They were just talking about everything and nothing when Ginny learned about the cupboard.
The war had ended six weeks ago, and despite the heartache and funerals, it had been easy to reconnect with Harry, to pick up where they had left off. They were both different people now than they had been during those sunlit days at Hogwarts, but the feelings they had for each other hadn't gone away; if anything, they had intensified. Ginny could feel it every time Harry hugged her, could see it when he smiled at her the way he smiled for no one else. They hadn't put a name to it yet, but it was clear to Ginny that there was no one else Harry wanted to be with.
Truth be told, there was no one else she wanted to be with, either.
They were sitting by the pond at the Burrow, Harry wearing one of Ron's old jumpers and a pair of casual shorts, Ginny sitting against Harry's chest with his arms comfortably wrapped around her middle. She had just regaled him with a story from her childhood when it happened.
"I used to read these Muggle comics when I slept in the cupboard –"
Wait, what had he just said? Ginny frowned, her head resting against her right hand.
"A what?" The words almost exploded from her chest.
"A Muggle comic," said Harry, sounding nonplussed by her sudden interruption.
"No, I know what a Muggle comic is," said Ginny, turning around as much as she could in Harry's arms to look at him. "You said you slept in the cupboard."
Harry blinked at her. "No I didn't," he said.
Ginny wriggled out of Harry's arms and turned to sit on her knees so she could fully face him. "Yes," she said firmly. "You did. Mind explaining that one to me?"
Harry's gaze dropped and he ruffled the back of his hair uneasily. "Not really," he muttered.
Ginny raised her eyebrows. "Well tough," she said. "You don't get to drop a bombshell like that and then not explain it."
"I didn't even notice what I was saying," said Harry, and he looked very uncomfortable now. "Besides, it's not a big deal."
Ginny's mouth fell open. "Not a big deal?" she echoed incredulously. "If that were true, then I expect I would probably have already known that you apparently used to sleep in a cupboard!"
"Was it the cupboard the twins said your things were locked in that summer they and Ron rescued you from a locked bedroom?" she demanded. "The one under the stairs?"
Harry stared at her for a long moment before looking away and nodding. "Until I was eleven," he answered so quietly Ginny almost couldn't hear him.
It was as though the missing pieces of a puzzle she had begun to put together years ago had finally been located in the most unexpected of locations. All those little moments that seemed to suggest neglect and abuse, eerily disconnected before now, they finally fit. A child who grew up in a cupboard would have issues with self-confidence. A child like that would be used to doing housework all the time, would be confused by someone caring about the state of his socks; he would be baffled that an adult would ask him questions and value his answers, too.
It explained the quiet boy on the platform when she was ten; it explained the sharp, sarcasm and witty remarks that had Ron and the twins rolling in their seats that first summer he had come to stay. A boy who lived in a cupboard under the stairs was used to surviving, accustomed to a life that wasn't pleasant or happy, used to being treated like dirt...
"How could they?" she whispered, but the rage and venom still must have come through, because Harry dropped his head into his hands.
"It's not a big deal," he said again, this time to the ground.
Ginny shook her head in dismay. It was, it really was. "Fred would've schemed up much worse than a Ton-Tongue Toffee for your cousin with George if they'd known the truth," she told Harry fiercely.
"It is a big deal!" Ginny cut him off. "Are you going to say it's in the past, or it doesn't matter anymore? Because it does! It's as much a part of who you are as being on the run for months in a tent! Or the burn mark on your chest, your glasses, all of it is a part of who you are, and it all matters." She reached out and placed her fingers under Harry's chin, gently applying pressure until he raised his head and met her eyes.
"Do you think I'd love you less because those Muggles could never see your worth?" she asked him carefully. "Because that couldn't be further from the truth."
"You – love me?"
Ginny smiled at the pained, yet hopeful look on Harry's face. "I love you," she said. "I care about everything that's ever happened to you, good or bad. I would never think differently of you for any of it."
Harry's green eyes were searching hers, piercing through to her core, and she ached for him to fully grasp what she was saying. "We are all the sum of our experiences and choices, and all of those have made you into the man I love. I wouldn't change a thing. Would you?"
Harry immediately shook his head. "You're amazing," he said, pulling Ginny against him in a fierce hug. "You always know just what to say."
Ginny smiled against Harry's shoulder. "Someone's got to be able to penetrate that thick skull of yours when you get going," she teased.
Harry chuckled and pulled back, reaching out to brush a lock of Ginny's hair from her face. "I love you," he whispered, and Ginny's heart swelled such that she couldn't keep herself from kissing Harry with everything that she had, running her fingers through his wild hair and scrubby beard as they toppled over onto the grass.
The child in the cupboard, the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One, the Savior of the Wizarding world... so many titles, so many phases of life, learning, and pain, but through it all, Ginny found that he was and always had been just Harry. Just hers. Just kind.
And it was everything.