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SIYE Time:6:39 on 15th August 2022


Old Love
By TheHallowsInMe31

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Other
Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 52
Summary: 10-year-old Willow Young had always been warned of the house at the end of the lane along with its mysterious occupant. But still, she found herself drawn to the house and the old man with sad green eyes that lived inside.
Hitcount: Story Total: 3458; Chapter Total: 349
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
Now being Beta'd by the lovely Arnel who was kind enough to offer to help me with my chapters. I am most gracious.




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No one spoke. Harry’s mouth had gone completely dry as he stared at Lily. His brain was trying to comprehend what his eyes were seeing. Had she called him Dad? Had he heard her right? The thought seemed impossible, laughable really, but as he stared at Lily, he couldn’t help but notice the similarities between himself and her.


No, it just wasn’t possible. Someone, somewhere down the line, would have told him. There was no possible way he had an almost 40-year-old daughter who had stayed hidden for this long. This was some kind of joke. It had to be.


Harry tore his eyes away from Lily to look at Ron and Hermione, both of whom looked as shocked as he felt, before looking back at Lily.


He could see Ginny’s tight-lipped expression out of the corner of his eye as Lily continued to stare at him. He could sense the anxiety behind her smile and also a little of something else. Fear, maybe? What did she have to be afraid of? There was no way he was her father, despite what she might have been told. He couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that what had been said was true so instead, his mind chalked up their similarities to coincidence.


“Harry?” Hermione said, bringing him out of his thoughts, “Are you going to say anything?”


“Yeah mate,” Ron also spoke up, “The tension and silence are extremely uncomfortable now.”


What did they expect him to say to a bombshell of that magnitude? A bombshell that, if he were being completely honest with himself, was probably false anyway.


“No,” Harry said as he licked his dry lips.


“No?” Lily questioned.


Harry sighed. He never should have come to Willow’s party.


“Lily,” Harry started, “I don’t know what Ginny has told you, but you being my daughter is not possible.”


Harry heard a gasp from someone but didn’t bother to see who has he continued, “Your mother and I were together one time almost forty years ago. Don’t you think that if you were my daughter, I would've found out by now?”


“How would you have known?” Lily asked, “You moved to France. You yourself said that no one would've been able to find you, that you were completely hidden.”


She tried to take his hand in hers but he jerked back as if he had been burned. The look of pain and rejection in her eyes didn’t go unnoticed by him, and under normal circumstances, he would’ve felt guilty.


“Harry,” Hermione spoke up, “I know this might be hard to believe. I mean, I’m having a hard time believing it myself, but even you have to admit that her resemblance to you is uncanny.”


Harry shook his head as Ron said, “I’ve never seen eyes like that on anyone before.”


Was he the only one who saw through the lie? Ron and Hermione had been so quick to agree that if he didn’t know any better, he’d say they were in on the ploy.


“Harry,” Ginny said, “Why won’t you believe us? I wouldn’t lie to you about something like this.”


“Because I can’t!” Harry said, raising his voice, “If I stop for one second to think that what you and Lily are telling me is true, that Lily is mine, then that means the last thirty-seven years of my life have been for nothing!”


No one spoke as he continued his tirade, “Ginny, you knew! You knew the only dream I had in life was to have a family, one that I could call my own. That was something I had never had before. Sure, your mum and dad took me in and treated me as their own and I did feel like a part of your family but it wasn’t the same.”


Harry turned back to Lily who was looking at him intensely. The anger that had reared its ugly head seemed to all but disappear as he looked into her emerald green eyes.


“I can’t believe it,” Harry said in almost a whisper, “Because if I believe it, then that means that I missed out on watching Lily grow up. I missed out on all her firsts. I never got to see her go to Hogwarts or graduate. I never got to see her succeed. I never got to walk her down the aisle as she got married.”


Harry let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. “This can’t be true, because if it were, so much time has passed that I’d always feel like an outsider looking in. It’s all I’ve ever been.”


Lily moved to take his hand and this time he didn’t recoil.


He stared at her hand in his as she spoke, “None of that matters. What matters is that you’re here now. No one, and that includes me and Mum, blames you for not being here. I will admit that I wish you had been here all this time, but I’d rather you come into our lives, my life, years later than to not come in at all.”


"Why can't you understand?" he pleaded, "I don't want to have these missing moments haunting me the rest of my life."


Lily's eyes flashed angrily, "So it's easier to believe this is all some big lie than to face the pain, is that it?"


That was exactly it, although Harry would never admit it to himself. Hadn't he had enough pain in his life. It seemed like the entirety of his existence was filled with nothing but pain and regret. Didn't he deserve some sort of reprieve?


He needed to get away. He felt surrounded and constricted.


He stood up as he wrenched his hand away from Lily's.


"I'm sorry," he choked out, "I can't do this."


And without another word, he Disapparated with a pop.


"Well," Ron said trying to break the tension, "That went well."


"Ron, honey," Hermione said sweetly.


"Yes?"


"Do shut up."


"I'm sorry," Ginny said looking at her daughter, "Your father has always been stubborn. While I don't agree with the way he handled things, I can understand it."


"It's okay, Mum," Lily said with a sad smile, "Maybe he'll come around if we give him some time."


"I hope you're right," Ginny replied to her daughter.


No one noticed the flesh-colored string being pulled up to the second-story window or Willow as she snuck out the front door and took off on her bike down to Harry's house.



{---------}{---------}


Harry Apparated straight into his kitchen thinking over the night in its entirety. His head was killing him and all he really wanted was a drink to wash down the horrible revelations that had been brought to light tonight.


He summoned one of the glass tumblers out of his cabinet, followed by an old bottle of Ogden’s finest, before pouring himself a liberal amount and sitting down at his kitchen table.


Where had he gone wrong?


Harry found himself thinking back to the war, and about how he had abandoned Ginny. Did he deserve this? Most definitely. He had had the last few years to admit to himself that he never should have left her. All the pain he was feeling now, the missed out on memories and years, were completely his fault. In a different life, or a different time, he would’ve wanted to blame Ginny. He probably would have blamed her. But he couldn’t.


It all circled back around to Harry leaving.


The last fifty-three years were on him. It was his fault Ginny had ended up marrying Oliver. He chose to run off after the night they had in the hotel. It was his fault he was never there for Lily or Willow or Liam. He had not seen Liam yet, but knew Willow had a baby brother.


Where had he been tonight?


Harry knocked back the fire whiskey in one gulp with a grimace as he set the glass back on the table.


Yes, all this could be chalked up to him running away from his problems. He was a coward. That’s why he ran after the night in the hotel and that’s why he ran away tonight.


He should’ve been in Slytherin instead of Gryffindor.


Harry sighed as he poured himself another liberal amount of the fire whisky. They were right of course, no matter how much he didn’t want to believe it. A part of him had known as soon as he looked into his daughter’s green eyes, eyes damn near identical to his own.


What was he supposed to do? How was he supposed to handle this? Was he just supposed to ignore the past thirty-seven years and swoop back into their lives to play father? He didn’t know the first thing about being a father. It’s not like he had many father figures to learn from.


‘How would you have handled this Sirius?’ he thought, ‘What would you have done?’


Sirius was the only father figure he had in life and he had only known him for two years before he died in the Department of Mysteries. It had been so long ago since Sirius fell through the Veil and Harry could still remember it as though it were yesterday. If Harry were completely honest with himself, it was something he never truly got over. How do you get over being the cause of death of someone you loved?


The first shot of whiskey did nothing to quell the aching feeling in his chest. Maybe if he drank enough, he could drown out all the regret and pain of the last fifty-five years of his life.


He knocked back the second glass.


Honestly, his whole life had been a shit show, not just the past fifty-five years. The first eleven years of his life were spent in constant abuse. Sure, he had periods at Hogwarts where happy moments shone through the bad like beacons of hope. These happy memories were marred by the fact that every year he had either lost someone he cared about, there had been an attempt on his life, his friends turned on him, or everyone at school thought he had gone completely mental.


Where had he gone wrong?


Was everything in his life already predetermined and he was cursed to be miserable forever? Was he really not meant for anything else?


So wrapped up in his thoughts he didn’t hear his front door open and close or the footsteps as they made their way closer to him.


“Harry?”


Harry jerked up, his eyes scanning the room, before falling on a figure in the doorway, partially hidden by shadows.


He squinted his eyes to make out the figure through the candle’s waning flame.


He had electricity, but most days just opted to use candles. He flicked his wand, and the kitchen was immediately bathed in a pale yellow light as the figure was suddenly illuminated.


“Willow?” his brow furrowed in confusion, “What are you doing here? How the hell did you get in here?”


“Oh, that?” she answered with a smile, “I picked your lock.”


“Excuse me!” Harry asked, “You did what?”


Willow laughed as she finally moved out of the doorway, “I picked your lock. It was rather easy.”


“But, how?” he questioned.


“Have you forgotten who my family is?” she replied back, “Have you forgotten I’m related to the owner of one of the most successful joke shops in wizarding Britain?”


“George,” he muttered under his breath.


Willow heard him and laughed.


“The real question is, what are you doing?” she asked as she sat down beside him and stared intently at him.


What had he been doing? Wallowing in self-pity? Reliving painful memories? How much time had even passed since he left Willow’s party?


“Just thinking, I guess,” he finally replied, “I’ve got a lot on my mind.”


“Well, I’d expect so,” Willow said with a smirk, “Finding out you have a daughter and grandchildren must have come as a shock to you.”


Harry stared at Willow open-mouthed, “How did yo...How did you even know?”


Willow smiled the biggest smile Harry had ever seen before placing a piece of flesh-colored string attached to an ear on the table.


“You keep forgetting I’m a Weasley.”


Harry stared at the Extendable Ear in amazement. He hadn’t seen the contraption the Weasley twins had invented in years.


“You know,” Willow said again, “No one is going to make you be a part of their life. Mum never knew you. She really wants to know you, I reckon, but she’s not going to beg. Grandmum still loves you. She doesn’t talk about you all that much and never mentioned you by name, but when she does talk about you, I can see it in her eyes. I might only be eleven but it’s easy to see.”


Harry didn’t say anything as the eleven-year-old continued, “What I want to know is how you expect to run from me and Liam like that. I can tell you want to run. I can see you want to escape from the pain you will feel if you let us in. I know the past hurts, but how do you think I would feel if you did that? How do you think Liam would feel if he knew you had an opportunity to be there but chose not to?”


Harry squirmed uncomfortably in his seat as the eleven-year-old girl, no, his granddaughter, begged him to not run away in her own way.


“Besides,” she said with a grin, “You couldn’t get rid of me if you tried. I would just follow you.”


Harry laughed. It felt good to laugh. He had no doubt that Willow would follow him. Was he being stupid? Was he really going to run away from his family like that? He had always dealt with his problems by running away from them. Maybe, it was time to deal with them like the Gryffindor he was.


“Why are you so smart?” Harry questioned, “I feel like I’m getting grilled by a parent.”


“It’s not that I’m smart, although I am really smart,” she told him, “It’s just that I love my mum and grandmum. I know you sticking around would mean the world to them. I don’t want to know what it would feel like if my dad ran off. Don’t do that to Mum. Don’t leave us.”


Harry stared at Willow, and for the first time, saw the eleven-year-old girl that she really was. The eleven-year-old girl who just wanted her Mum and Grandmum to be happy. The eleven-year-old girl who just wanted to know her granddad, the girl who had bothered to break down the walls of the old man who lived at the house at the end of the lane.


“Willow,” he started, “I’m not going anywhere.”


She stared back at him, eyes full of hope, as she replied, “You promise?”


“It’s going to take me some time to get used to all this,” Harry said, “But I promise I’m not going anywhere.”


She grinned as they both fell into a comfortable silence.


The thought of seeing Lily and Ginny again scared him, if he were being honest, but he knew he would never be able to forgive himself if he didn’t see them, if he didn’t try to mend the wounds they had all sustained over the years. He owed them that much for running away.


He had a daughter.


The thought was foreign to him and yet filled him with so much happiness that he felt like he could burst. He never thought he’d be able to have a family after Voldemort. He thought that chance had been ruined when he took too long to come back to Ginny. He had had everything he had ever wanted all along. He just didn’t know it.


‘Just because you’ve lived a life of regret doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. You can make new memories you know. Ones that aren’t so painful.’


He thought back to Willow’s words from the first time he had ever opened up to her. She had been right. He didn’t want to admit it then, but now, after everything he had learned, knew she had been right all along.


He could make new memories full of love and laughter with his family. Didn’t he deserve that, after all these years? Didn’t everyone deserve a happy conclusion to their story?


Harry had never stopped to even consider happy endings before. Not when all he saw was Voldemort and afterwards, Ginny with Oliver.


“Now that you’ve promised not to run away and to try and be in our lives,” Willow said, “It’s time to move on to another important matter.”


“And that would be?” Harry questioned.



Willow clapped her hands together with a conspiratorial grin, “Why getting you and Grandmum back together of course.”


She said it so innocently that Harry had to laugh, although his laughter was short-lived when he saw the serious expression on his granddaughter’s face.


“You can’t be serious,” Harry exclaimed.


“Dead serious,” she replied.


“Willow,” Harry sighed, “Your Grandmum and I are completely different people now. I’ve made my peace with that. I’ve accepted that we wouldn’t ever be together again. You should too.”


“She still loves you.”


“Does she?” Harry asked, “Or does she just love the thought of me? The old me? The me she fell in love with sixty-five years ago?”


“When you find your soulmate,” Willow started, “They love you forever. Not just a version of you, but every version.”


Harry sighed at his granddaughter's persistence. “It’s not always that simple Willow.”


“It could be,” she replied, “Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t love Grandmum anymore. Prove me wrong and I will drop it.”


This girl was too smart for her own good. Maybe she’d be the first in the Potter line to actually get into Ravenclaw.


He couldn’t do what Willow asked. The truth was, he still loved Ginny. He loved her just as much now as he did during his sixth year at Hogwarts. Fifty-four years had passed and his love for her had never even diminished slightly.


“That’s what I thought,” Willow said with a grin as she stood up.


“You are insufferable,” he said with a laugh.


“I know,” Willow also laughed, “I should be heading back. Hopefully, they haven’t noticed I am gone yet.”


“What?!” Harry yelped, “You just snuck out? You can’t do that.”


Willow looked at him before giggling, “You know I keep thinking about how I said you were like the granddad I never had, not knowing at the time that you were actually my granddad. It’s funny, isn’t it?”



“What does that have to do with anything?”


“You’re supposed to be the cool granddad,” Willow said as she pointed accusingly at him, “Not the one who scolds me when I do something wrong. Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione told me what you got up to at school.”


Harry stared at Willow with his eyes wide. She was going to be the death of him, he was sure of it.


“Anyways,” she said, “I need to get going. They are probably forming a search party as we speak.”


Harry laughed, “Goodbye, Willow.”


“Goodbye, Granddad,” she said with one foot out the door, “Thanks for the present. I can’t wait to destroy Slytherin in Quidditch.”


And then, she was gone.


Harry grinned to himself. Being called ‘granddad’ was going to take some getting used to.
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