised female voice. Then the Healer must have caught sight of the whimpering trainee next to the hospital bed behind her, for she stopped short.
“I’m checking out,” she snarled, brandishing her wand, “and I’ll hex you too if you try and stop me.”
“Miss Weasley, you can’t…” she began, but Ginny was in no mood for niceties.
“Silencio!” she muttered angrily, jabbing her wand hard in the direction of the Healer’s voice.
Irritably, Ginny decided to risk Apparating and concentrated hard on the Burrow. She focused on her bedroom…the soft bed…the warm woolen blankets…the downy pillows…and Apparated with a crack…
“Gin ny? Ginny?”
As Ginny snapped out of her reverie, she realized Hermione was shaking her shoulder hard.
“See what I mean?” said Hermione grimly. “After this party is over, you and I are going to sit down and have a long discussion about you. We’ll see a Healer if we need to. Now go on, get dressed…or do you want me to help you with that too?”
“Prat,” mumbled Ginny as she untied the bathrobe and Summoned her undergarments with a wave of her wand.
“Git,” replied Hermione. Her voice sounded softer, more muffled, thought Ginny. Why…oh yes, she was probably turning her back. Modest Hermione.
“What did you get out for me?” asked Ginny. “Polo and jeans?”
“Well…I thought maybe a blouse and a skirt would do…after all, Ginny, you need something to remind yourself that you’re Ginny Weasley, 18, redhead witch, not Ginevra Molly Weasley, 48, stern career woman…”
While part of Ginny grudgingly acknowledged that Hermione — as usual — was correct, the other part was indignant at Hermione’s blatant assumption that Ginny had forgotten who she was.
But you have forgotten, haven’t you? Whispered a sneaky voice deep within her.
“I’ve not forgotten…” muttered Ginny, as she carefully slid into her skirt.
“What was that?” asked Hermione.
“Nothing. Shall we go?” she asked.
“Yeah. Come on, I’ll help you down the stairs.”
And Ginny, though she dreadfully wanted to re-assert her independence, allowed Hermione to take her arm and carefully guide her down the stairs.
As they entered the dining room, Ginny heard the muted roar of conversation again. She trained her senses towards her left, where she was sure she had heard Fleur’s French accent, cocking her ears like little dog.
“…eet eez a pleasure, magnifique…”
Then there were the womenfolk clustered around Fleur…the usual. Patting of swollen stomach, caressing of cheek, fussing over this that and the other…typical...
From the other side of the room, male voices were engaged in raucous laughter — most likely at Bill’s expense — as Fred and George relentlessly took the mickey out of their older brother.
“Come on,” came Hermione’s low whisper, “we’ll go get something to eat at the buffet. It’s on the table to the right. There’s quite a spread, I can see…”
“No need for you to help me with that, I know what my mother probably cooked up. Baked potatoes and salad to start with, roast lamb ribs and chicken pie, plus rhubarb crumble to top it off?”
Ginny could feel Hermione muttering beneath her breath as she examined the food. “Wow…you’re right…except she added sandwiches…meat ones and egg salad ones…and there’s a big chocolate blancmange too…”
“Yeah. You go along and talk to Ron, I’ll handle myself,” said Ginny, Summoning a plate as she carefully moved towards the right. She wished she’d brought the cane down, but then she hadn’t felt like it.
Carefully, she selected several sandwiches, a baked potato and a single lamb rib, Summoning them onto a plate. Then she sat down at a corner to eat. And as she ate she reflected on her handicap and what Hermione had said about her forgetting who she was.
You need something to remind yourself that you’re Ginny Weasley, 18, redhead witch, not Ginevra Molly Weasley, 48, stern career woman…
What did a disability do to a young, hearty girl with her entire life before her?
She sat on her bed, staring at the misty blackness which represented her entire field of vision now. It was two days since she’d forcibly checked herself out of St. Mungo’s, and she had been sitting here on the bed, in the same position, for almost six hours.
Ginny heard a knock on the door. She called out, “Who’s there?”
“It’s Bill,” came the quiet voice of the Curse Breaker.
The door creaked open.
“Hey, Snug,” said Bill, “You okay?”
The bed springs creaked as he sat down beside her. His arm went around her shoulder and Bill pulled her against him, like he had countless times the past sixteen years…when Ron or the twins bullied her…or when Percy had been too overbearing…or when Mum had scolded her perhaps just a bit too harshly…
“Bill,” said Ginny quietly, “I need to see.”
“I need to see myself, Bill.”
Bill was silent for a moment.
“I need to know, Bill,” she said, turning towards where his voice had come from.
“Snug, please,” he said wearily, “you’ll only hurt yourself if you do this.”
“Please, Bill,” she said. “Borrow a Pensieve. I know Mad-Eye Moody has one. Anything, just…just let me see myself.”
Gi nny sat still, remembering. Her sandwich remained in her hand, dripping egg salad onto the plate, but she didn’t notice.
“Wotcher, Ginny,” said Tonks, plumping herself down on the chair next to Ginny’s. “So how’s things at Gringotts? Goblins okay?”
Ginny forced a smile. “Yes…Fangmar’s very nice to me, he’s quite kind and understanding. Unusual for a goblin. There’re only three I know who are like that, and he’s one of them.”
“Whoa,” said Tonks, “are you crushing on a goblin?”
“No I’m not, don’t be ridiculous, Tonks…” said Ginny, giggling. She took a bite of her sandwich, but it tasted dry in her mouth. She took a gulp of pumpkin juice to wash it down.
“Why are you sitting here, Ginny, why not go around and talk, girl, there’s the world’s supply of hotties here. That new Auror,” whispered Tonks conspiratorially, “he’s been glancing at you every so often for the past five minutes. And he’s got this goofy smile on his mug, like when Ron ‘helps’ Hermione improve her flying…”
“Yeah, right,” muttered Ginny, “it’s probably just because I’m blind and he’s wondering how an ugly girl like me ended up in a place like this.”
“Oh, cheer up, Ginny, it’s Valentine’s Day,” said Tonks, her voice slightly muffled with food. “Make a wish at midnight, you know the poem. Merlin, this lamb is good…”
“Well, I’m feeling down in the doldrums…”
“What could it hurt?” said Tonks. “Besides, it’s always fun to wish at midnight on Valentine’s Day. Merlin knows I used to do that a lot.”
“Wishing for what? A sexy werewolf carrying you off into the sunset on his flying motorcycle?” said Ginny.
“Nah, I can still remember it…” Tonks clasped her hands together and sang in a childish, lisping voice, “At midnight sharp on Valentine’s day, when darkest night turns bright and gay, you may be sure, your love is pure, on the second month and fourteenth day…so please, change my name to ‘Angelina’…”
“The only way darkest night will turn gay is if Fred and George decide to let off a couple of Wildfire Whiz-Bangs,” muttered Ginny. “Not that I could see it,” she added to herself.
The old witches’ tale about Valentine’s Day was always a common part of Wizarding folklore. Legend had it that Merlin blessed the fourteenth day of the second month, because that was the day he fell in love with Morgan le Fay. It was also said that at midnight, if some miracle or wonderful sign occurred while a witch was meeting with her wizard, then it meant they were fated to be together.
But Ginny had long decided from a young age that it was all in fun, and though she joined in sometimes and stayed up till midnight at times, she was aware that it was all just an old witches’ tale.
Miracles? snorted Ginny. Show me one. For example, how could someone like me ever see again?
Appro ximately half an hour later, Ginny stood in front of Bill. The Curse Breaker placed a stone basin carved with runes on the kitchen table with a thud. She gazed at where she thought Bill was. “Bill,” she said, “look at me. Look at me closely.”
For about half a minute Ginny stood there, then she reached up and removed her sunshades. She heard Bill flinch, but she suppressed the lump that rose up in her throat and kept still…maintained her outer façade of calm…
She heard rustling, a mumbled incantation, and then Bill said, “It’s ready.” She felt him take her hand. Ginny took a deep breath, mentally preparing herself.
She felt Bill lean forward, and felt the pressure of his other hand on the small of her back, and she leaned forward.
Quite suddenly, the darkness fled, fled for the first time in days, replaced by a silvery mist which resolved themselves into shapes, shapes into colours, forgotten colours, until the Burrow’s kitchen was depicted beautifully in front of her.
Ginny gasped and sank to the floor, dazed; her brain, used to the familiar darkness, was being overwhelmed with all the information that was pouring in. Reds, whites, blues, greens, yellows, light and dark, pale and bright…
Ginny took a deep breath, and opened her eyes. There, standing in front of her, was herself. She wore a blue robe, her red hair was pinned up in a sort of bun — Mum must have done that for her while she was asleep — and a lock of hair fell into her eyes. She looked bad, a very pale and wan face, and her body was frail and thin, a result of her loss of appetite…
Then, Memory-Ginny whipped off her sunglasses, and Memory-Bill flinched, turning away momentarily…then turning back to gaze determinedly back at Memory-Ginny’s empty eyes.
Her eyes. Their dark brown brightness was unnatural, too steady, too unwavering…too blank. They were the eyes of one who did not use them anymore. There was some slight scarring and scorch-marks around the edges of her eyes and along her cheekbones, the last vestiges of the Dark curse which had landed her in this condition.
Ginny pushed down the lump that climbed up her throat and blinked, willing herself not to cry.
Around her, the memory faded, the colours faded, the sights faded, the bleak blackness returned…and in half a moment Ginny was sitting in the kitchen of the Burrow, and the bright world was dark once more…
There was a slight commotion near the fireplace, and Ginny put down her sandwich, frowning. She turned her head this way and that, trying to pick up something that might give her a clue, something amid the witches’ chatter and the ambient sounds that drowned out everything else.
She heard Fred’s voice — oddly cool and icy — and Charlie’s distinctive rumble. But she couldn’t make out what they were saying. They didn’t sound happy, though.
“Thought you weren’t coming,” said Remus Lupin…albeit a very forbidding Remus Lupin indeed. “Weren’t you holed up in your house moping?”
A tingle of fear coursed through Ginny’s veins.
“Weren’ you spendin’ yer time bein’ a ruddy ‘ermit?” rose Hagrid’s voice over the commotion.
A feeling of dread rose up in her chest, making it hard to breath…or was it just because she was holding her breath?
“Bleedin’ sauce,” grumbled George.
“Bloody hell, you actually dare come in here uninvited after abandoning us for months,” said Ron loudly.
Surprisingly enough, Hermione didn’t even chastise Ron for his language. Indeed, Ginny thought she could hear Hermione say frostily, “What a pleasure to see you.”
The source of the disruption came closer and closer. Ginny rose to her feet, putting the plate aside.
“Decided you needed to get your head out of your arse?” said Tonks scathingly.
Ginny felt hemmed in, trapped by the dark walls of her blindness. Who was it? Footsteps echoed deafeningly in front of her, echoed because the entire room was silent now. Why were they so quiet? So silent? Were they holding their collective breaths?
Ever since young, Ginny had loved the silence…loved the nothingness, loved the quiet solitude of the night, when nothing but the gentle whoosh of wind rushing past her ears while she sat on her stolen broom disturbed the silence. But since going blind, Ginny hated the silence, hated the blank void…because she feared that she would be deprived of her hearing too. A poem from Muggle Studies rose up in her mind…written by a Muggleborn wizard.
Silence lurks here and there
It hides in my despairs
and is everywhere.
Yet no-one knows where this silence is
For silence is what silence is
And lurks behind each corner…
There was naught but silence now. Then a throat cleared with a cough.
‘It’ came in a loud thunderclap this time, not like the last time back at Gringotts, breaking the stultifying stillness, the stifling silence…
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