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SIYE Time:9:16 on 18th May 2024
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Summer of Recovery
By PotterSloth

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Category: Post-DH/AB
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Teddy Lupin
Genres: General, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use
Rating: R
Reviews: 74
Summary: What comes after Voldemort’s defeat? A very, very difficult summer. The world moves on, and it’s much different than it was when Harry and Ginny first got together. The summer will be one of grief, but they’re ready to recover together after so long apart. The only question is: will the world finally let them?
Hitcount: Story Total: 6904; Chapter Total: 305
Awards: View Trophy Room






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Hermione rolled her eyes. "Are you telling me you don't love Ginny?"

/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*

Despite what Hermione and the Weasleys had said to him at the funeral, Harry still didn’t feel right about any of it. He wanted nothing more than to make jokes and smile easily and pretend that none of this had happened. He couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all his fault. He was also starting to feel uneasy with the new pattern of life he was in. He liked sharing a bed with Ginny and being comfortable without being on the run, but it felt like he was getting complacent. Now would be the perfect time for Death Eaters to strike, while everyone was in mourning and starting to relax.

Harry didn’t say much the rest of the day. He felt bad, like he shouldn’t have a hard time talking with his girlfriend and his best friends, but he just couldn’t find words. He was relieved when it was finally bedtime, but even sneaking into bed with Ginny didn’t help. She fell asleep quickly, and Harry found himself watching the rise and fall of her chest, just to be sure she was still breathing. He loved holding her, but he needed some fresh air. He quietly rolled out of bed, certain that it was very late in the night, and went downstairs. He sat on the porch swing, breathing deeply, savouring the natural, woody scent of the Burrow.

The Great Hall was littered with the bodies of its defenders. Among them, Remus and Tonks, leaving behind a baby, orphaned before he even knew his parents. There must have been close to fifty bodies, and everyone still living looked utterly defeated, injured, and terrified. He left, and Oliver Wood passed him, carrying the broken body of Colin Creevey.

Another young life ruined, taken by war. It didn’t matter what he did, there was always more death. All it took was two words and a flash of green light to extinguish the brightest sparks of life. Mortality wasn’t just reality; it was eventuality. He’d been racing towards that eventuality for years, coming far closer, far more often than anyone. And now his feet were carrying him, relentlessly, unceasingly, towards that eventuality that he’d been narrowly avoiding his whole life.

Smoke clouded the sky and the smell of burning flesh and blood clogged his nostrils, making it difficult to breathe. One foot in front of the other, moving mechanically, inching closer towards the end of his line, when the eventuality would claim him like it had claimed so many before him.

Avada Kedavra!’ A flash of green light, and James Potter lay dead in his home.

Avada Kedavra!’ A flash of green light, and Lily Potter fell in front of her son.

Avada Kedavra!’ A flash of green light, and Cedric Diggory died in a graveyard.

‘Avada Kedavra!’ A flash of green light, and Albus Dumbledore plummeted to the ground.

Avada Kedavra!’ A flash of green light, and Hedwig died in her cage.

Avada Kedavra! Avada Kedavra! Avada Kedavra! Avada Kedavra!’ Green light after green light claimed more victims, people he hadn’t even seen die but could imagine it clearly, having seen it so many times before. Alastor Moody, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Colin Creevey. Death marched on, the eventuality claiming all far too soon.

He couldn’t breathe. He knew the eventuality that awaited him, hoping that he could delay the deaths of his friends, those he loved, even though he had to die.

Avada Kedavra!’ Green light raced towards him, the same green light that had raced towards him almost seventeen years earlier.

Avada Kedavra!’ A flash of green light, Bellatrix Lestrange pointing her wand at Ginny, and his world crumbling as the light neared her. Her life, so bright and vibrant, would be extinguished, like so many before, because of him.

He couldn’t breathe.


Hands were on his shoulders, and a calming voice encouraged him, “Breathe, Harry. Deep breaths.” He heard sobbing somewhere in the distance, probably something else he caused. Suddenly, he jerked awake, gasping for air. Bill was holding him tightly. Harry breathed in and out again, eyes darting around. Fleur was standing behind Bill, staring intensely at him, and at the edge of the porch, Arthur was supporting Mrs. Weasley, who was sobbing hysterically as she watched Harry.

Harry breathed again, trying to calm himself down. “Wha- what happened?” he rasped quietly.

“Mum heard you come downstairs. She tried to wake you up, but when she couldn’t, she ran upstairs to get Dad. I heard them coming back down, and we followed. How are you feeling?”

Harry just shook his head, still struggling to even his breathing. “It was bad, Bill.”

Bill nodded understandingly. He sat next to Harry, keeping an arm around his shoulder. “Same as before?”

“I- I don’t even know how to explain it. I just- I kept seeing people die, and I woke up when it looked like Ginny was about to die.”

“These are getting worse, Harry. I really think you should consider talking to someone about this.”

“It’s fine! Bill… I’m okay. They’re dealing with a lot at the hospital right now. The last thing they need is me asking for help with my nightmares.”

Fleur sat on his other side. “‘arry, theez is more ‘zan nightmares. You are ‘urting, still fighting. You can ask for ‘elp.”

“I just- the last thing anyone wants to see is their ‘hero’ going to the hospital, raving like a lunatic about his mental problems. I’ve already felt like a nutter these past three years with the connection in my head to- to him. I don’t want to keep feeling like that,” Harry defended himself. He hadn’t even noticed that Arthur and Mrs. Weasley had walked in front of him.

“Harry, there’s nothing wrong with needing help. After everything you’ve done, anyone would be happy to give you help. You just have to ask for it,” Arthur said, encouragingly.

“You told me you wanted a normal life. Your life won’t get any more normal while you’re still fighting in your mind. Your body is trying to move on, and your head is pulling you back,” Bill told him.

Harry looked at the ground. He knew they were right. He felt helpless with these panic attacks; it wasn’t something he was going to be able to prevent on his own. That didn’t make it any less difficult to admit that he needed help, and even if he did admit it, he didn’t want the rest of the world to know about it like they seemed to know everything else about him.

“I have a friend who works at St. Mungo’s as a Healer. I don’t know how much help she would be, but I could ask if she’d meet with you, at least. I promise she’ll be discreet about it,” Mrs. Weasley said, still sniffling.

“I’m sorry for scaring you, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said.

She just shook her head. “It’s alright, dear. I was just worried that I couldn’t do anything to help. I’m so glad Bill knew what to do.”

Harry nodded, looking back at Bill. He nodded encouragingly, and Harry said hesitantly. “I- you can contact your friend. Just let me know when she can meet, and I’ll be there.”

Everyone around him smiled, clearly relieved that Harry was at least willing to accept help. Bill clapped his shoulder. “Good man, Harry. I think this will help a lot. But-” his expression grew more serious “- I really think you should tell Ginny.”

“And Ron and Hermione,” Mrs. Weasley added, clearly not loving Bill’s singling out of her daughter even if she was dating Harry. Bill turned to her, looking surprised, before nodding. But Harry knew that wasn’t what Bill meant. Or at least, it wasn’t all of it. Because Harry should tell them about his panic attacks, but he also had to tell Ginny about what happened in the forest.

“I’m just not wanting to make things harder on… them, considering what we’re all going through right now,” Harry said.

“We all care very deeply for you, Harry. You’re part of the family, and your struggles are our struggles. We’ll always want to be here for you,” Arthur responded earnestly. Bill nodded, giving Harry a look, saying without words that Ginny would feel the same way. Resigned, Harry nodded.

“I’ll tell them soon,” he promised. As he looked at all their tired faces, he asked, “What time is it?”

“Around four,” Mrs. Weasley said, looking sleepier by the moment.

Fleur gasped, “Eet’s been a week.”

Harry felt nauseous, but Bill tightened his hold on him. He looked over to Bill, who grimaced back at him, realising the same thing. Almost exactly a week ago to the minute, Harry had given himself up to die. A week ago, Fred, Remus, Tonks, Colin, and fifty other heroes lost their lives.

They sat in silence for several minutes. Harry saw a single tear rolled down Arthur’s cheek. “Why don’t we all go back to bed,” Arthur suggested.

Bill glanced at Harry, checking if he was okay. Harry nodded, so they all returned upstairs. He walked up to Ron’s room, waiting outside for a few minutes before going back downstairs. He froze as he came down the stairs to the landing of the first floor, where Ginny and Bill’s rooms were.

Bill was standing in the doorway of his room, giving Harry a curious look. Harry gulped involuntarily, knowing that he was caught. Instead of chewing him out though, Bill surprised him.

“That board causes a creak upstairs,” he said, pointing to one near the top of the stairs. “Mum charmed it when we were all younger to know if we were sneaking around. That’s how she heard you.”

Very confused, Harry nodded, and Bill went back into his room. Harry slowly entered Ginny’s room, careful not to step on the creaking board, and slipped back into bed. Feeling a little better than he had when he’d left, he gratefully wrapped his arms around her and fell asleep.

He woke up a few hours later. Neither he nor Ginny had moved since he’d gotten back into bed. He kissed her softly before leaving to switch rooms with Hermione. Harry didn’t realise how tired he was, intending to go back downstairs after Hermione had left Ron’s room, but instead, he crawled into a sleeping bag on the floor and fell back asleep, still exhausted from not sleeping much the night before.

When he finally made it downstairs, it was late in the morning. The house was empty as far as he could tell, other than Hermione and Ron sitting together at the kitchen table. Harry poured himself a cup of tea and sat with them. “Where is everyone?” he asked.

“George is still in Percy’s room. Bill and Fleur went back to Shell Cottage for the weekend. Mum took Ginny to Aunt Muriel’s to get all the things they left there when they came to Hogwarts. Dad, Percy, and Charlie went into the Ministry. Dad wanted to check in on some stuff since he’s been gone for a week and isn’t planning on going back to work for at least another week. Kingsley wanted to see Charlie about the dragon from Gringotts, and I think Percy went because he’s not sure if he actually has a job anymore,” Ron explained.

Harry nodded. “So what are you two up to?”

“Waiting for you to get up, actually,” Ron answered.

“Why?” Harry asked automatically.

“It feels like we’ve barely all been together this week other than when we talked to Kingsley and McGonagall. I- we thought it would be nice to spend some time together today,” Hermione responded, looking at him with concern. Harry wondered for a brief moment if she knew about what had happened last night.

“Alright, that sounds good to me,” Harry agreed. “What were you planning on us doing?”

“Mum said the garden needed to be de-gnomed,” Ron offered helpfully. Hermione wrinkled her nose and sighed at Harry’s excited expression. De-gnoming had always been one of his favourite things to do at the Burrow. It sounded like a lot of fun to go outside and throw gnomes around with his friends.

“I guess we could do that,” Hermione reluctantly caved, and the three of them marched out the back door and into the garden. In the month that the Weasleys had been away from the Burrow, the gnomes had taken control of the garden, openly wandering about instead of sticking to bushes and gnomeholes.

“This is gonna be fun,” Ron remarked, looking over at Harry, who was grinning at the sight. Hermione rolled her eyes, muttering something that sounded like ‘stupid boys’.

“Be careful, Hermione,” Ron suggested. “They can smell fear, and their bites hurt.”

“Honestly, Ron,” Hermione rolled her eyes. “Don’t you think I remember what we learned about gnomes at school?” She bent down to pick up her first gnome, but it moved too quickly from her, and before she could react, it had clamped its teeth down on her hand.

“Shit!” Hermione screamed, spiking the gnome into the ground as she waved her hand in an attempt to get it off. Harry and Ron stared for a moment, surprised because Hermione never swore. Then they burst out laughing, remembering Hermione’s smugness a moment earlier.

Angered, Hermione picked up her gnome, sufficiently dazed from the faceplant it just took, and hurled it over the hedge, surprising both Ron and Harry with how hard she threw it. Then, as if determined to prove that she did know what she was doing, she quickly picked another one up, swung it around by its feet, and launched it just as far as the first one. Still laughing but a little impressed, Harry and Ron joined in, not wanting to miss out on the fun. Gnomes soared through the air for the better part of an hour before Hermione, Ron, and Harry sat down on the edge of the porch, red-faced but grinning at the fun they’d been having.

“I’ve gotta say,” Ron began, wiping sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. “This beats riding that dragon any day.” Harry and Hermione laughed at this, but it also brought Harry back to something he’d been meaning to talk to them about.

Taking a deep breath, he looked to his left at his two friends. “Hey… there’s something I need to tell you two about.” That quickly got their attention, and they looked at him with curious expressions. “I’ve been having… panic attacks, recently.”

Hermione looked extremely concerned, but Ron frowned. “What’s a panic attack?” he asked.

“They’ve happened a couple times when I’m alone and start thinking about things. Basically, I get stuck in some sort of memory or series of memories, kind of like a trance almost, and my body starts panicking. I start sweating and shaking, and I almost forget how to breathe,” Harry explained. “Bill told me about them. Apparently they’re not very common in the wizarding world.”

Ron looked speechless, nodding slightly at the explanation. Hermione had a question though. “How did Bill know about yours then?”

Harry blushed, knowing that she wouldn’t like the answer. “He found me having one the first morning we were here. He pulled me out of it.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes, taking on a very motherly demeanour that scared Harry a little. “And why are we only hearing about this now?”

“I- I didn’t want to pile anything more on you two with the funerals and everything. Bill said that maybe if I finished telling Ginny everything and stopped feeling like there were things I was hiding, it’d be easier to deal with them or maybe they wouldn’t happen as often.”

Hermione wasn’t done grilling him. “So what changed then? Between Wednesday and now?”

Harry looked down at the grass under his feet. “Mrs. Weasley found me having another one in the middle of last night. She couldn’t wake me up, so Bill had to do it. They convinced me to talk to someone at St. Mungo’s that Mrs. Weasley knows about it. I figured since the two of them and Arthur and Fleur knew, I should tell you two as well, especially if I’m gonna be going to St. Mungo’s for it.”

“You said you get trapped in memories… what sorts of memories?” Ron asked.

Hermione smacked his arm, “Ron!” she scolded.

Ron winced, “Sorry, mate. You don’t have to talk about that if-” Harry cut him off, waving his hand.

“It’s okay, I can tell you about it. It’s not really a secret from you. I just keep going back to the forest, or seeing people I love dying. Last night, I woke up when I thought Bellatrix had just killed Ginny,” he confessed.

“Bloody hell,” Ron breathed, running a hand through his hair, just like Bill had when Harry told him about it.

Hermione’s scolding expression had softened and tears swam in her eyes. She reached out and took Harry’s hand, squeezing it tightly. “I’m so sorry, Harry. It’s not fair that you have to be going through this.”

Harry nodded. “Hopefully the Healer at St. Mungo’s is able to help.” He wasn’t at all confident about that working though.

“Wait- you said these were all memories right? When did Bellatrix almost kill Ginny?” Ron asked.

Hermione grimaced. “It was in the Great Hall, at the end. Bellatrix shot a Killing Curse right past Ginny’s head when we were fighting her. That was when your mum stepped in and… you know…”

“I had been running to Riddle,” Harry said. “But when I saw that, I turned and started running to her, until Mrs. Weasley knocked me out of the way. But for a second, I thought…” he didn’t need to finish the sentence as something caught in his throat.

Hermione squeezed his hand again. “You should tell her that,” she suggested. “At some point. It says a lot that you were distracted by that when Riddle was right there.”

Harry nodded, realising it too, like he had the first time he’d thought about it. After the Horcrux hunt and everything they’d been through, he hadn’t hesitated to prioritise her over the mission when it came down to it. “I feel like it was selfish, almost,” he admitted. “If something had happened to me then, if I hadn’t been able to defeat him, it would’ve been my fault.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Love makes people do some irrational things sometimes, Harry. It doesn’t make you selfish.”

Ron added, “Mate, I don’t think you could be selfish if you tried. You literally sacrificed your life to save everyone; nobody could ever think you were selfish after that.”

Harry was still focused on what Hermione said. “Love?” he asked quietly. Ron looked at him then back at Hermione quickly, as if he had just registered what Hermione had said.

Hermione rolled her eyes yet again. “Are you telling me you don’t love Ginny?”

Harry shrugged, feeling confused as usual. “I don’t even know what that feels like.”

Hermione looked at him seriously. “Love is… well, it’s breaking up with the girl of your dreams because you think it’ll protect her. It’s spending endless nights watching a dot on the Marauder’s Map and moping around on Valentine’s Day and saying her name in your sleep more nights than Ron or I ever told you about. It’s sacrificing yourself for everyone, especially her, even though it means you’ll never get the chance to be with her again. It’s running away from your mission the moment she’s in danger.”

Harry was dumbfounded. “I… I love her?” he asked again.

Ron shook his head in disbelief. “I’ve already told you once, but you’re lucky she’s as mad about you as you are for her; otherwise, she would’ve left you for someone much smarter a while ago.”

Harry was just confused. What Hermione said did make sense, but he still wasn’t sure. What if things were going too fast or she wasn’t ready? The last thing he wanted to do was scare her off after they’d just gotten back together. Hermione interrupted his train of thought when she said, “It may be best if you wait until after you tell her everything to tell her though, if you’re wanting to. That might help soften the blow of everything too.”

Harry nodded. That made more sense at least. Plus it gave him a little more time to think about it. “You still haven’t told her?” Ron asked.

Harry shook his head as Hermione replied, “I think we’ll probably be able to tell when she finds out. We didn’t look great when we found out about it.”

Harry exhaled deeply, still dreading telling her, as much as he wanted to. “I’m going to try to tell her everything today. I’m not looking forward to it, but I just want to get it over with so I- we can try to move on.”

Hermione nodded and stood up. “That’s a very good idea, Harry. I’m going to start unpacking everything we had in my bag. I’ll leave your stuff in Ron’s room,” she told the two of them.

Harry and Ron stayed sitting on the porch, looking at the early afternoon sun beating down on the surrounding grass and trees. Harry nudged Ron. “How d’you feel about Hermione talking about love?” he asked, grinning.

Ron laughed. “Not worried about it at all honestly. You and Ginny are way further along in your relationship than we are. Besides, Hermione’s already told me that we’re going to be taking things slowly, especially this summer, and that’s fine by me. I didn’t really do too well with the quick, hot, and heavy relationship thing last time,” he finished quietly, his face darkening as he said it. Harry knew why- Lavender Brown’s funeral was going to be in two days.

“How are you doing… with that?” he asked tentatively, wondering what Ron was feeling.

Ron just shrugged. “I dunno. I don’t really know how I should be feeling. Like it’s awful that she died, and I’m really sad about that, but should I be feeling more or differently as her ex-boyfriend?”

Harry furrowed his brow. “I’m not sure, honestly. I’d imagine Hermione would have a better idea about that than me, but I get it if you don’t wanna bring that up with her. I just think- nobody really knows how to feel with all this. One minute, I’m happy and laughing with you all, and the next I feel like crying. There’s not a right way to handle it in my book.”

“I feel a little guilty about our relationship,” Ron confessed. “I think I knew I fancied Hermione, but I just didn’t think she felt the same way. And after Lavender started showing me all that attention, I just- well, it wasn’t hard to start things with her, but it was miserable pretty quickly, and I should’ve broken up with her much sooner instead of waiting for her to end it.”

“That’s a tough path to go down, starting to think about what you should and shouldn’t have done, especially with relationships,” Harry commented. “I wish I hadn’t been so stupid and went for it with Ginny two summers ago instead of waiting until the end of sixth year. You and Lavender didn’t work together, Ron, but I don’t think you should be feeling guilty about what happened. And it’s not your fault that she died,” Harry finished quietly, starting to feel guilty himself.

Ron put an arm around his shoulders. “It’s not your fault either, mate.” Harry nodded, not sure if he believed that, but he and Ron sat like that for a while, lost in their thoughts of death, guilt, and mistakes in love when they heard a pop in the front yard.

“Must be Mum and Ginny,” Ron said. Harry jumped up, excited to see his girlfriend for the first time today. He started to go inside when Ron grabbed his arm. Harry turned to look back at him and was confused by the protective look on Ron’s face.

“Seriously though Harry, you do need to tell Ginny about everything. Then tell her you love her. Because it’s bloody obvious, and even though I don’t like seeing you two all over each other, nobody deserves that more than the two of you.” He then surprised Harry even further by pulling him into a brief hug with a couple of pounds to Harry’s back. He suspected that this was Ron telling him he approved of the relationship, but it was also Ron’s way of saying that he was there for him with the whole panic attack thing. When Ron released him, Harry nodded at him, smiling briefly at his best friend, before going inside to see his girlfriend.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHGHGHGHG

Ginny hadn’t wanted to leave the house today, especially without Harry, and especially to go to Auntie Muriel’s house. She’d had more than enough of the old woman over the past month, and other than her and Harry reuniting and Riddle’s defeat, the best thing about the battle, in her opinion, was that it marked the end of her time at Muriel’s. For weeks, she’d had to listen to Muriel criticising everything about her- her hair, her height, her weight, her many bruises, her lack of a husband, and much more.

Thankfully, Muriel was mad at her house elf today, so Ginny only received a handful of comments, including “You’ll never get married wearing your hair like that” and “It’s a miracle you haven’t been kidnapped, wearing clothes like that.” That one confused Ginny, who was just wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans. Ginny desperately wanted to say that she was dating none other than Harry Potter, but she held her tongue, waiting for an exceptionally perfect moment to spring that on her old auntie.

When her and her mum finished packing all the things they’d left there, Ginny was disappointed that her mother was convinced to stay for tea because, as Auntie Muriel put it so delicately, “I’m one hundred and eight years old. This could be the last time you ever have the chance to have tea with me!”

Ginny bit back the incredibly rude responses to that argument that were half formed in her brain and sat silently with her mother and great aunt, listening to her aunt telling them scandalous stories she’d heard about the battle, as if Ginny and her mum hadn’t been there.

Ginny finally couldn’t hold it in anymore when Muriel said that she’d heard from “reputable sources” that the “Potter boy was actually in league with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” Supposedly, Riddle and Harry had planned for Harry to sabotage the castle from the inside, and after the battle, they’d work together to conquer Britain, and Harry only won because he betrayed him at the end, seeking to become the “sole Dark Lord”. This pushed Ginny over the edge, and she opened her mouth to let her great aunt know where she could stick that story when her mother rushed them out of the parlour, thanking Muriel for tea before disapparating the second they left the house.

“How dare she say that?” Ginny practically screeched the moment they landed.

Her mum just shook her head. “I have no idea, dear. You know how she gets. I wouldn’t tell Harry about it though- it’ll probably make him feel worse about everything, knowing that there’s at least a few people out there who believe rubbish like that.”

Ginny nodded, knowing that he was dealing with enough without something like this bothering him too. They entered the Burrow, and Ginny was greeted with Harry’s beaming face as he pulled her into a tight hug, kissing her hair. “I missed you,” he whispered to her.

Ginny smiled against his chest. “It’s only been a few hours,” she teased, but she hugged him back harder. “I missed you too.”

Harry held a hand out to her. “Walk with me?” he asked. She nodded eagerly, grabbing his hand and following him out the back door.

“I need to tell you something,” he said as they started walking away from the Burrow. Something in his voice concerned Ginny, and she looked at him to see that he seemed distressed. She squeezed his hand and grabbed his arm with her other hand, letting him know that she was there for him. He resumed, “I- I’ve been having these things called panic attacks. I get trapped in a memory and go into a sort of trance where I start shaking and can’t breathe. It started on Wednesday, and Bill found me. He told me that I should talk about it with someone, but I told him I could handle it and didn’t want to be a bother to anyone right now, with the funerals and everything. Then your parents, Bill, and Fleur found me in one in the middle of last night, and they convinced me to go see a Healer your mum knows at St. Mungo’s about it.”

Ginny felt her heart breaking, aching for Harry, who had done so much and was still dealing with the pain of everything that had happened. She pulled him into a tight hug, stopping their progress.

“I’m so sorry, Harry,” she whispered. But then she pulled back and gave him a stern look, feeling a twist in her gut at the idea that he thought it was best to hide things like this from her. “But you don’t have to do anything alone anymore. You’ve got Mum and Dad, Bill, Ron and Hermione, me… I want to know when things are bothering you. We’re supposed to be doing this together.”

Harry looked down at her apologetically. “I’m sorry, Gin. I know I should’ve told you. I want to tell you everything; I’m just still getting used to the idea that I’m not alone anymore.”

Ginny couldn’t be too annoyed with that. “Well get used to it faster because you’re not gonna be alone ever again,” she promised, eyes blazing as she looked back at him.

“Forever,” he whispered, kissing her softly. She loved him, and she wanted to scream it as loud as she could, for everyone to hear. But this was enough, barely, for now.

They began walking by the stream that ran near the Burrow. “What sorts of memories are you seeing in these panic attacks?” Ginny asked gingerly, hoping he’d open up to her.

Harry frowned. “I’m back at the battle, and there’s just so much death,” he said sadly. Ginny hated seeing that mournful look on his face. After everything, Harry deserved to be happy and not have worries for a while. They all did.

“That actually brings me to the other thing I wanted to talk to you about,” Harry continued. “I’m almost done with the story of the past year, and I don’t want to keep you in the dark longer. So where were we?”

“You were about to tell me about Gringotts,” she responded eagerly, thankful that Harry was still volunteering this information to her.

“Right… so we’d convinced Griphook to help us. We used Polyjuice Potion and a hair Hermione had on her from when Bellatrix tortured her to turn her into Bellatrix. Hermione disguised Ron, and I followed them with Griphook, wearing the Invisibility Cloak. It took Hermione a bit to figure out how to act like Bellatrix, and when she finally did, a Death Eater- Travers- approached us. He’d acted a little suspicious, but he was still fooled. I had to confund a pair of guards to get us into Gringotts, and then the goblin we spoke with seemed to have been warned that someone would try and break into her vault. Hermione had Bellatrix’s wand, and the Death Eaters had apparently told them that the real Bellatrix wouldn’t have her wand. So when he asked for her wand for verification, I- I had no choice. I had to use the Imperius Curse on the goblin and Travers to get us in,” Harry admitted, looking slightly disappointed with himself.

Ginny had to admit that she was surprised. If she’d been making a list of the people least likely to use an Unforgivable Curse, Harry would’ve been near the top of that list. But… “Like you said, Harry, you had no choice. It was war, and we had to win,” she told him earnestly, hoping that he wouldn’t be too hard on himself. Harry nodded, looking at least a little convinced.

“I- yeah… anyways, we were in a cart going to the lower levels of the bank, where the Lestrange vault was, but there was an enchantment that I guess Griphook had forgotten about. It’s called the Thief’s Downfall. It was like a waterfall that wiped away the Polyjuice Potion and Ron’s disguise while alerting Gringotts that someone was disguised when they came through it. We didn’t have a lot of time. When we got to the lower levels, there was a dragon guarding the vaults. It had been trained to expect pain when it heard these Clanker things the goblins used, so we were able to get past it pretty easily.” Ginny shuddered at the inhumane treatment of the dragon that Harry was describing.

“We finally got into her vault, but everything had been cursed with the Geminio and Flagrante Curses. Basically everything we touched multiplied and burned us, which made it even harder to find the Horcrux, but we finally found it. Hufflepuff’s Cup was near the top of the vault, but we couldn’t use Accio to bring it to us. Hermione levitated me up to it, and I got it, but we couldn’t keep from touching things. We were all being burned and crushed by all the objects in the vault. We kind of slid out of the vault on top of all of it, and Griphook took the Sword of Gryffindor. I don’t think he expected us to keep our word with him. He was right- we were going to give it to him, but not until after we’d destroyed all the Horcruxes. He just double crossed us first, and he led Gringotts security right to us. I couldn’t see another way out, so I jumped on top of the dragon, releasing it from its chains. Ron and Hermione caught on and jumped up with me, and we were able to get out of there, riding the dragon.”

Ginny couldn’t help but grin at the thought of the three of them not only successfully robbing Gringotts, but also escaping on the back of a dragon. It was an incredible story, but as her smile faded, she remembered what happened immediately after this event.

“We rode on it for most of the day, until the dragon finally decided to land, and we could jump off in a lake. We were trying to plan our next move when my brain connected with Riddle’s for a moment, and I saw him killing the goblins in Gringotts who told him about what had happened. He knew then that we were hunting Horcruxes, but he thought that his others would still be safe. I saw him thinking about where they were hidden. He wanted to check and make sure they were all still in their hiding places. While he was thinking about it, I saw that he wasn’t worried at all about the one hidden at Hogwarts. I’d figured that he’d hide one at Hogwarts, but we didn’t know for sure until now. We decided to go ahead and head to Hogwarts immediately. Once he found that the locket and the ring were gone, he’d probably move the Hogwarts Horcrux somewhere else for safekeeping, just like he started keeping Nagini with him at all times.

“We apparated into Hogsmeade and set off the Caterwauling Charm. There must’ve been a dozen Death Eaters looking for us. They knew where we were when I had to cast a Patronus to protect us from some dementors, but Aberforth pulled us into The Hog’s Head, and convinced them that my stag was his goat Patronus. We found out that he was the one who had sent Dobby to us in Malfoy Manor; he’d bought Sirius’ mirror from Mundungus when he looted Grimmauld Place. Professor Dumbledore had told him what it was, and he was trying to use it to look out for us. We told him we needed to get into Hogwarts, so he sent the portrait of Ariana to get Neville, who brought us into the Room of Requirement through the tunnel.

“We didn’t actually know where the last Horcrux was hidden or what it even was, but when Luna mentioned the lost diadem of Ravenclaw, it seemed like the best bet since we didn’t have anything else to go on, and Riddle had just found out that the ring was gone. Luna took me up to Ravenclaw Tower, and the Carrows were waiting for me.” Ginny involuntarily clenched the hand that wasn’t holding Harry’s into a fist.

“Alecto summoned Riddle, and Luna stunned her. Amycus couldn’t get in, so McGonagall let him in. They came up, and Amycus was furious that his sister was stunned. He didn’t see me because I’d hidden under the cloak, so he started saying that they’d blame some Ravenclaws for the false alarm, claiming that they forced Alecto to press the Dark Mark. McGonagall refused to let him hurt any of the students, so he spat on her. And then… I used the Cruciatus on him,” Harry whispered.

That surprised Ginny even more than the first confession of an Unforgivable Curse. She must’ve clearly shown that in her face because Harry tried to explain, “I’m not really sure what came over me, but seeing him do that, it just made me snap. If- if I’m being honest though, hearing what those monsters did to you this year… I almost wish I’d done it more than once.” Ginny rubbed his arm, knowing that despite his anger, that was a one-time thing, and he wouldn’t be Harry if he actually enjoyed causing people pain regularly.

“I don’t think you were wrong for doing it… but I don’t think it’s a bad thing that you didn’t keep doing it either. You’re too good to let yourself want to hurt people for fun,” Ginny quietly replied, seeing that understanding flicker in Harry’s eyes. Even though he told her that he’d thought about doing it more, she knew that he felt conflicted about using the Cruciatus, just like he had with the Imperius. She kissed him softly on his cheek, and he closed his eyes a little, nodding at what she said. He regathered himself after a moment, and Ginny let him continue.

“I told McGonagall that Riddle was coming. She agreed to secure Hogwarts to give me enough time to find the diadem. We left the tower and ran into Snape. I was under the cloak, and he asked if she knew where I was. She attacked him, and Flitwick and Sprout joined her. Snape flew- somehow- out a window and away from the castle. She started planning defences with them and Slughorn, and Luna and I came back to the Room of Requirement. And- actually… Ginny- I- I owe you an apology.” Ginny was surprised, suspecting that she knew what this was for, but she hadn’t expected him to apologise for it.

“I shouldn’t have been so dismissive when your parents told you to stay there. I had no idea about all the stuff you did that year, and I should’ve been supportive of you. You’re one of the strongest people I know. It’s just-” his voice cracked “- you mean so much to me, I wanted you to be safe.” He looked at her, appearing so conflicted but genuinely sorry that he’d sided against her.

Ginny took both of his hands in hers. “It’s okay, Harry. I understand why you did it. It’s the same reason you tried to break up with me at Dumbledore’s funeral. You can be stupid and noble, but we’re better together than we are apart. Just don’t forget that.”

Harry smiled at her. “I don’t ever want to be anywhere other than the same side as you again.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Ginny promised, and they started walking back the way they came, having come quite a long way from the Burrow by this point.

Harry continued his story. “Well, you heard Riddle’s ultimatum. The underage students and anyone who didn’t want to stay and fight left. While everyone else was either leaving or preparing to fight, I found the Grey Lady. She’s Helena Ravenclaw, the daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw. She confirmed that she’d told Riddle about the diadem and where she’d hidden it after she’d stolen it. She hid it in Albania, and Riddle spent a lot of time in Albania decades ago. I realised when I was looking for Ron and Hermione that I’d seen the diadem before. Last year, when I hid the Prince’s potion book, I used the diadem to mark its hiding place. I just had no idea what it was at the time. So when I came back and asked you, Tonks, and Mrs. Longbottom to leave, I needed to change the room into the place where everything is hidden. Hermione and Ron went down to the Chamber of Secrets to get basilisk fangs, and they destroyed Hufflepuff’s Cup down there.

“Actually, that’s when they kissed for the first time… right after the three of you left, Ron said we should tell the house elves in the kitchen to leave, and Hermione jumped him.” Ginny couldn’t help but laugh. After all the years of them pining over each other, that was how they got together? It seemed a little ridiculous.

“Great timing,” she commented through her giggles.

Harry grinned. “That’s what I said. We found the diadem in the Room of Requirement, but Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy found us at the same time. Crabbe started trying to kill us, but Malfoy just wanted to capture us so he could turn us in. Hermione stunned Goyle, and Crabbe cast Fiendfyre inside the Room. We all started running, but we weren’t going to make it until we found three broomsticks. The three of us got on and started flying out, but… well, we decided to save Malfoy and Goyle. Crabbe died in the fire.”

Ginny suspected that it had been Harry who had decided to save two of his enemies. She certainly couldn’t see Ron suggesting it, but it was another testament to Harry’s modesty that he didn’t take credit for something as selfless as this.

“The Fiendfyre destroyed the Horcrux inside the diadem. As we were leaving, we saw Fred- just before it happened.”

“What happened to him?” Ginny asked quietly after a moment of silence. Nobody had told her, and as painful as it would be, she wanted to know.

Harry grimaced, remembering it, but he said, “Fred and Percy were fighting Death Eaters. One of the Death Eaters was Pius Thicknesse. Percy made a joke, telling the Minister that he was resigning. We stunned the Death Eater Fred had been duelling, and he started laughing at the joke Percy had made, when the corridor exploded. I don’t know what actually happened. We were all buried under rubble, but when we made it out, he was… on the floor.”

Ginny felt the tears running down her cheeks again, and Harry hugged her comfortingly. The pain didn’t go away, and Ginny knew it would be a long time before thinking about Fred didn’t make her tremendously sad, but hearing exactly how he died tore her apart. She sobbed against Harry’s chest, just wanting the pain to stop. They stood there for a while, the only sounds disturbing the silence of the orchard were Ginny’s sniffles and the trickling of the stream.

When she finally calmed down, she looked up at Harry, who had a distant expression on his face, sad, but not crying. He slowly looked down at her, realising that she’d stopped crying. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. Ginny kissed his cheek, recognising the guilt he felt, wishing he knew, like she did, that none of it was his fault.

Harry started talking, shakingly, as they began walking again. “Ron… and I- we wanted to just go out and fight the Death Eaters. I wanted to make sure you were still okay, especially after what had just happened. Hermione calmed us down; Ron was really hysterical, but she reminded us that we still had to kill the snake. She told me to look inside Riddle’s mind and find where he was because the snake would be with him. He was in the Shrieking Shack, expecting that we’d come and find him because the snake was there too. We started running towards the Whomping Willow- to the secret entrance to the Shrieking Shack. We saw so much fighting- Lavender being killed by Fenrir Greyback, spiders and giants invading, and we ran into a pack of dementors. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I couldn’t cast a Patronus. It took Luna reminding me that we were all still fighting to give me enough happiness to cast it, somehow.

“We got into the Shrieking Shack through the secret passage. We hid and watched Riddle, who had summoned Snape to him. He said the Elder Wand wasn’t working for him because Snape was still the master of the Elder Wand, since Snape had killed Dumbledore and Riddle didn’t know about Malfoy. He- he had Nagini kill Snape, and then he left. I don’t know why, but I had to see if I could help Snape. He was seconds away from death, and he told me to take his memories. I caught them in a flask to take back up to the castle, and then he died. That was when Riddle called the ceasefire.”

They had come near to the house, and even though Harry looked exhausted recounting all of this, he seemed determined to continue. That is, until they were interrupted by a gut-wrenching wail coming from the Burrow. Alarmed, Ginny and Harry looked at each other and ran to the house.

Ginny’s mum was hunched over one of the boxes they’d brought back from Muriel’s. Her body was wracked with sobs, and Ginny’s dad stood next to her, equal parts hugging her and keeping her from falling over. Percy, Charlie, Ron, and Hermione looked as bewildered as Ginny and Harry felt. George appeared at the foot of the stairs, looking very concerned as well.

“What happened?” Ron finally asked his dad, who looked grief-stricken like Mrs. Weasley, even if he wasn’t sobbing.

“It’s- it’s the clock. Your mother found it when she was unpacking the boxes,” he explained halfheartedly. Ginny frowned, confused about why that would’ve made her cry. It wasn’t until Charlie stepped forward, reaching into the box and pulling out the clock did she understand. Attached to the back of the shrunken clock, Ginny could see, instead of in its usual position, was Fred’s hand.

Ginny felt grief welling up in her too. Harry still looked confused, so she whispered quietly to him, as it sunk in for everyone else. “I’d forgotten… when someone dies, their hand somehow goes to the back of the clock since there’s not a place for it to point to on the clock anymore. So Mum saw that Fred’s hand wasn’t on the clock anymore,” she explained as a tear fell. Harry wiped it away with his thumb, pulling her into yet another hug, not that Ginny would ever tire of these hugs. She looked to the staircase, but George was gone.

The family was in a very sombre mood the rest of the day. Nobody ate much of a new stew her mum had made, and George didn’t come downstairs again the rest of the day. Just before everyone went to bed, Ginny’s mum spoke to Harry. “Harry, dear- the Healer I told you about at St. Mungo’s told me she could see you tomorrow afternoon around three. There’s a back entrance that she can meet you at so nobody will see you.” Harry nodded, looking like he’d forgotten all about his panic attacks in the midst of everything else that had happened today.

“Thanks Mrs. Weasley,” he said quietly. She smiled at him, hugged them all, and went upstairs to bed. The rest of the family followed shortly, and Ginny silently thanked Percy and Charlie for not asking what Harry needed a healer for.

She sat on her bed, tired, but waiting for Hermione to switch places with Harry. Before Hermione left, Ginny asked her, “Did Harry tell you why he’s going to St. Mungo’s?”

Hermione nodded. “He told Ron and I this morning while you were gone. He told you, right?” Ginny nodded back at her. “Good,” Hermione said.

“I just wish there was something I could do. He still seems like he’s carrying the weight of the world, but now it’s all this guilt and grief,” Ginny said, feeling a little hopeless.

Hermione looked empathetically at her. “I know, I feel the same way. He deserves a break. But as for you, just keep being there for him. You do more for him than the rest of us combined,” she said, giving Ginny a knowing look.

Ginny raised an eyebrow. “What was that look for?”

Hermione blinked innocently. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Hermione, what do you know?”

“A lot, Ginny. You’ll find out everything that matters sooner rather than later, I promise.”

Frustrated, Ginny pouted, but that wasn’t going to sway Hermione at all. Now disappointed, she rolled her eyes, hoping that Hermione was right. She hated feeling on the outs of the ‘trio’ even though she knew how close she was to Harry. Hermione smiled at her apologetically but offered no further explanation before leaving. Moments later, Harry entered Ginny’s room, smiling at her as they crawled into bed.

Ginny cuddled against him, and he held her tightly. “Will you go with me tomorrow?” he asked. “I don’t really want to go alone.”

Ginny turned to look at him. “I’ll be by your side whenever you want me there,” she replied honestly.

Harry smiled at her. “Guess you’ll be by my side all the time then.”

“No place I’d rather be,” she responded, kissing him on the nose before pressing back against him.

“Maybe we could go see Teddy before the appointment,” Harry suggested.

Ginny nodded, slowly starting to fall asleep. “That’s a great idea.”

/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/* /*/*

A/N: I know, I know, I know. Harry’s doing his absolute best to tell Ginny everything. It’s not his fault that the universe (or an author that enjoys dragging things out) is keeping him from finishing the story! Obviously, there’s not much left to tell, and I can promise that we’re getting very close to the whole story coming out, and I think it’ll be worth the wait.

It was always a challenge to write Harry’s panic attacks, trying to put myself in his shoes and thinking about what would terrify him the most and get him to that point of slipping into an attack. The important thing is building Harry’s support system because he definitely would’ve kept all of this to himself if it had started happening a couple years earlier. I didn’t set out to write a treatise on mental health advocacy or anything like that, but it is incredibly important, as all of our characters are learning and growing into. Of course the Weasleys want to be supportive of Harry, and of course his best friends and Ginny are going to do everything they can to help him too. They’d been there for him all along; it just took something as dramatic as the Battle to force him to accept it.

Harry is still, sadly, a little clueless in other areas. To me, Hermione is the go-between for Harry and Ginny while they’re building up their knowledge and maturity in relationships, if that makes sense. She has less experience than they do, but Harry’s clearly never felt love before, and Hermione knows enough to know that he loves Ginny. I mean, Ron’s noticing it too, so it’s not like it’s much of a secret!

Handling Harry’s use of the Unforgivables, especially the Cruciatus, is very interesting to me. Realistically, using the Cruciatus was unnecessary and, in the real world, would probably amount to something like a war crime. There were other ways to incapacitate Amycus without the added pain. However, I don’t think Harry was entirely wrong or unjustified for doing it. Ginny sort of acts as my voice in the moment that Harry tells her because she knows that he wouldn’t do it again. And honestly, she’s probably a lot less bothered by it because of who the recipient of it was, and I’m not sure there’s much that’s wrong with that either.

The family clock was shrunk because, in my headcanon, Molly would’ve wanted/needed to take it with her when they fled the Burrow in April, and shrinking it made it portable. I’ve read different theories about what happens to a person’s hand on the clock when they die. I think a lot of people theorise that it would point to ‘lost’ or ‘travelling’, but I didn’t really like either of those options or the implications behind them. Another option is that it just falls off, but I think that’s a little brutal and also wouldn’t make for a very good scene, in my opinion, if Molly is digging around in the box looking for the detached hand. So I thought it made sense that it magically transfers to the back of the clock because the person is still a part of the family, but it’s not really possible to see where they are anymore. At least, that’s my take on it.

It was a tough day for everyone, and more tough days lie ahead, but before that, we have what is probably my favourite chapter to this point. It’s got more fluff than some of these chapters, and I think it’ll be a far better break for everyone than A Restless Break was.

Coming Tuesday: Remembering the Date- “Happy Anniversary.”

P.S. Sorry if you feel like things might be dragging a bit in the fic with Harry still not telling Ginny yet. I’d hoped that releasing twice a week would make it feel like a faster/better pace, and I think it is, but it is also kind of weird for me to know that there’s so many really great things coming up, like him telling her, but we’re still not there yet. It’s even weirder when I look at my release schedule and it’s like- ‘oh, my favourite arc I’ve written so far won’t actually be released until October’ or ‘I can’t believe ___ doesn’t happen until July’ or ‘how do we not meet ___ until May’. That being said, I promise, as the only person who knows where everything is going, that it will be worth it. Honestly, I hope this isn’t bad for me to say, but while I do love these first 10-15 chapters, I think things really kick into another gear with plot and writing style as we get into the back half of Summer of Recovery and leading into Book 2 (title to be announced in a couple months). Really, I’m probably overthinking things, but I wanted to say that at least and to thank you all for your support through my first month-ish of releasing fanfics. It’s still a little nerve wracking every time I click ‘post’, but it’s so worth it to finally see people enjoying these chapters I wrote 8 months ago. So thanks for reading, and I hope you keep sticking around and enjoying Happier Every Day! Things are getting much happier from here!
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