|SIYE Time:4:25 on 17th January 2022|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Angst, Romance
Warnings: Death, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence
Summary: Sometimes things don't always work out the way you plan them. Ginny must come to terms with life after the war, even if her life isn't exactly what she thought it'd be. She'll soon realize that all it takes is one little moment to make everything fall into place
Hitcount: Story Total: 69336; Chapter Total: 4282
Thank you to EVERYONE for all your fabulous words of encouragement and your very helpful input throughout this process! I really appreciate each and everyone of you who has taken the time to keep clicking on my story for the updates :) **Updated 03/26/12
Without further ado, here is chapter eight. Chapter nine should be along shortly. Happy reading, and as always, please rate/review!
The next week and a half consisted of some of the happiest times that Ginny could ever remember having as she and Harry spent much of their time together. Auror practices took up most of Harry’s day and he spent at least one day on the weekend with Teddy, but the rest of his free time was spent with her. Things were finally feeling good again and Ginny was hard pressed to wipe the smile off her face. A few of her favourite moments included spending a rainy afternoon inside helping Harry to paint his living room and ending the night curled up in his arms while watching a muggle movie, and the other was their one-on-one Quidditch match in his backyard. Ginny had accidentally knocked him off his broom and when she landed to make sure he was alright, he pulled her down with him and they’d spent several minutes snogging in the grass.
There was something about spending time with Harry that made her feel whole, warm and wonderful. She’d forgotten what being with Harry felt like after being separated for a year and living day-to-day while the war brewed. Ginny had forgotten how much she loved his laugh or the way he smiled before he kissed her. While they had their fair share of awkward moments and hesitant movements to hug or kiss, there was something easy about being with Harry–something that needed no practice at all.
There were also things about Harry that she known about him that she was learning now. She’d always known that his aunt, uncle and cousin were never nice to him, but Harry had never told her about his childhood with them. It had only been a week and a half, but in those eleven days, he’d talked more about his past than he ever had with her. It felt incredibly nice to know that he trusted that way, to say the least.
She also knew much more personal things such as he loved when she massaged his head and ran her fingers through his hair, or that he always kept a picture of his parents on his desk. Ginny had quickly learned that he was embarrassed by his scar and that he felt awkward about her kissing his forehead and staring at the angry red line there. She had never realized before that he was as hesitant about being intimate just as he was hesitant about letting her in. He was more comfortable with initiating holding her hand and putting his arm around her, but he wasn’t the type to push her against the wall and kiss her–something that she was determined to change about him.
When it came to getting Harry to let her in, Ginny had never pushed it as she knew that this was something Harry had never been good at–even with Ron and Hermione. Harry always had to consider the safety of others as the people closest to him tended to get hurt. Now that the danger was past, she figured that he would slowly learn to open up, and so far, his past considered, things were going well. For now, she asked questions and if he didn’t answer, she didn’t push. She could tell how much he appreciated this about her, and she figured that this outward sign of gratitude meant that someday, she wouldn’t have to hit these brick walls. Besides, the way she saw it, they had all the time in the world to really get to know each other.
Perhaps part of the reason that she wasn’t anxious to force him to open up was because she knew that there were things she wasn’t ready to share with him. Just as Harry didn’t like to talk about certain things about the war, there was a part of her that she didn’t want him to see yet–the part that still suffered from fear, dread, and from nightmares. Harry knew a little of her feelings after the war, but he didn’t know that those bad memories and bad feelings had yet to disappear. She didn’t tell him that she’d started the summer with mild insomnia and that even her current nightmares had the power to keep her up for hours. She just didn’t seem to have the energy to bring the subject up, and it was hard to want to talk about it when her waking hours were spent in such a positive mood.
And the darkest secret she kept from him was her most irrational fear–the thing that still haunted her nightmares: the memory of watching Hagrid carrying Harry back from the forest. This fear was not helped by Harry and Ron talking about the elusive Death Eaters who were still on the run, and who wanted him dead. Not to mention the people across Britain who still muttered about what Voldemort might have achieved had Harry Potter not defeated him. Ginny supposed she couldn’t blame Harry for not being worried about these murderous elusive Death Eaters; next to Voldemort, they were nothing. Still, his eagerness to jump right into dangerous Auror missions to make the world a better place terrified her, and she’d already had to live with losing him once–she was sure that she couldn’t survive it again.
Regardless, Ginny made it through June, July and now most of August without many breakdowns. While the nights were still hard and she struggled through low points in her time alone, things were better now than they’d been all summer. Ginny no longer felt the urge to hide in the village and to pretend to live in a world that she so obviously did not belong in.
Ginny did miss her friends, and a nagging voice at the back of her head kept reminding her that she owed them more than silence. She did need to see them again and make sure that her friendships were still in-tact. After all, Annie and Jackson were the reason that she’d kept her sanity at the start of the summer and without them, she doubted that she’d have been able to get out of bed.
Unfortunately, the subject of visiting the village was a little uncomfortable between them. While Harry had not and would not forbid her from seeing Jackson, she knew that the idea bothered him. He said very little on the subject the few times that visiting her friends had come up, but it was obviously that whenever someone mentioned her muggle friends, Harry was thinking about his birthday and Jackson’s aggressive behaviour. Ginny knew that Harry’s discomfort about her visiting Jackson was fuelled by jealousy, a dislike for someone who had hit him, and the fact that all Harry knew about Jackson was that he had a temper, he had proven himself violent, and that he was attracted to his girlfriend. In spite of her intentions to talk to Harry to make him understand that his reasons for wanting her to stay away from the village and Jackson were not all rational, she did not want to start a fight with Harry over it.
Realistically, Jackson was better off without her and she had no idea how to maintain a friendship with him until Jackson got over his feelings for her. There was also the question of guilt about pretending to be such good friends with someone who was not allowed to really know her, nor was he ever allowed to be a full part of her life. Aside from being a witch, her life had been significantly affected by dark magic and by the war that it was so much a part of her that it was hard to separate it from who she was. It had been much easier to pretend to be a muggle and make up stories about herself than to skirt around her true identity. This was the reason that most wizards kept to themselves–muggle relationships were hard to maintain without letting them in on the secret.
When she’d brought up her dilemma with her mother, Molly had told her that ultimately, if she wanted to be friends with Jackson, she should. Her father, forever the muggle-lover, insisted that Ginny could certainly maintain her friendship with Jackson and Annie. He argued that her being a witch would be an unspoken truth about herself; a part of her ‘cultural’ identity that did not have anything to do with getting along with muggles and sharing common interests. Personally, Ginny did not see how this was possible after doing it since the start of the summer.
“You’re British, but you don’t talk about it,” her father had reasoned. “You’re a witch, and you won’t talk about it either. It’s just an unspoken truth that has nothing to do with why you’re friends with these people.”
Her mother had also reminded her that even if she felt guilty about upsetting Harry by visiting Jackson, she could not hide behind this reason if she wanted to develop a strong relationship with Harry.
“You won’t like every woman that Harry hangs around with,” Molly had said. “But that doesn’t mean that he should stop being friends with someone, just because you feel jealous. You and Harry have to develop a foundation of trust if you’re going to be together. It might bother Harry at first, but he needs to trust you, and realize that you aren’t romantically interested in Jackson.”
“And because you’ve got nothing to hide, perhaps Harry would feel better if he were included in your plans with your muggle friends every once and a while,” Arthur added.
With this advice in mind, Ginny promised herself that she would make plans to see Annie and Jackson before the end of the summer. Even if she and Jackson were not on the best terms when she left for school, he would have several months to get over his crush before they could try again. Her only goal was to make sure that they left things in a better state than they currently were. She knew that the first time she saw her friends, Harry could not be there–the tension between the boys would ruin any chances of repairing the friendship. If things went well, however, and she wanted to see them again, she’d invite Harry along to try to smooth things over.
Around five-thirty on a rainy Friday afternoon, Ron returned from Auror training alone and came up to her room to find her.
“Gin?” He called, knocking loudly on her bedroom door.
“It’s open,” she called, looking up from a Quidditch tactics book she’d borrowed from Harry a few days earlier. “Hey Ron. How was training?”
Ron shrugged. “Tiring… a lot of stealth drills and stuff. It’s all review for our exam.”
The lack of excitement in his voice was due to the fact that this would be one of many training exams that they would have to undergo to be fully-trained Aurors. The Ministry had been nice enough to admit them to the program without their N.E.W.T.S, but on life experience alone. In spite of being able to skip one step, they were still required to complete the full three years of additional training and testing. Both boys were already counting down the days until they would officially be Aurors for the Ministry.
“I’ve got a message for you,” he told her. “Harry’s gone to look after Teddy for a few hours, but he asked me to tell you that he’s picking you up later.”
She brightened at the last part. “Picking me up for a date?”
Ron was still getting used to the idea, and while he didn’t look awkward telling her this, his voice sounded reluctant. “Yeah… out to dinner or something.”
Or something. Leave it to Ron to be vague about the details or forget to ask for them all together. “Did he say where… or when?”
“No. He was in a bit of a hurry to get to Andromeda’s.”
“Are you and Hermione going to come?” She asked, half-hoping the answer was no. Lately, they’d been doing a lot of double-dates, and usually she didn’t mind. However, her days with Harry were slipping away all too quickly and any alone time they got was precious.
Thankfully, Ron shook his head. “No, I promised Hermione that I’d go over to her parents’ for dinner.”
Ginny smirked. Ron didn’t like having dinner with Hermione’s parents. As nice as they were, Hermione’s father was a little protective of his daughter and often made Ron feel uncomfortable. The Weasleys also thought it strange that even though they had Hermione to perform magic on larger issues such as a repairing broken things or protective enchantments, the Grangers much preferred the muggle way. Hermione rarely took out her wand in front of them, but Ron wasn’t used to muggle inventions like the vacuum cleaner or lighting a fire in the fireplace with matches.
“Good luck,” Ginny said, trying to wipe the smirk off her face. “Maybe leave your wand at home this time.”
Ron’s look of apprehension was replaced by a slightly amused one. “Thanks. Do you think I should go in full wizard’s robes to impress them, or stick to my best wool sweater from Mum?”
It was difficult not to laugh. “Wear your cloak, but muggle dress… don’t light anything on fire or try to do any complicated magic.”
“I’ll log that away with the other one hundred things I should try not to do in order for her parents to like me.”
As much as she teased Ron, Hermione had expressed concern that Ron might never actually commit with a proposal if he was afraid of her parents. As a result, she had forced Ginny and Harry to swear to cut down on the teasing, and tell Ron that her parents did accept him.
“Ron, you know they know that you and Hermione are serious. If they’re giving you a hard time, it’s only because they know you’re there to stay. If they didn’t think you actually cared about their daughter, they probably wouldn’t bother to have you around to be tortured so often.”
He nodded, looking slightly less apprehensive at his sister’s words. “You’re right. Well, I gotta go. Have fun on your date.” He pulled the door shut, leaving Ginny feeling thankful that at least she didn’t have to fuss over making the in-laws like her. Even if Harry’s parents were alive, she was much more graceful than her brother was, and therefore suspected that she wouldn’t have had to try as hard.
Ginny glanced at her watch, wondering how much time she had until Harry came to get her. Since Harry wanted to take her to ‘dinner or something,’ he likely wouldn’t be later than 8:30 if they were eating dinner. She wished that Ron had had a mind to ask for details, but she supposed that boys did not consider the importance of such details in relation to the necessary time needed for a girl to get ready. Boys wore slacks or jeans, collared shirts or dress shirts, while she had many, many more options. Jeans or a skirt? Blouse? T-Shirt? Casual? Was it semi-formal or formal? What about business-attire? Purse or clutch? Sneakers or heels?
Ginny tore a piece of paper from a roll of parchment on her desk and dipped her quill into the inkwell to write a quick letter to Harry.
Ron says we’re going to “dinner or something.” Your best mate is the king of details, but I’d like a little more information.
Ginny smiled teasingly and added: Should I wear a short skirt or can I go in my sweats?
Folding her note, she went up to Ron’s to borrow Pig. Ron wasn’t in his room, although judging by the sound of running water, he must have hopped in the shower. The tiny owl zoomed out and began to flutter around the room, emitting excited hoots at his newfound freedom. Ginny watched him and with the reflexes of a Seeker, snatched the excited owl midair.
“You funny bird,” she muttered, holding out the small note for him to clutch in his beak. “Can you take this to Harry for me?”
She went to the windowsill and unhooked the latch to set him free. Pig gave a muffled hoot of excitement before soaring out the window, swirling in the air with enthusiasm as he went. Ginny watched him fly away before she returned to her own bedroom to finish reading about famous Chaser tactics, hoping to pass the time until Harry got back to her.
Harry had replied to her owl nearly an hour later and it had taken Ginny several minutes to get Pig to land with the letter so that she could read it. Pig had completed his journey so quickly that he needed several minutes of rest on Ginny’s desk before he allowed her to carry him back up to Ron’s room.
Harry had written his reply on the back of her note in a messy scrawl:
Wear the skirt anyway.
She’d fought a smile over the next hour at those four witty words. Harry’s reply hadn’t provided any real information, which made him about as useful as Ron, but it had eased her worries over what to wear. She’d decided to look nice enough that she wouldn’t look out of place at a fancy restaurant, or too over-dressed if this date included a cheeseburger joint in muggle London.
She knew that Harry had arrived when she heard her mother call out his name cheerfully downstairs.
Ginny looked at her reflection in the mirror as she smoothed her hair one last time, pleased with the outcome of her efforts. Normally, she didn’t put so much time into how she looked when she was with Harry. She did think about her and worry about it, but she rarely did more than make sure she’d brushed her teeth, combed her hair, and didn’t look like an unattractive mess. After all, Harry had seen her covered in mud and dirt from Quidditch, and he’d fallen for her during the school year when she wore her Hogwarts robes which were not at all revealing or flattering. However, being unsure where exactly he was taking her, she decided to look decent by wearing a pretty black top, a red skirt and a pair of sandals. She’d put on a little makeup and made sure her hair was straight and shiny.
“Where are you two off to tonight?” Her mother was asking Harry as Ginny came down the stairs.
When she met his eyes, she felt a familiar burst of pleasure and excitement course through her when his eyes lit up and he suddenly stood a little taller.
“It’s a bit of a surprise,” he replied sheepishly, turning his eyes back to Mrs. Weasley. “Hey Gin.”
She tried not to outwardly react to how he called her ‘Gin.’ She didn’t need Harry and her parents to see how ridiculously embarrassing she actually was when it came to Harry. She had worked so hard to hide her twelve-year-old self that never wanted to stop smiling and to sing love songs at the top of her lungs.
Harry was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved blue knit sweater under his black jacket–nothing too fancy, but he did look good.
“Ready?” He asked her.
“Yes.” She hoped she sounded cool and calm.
“Have fun,” Mrs. Weasley said from her seat by the fireplace as she folded laundry, eyeing her daughter and Harry. “Try to make curfew, dear,” she added to Ginny.
“Yes, Mum. See you later,” she told her mother as she grabbed her own muggle jacket off the hook at the door before following Harry outside into the cool night air.
“So… where to?” She asked, pulling on her jacket. Harry took her hand and led her in the direction of the disapparition point.
It was a cool night, but not chilly. There was a light breeze that rustled the trees, and the world was quiet aside from the clucking of the chickens and the chirping of the crickets in the grass. His fingers intertwined with hers and he tugged her a little closer to her as they walked.
“You look very pretty,” he told her sincerely. It was difficult to see in the night, but Ginny was fairly sure his cheeks coloured slightly when he said it.
“Thank you. You look pretty good yourself, Potter.” Ginny eyed the way his hair stuck up at all ends. “Even if you didn’t brush your hair for our big date!”
“I thought you liked it best when I look like I’ve been flying for hours,” he reminded her, pretending to look wounded.
“You must be mistaken,” Ginny replied, fighting a silly smile. She’d let slip that his hair was one of her favourite things about him during a particularly mushy private moment after they’d flown their brooms around Harry’s property last week. “Are you going to tell me where we’re going?”
Harry grinned at her. “I think it’ll be better if I just take you there. I want to see your face.”
What kind of answer was that? “Can I get a hint?”
“No hints. But there are rules.”
“Rules?” They stopped walking and he pulled her up against them.
Ginny laughed at his serious expression as he lowered his face to hers and kissed her sweetly. “One: I get to make all the rules, and you’ll have to go along with it. Two: I get to kiss you tonight without worrying about who is taking our picture or talking about us. This is a real date, and we’re going to pretend that no one else matters.”
“No one else ever matters,” she reminded him, her voice a little breathy. She slid her arms around him and inhaled the scent of fresh soap and aftershave, revelling in the sweet smell that made her want to kiss him all over.
Patience, Ginny, she reminded herself in a voice that sounded just like her mother.
He ignored her. “And rule number three is more for when you’re away at Hogwarts,” he told her, taking a step back and pulling out a small silver Quill from his pocket that was likely their port key to the mystery destination.
Ginny looked at the quill as he twirled it between his fingers. She looked back up at him and was a little startled by the emotion now showing on his face. It wasn’t often that she saw him like that–with his heart on his sleeve. She knew he meant it when he got this look in his eyes that showed just how vulnerable he was with her.
“I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to hit me that I won’t get to see you or talk to you whenever I want. I don’t want the distance to ruin this, so I thought we should have one really good night–just us–to remember that we’re good together, and that I care about you.”
A hesitant smile flashed across his face. “Just in case, you know? I know some couples start fighting that we’re not sending enough owls, or we’re being short with each other, or we fight because of the distance. Things are about to get complicated, so I thought we might need tonight.”
Ginny took a breath and nodded, unsure of how to respond. They had barely talked about the distance that was soon to take up the next year, and likely more of their lives. Between Harry’s career, her school, and getting to play professional Quidditch, he was right to say that things were about to get complicated.
The sweetness of his words made her eyes sting with the urge to cry. Ginny wanted to tell him that he didn’t need to do anything extra to remind her how much she loved being with him, and she was sure that his being away last year and the battle at Hogwarts had put their relationship into perspective. She honestly doubted that if a break up was to come about, it wouldn’t be because of something stupid like not owling each other enough.
Before she could respond, he smiled again and the moment was past. “Ready?” He asked, holding the quill out for her to touch.
“Ready,” Ginny whispered back, extending her fingers to the quill. She met his gaze just as the world began to disappear around them.
When the world re-materialized, they were standing behind a few large, very green trees. Ginny turned around to find them behind a tall iron fence. People were directly beside them on the other side of the fence, though no one glanced their way. Shops lined the opposite side of the road and a few cars drove down the cement roads.
She peered around, wondering where in London he’d taken them. She didn’t recognize the area, though she could be sure that it was muggle London.
“Where are we?” She asked curiously.
Harry grinned knowingly, as if he expected her to know. Instead of taking her hand as he usually did, he wound one arm around her middle as they walked toward the fence. He urged forward and together they passed through the iron fence, as if it didn’t exist at all.
“Muggle barrier?” Ginny guessed, as she hopped off the ledge and onto the street.
She opened her mouth to again ask Harry where he’d brought them, but it was then that she spotted the monumental stone building that stood before them, illuminated by beautiful lights against the black sky.
Her jaw dropped as she gaped at the beautiful golden light that bathed the ancient architecture; a sight more beautiful than anything she’d seen before. It was insane, ridiculous, and yet more romantic than anything she’d ever expect from a boyfriend. She faltered forward a few steps as she stared up at the multi-levelled amphitheatre that she’d always dreamed of seeing as one of the many wonders of the world.
“Rome?” She demanded, her voice breaking with emotion and shock. “We’re in Rome?” She whirled to face him, half-expecting him to tell her that it was a joke, and that they weren’t actually in another country.
Harry chuckled and shrugged. “I told you it was a surprise.”
She turned back to stare at the Colosseum, unsure what the appropriate reaction to this was. Should she cry, laugh, jump up and down, throw herself at him? She settled for a half-strangled laugh over a sob, her heart pounding in her chest.
Harry leaned in and kissed her. “Like I said… when you’re at school, and if the distance ever feels hard, you can look back on that time that I took you on a date to Rome and things will… you know… be okay again.”
She hastily mopped at her eyes, trying to get a grip on her emotions. “You’re crazy, Harry” she said, feeling dazed. “This is too much. You know I already like you, right? You know I’ve fancied you since I was about ten, right? You didn’t need to do this. You don’t need to spend all your gold on one night in Rome.”
Harry laughed. “I didn’t spend all my gold, don’t worry. And this way you’ll fancy me for a little while longer. Plus I actually wanted to go somewhere with you and not worry about who was watching. It’s just me and you; no interruptions, no press…”
Another slightly hysterical giggle erupted from her throat as she threw her arms around him and kissed him with as much emotion she could possibly put behind one kiss. She wanted to express how much this meant to her. She also wanted him to realize that he didn’t need to keep hinting at needing to do something extra to make her like him more or to make sure that their relationship lasted the distance, but she wasn’t sure she could try to convince him of anything so important without bursting into tears. She’d tell him later–make him see that he didn’t need to do crazy things to make her stay–she had enough reasons without being taken to romantic destinations.
“Anyway, we’d better get started. We’ve got dinner reservations in about ten minutes,” he told her, smiling brightly.
“Dinner in Rome,” she repeated, still dazed by the reality. “Yes, let’s go.”
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