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SIYE Time:6:01 on 29th November 2021


I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
By melindaleo

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Category: Post-Hogwarts
Characters:All
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 7
Summary: It's a few days after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and Ginny have been unable to find a moment to really talk, and it appears Voldemort might have left one more stumbling block. Part of the Harry and Ginuary Gift Exchange.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2015
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:
This was written for the Ginny Lovers Discord “Harry and Ginuary Gift Exchange.” My story is for hp_fangal, and she requested “Angst with a happy ending, post-war Harry and Ginny reuniting.”

I hope you enjoyed it, hp_fangal and it lived up to your expectations. I enjoyed writing it, but writing angst for you is a bit intimidating!!




ChapterPrinter


I Never Promised You a Rose Garden


I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gotta be a little rain sometimes
-Lynn Anderson



Using her wand, Ginny filled the sink with suds and listlessly watched as the dishes began washing themselves. The usually vibrant and raucous kitchen at The Burrow was completely silent save the sound of the water running into the sink. Ignoring the lump in her throat, she stared at the sudsy water morosely. Technically, she wasn’t allowed to use magic yet. She wouldn’t be seventeen until August, but she reckoned the Ministry had bigger worries at the moment than a bit of underage magic for a housekeeping spell.

Bloody hell, it might be better if they sent her a warning. She was eager for a way to spend some of her pent-up emotions. Anything was better than crying. She’d done enough crying to last a lifetime.

The funeral had been yesterday — her breath caught as she thought of it — she’d buried her brother yesterday, and nothing at The Burrow would ever be the same again. Oh, they moved around, spoke in hushed voices, pushed food around on their plates, but none of them were really living. It was as if they’d all entered this altered fugue state where they just went through the motions, and she had no idea how to break free.

Her mum barely left her room, and when she did, she only wandered aimlessly, her eyes red-rimmed but her expression devastated. If Ginny or her brothers asked any questions about cooking or laundry, she listlessly answered, but then returned to the confines of her room.

None of them was unaware how to do basic housekeeping, but they were so desperate to draw their mother out, they were making things up to question her. She’d heard Charlie asking if there was a spell he could use to make the chickens lay eggs faster. Charlie lived on a dragon reservation, and she doubted there was anything about animals he didn’t already know.

But they had to try.

George was worse. He wouldn’t even pretend to eat, and only wandered wraithlike to the toilet a few times a day. Ginny made certain to freshen the water pitcher in his room whenever she was aware of this happening. She didn’t know what else she was supposed to do.

She’d never had a brother die before.

She had to blink the sudden moisture from her eyes, pressing her lips together. She’d never again see that mischievous twinkle in Fred’s eye that said, “I did something I wasn’t supposed to do, and I’m quite pleased with myself about it.”

Fred lived to see how far he could push the line.

And now, by dying, he seemed to have taken his twin’s mischievous streak beyond the veil with him. Ginny wasn’t certain George could ever be the same. He’d lost half his own personality.

Glancing out the window, she could see the late spring sun finally setting. The fact that it had been a gloriously bright, sunny day had seemed to mock their despair. The Burrow was full of people, yet it had never felt so empty.

Not only was Charlie staying, but both Hermione and Harry were also there. Although Bill, Fleur and Percy slept at their own homes, they were rarely absent during the daylight hours. Her dad hadn’t yet returned to work at the Ministry. Perhaps once that happened, a bit of normalcy might return some semblance of rightness in the world again.

Ginny hoped so.

Hermione was agonizing over how to find her own parents, who she’d apparently hidden somewhere in Australia. Harry — Ginny really wasn’t certain about Harry. He really hadn’t been looking very well. He’d been back and forth to the Ministry quite a bit, and she suspected he’d attended as many of the funerals as he was able to do. She’d felt his eyes on her numerous times since the night Voldemort fell, but whenever she’d seen him open his mouth to possibly say something, they’d been interrupted.

She knew it was as much people demanding her attention as it was his, but she couldn’t shake the part of her that was happy they hadn’t had a chance to really talk. Harry was sunshine and happiness and blossoming beginnings. She wasn’t ready for that yet. She needed to mourn her brother, and all the losses. Somehow, it felt wrong and shameful to want to focus on happiness in the midst of all that pain.

She wasn’t certain if he felt the same, or if, perhaps, she was giving off some sort of aura that was scaring him off. He looked as if he’d been through hell on earth himself, so perhaps it was him who was giving off the aura.

It was all so impossibly tangled.

Not that there had been much chance to really talk, anyway. Whenever there was a moment when the two of them found themselves in the same vicinity, Ron interrupted. He wouldn’t leave Harry’s side for more than a heartbeat. It was worse than after she’d broken things off with Dean and Harry was trying to strike up a conversation back in her fifth year.

She always knew her brother could bring being annoying to a new level, but this was bordering on ridiculous. It was as if he was afraid Harry would disappear from the world if Ron wasn’t looking after him. Ginny knew from experience that wasn’t the case. She shut her eyes, remembering seeing Harry grasp Ron and Hermione’s hands and vanish from Bill’s wedding as the Death Eaters descended. She hadn’t seen a glimpse of him for eight long, lonely, terrifying months.

Then when she finally thought she had him back, he went and died on her. The fact he’d really died and hadn’t just been tricking Voldemort hadn’t yet sunk in. Ron and Hermione had filled them in on bits of the story, but Harry still seemed very reticent to talk about any of it. She supposed the fact Harry had actually died had a lot to do with why Ron couldn’t bear to have him out of his sight.

She couldn’t fault him for that concern, either. If called on it, she’d deny it, but Ginny had been sneaking up to Ron’s room in the dead of night just to ensure herself that Harry was, in fact, breathing.

She’d been afraid she’d awoken him the previous evening, but she froze in her tracks, holding her breath until he settled again, thankful the darkness of the room had hidden her presence. She wanted to talk to him… soon… but not yet, and not with him finding her looming over him in the dead of night like some sort of deranged stalker.

The sound of the kitchen door opening startled her out of her reverie. She turned quickly, wand at the ready — would her instincts ever return to a less ready-for-attack nature? — to find her dad and Harry entering, deep in conversation. Both looked drawn and pale, as if the act of walking from the Apparition point had drained all their energy.

“The Minister is working on it, but there is a valid case. Kingsley would prefer to focus on the offenders who pose a more serious threat, however,” her dad said somberly. He ran a weary hand through his thinning hair as he shut the door behind them.

“You were at the Ministry?” Ginny asked, aware there was an accusatory tone in her voice. Merlin, she sounded like her mum. She hadn’t even been aware her dad wasn’t in the house, and it unnerved her.

She met Harry’s wide eyes momentarily, but quickly looked away, deciding to focus on her father first.

Arthur sank wearily into a chair at the kitchen table, using his wand to boil some tea. “The Minister asked me to stop by briefly,” he said. “Was there a problem here? Your mother? George?”

“No, no,” Ginny reassured quickly. “I just didn’t see you go out. Are you hungry? There’s a bit of onion soup left.”

“That would be wonderful,” Arthur sighed, rubbing his eyes beneath his glasses.

“Harry? Can I get you some, as well?” she asked, proud that her voice held steady.

Although they hadn’t had a deep conversation, they’d both been very solicitous of each other’s well-being. She kept trying to ensure he was eating, and he kept leaving Dittany and bruise balm on her bedside table. He’d also stood directly behind her during the funeral — solid, supportive — there. She’d even leaned into him at one point, and he hadn’t pulled away.

“I’m not hungry right now, but thanks,” Harry said earnestly, his dull eyes looking directly into hers, as if trying to express his sincerity.

Ginny nodded, frowning slightly. He looked as if he could really use a solid meal, but she knew it was useless to insist if he had no appetite. “At least have some tea, then,” she said, hastily pushing a cup towards him and adding an extra bit of sugar after handing her father some soup.

A trace of a smile crossed Harry’s face, and he didn’t refuse the tea.

“What’s happening at the Ministry?” Ginny asked, sitting down and pouring her own cuppa. She wasn’t certain she really wanted to know — it was easier to simply focus on the insular world of The Burrow - but she didn’t want the conversation to stop. It seemed impossible to her that the Battle had only been four days prior. It felt like a lifetime.

“Roger Bell wants to press charges against Draco Malfoy for the attempted murder of his daughter. Although Katie survived, she still spent months unconscious in St. Mungo’s, and it was very touch and go for a time. He wants your mother and I to join him after what happened to Ron,” her father said somberly. “I’m just not certain your mother is up to a trial right now.”

“He deserves whatever he gets,” Ginny said coldly, remembering the way Malfoy lorded his Pureblood status over the other students. He might not have enjoyed the torture as much as Crabbe and Goyle, but he definitely enjoyed bullying all those he felt were less than him, knowing he could get away with anything under the Carrows’ harsh rule.

Harry grimaced as if in pain, hunching over. His eyes were bloodshot, and she couldn’t help but wonder how long it had been since he’d slept. “You don’t think so?” she asked, perhaps more aggressively than she’d intended, for his mouth set in a grim line.

“I don’t really know. He didn’t identify us at Malfoy manor, but I don’t know how much he was involved with at the school last year,” Harry said honestly.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “He was involved with plenty. He loved throwing his power around. Neville said someone must’ve really fought back over Easter break because he was a mess, and really subdued after that,” Ginny said.

“That would’ve been Voldemort,” Harry said, and Ginny saw her father wince. “He was really angry when we escaped Malfoy Manor. I heard he punished all the Malfoys quite severely.”

“Good,” Ginny said mutinously, folding her arms across her chest. She wasn’t certain she’d ever be able to forgive those who’d made Hogwarts so miserable the previous year, and Malfoy was definitely one of them. “I even saw him directing some Death Eaters in the direction you’d gone at the Battle. I hexed him before he could get all the words out.”

Harry looked up again, meeting her eyes across the table. He was exceedingly pale. He opened his mouth a few times, but glanced uncomfortably at her dad, who was finishing up his soup. Ginny wished he would just hurry and go up to bed before Ron realized Harry was back.

As if she’d summoned him with her thoughts, Ron came bounding down the stairs, his eyes wide and looking slightly crazed. “I didn’t know you were back,” he said reproachfully once he’d spotted Harry. “When did you get back? Why didn’t you let me know?”

“I wasn’t aware I was required to check in,” Harry said coolly, taking a deliberate sip of his tea.

“Excuse me for being concerned,” Ron snapped. “It’s not like you’d ever sneak off to do something stupid.”

“I was at the Ministry. You knew that,” Harry bit out, sounding rather cross. Ginny could tell his patience with Ron’s protectiveness was reaching its limit, and she couldn’t hide her smile. It was rather pleasing to see Ron’s henpecking directed at someone else.

“Yeah, but you’re not there now,” Ron said obstinately.

“No, I’m having a bloody cup of tea in your own kitchen. What the hell is wrong with you?” Harry asked, standing up and pushing away from the table. “I don’t need a ruddy minder, and I don’t want one. Give me some space, Ron.”

Harry turned as if to storm away, but lurched suddenly, swaying on the spot. Ginny hadn’t even registered what was happening before Ron was on his feet and rushing forward. For a moment, Ginny thought they were going to fight before Harry’s legs crumpled, and Ron caught him before he hit the ground.

Ginny sprang from her chair, rushing toward them and kneeling beside Harry’s prone form. In the light from the fire, she could see he was more than pale, his skin had a grey, sickly quality, and there was a thin line of perspiration along his brow.

She reached out the back of her hand to touch his forehead just as Ron shouted, “What’s wrong with him?” He began shaking his mate forcefully. “Harry, wake up.”

“He’s burning up,” Ginny said, surprised. How could she have missed this while they sat at the table chatting about Draco ruddy Malfoy?

“He needs a Healer. Someone Floo call Madam Pomfrey,” Ron said, frantic and still shaking Harry.

“Ron, stop. He’s going to be concussed on top of being ill,” she said, forcing Ron to stop.

Arthur had moved towards the fire, tossing some Floo powder in as he stuck his head inside.

“Ron, help me move him onto the sofa,” Ginny said. She’d meant for Ron to use his wand, but instead, Ron simply scooped him up and carried him into the sitting room, Harry’s head, arm and legs lolling. There was something grotesque about the way his arm swung as they moved.

Arthur joined them a moment later. “Kingsley is sending a Healer,” he said, bringing a wet cloth to lay on Harry’s forehead.

“A Healer we don’t know? Why didn’t he get Madam Pomfrey? She always heals Harry up just fine,” Ron said, eyes bulging as he tugged at his own hair.

“Ron, settle down and think about this. Harry has recently had a connection to very Dark magic severed. Don’t you think it’s possible this is related? We need a Healer familiar with Dark magic,” Arthur said significantly.

Ginny took a sharp breath. Her eyes widened, though she couldn’t drag them away from Harry’s still face. Her father meant Voldemort, of course. Even from the grave he was reaching out to mess with Harry. When would it ever end? Would it ever end?

“But he’s been fine. He’s been up and walking and talking and being a right pain in the arse after getting hit with a Killing Curse. How can it be affecting him now?” Ron asked, still frantic.

“Hopefully, that’s something the Healer will be able to tell us when they arrive,” Arthur said gravely.

/*/*/*/*/*



Several hours later, Harry was asleep in Fred’s bed, a wide assortment of potions on his bedside table. They’d all thought he’d be more comfortable in a bed, but currently the only empty one was Fred’s. Surprisingly, it had been George who’d suggested it. Both he and Molly had seemed to come out of their shock and grief in order to tend to Harry.

The Healer, a stern witch with sharp, penetrating eyes, had run several detailed diagnostic scans over Harry. Apparently, Harry and Riddle had been connected for so long, Harry’s body was now reacting to the loss. The fever was his body’s attempt to protect itself. She left a variety of potions, and strict instructions on when they were to be given, but ultimately, it would take time for Harry’s body to adjust to its new state of normal.

Dark magic always leaves traces.

Harry needed rest and a lack of anything stressful. The family was taking turns sitting with him until he awoke. Ginny had been with him for an hour, but he hadn’t moved. His fever was down, which was good, but his skin still had that eerie, translucent quality that unnerved her.

Her mind kept flashing back to the battle, and Voldemort’s triumphant taunting while Harry lay unmoving at his feet. She felt as if he were taunting her again from beyond the Veil.

Tenderly, she brushed the unruly hair off Harry’s forehead, wishing she could will him back to consciousness. She hated seeing him this still. His cheeks were sunken and rather hollow, and she again wondered if he’d been eating, or if his illness had caused his lack of appetite.

He'd always been thin and rather small for his age, remnants of his relatives’ neglect, no doubt. If Dark magic left traces, she supposed Muggle abuse and neglect was their version of Dark magic. Harry had been surrounded by it his entire life, and it was time for him to finally fly free. She was still mulling things over and running her fingers through his hair when the door opened, and Ron came shuffling in for the next shift.

“Anything new?” he asked, slumping onto George’s bed and staring morosely at his best mate.

Ginny pulled her hand away quickly and self-consciously ran it through her own unkempt hair.

Ron rolled his eyes. “Oh, give me a break, Ginny. We’ve all noticed the longing glances going on between the two of you,” Ron said as if she and Harry were both daft. “Why don’t you just buck up and get it over with already? We all know it’s coming.”

“What are you on about?” Ginny asked, bewildered.

Ron shook his head, appearing disgusted. “Neither of you can keep your eyes off the other, but you’ve barely said ‘boo’ in the other’s presence. Stop your lollygagging and just tell him you fancy him again. He obviously fancies you. He mooned over your bloody dot on the Marauder’s Map the entire time we were stuck in that bloody tent.”

“You’re imagining things, Ron,” Ginny said, scoffing. Did he really watch her on the Map? Was he thinking about her as much as she’d been thinking about him? She struggled not to let these feelings show. She hated giving Ron the upper hand.

“Am I? Then why are you sitting here mooning and probably imagining things I definitely don’t want to know about?” he asked, smirking. “Don’t think I don’t know you sneak into our room at night to check up on him.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said hotly. “Have I checked on all the beds for Mum? Of course, I have, but I tell her you’re both in your own beds.”

“Right. You’re not fooling anyone, Ginny, least of all him,” Ron snorted.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ginny asked, feeling her own color rising as her face became increasingly hot.

Ron waved his hand in the air dismissively. “Remember how Dad always used to say Charlie wore his heart on his sleeve about his animals? Harry’s like that, too, only about you. This tip-toeing around each other has become ridiculous.”

As often happened when she felt cornered, Ginny turned to anger as a defense. “I think you’re confusing me with your own latent feelings for Hermione,” she snapped, pleased to see Ron’s ears go bright red. “You’re talking to me about lollygagging? Haven’t you fancied her since your second year at Hogwarts? Don’t make me laugh.”

Ron, however, didn’t rise to Ginny’s bait. Instead, he smirked even more triumphantly. “Hermione knows exactly how I feel about her now. I wasn’t stupid enough to risk her not knowing while a war raged around us.”

“In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s been a lot going on, not the least of which is being respectful of the fact that we’ve lost a brother,” Ginny snapped. Despite her indignation, she felt tears sting her eyes. Fred really was gone.

Ron’s face darkened. “Don’t you dare use Fred as an excuse. Even George said Fred would’ve been the first one giving high fives had you two just snogged right in the middle of the funeral service,” he snarled.

“He said no such thing,” Ginny said, her voice rising to a very high pitch. It was humiliating to think her entire family had been gossiping about her behind her back.

“Suit yourself,” Ron said with awful smugness.

Ginny wanted to hex him. She also wanted more information, and she was having trouble deciding what she wanted more. He’d known she’d been sneaking into their room at night to check on Harry, and she’d thought she’d been so stealthy. Did Harry know?

“Did you know he was unwell?” she demanded, deciding to go on the offense. Ron could always be counted on to spill too much when he was defensive.

Ron looked insulted. “Of course, not. You think I would’ve allowed him to go to the Ministry if I’d known?”

“Allowed him?” Ginny scoffed. “Newsflash, Ron, you’re still not the boss of anyone. Besides, he was with Dad. He was perfectly safe.”

“Yeah? Well, Dad didn’t notice anything was off, but I did,” Ron said with that same smugness.

“What do you mean you noticed? You weren’t even there. You walked into the room just as Harry collapsed,” Ginny said.

“No, Harry went off on me about not being his minder. He never would’ve made a scene like that in front of Dad if he was on his game,” Ron said simply.

Ginny had to think about it, remembering how quickly Ron had moved to break Harry’s fall… almost as if he knew it was coming. Ginny was momentarily stunned into silence considering it — something that very rarely happened, and caused by Ron, no less. He was right, though, Harry wouldn’t normally have aired his annoyance with Ron publicly. He’d have addressed it one on one.

“What were you all talking about anyway? What happened at the Ministry?” Ron asked, oblivious to the turmoil in Ginny’s head.

“Katie Bell’s father wants to press criminal charges against Draco Malfoy. He wants Mum and Dad to join him,” Ginny said vaguely. Somehow, that conversation seemed eons ago.

Ron snorted. “Good luck with that.”

“Why? You don’t think he should be punished?” Ginny asked curiously. She was beginning to think this wasn’t Ron at all but perhaps someone Polyjuiced to look like him.

“Oh, I’d definitely like to see him get what’s coming to him, but he always manages to slither out of trouble, doesn’t he? I thought we should’ve just left him to the Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement, but Harry has that bloody nobility thing,” Ron said, shrugging. “He seemed to think burning to death was too grisly even for Malfoy.”

Okay, so he wasn’t Polyjuiced. He also wasn’t going to give her the information she sought, and he’d rattled her more than she wanted to admit with what he had shared.

“Are you here for something or did Hermione just want you out of her way?” she asked grumpily.

“It’s my shift. Of course, you can stay. I know you’re enjoying staring at him without his catching you,” Ron replied, smirking.

“No, you can stare at him for a while. I know your mother hen routine needs someone to peck,” she said, smiling sweetly. She was pleased to see his smug expression melt into a scowl.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be certain to tell him I interrupted your mooning. He’ll be sorry he missed the opportunity to pretend to sleep so he could secretly stare at you, too,” Ron said.

Ginny turned on her heel and marched from the room, barely restraining herself from hexing him. It would only give him the excuse to miss his shift, and he’d accuse her of doing it so she could stay longer — not that she hadn’t considered it.

Her head swimming with all he had said, Ginny thundered down the stairs and out into the garden, heading for the broom shed. She needed to fly and clear her head.

/*/*/*/*/*


Ginny returned from her flight several hours later, more rumpled and windblown, but much calmer and her head remarkably clearer. A good fly always helped her to focus. Perhaps — and she didn’t think he was right very often — but… just maybe Ron was right this time. She’d been keeping her head down out of some sort of duty or obligation to honor Fred’s loss — to be respectful of the fact he was gone. But whatever made her think that Fred would be happy with anyone being miserable? Fred always embraced living life to the fullest. He was always one to confront life head on. He’d have mocked her unrelentingly for her behavior.

Of course, Harry hadn’t said anything, either. Righteous indignation rose like a secret ally, as it always did when she felt her back was against a wall. This wasn’t all on her. Maybe there were other things holding him back that she didn’t know about. She worried her lower lip as she climbed the stairs to her bedroom.

It wasn’t as if they’d parted because either of them didn’t have feelings for the other. It was exactly the opposite, but perhaps something had changed. He’d been gone for months. She doubted he’d had time for dating, but perhaps his feelings for her had simply melted away? But if what Ron had said was true…

And then there was Ron — his mocking couldn’t be allowed. She’d just have to buck up and lay her feelings bare. Despite all her bravado, that wasn’t something she found easy to do, but she couldn’t let them all be talking behind her back. She was never going to accept that sort of behavior again.

“Ginny? Is that you? Could you come in here a moment?” her mother’s voice called from the room opposite hers — Fred and George’s room — where Harry was staying.

Her insides clenched — had something happened? — and she hurried into the room. Harry was awake this time, though barely, and he still looked exceedingly pale slumped against his pillows. There were some remnants of chicken soup on a tray in front of him.

“Oh, thank goodness. My shift isn’t done, but I need to get dinner started. Would you be a love and finish up for me?” her mum asked, smiling warmly.

It felt good to see her up and bustling about like normal. Harry’s cheeks pinkened as Molly hurried from the room.

“Well, that wasn’t the least bit obvious,” Ginny said, rolling her eyes.

A trace of a smile crossed Harry’s features. “No less than three of your brothers have passed the room, and she didn’t ask any of them to play minder,” he grumbled.

Harry always hated being fussed over, and her mother couldn’t seem to help doing it.

Here was the perfect opening.

“Well, apparently we’ve been the source of a lot of their gossip. They seem to think we need to talk,” she said baldly.

Harry turned away, running his hand through his hair and rumpling it even further — a sure sign of stress. She knew he was supposed to remain calm, but this had waited long enough. Perhaps holding it all in was stressing him as much as it was her. She waited a few moments, until she couldn’t stand the prolonged silence any longer.

“Looks like she tried to feed you. At least taking care of you has her up and about,” she said lamely, searching desperately for a way to start the conversation she knew they had to have.

Harry grimaced. “She keeps telling me to think of something good,” he said miserably, as if something good was a foreign concept.

Ginny couldn’t help the nostalgic giggle that burst from her. It was such a Mum-thing to say. “She always used to say that when we were ill. As if thinking about presents or something could distract us from the sick that was trying to escape,” she snorted.

Harry didn’t grin. If possible, he looked even more miserable. The silence stretched again, and she began to feel like she wanted to leave. This was going so badly. What had she been thinking? Harry never expressed himself easily, never mind in a sickbed.

“I can’t think of something good because it just makes me feel worse,” he said at last in a very low voice.

“Why?” she asked, tilting her head to the side.

“Because it’s you,” he whispered, at last raising his dulled green eyes to meet hers. “You’re always what I think about when it all gets too much. You were the last thing I thought about before I died.”

Ginny felt as if she’d been punched in the stomach. “Oh,” was all she could manage.

Harry ran one hand through his hair again, then did the other one, looking manic. “I wish I could fix this, but I don’t know how. I wish I could just cast a Reparo and make it all better, so things could go back to how they were, but I know I can’t. I’ve never been very good with words. Reparo would be so much easier.”

Ginny felt tears sting her eyes, and she blinked them away. “You’ve come a long way, actually,” she whispered.

“And now I’ve made you cry,” he moaned, glancing around frantically. His eyes rested on the window, and she wondered if he was thinking of flinging himself out of it.

“These aren’t sad tears, Harry,” she said, swiping impatiently. “They’re… I dunno… fondness tears? Happiness? Sort of. I’m happy it’s all over. We have a chance now. A real chance. D’you really want to go back to the way things were?”

Harry’s eyebrows shot up. “D’you?”

“I asked first,” Ginny challenged.

“Of course, I do! I’ve always wanted that. I’ve always wanted you. You were the one bright spot in this whole mess,” he said earnestly.

“Then what’s taken you so long? You’re supposed to be brave,” she couldn’t stop herself from asking.

Harry snorted, actually snorted. “Rumors of my bravery are greatly exaggerated. I’m fine with dragons and Dark Lords, but girls make my insides curl up,” he said, ducking his head.

“What did you think about me before… I mean… when you thought it was the end?” she asked, her curiosity getting the best of her.

Harry shrugged. “Just you. What you looked like… the way you make me feel. You’re what’s right about this world.”

Ginny felt as if her insides were literally melting. “Oh, Harry,” she said, sinking down onto the edge of his — Fred’s — bed.

“Does this mean you think we can go back? Words are always going to get in my way, you know,” he said, looking so vulnerable that the need to reassure him was overwhelming.

“Well, as I recall, we were always much better at non-verbal communication,” she said, smirking.

Harry’s eyes widened before he nodded fervently. “Yeah, that was never a problem.”

“Maybe we should start there and let the words come naturally, then?” she asked, looking at him through lowered lashes.

He swallowed visibly, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “You mean?”

Ginny leaned over and very gently, softly, kissed his chapped lips, her eyes never looking away from his startled gaze. His skin was warm, it was probably time for more potion. She didn’t really care at the moment. Kissing him again felt like coming home.

“I missed you,” he said, his hands slowly entangling in her hair the way he always loved to do.

“Mutual,” she whispered, breathing heavily as she leaned in once again. This time, he met her in the middle, and her eyes did close, surrendering herself to the kiss.

It could’ve been minutes, hours, days, she didn’t know, but she suddenly felt the hair on the back of her neck prickling, and she knew they were no longer alone. She pulled back, inhaling sharply. Harry tried to reclaim the kiss, but Ginny reached for her wand, spinning around and trying to cover him whilst she did.

George was standing in the doorway, arms folded across his chest and an unreadable expression upon his face.

“George,” she said, both relieved and exasperated.

Harry pulled some strands of her hair out of his mouth, slightly disgruntled.

“You know, I realize I said Fred would be pleased if you two just got it over with and snogged at his funeral, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be pleased that you’re snogging in his bed,” he said conversationally.

“I’m sorry, George,” Ginny said immediately, fearful she’d upset him. He’d seemed better today, and she didn’t want to do anything that set him back.

“I’m sorry, too. We were being inconsiderate,” Harry said, eyes downcast. She knew he didn’t want to upset George, either.

George surprised them, however, when he grinned widely. “Don’t apologize to me. It’s Fred’s bed. I’m certainly pleased you weren’t in mine. By all means, carry on,” he said, crossing the room and hopping onto his own bed, grinning widely. He folded his legs as if awaiting a show.

Ginny sighed deeply. “Shockingly, you’ve sort of killed the mood.”

Harry snorted behind her shoulder.

George grinned. “It’s about time you lot put your heads on straight. Oi! I found them snogging,” he shouted, loudly enough for a stampede of footsteps to sound on the stairway.

“Snogging? Excellent. It’s about time,” Bill said, reaching the room first and grinning broadly, the scars on his face standing out in stark contrast to the happiness there.

“Oui! C’est magnifique!” Fleur said, beaming at them.

Ron and Hermione entered next, Hermione smiling happily, and Ron looking smug. “I knew I could knock some sense into both of them.”

“You did well, Ron,” Hermione said, nudging his shoulder. Ginny was too happy to argue.

“I think the snogging might’ve happened rather quickly,” Percy said, looking rather concerned.

“Shut it, Perce,” Charlie said, knocking into him from behind and forcing him into the room. “I bet you’re thinking it’s been way too long since you’ve had a good snog.”

“Er. I’m very happy you two have had a chance to talk,” Arthur said, entering the room and glancing quickly away from Harry and Ginny perched on top of the bed. His ears turned very red.

“Oh, Ginny, Harry,” Molly said, her eyes filling. “I’m so happy for you both.” She leaned over and enveloped them both in a crushing hug.

Harry was nearly as red as her dad, but she could tell he was pleased with the unfailing acceptance from her family — their family, really.

“All right, now that that’s all settled, I want you all out of here. Harry, it’s time for a potion, and you look as if you could use a good kip,” Molly said, busting about the room and shooing her various children out the door.

Things were definitely on the way back to normal at The Burrow. There would still be hard times to come, that would probably always be the case, but they’d face them together.





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