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SIYE Time:6:50 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: 3459; Chapter Total: 302
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
The French spoken in this chapter was just Harry telling Hermione that he applied for a teaching job at Hogwarts. It wasn't imperative to the plot in any real way. As always, please let me know what you think =)




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Harry was livid.

He tried not to show it to Willow but he was fairly sure she knew. She could see right through people. She saw right through him in a matter of days after all.

Willow had turned around to look at him when he had stopped moving. Her chocolate brown eyes flicked from him to the ground fearfully as if she expected punishment, or at the very least, a stern talking to. But as she looked back up at Harry, and he saw the pleading puppy dog look she was giving him, he melted instantly.

"Bollocks!" Harry thought to himself, "That face should be illegal."

Maybe he could just turn around and leave. He would explain to Willow that he didn't feel comfortable coming around the Burrow so soon after everything and hopefully she would understand that.

As if reading his mind, she spoke up, "Please don't leave."

"Willow," he said with a sigh, "I told you this was going to take me some time getting used to. You can't just pop in my house and give me a surprise Portkey to the home of people I haven't seen in decades before last night. I know it's my birthday and I know you want this to work out, but you must let it happen on its own time. You cannot force it."

Harry saw Willow's bottom lip quiver as she replied, "I know, I'm sorry. I know you're super angry with me, but I just wanted my family together. The family hasn't been whole in a long time."

She looked back at the ground as Harry rubbed the back of his neck. Should he really be as mad as he was at Willow? Sure, she shouldn't have given him the Portkey, but she was only eleven, after all. She might have been smart for her age but she was still a kid, and kids were prone to mistakes and rash decisions the same as everyone else.

Willow saw the good in everyone and in every situation and had just wanted her family to be good again. Harry couldn't fault her for that. Her methods, yes, but her intentions were good.

Harry took this time to look at the Burrow properly for the first time since that Christmas so many years ago. It still looked the same as it always had.

The stall structure still had the appearance of a haphazardly thrown-together mess that looked like it would collapse had it not been supported by magic. Four chimneys were perched on top of the red roof and Harry could see the one connected to the kitchen billowing out plumes of smoke.

Harry looked off to the side and saw Arthur Weasley's workshop. It had been, and probably still was, filled with different Muggle items and contraptions like telephones and digital alarm clocks. Arthur had always been fascinated with Muggle technology.

The thought made him realize something.

Mr. Weasley had not been at Willow's birthday party. The thought caused a sense of anxiety within him.

"Willow?" Harry asked, "Where is your Uncle Ron's dad? Why wasn't he at your party?"

"He was sick that night," Willow explained, "I don't know with what, but Grandmum said it wasn't serious or anything to worry about."

Harry sighed in relief. For a second his mind had gone to the horrible thought that Arthur Weasley had died and no one had told him.

"Hang on," Harry said, "How did you even get a Portkey?"

"Oh, that?" Willow laughed, "I just told Uncle Ron I would tell my mum he let me ride on a broomstick when I was six. He made it for me."

Harry stared, wide-eyed at his granddaughter. This child was something else.

"And how many times have you used this information against him to get what you want?" Harry asked.

"A fair few," Willow admitted with a grin, "Usually just to be able to fly again. Mum doesn't want me flying until I'm older. Hopefully, since you got me a broom for my birthday, she will let up on that though."

Before he could reply, the front door to the Burrow suddenly opened and Lily poked her head out.

She saw the two of them standing in the yard and smiled, "Well, are you two going to come in?"

Willow started to step towards her mother but Harry made no effort to move from the spot he was standing in.

Lily, sensing his discomfort, made her way to him.

"Willow, why don't you go and see if Grandmum needs help," Lily said as she stopped in front of them.

Willow looked from Lily to him, shooting him one last pleading look, before making her way inside the Burrow.

"Are you alright? Lily asked softly, "Ron told me what happened."

"Yeah," Harry let out a sigh, "I just don't know if I'm ready to be here or not."

Lily nodded sympathetically, "I know Willow is overzealous at the prospect of getting you to be with the family. I'm sorry. She is very impatient."

"That she is," Harry said with a chuckle.

"Listen," Lily said, "If you're not ready, you don't have to be here. No one will hold it against you. I know you're still getting used to all this. No one wants to push you so hard that you end up running away again." She paused and then added, "Well, except for maybe Willow. My daughter is very smart but she doesn't understand that when you force someone into an uncomfortable situation, they might start to feel caged and want to run away."

Harry was feeling exactly that and was about to tell Lily the same, but Willow's pleading face from earlier crept into his thoughts.

She was the whole reason all this had happened and although he was extremely uncomfortable at the situations he had found himself thrown into since he met Willow, she had wiggled her way into his heart almost immediately and without him even realizing it.

He couldn't disappoint her. She was his granddaughter.

"You don't have to worry about disappointing Willow," Lily said as if reading his mind, "She can get over it. I can explain it to her in a way that she will understand."

Harry let out a short bark of laughter, "It's like everyone with red hair can just read my mind or something."

"Well," Lily said, "Please don't take this the wrong way, but Mum always said you wear your heart on your sleeve. I've only been around you four times including now and even I can see that she was right."

Harry's brow furrowed in concentration. Was he really that easy to read? Was he that predictable?

"I'm not ready," Harry said, "But, I have to be. For you, Willow, and Liam."

"Are you sure?" Lily asked him, "You don't have to do this."

"I'm positive," Harry replied.

Lily's eyes crinkled at the corners as she offered her arm to him with a smile, "Come on, then. Everyone is waiting."

Walking into the Burrow for the first time in nearly forty years was a strange experience. When he walked over the threshold, he felt the familiar grip of anxiety blanket his heart. Fragmented memories of his time here over the years began to resurface and Harry couldn't help but feel not only a sense of great trepidation, but also of amazement. Even after all these years, it still looked exactly the same; as if he never left.

The nostalgia continued into the sitting room whereupon he glanced briefly at the old Weasley clock that instead of telling time, tracked the immediate family member's location and general well-being.

His eyes swept over the room and saw the same old furniture. It was like he had gone back in time. He could still remember Ron and the twins rescuing him from Privet Drive before his second year and bringing him here for the first time. He was surprised to see he still held the same wonderment for the house as he had all those years ago.

Lily led him out of the sitting room and into the kitchen.

At the doorway he stopped, taking in the room and the people within it.

Molly stood at the kitchen counter, chopping up different vegetables while she hummed softly to herself. Ginny was at the stove stirring something in a pot with her wand. Even Willow was helping out as she was at one end of the table peeling potatoes and talking to her dad.

Isaac was smiling as he conversed with his daughter, all the while, trying to keep Liam from grabbing the potatoes and shoving them in his mouth.

While Willow had strawberry blonde hair, Liam had the trademark Weasley red.

The sight made his heart clench painfully.

"Harry Potter."

Arthur Weasley stood up slowly with the aid of a walking cane and made his way to him. His hair had lost most of its reddish hue and instead looked almost blonde. The man had wrinkles in abundance but his eyes still shone with the mirth that Harry had come to know as a teenager.

Harry noticed Ginny and Molly glance over at him momentarily before turning back to their work. Willow flashed him a smile.

"Mr. Weasley," Harry said as he stuck out his hand.

"Harry," Arthur said as he grabbed his hand, "I think we've known each other long enough that we can drop the Mr. Weasley nonsense. It makes me feel old."

Harry chuckled, "Alright then, Arthur."

"I'm glad you could make it," Arthur whispered to him, "When Molly told me that you popped up, I was so ecstatic. My son has finally come home."

Regret tore through his body like a tidal wave. When he had left for France, he hadn't thought of how his absence might have affected the Weasley clan. The only thing he had cared about was putting as much distance between himself and Ginny as he could. The thought that they had suffered over his departure made his heart ache in a way that it never had before.

Harry took his hand back from Mr. Weasley and instead, hugged the old man.

"I'm so sorry," Harry said, "I never meant to hurt any of you.

"It's alright, Harry," Arthur said, "Molly told me what happened and why you did what you did. I understand. I'm just glad you're home."

Harry pulled back and looked into Arthur's face. Even behind the unshed tears that clung to the corners of his eyes, he could sense an immense amount of love from their depths.

Arthur Weasley made his way back to his previous location at the table as Harry sat down next to Isaac. Lily sat down next to him.

"Good to see you again, Harry," Isaac said as he looked up, "Sorry about the whole Portkey thing. Willow just told me what she did. Rest assured she had a stern talking-to before you came in."

Harry was still a bit peeved over the Portkey incident but decided to brush it under the rug, "It was not a problem. Willow meant well."

Willow flashed him a smile as he continued, "You know, you and Lily raised a fine young woman. Not many people could have brought me out of hiding like she did."

Isaac laughed, "Willow is a very determined child, always has been. We couldn't be prouder of her."

All of a sudden, Harry saw a potato rise up off the table and start levitating away. Just before it reached the outstretched hands of Liam, Isaac grabbed the potato from the air and sat it back down with the rest.

"Liam, what did I tell you?" Isaac said exasperatedly.

Liam just giggled and said, "Want."

Everyone at the table laughed.

"That little one is also as determined as can be," Lily spoke up, "Merlin help us, Honey."

Isaac smiled as he turned to Harry, "Would you like to hold him?"

"I dunno," Harry said taken aback, "I haven't really held a child since Teddy and that was so long ago. What if I drop him?"

"He'll survive. He has a strong head," Isaac said, and before Harry could react, Liam was thrust into his arms.

Harry didn't quite know what to do so he cradled him like he used to cradle Teddy when he had been younger.

Harry looked at Liam and noticed the freckles, striking red hair, and hazel eyes. He looked like the very definition of what a Weasley was supposed to look like as a baby. He didn't notice as he held Liam that Ginny had turned around from her task at the stove and was watching the pair with a smile.

"How old is he?" Harry asked.

"He was born last year, in January," Lily said, "The third to be exact."

Harry smiled as he looked down at the small child who was trying to grab his hair, "Can he walk yet?"

"Oh, yes," Lily said with a laugh, "He's quite the escape artist. Always escaping his crib and rummaging through the food cabinet."

"Ron used to do the same thing," Arthur said, "I swear that boy loves food more than he loves his wife."

"It does come a close second," said a voice from the door.

Harry looked up to see Ron grinning with Hermione at his side.

"George and Angelina are right behind us," Ron said, "He wanted to go check on the shop and make sure Peyton hadn't blown it up again."

"Who is Peyton?" Harry asked.

"George and Angelina's daughter," Ron said as he and Hermione swept into the room and sat down at the table, "She's uh, very good at making things explode."

"Think of Seamus and multiply it by a hundred," Hermione said.

Seamus has been one of their schoolmates. He had had an unusual proclivity to make his cauldron explode or wand backfire.

"She's a bloody genius though, I'll give her that," Ron said, "The things she invents make what Fred and George invented look like child's play."

Harry made a mental note to not accept any food or drink from Peyton in the future if he ever met her.

Soon enough, George and Angelina arrived, and the table was laden with enough food to feed a small army.

He had forgotten how much he missed Molly's cooking and as the Weasley clan sat around the table eating, talking, and laughing, Harry couldn't help the overwhelming happiness that he felt.

"Alors, Hermione," Harry said as he sat down his fork after polishing off some treacle tart, "Je voulais te dire quelque chose mais je voulais en quelque sorte que ce soit un secret jusqu'à ce que j'en sois sûr."

Hermione raised her eyebrow quizzically before replying, "Qu'est-ce que ce serait?"

"J'ai postulé pour être professeur à Hogwarts."

Hermione's face lit up with a smile, "That's great news, Harry! Why did you decide to do that?"

"Boredom mostly," Harry said with a laugh. I've been getting restless in my old age it seems."

"You know," Willow said looking between him and Hermione, "I'm gonna learn French one day so I can know what the heck you guys are talking about."

Everyone at the table laughed.

"You'll find out soon enough if I'm accepted," Harry said.

"I don't see why you wouldn't be," Hermione said, "I'm sure Neville would be glad to have you."

"Neville?" Ron asked, "What would you need to help Neville fo..Oh!"

"Don't tell anyone yet," Harry said.

"My lips are sealed mate."

"Anyways," Willow said dramatically, "it's present opening time."

"What?" Harry yelped, "Please don't tell me you guys got me presents."

"Well, that's usually what one does at a birthday party," Willow said.

Harry shook his head. Willow seemed more excited at the thought of him opening presents than he himself did. He hadn't received a birthday present in nearly thirteen years except for the ones that Teddy sent him.

"Open mine first," Willow said as she thrust a box at him, "I promise it's not a Portkey."

Harry chuckled as he tore at the wrapping and opened the box carefully. Inside was a gardening tool set and seeds for various Muggle flowers.

"Why, thank you, Willow," Harry said genuinely, "These will come in handy. My tools were getting rather old."

"I noticed," Willow said with a grin, "C'mon, open up the next one!"

He ended up getting a nice blazer from Molly and Arthur, a cookbook of recipes from George and Angelina along with some Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products, a new quill and ink set from Hermione (surprisingly not a book), and a restaurant voucher for two to a nearby restaurant from Lily and Isaac.

The meaning behind the Young's gift was not lost on him. Lily had said she wouldn't push him and Ginny to get back together but he knew Lily still hoped that they would one day.

Ron of course, got him some Chudley Cannon's memorabilia stating, "They're going to have a good year this year, I can feel it."

Ginny's gift was absent. Maybe she didn't know what to get him. Maybe, she didn't know if he would accept anything from her, and instead opted to just tell him, "Happy Birthday."

The slight disappointment he felt surprised him at the absence of Ginny's gift, but he didn't let it show as he replied, "Thank you, Ginny."

"Let's take this outside," Arthur said as he grabbed his cane and stood up, "It's a beautiful evening. It would be a shame to not go enjoy some of it."

The party moved outside to the back garden and Harry noticed that the sun was starting to set.

The sun, just over the horizon now, gave an almost effervescent quality to the fields around the Burrow. The slight wind that was blowing moved the blades of grass, as if they were only dancing, and Harry couldn't help but think he'd never seen anything as beautiful before in his life.

"I forgot how much I missed it here," Harry said simply, "I always loved watching the sunset here when I was younger."

"Indeed," Molly said, "We couldn't have picked a better spot for the Burrow."

"Makes me want to move somewhere else now," Harry said.

"Well, you've certainly got the money for it," Ron said with a chuckle, "I say go for it."

"What was it like living in France?" Willow asked, "Did you live in a big city?"

"No, I actually lived on the outskirts of a small village, although I worked in Caen."

"You said you were a healer there?" Hermione asked, "What made you become a healer?"

"Boredom, I guess," Harry shrugged, "I didn't want to be an Auror anymore. I was basically starting a new life for myself. I didn't want to do the same thing I did back here in England."

"Are the women as beautiful as they say?" George asked as he waggled his eyebrows.

Harry let out a short laugh, "I don't know, I didn't really notice."

"Come on, Harry," George said, "You must have met some bird there who caught your fancy."

"I just wanted a quiet and peaceful life," he replied, "Romancing women wasn't really on my to-do list."

"Leave the man alone, George," Arthur said with a laugh.

Harry grinned, "Although, I did meet Daphne there."

"Daphne?" Ginny asked quickly, "Who is Daphne?"

"She was actually a Slytherin in Ron, Hermione, and my year," Harry said, "Daphne Greengrass."

"Oh, yeah!" Ron said, "Her sister married Draco. Daphne always seemed kind of snooty to me."

"That she was," Harry smiled, "She annoyed the hell out of me when we first ran into each other."

"So, you were off gallivanting with a Slytherin Harry?" Angelina said, "Imagine if the Prophet had gotten wind of that. What a scandal!"

Harry guffawed loudly before replying, "We weren't gallivanting as you so eloquently put it. We were just friends. After her husband died, she moved to France. Guess she wanted a fresh start, too; a place where she could let go of the bad memories and make new ones."

He saw, out of the corner of his eye, the pained look on Ginny's face and stood up.

"I'm gonna run to the loo really quick. This bladder isn't what it used to be."

He made his way inside the house and up the stairs to the bathroom across from Ginny's old room.

He splashed some water on his face before looking up into the mirror.

Why had he left like that? Everything was going so well. He didn't even need to use the toilet. He just knew he had to get out of there for a minute.

The hurt in Ginny's face at the mention of Daphne Greengrass bothered him more than it should have. What right did she have to be angry or hurt if he found comfort in another woman, even if it was romantically? She was the one that had got married for Merlin's sake.

He ran his hands through his hair before sighing. That was an argument for another time.

He was making his way back through the sitting room when the Weasley clock caught his eye.

Moving closer, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. It still looked the same as it always had. Upon closer inspection though, Harry noticed another hand had been added that he had missed upon his first entrance into the room.

His eyes widened in surprise as he stared at a hand, labeled 'Harry Potter' complete with his picture, as it pointed to 'Home.'

"Mum and Dad had that added for you right before you left," a voice said from behind him, "It was going to be their Christmas present to you."

Harry didn't turn around. He would know Ginny's voice anywhere and across any amount of time that had passed. Instead, he focused on the gift that Molly and Arthur had given him that he never knew about. It saddened him greatly to know that he was only finding out now.

She walked over to look at the clock.

"After you left," Ginny admitted, "I would come here and look at the clock to see how you were doing. I guess since I didn't know where you had run off to, it was the only thing I could do."

"Why?"

"I don't know, really," Ginny said, "I guess I just wanted to know that you were okay. I know you probably don't want to hear this, but I still loved you. I still cared what happened to you."

Harry didn't reply and they lapsed into silence as they both stared at the clock.

"Harry?" Ginny spoke up a moment later, "Why won't you talk to me?"

Harry sighed, looking at Ginny for a split second, before turning back to face the clock,

"Because I don't know how to anymore," he admitted in a whisper.

She placed her hand on his arm causing him to jerk back.

He didn't look at her face. He didn't want to see the pain and disappointment that he was sure her eyes housed.

"Did you love her?" Ginny asked, "Daphne, I mean?"

"Why do you care?" he replied. He hated how his voice sounded. The regret and resentment were ever-present.

"I will admit that a part of me is jealous," Ginny said, "I know I have no right to feel that way after what I did, but I can't help it. The other part of me, the bigger part, just wants to know that you were happy; that you didn't run off to France and you've been miserable all this time. Despite what I feel, I would never want that for you."

Harry turned to look at Ginny fully for the first time that night. He could see that she was telling the truth. That she really did just want him to be happy.

"Yes," he replied simply.

"What happened?" Ginny asked

"She died in a car accident," Harry said, "When we met, well, you kind of know what she was like. She was a Slytherin. She didn't hate Muggles or anything, but she had a dislike for basically anything Muggle related. But, as time went on, I guess the Muggle life actually grew on her. I taught her how to drive. She was terrified at first, of course, she thought that a metal contraption run by an engine and petrol was barbaric."

He didn't even know why he was telling her about Daphne. Maybe, it was because he'd never told anybody and just needed to get it off his chest.

"She soon got over the fear," Harry continued, "Things were great, you know? But one night she was driving to the store for groceries. She didn't drive much but she always drove to the store to get groceries. Anyway, she was driving to the store and a drunk driver collided with her. I moved back to England after that."

"Do you still love her?"

"I do," Harry admitted, "But I'm okay with what happened now. I've had a long time to process it and it doesn't hurt like it used to."

Ginny grabbed his hand, interlacing her fingers with his, before she spoke, "I'll never be able to tell you how sorry I am for not waiting for you. There is no reason I could give or words I could say that would bring you the comfort you seek. However, I'm still here for you if you'll have me, even as an old friend.

Harry looked at their interlocked hands as he fought off the butterflies in his stomach. How crazy was it that even after all these years Ginny Weasley still affected him so?

"I appreciate that," he replied finally.

"Hold up," she said, "I honestly did get you a present."

She let go of his hand and reached behind one of the couches, producing a leatherbound book.

"Sorry I didn't wrap it," she said sheepishly as she handed it to him.

"That's okay," he replied with a laugh.

He opened the book and on the first page was a moving picture of a baby with green eyes and a tuft of red hair on top of her head. 'Lily Weasley' was written at the bottom.

Harry flipped to the next page and again was greeted with a moving picture of Lily, only this time, she looked to be two or three years old and was laughing and giggling at the camera.

As he flipped through the photo album, he didn't notice as the tears started to fall from his eyes.

Each picture was of a milestone in Lily's life. Ginny teaching her how to ride a bike, her first broomstick ride, and her first train ride to Hogwarts were in there. There was a picture taken when Lily was signed with the Harpies and another of her marriage to Isaac. For the pictures taken in public, Harry noticed that Lily's eyes were brown but when it was just Ginny and Lily, her eyes were emerald green.

Harry closed the photo album.

"Thank you," he said quietly as he wiped his eyes, "you have no idea how much this means to me."

"I'd always hoped that you would come back one day so I could give this to you," Ginny said.

He shrunk the photo album before putting it in his pocket. He grabbed Ginny's hand again and they both just stood in comfortable silence for a moment.

"C'mon," she said with a smile, "They're probably wondering where we've run off to."

He smiled back, "We can't keep them waiting."
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