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SIYE Time:7:48 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: 3463; Chapter Total: 299
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
The last few chapters will come more spread out. I know I've posted kind of erratically up until this point, but I really want to do the ending justice and make it as pleasurable a read for everyone as possible.

Beta'd by the lovely Arnel




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Harry woke up the following morning with a slight headache and an unpleasant taste in his mouth. With a groan, he pulled himself into an upright position and looked at the clock on his bedside dresser.

Harry sighed. How had he got a hangover from just two meager shots? Back in the day, he would've been able to knock back six or seven easily with no problem.

"You're seventy-one now," Harry said to himself, "You're not some teenager at a Hogwarts house party anymore."

Grumbling, Harry slowly stood up, got dressed, and made his way to the kitchen to put on some coffee.

As he waited for the coffee to finish brewing, the events from Willow's party and all the revelations that had been brought to light came flooding back like a tidal wave.

The fact that he had a daughter felt foreign to him. He didn't know how to feel about it if he were honest with himself. Part of him felt a happiness he had never really known before. Another part of him, however, was terrified. He didn't know the first thing about being a father. How could he not? He never really had a good father figure in his life before. The closest thing he ever had to a father was Arthur Weasley and even that was only for a week or two each year before term started.

Another part of him, the part he desperately wanted to get rid of, was angry. Was he angry at Ginny? Was he angry at himself or just the cards life had dealt him? Harry figured it was a little of all three.

Harry poured himself a cup of coffee and made his way out onto the porch before sitting down in his usual chair. He watched the sunrise every morning. There was something peaceful and altogether beautiful as he watched the tendrils of light race across his lawn.

Deep down he knew Ginny wasn't to blame and, deeper down still, knew even he wasn't to blame. Sometimes, life was just unfair. This realization didn't help the bitterness and anger he felt at the entire situation, however.

The only one he didn't feel completely uncomfortable around was Willow. He guessed it had something to do with her not ever judging him and talking to him like she'd talk to any other friend.

It would be awkward around Lily at first, but hopefully, he would be able to not make a complete fool of himself in front of the daughter he didn't know, eventually.

Ginny Weasley.

He didn't know what to think about Ginny. Did he still love her? He'd be lying if he said he didn't. The truth was, though, he didn't know who Ginny Weasley was anymore. He was angry at her, no more than he was at himself, but he still felt angry all the same. He had told Ginny he didn't hate her or blame her for marrying Oliver.

Had he been honest?

If the situation had been reversed, would he have waited for her?

The answer was yes, without a doubt.

Ginny had been his everything, the only bright spot he could remember during the war. Loneliness had driven her to Oliver, of that much he was certain. A loneliness he had got to know all too well over the past fifty-three years.

The truth was, he would have waited lifetimes for her but she hadn't even waited three years for him. The thought depressed him more than anything else. Had he just not been worth waiting for?

He hated himself for thinking all these thoughts after telling her he didn't blame her.

He couldn't avoid her. He would be as civil and respectful to her as he could for Willow and Lily's sake but, his and Ginny's love story ended fifty-three years ago.

The sun was fully up now. His yard was being bathed in sunlight but the trees made sure the road stayed hidden in the shadows.

Shadows.

Most people were afraid of the dark, of what lurked in the shadows but not him. He had been in the dark for so long that he had found a certain kind of beauty in it. He couldn't decide which he loved more, the beauty of a sunrise, or the beauty of a sunset and the darkness that followed.

Harry stood up to gather his tools from the garage before making his way to his garden.

He wanted to check on the sunflowers before turning to his other flower bed and the Lilies of the Valley that it contained.

He heard the footsteps coming up behind him but didn't turn around.

"Hello, Willow," he said.

She was a little earlier than usual but thinking back to the time he had started without her; he didn't blame her for it.

"Not quite," the voice behind him said.

Harry had never turned his head so fast in his life.

"Lily?" he said, "What are you doing here?"

"I've actually never seen your house before," Lily said as she gestured to it, "It is rather picturesque."

"Where's Willow?"

"Oh, she is hanging out with those two friends of hers," Lily said, "Willow told me that gardening helps clear your head and I figured you had a lot to think about after last night."

When he didn't reply, she continued, "I was wondering if you'd like some help."

Harry stared at Lily, "Do you know anything about gardening?"

"Not even a bit," she said with a smile, "Herbology was my worst subject at Hogwarts."

Harry let out a small chuckle at her honesty, "Well, this garden is different from the greenhouses at Hogwarts. For one thing, all I have are Muggle flowers so nothing is going to try to kill you."

Lily laughed and Harry couldn't help but think that she sounded just like Ginny.

"Sunflowers are Mum's favorite flower," Lily said as she looked at the bed with all his sunflowers in them.

"I know, he replied quietly, "That's why I plant them. They get me through the bad days."

Lily turned to him, "You still love her, don't you?"

Harry sighed. Why did every conversation go back to the one topic he wanted to avoid the most? Was life torturing him on purpose? He saw no reason to lie to her. Hopefully, she wouldn't be like Willow and push to get them back together.

"I do," he admitted, "And I don't think I'll ever stop loving your mother. I don't even think I know how to stop."

Lily nodded her head, "I know, I feel the same way about Isaac."

"How did you two find each other?"

"Well, we both played Quidditch," Lily said, "Not on the same team, of course, and for the longest time, I always thought he was kind of full of himself. He was a Beater and a damn good one too."

"What house was he in?"

"House?" she looked at him questioningly, "Oh, this wasn't at Hogwarts. I played for the Harpies. Isaac played for the Arrows."

"You played professional Quidditch?" he asked in surprise.

Lily laughed, "Well, with parents like mine what did you expect? My dad was one of the best Seekers Hogwarts had ever seen and my mum was the best Chaser the Harpies had seen in ages."

Harry smiled, "I wasn't that good."

"Out of all the matches you played at school, you failed to catch the Snitch twice. The first time, was because of the Dementors and the other time was because one of your teammates knocked you out with a Bludger. You probably would've caught the Snitch those two games as well if it had not been for that."

"How do you know that?" he asked in awe.

"Mum told me," Lily said simply, "She didn't talk about you much. The regret she felt about Oliver and the pain she felt over you leaving weighed pretty heavy on her but she made sure that I knew who you were. I found out all the rest from Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione. They didn't know you were my dad of course, but they talked about you all the time and what you three used to get up to at Hogwarts."

To say Harry almost felt grateful towards Ginny and his old friends was putting it mildly. Ginny could have just as easily said she didn't know who Willow's father was or that her father was Oliver. Instead, Lily had grown up knowing that he was her dad and was even told stories about him.

"How could no one notice?" Harry asked Lily, "I mean you look like someone threw Ginny and me into a blender and you're what came out."

"I've been using glamour charms my entire life," Lily said quietly, "At first, I hated it. I didn't see why I couldn't just go around looking like I'm supposed to. I guess Mum was scared the family would judge her for having cheated on Oliver. You have to realize that I love Mum more than anything. She's the best mum anyone could ever want, but she wasn't always the greatest mum."

"What do you mean?" Harry asked.

"Well," Lily said hesitantly, "The first few years of my life that I can actually remember she pawned me off a lot on Grandmum."

Harry was about to retort with a scathing remark about Ginny but Lily continued, "I know it sounds bad and when I was younger I always kind of wondered why she did it. But I understand now. She wasn't really ready to be a mother without you. She suffered from a really bad depression that almost killed her. She didn't completely abandon me and was always lovely when we were together, but the battles she was fighting in her head made it impossible for her to care for me day in and day out."

Had Ginny truly been that distraught over him leaving? He now felt the familiar sense of guilt settling in the pit of his stomach.

"I'm sorry," he finally said as he looked at Lily, "I never meant to make her suffer."

"I don't blame you," Lily said as she poured a few seeds into the trench she had dug, "You were suffering as well. You did what you thought was best for you. No one, not even Mum, faults you for that."

Despite Lily's words, Harry still felt guilty. If he had not been so cowardly the night he ran away, this could have all been avoided.

Could he fault Ginny for the things that she did in the midst of her sadness? He didn't like it but he understood. He remembered the crippling fear he felt at even leaving his house for the first year he was in France, that overwhelming sense of dread that one day, his emotions would get the better of him. He remembered the panic he felt whenever his eyes caught someone who looked even remotely like Ginny.

No, he couldn't fault her. He didn't have to like it, but he couldn't fault her.

"Who was the other person she told?" he asked not really knowing what else to say, "Ginny said only two people knew."

"Oh, she told me and Grandmum," Lily said, "Grandmum had to know so she could put that charm on me when I stayed at the Burrow. She let me tell Isaac the basics but not the specifics."

"You never told Willow?"

"No," Lily said, "I honestly never thought I'd meet you. I didn't see the point in telling her everything."

"I see," he replied, "Then how in the name of Merlin did she find out by herself? Hermione was literally the brightest witch of her age and she never figured it out, but your ten-year-old daughter did?"

Lily laughed, "Willow is special. She has this overwhelming need to see the good in everything, to always look on the bright side. She focuses on the positives rather than the negatives. She questions everything and when she has something in mind that she wants an answer to, she doesn't stop until she gets that answer."

Harry smiled, "Yeah, she kept pestering me until I would talk to her."

Lily laughed again, "Yep, that's Willow. Has she tried to play matchmaker between you and Mum yet?"

"Merlin, yes," Harry said, "Please make her stop."

"She won't," Lily replied, "I will admit that it would make me extremely happy to see you and Mum back together but I also know thirty-seven years have passed since you last saw her. You two are different people now. You're probably still mad at her in some way for everything that happened. I get it. I'm not going to push it no matter how much I want to see it happen."

"It's not that I don't love her, it's just that..." Harry trailed off not really knowing how to put it into words, but Lily apparently understood.

"It's okay," she said as she stood up, "Mum didn't decide to tell you and everyone else all this because she thought it would bring you back to her even though I know she wants that. She told you so it would bring you to me and your grandchildren."

"I'm sorry I was never there," Harry said as he also stood up, "I wish I had been there. I never had a family of my own before. I'm just glad you don't hate me."

Lily took the moment of opportunity and before he knew it, Lily was wrapping her arms around him.

"You're my dad," she said softly, "I could never hate you."

And just like that, and without being able to stop them, Harry felt tears fall from his eyes as he embraced her back.

To hug his daughter for the first time was a feeling that Harry couldn't even describe. He felt the pain and regret leave him through his tears as they both stood there, father and daughter, in their own little world.

"So, I guess things are going well I take it?" a voice said.

Harry and Lily immediately pulled back from each other as they turned to the visitor.

There was Willow, on her bike, with the biggest grin Harry had ever seen before.

"Oh, Willow hush," Lily scolded, "What are you doing here?"

"I come here every morning to help Harry with his garden," Willow said slowly as she looked at his garden with the freshly planted seeds, "But it looks like I've been replaced."

Harry laughed, "I could never replace you, Willow."

"I know," she said with a grin before she moved to Lily and whispered in her ear loud enough for him to hear her, "I really just come to steal his lemonade."

Harry snorted as Lily started laughing.

"The gall of this child!" Harry said.

Willow giggled, "I'm gonna go ahead and pretend like I know what that means."

"Well, we should be going," Lily said, "We have shopping to do today."

"We do?" Willow asked, and when Lily shot her a secretive glance added, "Oh yeah, we do."

"It was good to see you," Lily said as she looked at Harry.

"I'm glad you stopped by, Lily."

"I'll be back later," Willow said as she moved to her mum.

What, why?" Harry asked.

"You'll see," Willow replied with a mischievous smirk, "I'll come back for my bike."

Lily held out her arm for Willow to take.

Before she grabbed onto her mother's arm, she turned back to him with a grin, "Bye, Granddad."

And, with a pop, they were gone.

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

Harry spent the remainder of the morning and most of the afternoon doing nothing. He had cleaned up the house a bit, but the list of things he could be doing was rather small.

He tried to read a book but it didn't captivate his interest. He didn't know why he was so restless and bored. Maybe he could come out of retirement. It had not been until he met Willow that he felt like he led a very boring life.

For the past twelve years, it suited him just fine, but now, he felt rather pathetic. His body wouldn't be able to take being an Auror again, but maybe a nice desk job would be alright.

No, he hated doing desk work. He would have to think of something else.

It was crazy to think about. A month ago, he was perfectly fine with his solitude and now he was feeling cooped up.

He remembered feeling that way when he lived with the Dursleys all those years ago: cooped up, out of the way, and isolated. This house was starting to feel more like a prison than a safe haven. He had found Hogwarts when he was eleven and with it, a whole other world.

'That's it!'

He rushed to the sitting room, rummaging around in a drawer until he found a piece of parchment and a quill before returning to the kitchen to write his letter.

He had not been back to Hogwarts in many years but knew that Neville Longbottom was still the headmaster. He had taken over for Minerva when she had retired twenty years ago.

He finished his letter addressed to Neville when Willow came walking into the kitchen.

"No, go ahead," he said in exasperation, "Make yourself at home."

"Thanks," she replied with a grin as she sat down beside him.

He shook his head, although was quick to hide the smile that came to his face.

"First," Willow said, "I want to say sorry."

"For?"

"For, um," Willow stuttered, "Here, I'll just give you your present first."

She went back over to the doorway and picked up a box about the size of a Quaffle before bringing it back to the table.

She sat it down in front of him with a smile.

"What are you sorry for?" he asked again.

Willow looked at her wristwatch nervously before looking back at him.

"I did something you might not be happy with," she said in a squeaky voice.

Harry looked at Willow and saw that she seemed very on-edge.

She checked her watch again, "Just know, it was all my idea. It wasn't anyone else's fault. Please don't get mad at them."

"Willow, you tell me what is going on right now," he demanded.

"I got you a birthday present," she said as she checked her watch again.

Harry didn't have time to reply as Willow let out a strange yelp and pushed his present to him.

She was so fast that he reacted on instinct.

As soon as he grabbed the box, he felt the familiar sensation of a hook somewhere behind his navel as his feet left the ground.

All too soon, he landed on solid ground again and stumbled, barely managing to keep his balance.

"Man, I'll tell you, Granddad," Willow said as she stood up and dusted herself off, "I don't want to do that again. That was horrid."

"You made me take a Portkey?" he asked, his anger rising, "Why would you do that?"

"I told you sorry before we left," Willow said.

"Yes, but why?"

"Because it's your birthday," she said with a smile, "And you should spend your birthday with family and friends."

She walked past him and as he turned around to get her attention again, froze.

She had brought him to the Burrow.
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