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SIYE Time:22:22 on 17th September 2021


Meanwhile, Back At the Burrow
By GryffindorHealer

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Category: Post-DH/AB
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger
Genres: Angst
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Rating: R
Reviews: 7
Summary: War leaves scars. Sometimes they are visible. Sometimes not.
Hitcount: Story Total: 3075
Awards: View Trophy Room


Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.



Author's Notes:
All characters belong to J.K. Rowling. Bits of this story are inspired by one Iby sharkle on AO3. I wanted to explore how that may have started.

Many thanks to my beta readers, Nonwo, Dogboy, Doozer, and BeckyScott.




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Ginny sits on her bed in her room at the Burrow, legs folded under her. The waxing gibbous moon streams liquid silver light through the window, pours over her hands clasped on her lap. Heart hammering in her chest, she is waiting. For the door to open and no one to come in.

This, the third night since they'd returned to the Burrow after the Battle, time seemed to crawl slower than a baby first learning how. They'd stayed at Hogwarts for a month, helping with clearing rubble for crews to begin rebuilding. Through the first two weeks, Ginny attending innumerable memorials and funerals with Harry.

Except they weren't innumerable, not really, but Harry felt duty-bound to go to as many as he could, trying desperately to purge the guilt she knew he felt but of which he wouldn't speak. Her mother objected once. Ginny was adamant. Harry would not be alone doing what he needed to do. Ginny would go with him. To all of them. At the end of that argument, they sat together at the table in the Great Hall, cups of tea before them. Ginny slid her hand across the table and took Molly's into hers. “Mum, I know it's going to be hard. But this is all hard, for all of us. He needs to do this. I need to help him. Part of it is he feels so fragile, even though you can't see it because he's hiding it. And part of it is they were gone so long, he was gone, and I just can't be apart from him quite yet.”

And Molly nodded, wiping some tears from her eyes. “Just bring him home each day, love. We'll all help each other get through.”

On the third week Arthur, Bill, Charlie, and Harry went to work on their home, repairing the damage wrought after they'd fled that sanctuary near Easter, and then re-setting the wards. Harry initially hadn't wanted to go; Bill talked with him to explain he needed to know how to set wards on a home, as all wards needed to be refreshed every year or so. They set the first wards the first day they arrived, before starting on the ramshackle house. On the second day reporters and photographers started gathering at the gate but couldn't enter. Bill and Harry watched several try to open the gate, only to be pushed back into the lane. “That's why you need to know this, Harry,” Bill said quietly.

It took nearly a week and a half to clean and repair the Burrow.

That first day with everyone back felt odd. The compassionate warmth of a home always filled with love washed over them, but even the ramshackle house seemed to have scars in odd nooks and crannies. Molly made the usual sleeping arrangement orders, Hermione on a folding bed in Ginny's room, Harry on a camp cot in Ron’s. George refused to sleep in his and Fred’s room, going into Percy's instead. Charlie to sleep in Bill's room.

The first night, Hermione had been so restless Ginny finally sat up and said, “Hermione, go. Be with them. Mind the third step up on this flight, and the fifth up past my parents room,” and handed Hermione her dressing gown. Hermione hugged her, and left. Ginny fully expected that after most of year on the run, sleeping either in that tent or early on at Grimmauld Place, the three of them needed each other present to be able to sleep, and climbed back under her covers.

Then she started up, wand in her hand from the nightstand pointing at the door which opened, and no one came in. Bat Boogie hex froze on her lips as Harry, his eyes wide, pulled his Invisibility Cloak down to his waist.

“Merlin’s balls, Gin,” he gasped, their eyes locked to each others. Then she let out a shuddering breath, putting her wand back on the nightstand.

“You gave me a start, Potter. I'm sorry.” He stood there frozen, still half invisible. “Did Hermione send you then?”

“Uh, no, actually I met her on the landing just outside Ron's room. She told me to mind a couple steps on the way down, and...” More seconds ticked by, echoing through the house from the big clock down stairs. Ginny pictured the hands in her mind, six pointing to “Home”, two at “Shell Cottage” (which had magically appeared on the dial after Bill and Fleur's wedding), and Percy's to “Percy's Flat” (when he'd moved after finishing Hogwarts). Incongruously, she thought, Harry and Hermione need hands.

Then she moved, budging back on the bed toward the wall behind her. “Well come along then, don't stand there.” She patted the bed beside her.

“Er, I thought I'd sleep there,” and he pointed to the folding bed.

“Don't you dare, Harry James,” she replied. Grinning, he shed the Cloak revealing Snitch printed boxers to go with his t-shirt. Dropping the Cloak in a shimmering pile on the folding bed, he stretched out next to her, though on top of all the covers. They wrapped each other in their arms and something hard poked her shoulders. “Oi, Potter, you going to sleep with your wand in hand all night?”

“Oh. Sorry. Gotten to be a bit of a habit.”

“Me too. But I'm trying to break that one.”

“I'll just...” and he reached behind, setting his wand next to hers on the nightstand. They cuddled back together and she nestled her head on his shoulder, into the crook of his neck, and inhaled. Scent of his sandalwood soap, maybe a hint of some aftershave, and the muskiness that said Harry to her, that she'd noted right off that first day in Fifth Year Potions when Slughorn showed the Fifth Years Amortentia. “Do you — “ he started, and stopped when she pressed a single finger on his lips.

“Not tonight, Harry. Tonight I just want to feel you next to me, warm and solid. We have time to talk and other things later now.” She thought a bit. “But you might want to set the alarm spell for before Mum gets up. Around half four should do I think.” She felt him fumble a bit behind him, felt his arm came back around her shoulder. Then they both drifted off to peaceful sleep as the gibbous moon set and the room grew darker.

 

— — — — —

 

The second night started much as the first, though without the wands coming out. Hermione didn't even try to lay down this time, sliding out her door when the Burrow quieted, and no one coming through the door again before it closed. Then Harry was there, the Cloak on the other bed, their arms around each other, Harry again on top of the covers. After a tender kiss that seemed to last hours, she whispered to him, “You can get under the covers, you know.”

“I think overall we're safer if I don't, actually. If someone comes in...”

“You didn't lock the door?” He shook his head, and Ginny reached for her wand, pointing at the door and whispering 'Colloportus'. Her hand came to Harry's neck and her fingers carded into his hair, pulling him into another kiss, a bit fiercer than the previous. When she broke the kiss Harry emitted a quiet “meep-no” and she chuckled. Then inhaled deeply of her own personal, private Amortentia.

She leaned into him again, pressing lips to his, pushing him onto his back. When he pressed back, she pulls away, wicked grin on her face. “You want to finish that one, Potter, you get under the covers with me.” Blushing in the moonlight, he shuffles under the blanket and sheet, his hand carding into her hair on the back of her head, pulling her back into the kiss. She wraps one leg over his, bare skin of their thighs warm to each other. He groans softly into her mouth as she slides her hand under his t-shirt, up his abdomen to his chest.

Her fingers find the oval ridges there. She pulls abruptly from the kiss, brown eyes locked on green. “That's new,” she says. He returns her gaze, wanting to pull her back to the kiss, wanting... to not hide any of it from her. No more secrets.

“That's from the locket. When it tried to drown me.” Her gaze doesn't falter. “There's a few more.”

“Where?” He rests a hand outside his shirt lightly over hers, slides it up to his shoulder, her hand following his until she feels two puckered ridges.

“Nagini. Christmas Eve.” Their hands move again to the right side of his chest and a long slender shallow valley of a divot. “Going through the window to escape her and Riddle.” Then he slides her fingers back, over his heart, where she feels another set of ridges, shallower than the locket scars, lightning shaped. Her eyes grow larger. “When — I went into the Forest.”

Ginny breaks their locked gaze and slowly moves to lightly kiss through his shirt the ridges over his heart. Then she lay her head on his shoulder. When he speaks she can hear his voice rumbling through his chest as well.

“I promised to tell you. You asked for no more secrets. When we left the wedding, Hermione apparated us to London. It was odd, no one seemed to notice we just appeared in the middle of a crowd of muggles. We found a place to change out of our party robes, and went into a coffee house to get off the street and figure out what to do. We didn't know it yet, that they'd charmed Riddle's name as an alert, and it was probably me that said Voldemort. A couple of Death Eaters came in while we were talking. I didn't recognize them. I just felt something was off about them.”

Her fingers continue lightly stroking the oval scar as his story continues. The duel in the coffee shop, then arriving at Grimmauld Place. Trying to decide what to do. Kreacher describing Mundungus pilfering from the house, then bringing Dung there on Harry's request.

“It was strange, Gin. When Kreacher realized we really did want to finish what Regulus started, he actually became friendly. He could still be really grumpy, but he stopped muttering at us. And he's a really good cook.”

As he finished the part about their raid on the Ministry to steal the locket, she said, “We heard about that at Hogwarts. Morale went through the roof. The Carrows went mental.”

“One of the Death Eaters, Yaxley I think. got a hand onto one of us, Hermione realized it when we arrived on the steps to Grimmauld. She apparated us away immediately, but Ron got splinched. It took a few days to heal. And we decided we couldn't risk going back to Grimmauld.” The following months moving from place to place, constantly setting and resetting wards around their camp. Learning they needed to share carrying the horcrux locket. Being constantly hungry... When he got to the part where Ron left, she said, 'That git.”

“No, it was, well, he needed to do that. For me it wasn't much different from earlier, I mean I was almost always hungry living with the Dursleys. But your family, Ginny you may have made do with hand-me-downs, but your mum always made sure they fit properly. And you always, always had enough to eat. It's hard, not having that after... well, for me it was just more of the same.”

While the gibbous moon sets he tells her about spending long nights watching her name by the little dot of her on the Marauders Map, trying to be closer to her, hoping she was alright. Hearing the tale of Christmas Eve at Godric's Hollow and visiting his parents graves, Ginny presses her lips to his chest over his heart again; surreptitiously wiping dampness from her cheeks as she does so. He moves on to leaving the church and graveyard, meeting who they thought was Batilda Bagshot, going to her house, the fight with Nagini and his wand being broken. Their narrow escape when Voldemort arrived raises her heartrate, trying to push from her mind how she nearly lost him then.

Then his face lights in happiness recounting the night Ron rejoined them, pulling first Harry, then Gryfindor's sword from the freezing water, then destroying the horcrux in the locket. She chuckles softly at Hermione's fury at Ron when they returned to the camp. He seems to rush through the parts from Malfoy Manor, the terror when Bellatrix tortured Hermione, help arriving from some unknown benefactor.

Dobby dying.

And then his decision, after getting as much information as he could on wand lore from Ollivander., to destroy the horcrux's first, then go for the Hallows. Ginny grins wickedly to herself about their planning, and thrills at their bravery executing the break-in at Gringotts. She chortles when he tellse her about riding the dragon back to Hogwarts.

“When you came into the Room, Ginny, I felt... I felt the happiest I'd been in a long, long time. Maybe ever. And terrified. I still wanted you to be safe. I knew what was coming. Then he got there, and the battle started, and it was just keep moving, stay alive. Until I watched Snape die, and he gave me his memories to view, and then, I knew. I knew I had to give myself to Riddle. To die.

“I saw Neville on my way out, told him that if Ron and Hermione couldn't do it for whatever reason, to kill the snake. And then I started to the Forest. I stopped when I saw you with a little girl...” His throat tightened.

“Her name is Angerona. She was a Gryffindor First Year I took under my wing. I felt you there, but I couldn't see you.”

“I wanted to hug you. To tell you I was there. I couldn't. I knew I wouldn't be able to … do what I needed to do if I did. So I kept walking into the Forrest, to face him. Didn't even hold my wand. I just stood there, and the last thought I had when I saw the green flash was kissing you.”

Ginny pushed herself up on her elbow, glistening eyes locking onto his emerald green. “You died? He really killed you?” Harry held her eyes as tears started running down his cheeks, and he nodded.

“Yeah. I did.” Her own eyes spilled over.

“But you're here...”

“Turns out, when he killed Mum and Dad, he made another horcrux. He didn't mean to. He might not even have known he did.”

“I don't understand.”

Harry took in a deep breath, and started a litany he'd been repeating to himself. “The diary, the ring, the locket, the cup, the diadem, the snake... and me.” Ginny shook her head. No. Just no. “I had to die to destroy that last horcrux. But then, I was given a choice. I could go on, stay dead. Or I could return, to finish things. To you.”

She can't take her eyes away from his. He reaches up slowly, fingers wiping her tears from her cheeks.

“I chose you.”

Ginny lowers her face into the crook of his neck, closing her eyes, inhaling deeply of Harry. Of her personal Amortentia. Sleep and dreams claim them.

She wakes to Harry thrashing behind her, moaning. She rolls to face him, and he surges up to sitting, sweat beading his forehead, hair matted to his scalp. His eyes open, but it's like he can't see her, doesn't see her room, and she doesn't know where he is. Wrapping him in her arms, she presses her lips to his ear.

“You're here,” she says, arms snuggling tighter. “I'm here. We are alive. You're here.” His arms wrap next to hers, his hands resting on hers, still gasping as if he'd run a sprint. Budging up a bit in the bed to sit back against the headboard, she nestles his head and face between her breasts.

And starts to sing her favorite lullaby Molly sang to her as a child. Her voice is a sweet soft alto, and though not particularly skilled at singing, she can do this, she can carry this tune. Slowly his breathing slows, from shuddering gasps to still, even, steady. He closes his eyes and they both drift back to sleep.

 

— — — — —

 

Now, the third night, the silvery moonlight making her ivory nightshirt glow like another celestial body. She waits, hands clasping at the hem of her nightshirt, heart pounding an executioners tattoo. The door opens and no one comes in. With fierce resolve she grasps the hem of her nightshirt and pulls it up and over her head, tossing it carelessly over the headboard of her bed as Harry turns, emerging from his Cloak. And freezes at the sight of her clad in only her knickers. Slowly his mouth falls slightly open as his eyes dance over her freckled shoulders and torso, stopping at the valley between her breasts and she feels her nipples begin to crinkle.

“God, Ginny, you're beautiful,” His voice a hoarse whisper.

Her right hand rises and gathers her magnificent mane of red-golden hair, pulling it forward over her left shoulder and she whispers back, “You may not think so now.” Turning from him toward the head of her bed, bringing her back fully into the moonlight. Each lash scar is a mountainous topographic map in her mind. Pounding heart climbing into her throat she bites her lip at the sharp intake of breath behind her, slowly bowing her head in the silence that follows, thinking, he's going to leave, go back upstairs.

A swish, the bed jostling, his knees appearing on either side of her. Right arm wrapping around her shoulders, left around her stomach, pulling her back against the warmth of his chest and she realizes they are skin to skin. The pause simply him shedding his t-shirt. He nuzzles her right ear softly, and whispers, “You are the most beautiful woman I know.”

“Right,” she scoffs, “like you've seen any other woman half-naked.”

“Thousands,” he replies, the lie blatant, teasing. His lips starting to trail down to the corner of her jaw.

“Well, you'll just find some Veela.”

“Seen those too. None of them hold a candle to you.” Gasping when his lips press softly to the pulse in her neck, sliding her arms and hands over his, turning her face to his. The kiss is gentle, insistent. She pulls back.

“Harry, I needed to show you my back. Needed to know...” His nose softly caresses her cheek, silencing her briefly. “Harry...” He pulls back, looking into her eyes.

“Needed to know what, Ginny?”

“I'm afraid you'll leave. Because you wanted me to be safe. Because of what happened.” Their gaze stays locked together, green to brown eyes. “Because my back is ugly.” Harry pulls her tighter to him, shaking his head no.

“Tell me, Ginny. Tell me what happened. But...” A breath.

“What?” asks Ginny. Harry chuckles nervously.

“You're just a bit distracting right now. Could you put your nightshirt back on?”

“You don't like what you see?”

“No, no, that's not it... I'm saying this badly. I like who I see a lot, that's what's distracting. I want to hear what happened to you. But I keep looking... you're beautiful.” Ginny smiles as his face turns red, as he looks down at her breasts. Her arms come up, covering his, holding his arms to her.

“This might sound odd, but not wearing it, it's like there's one less barrier from telling you.” Harry closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and when his eyes open again he is looking into hers once more. “How about we get under the covers, but no nightshirt?” she asks.

“Going to be a bit awkward getting under them unless you turn my arms loose,” he says. And she is chuckling back, leaving his arms wrapping her close, his left hand coming up and caressing both her breasts as she works the covers out from under them. They shift, trying not to let go of each other as they stretch out on their sides, legs sliding under the sheet, its edge at their waists. She rolls to face him, her lips tracing lightly across the oval scar on his chest, up to the marks from the fangs, along his neck causing him to gasp slightly when she kisses his pulse point.

Then she lays on her back, he props his head on his hand, his eyes moving from her face to her chest, fingers tracing around her nipple across the curve of her breast. She closes her eyes and her lips part slightly as his fingers trace a figure eight lightly around both her breasts. He leans over and kisses her lips lightly, then rests his head next to hers on her pillow, their breath mixing as the tips of their noses touch softly. His hand leaves her chest, pulling the blanket up to cover them. She opens her eyes to emerald green, it feels like settling into a hot soak bath.

“You looked so lonely, so miserable during the party after Bill and Fleur's wedding, and I decided to hell with this, I'm going to go ask 'Cousin Barney' to dance. Then Kingsley Shacklebolt's patronus came, and I lost sight of you, Hermione, and Ron in the panic.

“It was worse than either the Ministry battle or the first time at Hogwarts. I couldn't get clear sights on many Death Eaters, but I got some hexes in. Then people running knocked me down and someone tripped over my head and... And when things made some sense again it was just us, Mum, Dad, my brothers. Surrounded by Death Eaters. They wanted to know where you were. None of us knew, of course, but they kept asking and asking. Then one of them, Runcorn I think, looked at me. 'Rumor has it you're his bird,' he said.

“It all happened like some slow-motion muggle movie scene you told me about. Runcorn raised his wand, and I looked at Mum and Dad and shook my head, and then I screamed when it hit me. It felt like... being crushed and pulled apart, burning and freezing, being stung by thousands of stinging things, all at the same time. When it stopped and I could see again, Bill and Charlie were holding Fred and George from attacking them, Mum had her head buried in Dads chest.

“He asked me again where you were. And I cried, Harry, I cried and I told him I didn't know, you told me we couldn't be together and wouldn't talk to me. 'He broke my heart!' I screamed at him, 'He left me here! How the hell would I know where he is?' And after a bit he told the others they were done there and they left.” She took in a deep shuddering breath, then chuckled oddly. “Mum never did say anything about my language.”

She rolls onto her side, her hands flat on his chest, and he pulls the covers up to their shoulders. She continues with the Hogwarts Express being mostly empty going back to Hogwarts. “There were hardly any Muggle-born on the train. It was stopped and searched, students terrorized and questioned for any information about you or Hermione. They still thought Ron was at the Burrow, quarantined with spattergoit. Some of the Muggle-born students were taken off the train.

“Then we got to Hogwarts, and Snape was the Headmaster. Alecto Carrow was the Muggle Studies professor, except it was all anti-muggle propaganda. Amycus Carrow taught DADA, except it wasn't defense, it was all Dark Arts.”

Ginny describes reforming the DA in the face of Snape's apparent callous support of the Carrows and the curriculum changes. The Carrows, leaping on any imagined excuse for detentions. Trying to get Gryffindor's Sword. “Snape caught us. It was strange, Harry. We got detention, but he didn't send us to the Carrows for it. He sent us to the Forrest with Hagrid. It was like that all year, if Snape caught you it would be something less severe. But he never stopped the Carrows.

“They would tie younger detained students to a chair, then tell the older one to practice Unforgivable Curses on them.” Through it all he listens. When her voice falters he starts massaging her back with surprisingly strong fingers, considering how malnourished he still looks after his year on the run. She can feel his fingers stroking along the ridges on her back.

“Neville was the first to refuse. Then we all did, Michael Corner, Ernie MacMillan, Susan Bones... So they would Crucio us and make the younger student watch.”

They both chuckle when she describes the pranks the DA organized in resistance. The graffiti, posters stuck to the walls using a permanent sticking charm, photographs of muggle-born students who didn't return and the words: Not Forgotten. Supplying Peeves with dungbombs.

“Fred would be proud of you. I know George is,” Harry says, kissing her forehead.

“They were trying to intimidate us. Doing what we did, we told them Hogwarts was our school, they weren't welcome. As for the detentions, mostly they were teaching us to get better at not being caught.”

She described her letters home to her family, “I wrote Get Well letters to 'Ron' just to keep some connection to him where ever you three were. And to help keep the subterfuge working. Mindless drivel to my parents about classes and frustration when Quidditch was canceled. The real message being, I'm still alive. I'm still here.

“Then shortly before Easter hols, they held a mandatory gathering, a book burning of anything the Carrows determined to be subversive. Whenever any of use refused to put a book into the bonfire, they sent us straight to the dungeons. In my dungeon, they tied up a little First Year girl from Hufflepuff and told me to use Cruciatus on her.” She pressed her face into his chest, her arms inside his wrapped around her, her hands squeezing his shoulders. “I really need to learn better control over my temper, Harry. I told them to go fuck themselves because incest was the only way either of them would get any, they were so ugly.”

Harry snorts, biting off a laugh. “I'm sorry, Gin, but that's just, oh lord I can hear you saying that.”

“Yes, well, it really got under Amycus' skin. I barely got that out and he pointed his wand and my wrists were in manacles and the chain lifting me until I could barely touch my toes to the floor. He growled, 'We'll just break that impudence out of you, blood traitor.' His sister went and stood behind that 11 year old and held her head so she couldn't turn.” Harry gently took her hands and kissed the scars around her wrists.

“Then he conjured a whip. Oh, Merlin, it hurt, Harry. I damn near bit my tongue so I wouldn't scream this time. Every time that whip tore at my back and my shirt, I glared at him. He and his sister forced that girl to watch this. You say Snape worked for our side, Harry, and I accept that. But he let this happen. I won't ever forgive him for that.

“Maybe halfway through this, something weird happened. It still hurt, but it started hurting less and I got light-headed. But I kept focusing on his face, so he had to see me staring at him. So he'd know he wasn't breaking me. When he stopped, he and Alecto just left us. That poor girl was screaming hysterically and crying and I was still hanging there. I don't know how long, or who came and took me down, took us to the Hospital wing.

“They gave us both calming potions, and a sleeping draught to that Hufflepuff girl. I never did find out who she was. Madame Pomfrey was livid. Professor McGonagall restrained her from assaulting Snape. It took her hours to clean my back, pulling threads and pieces of fabric out of the wounds.

“Mum was beside herself when I got home for Easter hols. Then Kingsley sent us a patronus, Ron had been seen with you and Hermione. We grabbed what we could and we fled the Burrow, going to Aunt Muriel's.”

She poured out her frustration with being in hiding ever since Easter, unable to do anything to resist; a streak of bright joy when Fred and George asked her to be on a Potterwatch broadcast. Her furious anger with him when he seemed to support her mother that she couldn't join the Battle. He drew her into a closer embrace and kissed her forehead.

“I was such a bloody fool to even think I could keep you safe from this,” he whispers.

“No, Harry, as angry as I was with you, it helped. When Runcorn Crucioed me after the wedding, when I screamed at him... it was totally, completely true. Every time I had to say that it was honest. The rest of it, that's not on you. You didn't choose that.” She feels his tears hot on her forehead. “They chose to do that. Not you.” She rolls then, spooning him again, pulls his arms around her, pressing her back to the warmth of his chest, closer to her.

“You broke up with me to try and keep me safe, Harry. I understand that. And really there wasn't much I could do to help if I'd convinced you to take me with you, I realise that now. And whenever I told anyone about it, I always said you broke up with me. I never said I broke up with you, or that we broke up.”

He presses his nose into her hair, breathing deeply. “When I started Professor Slughorn's class, he had four potions out for demonstration. They were Polyjuice,, Veritaserum, Felix Felicis, and the last one Amortentia. I smelled a lot of things I really like. Treacle tart, broomsticks, and one more. It took me a while to figure out what I smelled then. I knew I'd smelled it here, at the Burrow. Flowery, cinnamon, brave, fierce. I smelled you, Ginny. I still want to keep you safe, I can't help that. But I know I can't stop you from protecting others or even me, now. Your scars prove that.”

She rolls over in his arms to face him, her hands on his shoulders, their eyes meeting again. “I want to touch you, I want you to touch me like we started doing before Dumbledore died. Everywhere, anywhere you want. But please, my knickers stay on. I'm not... we're not ready for more. Yet.”

His lips kissing along her cheek back to her ear, whispering that sounds a shout to her, his breath playing softly over her ear again, “Your knickers, and my boxers, until you take them off.”

He settles his head on the pillows by her, holds her tightly. And as the waxing moon sets they slowly drift off to sleep.

Ginny lashed out, pushing at Tom Riddles face. “You're worthless, you know. Weak, it was too easy taking you.” Pushing him away from her she turns and Alecto Carrow is standing there and she swings her fists at him, fists slamming into something, someone, her legs thrashing, tangling in the bedclothes. Gasping trying to reach the surface of a drowning sleep. A familiar, warm, preternaturally calm voice speaks into her ear. “You're here.” She pushes again, though her legs still. “I'm here. We are alive. You're here. It was a dream.” She turns and sags into Harry's arms in the dark. Trying to slow her ragged breathing, to breathe through her nose, to own the scent of him. She feels his hands on her back again, massaging, and slowly her heaving inhalations ease. As the pounding rush of blood in her ears diminishes, she hears his voice quietly counting while his fingers move along each ridge on her back. In time with her breathing. “Seventeen...eighteen... nineteen... “

Slowly her chest stops shuddering, her trembling arms and hands still as he reaches the end of his count. With each inhalation his scent fillls her soul. Again, they sleep.

Maybe it's dreamless this time, maybe they simply don't remember dreaming. It doesn't matter. They sleep, battered, broken, and beginning to heal in the loving warmth of the Burrow.

— — — — —

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