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SIYE Time:10:28 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: 6915; Chapter Total: 725
Awards: View Trophy Room






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“I owe you an explanation for everything.”

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Harry’s first conscious thought was that his nose tickled. He twitched his nose to no avail. As his senses slowly returned to him, he simultaneously felt the weight of someone pressed against him and smelled her hair once more. He smiled contentedly as he remembered where he was, and, more importantly, who he was in bed with. He slowly opened his eyes and looked down at the angelic vision in front of him. Her fire-red hair, splayed around her head on the pillow like a halo, had clumps of dirt in it and was singed on one side. She had a cut on her chin and a bruise on her cheek. She’d never looked more beautiful to him than in that moment, sleeping peacefully next to him. He’d dreamt of this often during the past year, but this surpassed all of his expectations because it was real. He could really see her, smell her, touch her…

Harry hadn’t noticed until now that Ginny’s body, regularly in good shape from Quidditch training, was even more toned than before. It was obvious in her arms and legs, and as he placed a hand on her stomach, he could feel the taut muscles there too. It also didn’t escape his attention that most of her extremities bore signs of battle but also faded bruises from weeks earlier. He felt anger bubbling up in him that someone would dare hurt her, but he calmed himself by looking at her tranquil face, a small smile indicating that she was in the middle of a good dream.

He could’ve watched her for hours, but a rumbling in his stomach reminded him that time didn’t actually stand still. Harry thought about calling Kreacher for food, but as he considered it, he became aware that, like Ginny, he was incredibly dirty. He rolled over softly to avoid waking her and checked the time on the watch that Ginny’s parents had given him for his birthday. It was ten in the morning. He and Ginny had slept for a full day, and Harry still felt like he could sleep longer.

Rubbing his eyes, he decided that he should get up and at least take a shower before going back to bed. He tried to rise slowly, but he quickly became aware of an aching pain throughout his body. Harry started limping gingerly to the shower when he realised he didn’t have any clothes to change into. All of his were with Hermione, and he wasn’t going to search for her right now. Not seeing another option, he whispered quietly, “Kreacher?”

Kreacher appeared with a pop, bowing low to the floor as he spoke, “Kreacher is pleased to see Master Harry is awake. Shall Kreacher bring him and Miss Weasley breakfast?”

Harry smiled a little at that but noticed Ginny had stirred slightly and rolled over in her sleep. “In a little bit Kreacher. First, I think Ginny and I are going to take showers. Could you bring us both clothes? I think I still have some stuff at Grimmauld Place, and Ginny may have left clothes in her dormitory. And try to be quiet. I’m gonna let Ginny sleep a bit longer if I can.”

Kreacher bowed again, “It would be Kreacher’s pleasure,” disappearing with another soft pop. He returned moments later with several clothing options for both Harry and Ginny.

“Does Master Harry require anything else?” Kreacher asked quietly.

“Could you go ahead and make breakfast for us? I’ll call you when it’s a good time to bring it up,” Harry requested.

Kreacher bowed humbly, but before he could disapparate again, Harry knelt down to his level and spoke gently, “Wait… Kreacher, I just wanted to say that you were brilliant yesterday. You definitely made Regulus and the entire Black family proud, and… you made me proud too.”

Harry could tell Kreacher was immensely pleased with this praise. He stood up straight, nodded his head, and croaked, “Thank you Master Harry. House elves is not used to wizards saying these things.” He paused for a moment as if considering how to phrase something. Finally, he said, “And I think you made Master Sirius very proud yesterday.”

Harry tried to smile, but he was holding back tears. He nodded slightly and whispered, “Thank you Kreacher. That- that means a lot.” Clearing his throat, he added, “I’ll see you soon. Thanks again.” With yet another bow, Kreacher disapparated, leaving Harry alone outside the bathroom.

Harry took a few deep breaths before he stopped feeling like he might cry. He supposed it would be like this for a while, everything being emotional, and even though he rarely cried, he expected that would change somewhat in the next few days and weeks. He hoped he could handle himself enough to be there for Ginny when she needed him. Shaking his head, he peeled the clothes off his body, trying to remember when the last time was that he had showered. He walked into the bathroom and started the water, but before he got in, his eyes bulged out as he caught a glance of himself in the mirror.

He was a wreck. His hair was typically messy and currently shoulder-length, but it also had what looked like dirt or ash in it. There was blood running down his forehead and the side of his face that had dried, as well as some under his nose. The stubble on his face was pronounced, and he had deep bags under his eyes, even after sleeping for an entire day. His face and arms had several cuts and bruises on them. Harry couldn’t even identify where most of them were from. He noticed a large red spot on his side and turned, grimacing as he saw a wide burn on his side stretching towards his back. He couldn’t even remember where that had come from. Facing the mirror again, he slowly looked at his chest. Harry saw the now familiar outline of Slytherin’s locket that had sealed itself to him in an attempt to murder him. Ron had severed it from Harry’s body, and it had left a faded purple mark, a reminder of that night in the Forest of Dean.

But now, that scar had a neighbour. For Harry looked to the side of the locket mark and paled slightly as he saw a fresh lightning bolt scar, identical to the one on his forehead, etched permanently above his heart. He felt sick to his stomach. That made it all too real. When he was a young child, he’d been told that his scar had been the result of a freak car accident. He’d never known what it truly meant to be marked like that. Nobody had ever had a scar like it before, and now, Harry had two.

After a moment, Harry regathered himself and stepped into the shower. The water was steaming hot, but it felt almost therapeutic on Harry’s sore muscles. He slowly cleaned himself, washing away the dirt and blood, trying to remind himself that it had passed, and the fact that he could cleanse himself of the marks of the battle meant that he had made it through. His lips tightened as he remembered there were some marks that couldn’t be removed, and he didn’t even want to think of the emotional damage yet.

Eventually, after washing thoroughly and shaving, Harry finished and stepped out of the shower. He wrapped a towel around his waist as he walked out to the dormitory to change.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHGHG

“Harry Potter is dead.”


Ginny shot upright, waking with a start as the words of Tom Riddle, the worst she’d ever heard, echoed in her head. She shook her head and closed her eyes, falling back on the pillow. She didn’t understand. She’d been pleasantly surprised throughout her slumber to find herself in good dreams, all of them involving Harry. As Ginny thought about it, she realised that Harry was no longer in bed with her, and for the briefest moment, a jolt of panic shot through her before she realised that there wasn’t anything to panic about. Now that she thought about it, she vaguely remembered waking and hearing Harry talking quietly, but she didn’t know how long ago that was. The nightmare must have come after that.

Groaning slightly, she slowly reopened her eyes as she acclimated to the light in the dormitory. She was greeted by the pleasant sight of Harry slipping jeans on with his back towards her, and she was lucky enough that he hadn’t put on a shirt yet. Maybe she could get him to keep the shirt off for a bit longer if she was persuasive.

“Harry…” Ginny whispered in a singsong voice. Harry stood upright quickly, turning towards her and holding his shirt in front of his chest. He smiled at her, and Ginny felt her heart melt all over again.

“Hey, Gin,” he said softly. Ginny grinned at the nickname she hated everyone but him using. Trying to look as alluring as possible, Ginny waggled her eyebrows and beckoned him forward with her finger. Harry seemed to be in a trance as he slowly stumbled towards her, but he snapped awake right before he reached the bed. Ginny watched, slightly confused as Harry pulled his shirt on quickly before jumping back in bed with her.

“I was thinking you could leave your shirt off,” Ginny whispered as Harry started nibbling on her earlobe. He pulled back and looked down at her.

“You’re beautiful.” He said it so plainly that it interrupted her entire train of thought. Ginny was positive that she looked awful, and she probably smelled worse, but Harry’s eyes were totally sincere. Merlin, those emerald green eyes had pierced her heart from the very first time she saw him on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. She’d missed those eyes that always conveyed his deepest feelings to her and her alone. Ginny had thought when she saw him yesterday that he’d never looked better, but she had to admit that he cleaned up rather nicely too. His face still bore cuts and bruises, but he looked more refreshed than he had yesterday. He also smelled better too, and she savoured the feeling of being enveloped in the woodsy scent she’d always associated with her boyfriend.

Ginny couldn’t help herself, didn’t want to help herself. She pulled him into a searing kiss before rolling out of bed. “You flatter me, but I’ll do my best to live up to your expectations after I shower. I just need to run and grab some clothes.”

“I had Kreacher bring you some stuff. I don’t know what all there is, but he brought more than I expected, so you don’t have to leave if you like any of the stuff on that bed,” Harry said, gesturing to the bed she assumed was Ron’s since it was closest to Harry’s. She picked out a top and a pair of jeans, blowing a kiss to him as she entered the bathroom.

The first thing Ginny did was survey the damage in the mirror. Several of the bruises on her arms were older, but she had a new one on the side of her face, not to mention some blood on her chin. She exhaled slowly as she examined the scorched hair. The only thing she could think of that could have done that was the jet of green light that had almost ended her life before her mother killed Bellatrix Lestrange. Ginny found herself trembling slightly as she opened her eyes and forced herself to remember that she had survived. It was arguably her closest brush with death ever, but she’d made it through, and now she was free to live the life she’d been dreaming of for years, the life that should have been hers and Harry’s much sooner if not for psychotic wizards and demented witches. Ginny exhaled once again, and finally feeling calmer, she undressed and stepped into the shower.

She alternated her shower between hot and cold, savouring the refreshing and soothing effects of the contrasting temperatures. Ginny cleaned the blood and dirt off herself quickly before washing her hair. As soon as she could, she finished, dried off, and dressed, giving herself one last look in the mirror. She still looked tired and had bruises; there wasn’t a lot to do about her hair right now either. But she did look better, and she felt better than she had in ages. Smiling, she opened the door to find Harry right where she’d left him, laying in bed, with his head propped up on his hands, watching the bathroom door. She was delighted to find a large tray of food on the bedside table. She locked eyes with Harry and then ran to him, peppering his face with kisses as she climbed over him and back into bed. She cuddled up next to him, and he pulled the tray of food in front of her.

“Thanks for waiting for me,” Ginny murmured before diving into the platter of eggs, toast, bacon, and sausage. She heard Harry chuckle as he poured her a goblet of pumpkin juice from a pitcher on the table.

“I shouldn’t have. I must’ve forgotten you’re a Weasley. There won’t be any food left for me,” Harry teased.

Ginny snorted with her mouth full, glancing over at him to see his eyes shining as he grinned and stole a piece of toast off the tray. Ginny sighed like she was making a massive sacrifice and moved the tray, so it was between them, allowing Harry to eat as much as he wanted. Merlin knew he needed it. Harry had always been skinny, but she couldn’t remember the last time he’d seemed this… malnourished was the only word to describe it. She knew from Bill that he’d been getting more food at Shell Cottage in the past few weeks, but she supposed that if Harry hadn’t been eating much at all for months beforehand, it would probably take a while for him to regain weight. Granted, he’d clearly built up more muscle since the last time Ginny had seen him. He just seemed so much stronger, so much older than he had been when they used to steal time together around the Hogwarts grounds a year ago.

Ginny blinked as she saw Harry looking at her in amusement, and she realised that she’d probably been staring at him for a while. “How long was I out?” Ginny asked.

“It’s eleven right now. We slept for about a day. And you were staring at me for about a minute before you woke up,” Harry added with a mischievous grin that made Ginny’s heart flutter.

“I wasn’t staring. I was just… thinking about my breakfast,” Ginny fumbled as she tried to think of a way to explain her staring.

Harry snorted and rolled his eyes, “I don’t judge. I’ll be honest, I watched you for about ten minutes before I got out of bed this morning.”

Hearing that made Ginny blush, but she couldn’t help but tease him a little. “Oh, did you like what you saw then?”

Harry looked at her so hungrily that Ginny felt like she might pass out from the intensity of it. “I always like what I see when I’m with you,” Harry almost growled. It took everything in Ginny not to pounce on him.

Instead, she leaned forward, her lips brushing his, and she whispered, “Ditto,” before kissing him.

Ginny started to deepen the kiss and was surprised when Harry slowly pulled away. She looked up at him, feeling a little hurt that he didn’t want her as badly as she wanted him. She tried to hide it but must not have done a very good job because Harry leaned forward again, gently kissing her nose.

“Believe me, I want to. So badly. I don’t think I would’ve survived this past year without the memory of that kiss on my birthday. I’m never gonna not want to kiss you. But I owe you so much. First, I owe you an explanation for everything. I promised you that there’d be no more secrets when all of this was over. If you want to hear it, I’ll tell you everything,” Harry said earnestly, and for the first time, Ginny felt almost like one of the Golden Trio, as some younger students in Hogwarts liked to call Harry, Ron, and Hermione. She knew Harry felt differently, much differently about her than his two best friends. But Dumbledore wouldn’t let him tell her anything, so there had always been a small part of Ginny that felt like she was missing out on a piece of Harry. And now here he was, freely offering that piece to her.

Ginny tried to contain her eagerness to learn more about this person she adored, saying, “I want to hear everything you’re comfortable talking about. It isn’t about what you owe me though. I do want to know everything, but only if you want to tell me.” She settled on a neutral response, knowing how Harry tended to put pressure on himself to live up to the expectations of others. She didn’t want him to feel like this was something he had to do for her to care for him. She wanted him to tell her because he trusted her and wanted to share this part of himself with her.

Harry nodded slowly, sipping on his goblet of pumpkin juice. The longer he took, the more Ginny wondered if he was going to change his mind. Finally, he spoke, “I’ve wanted to tell you everything from the beginning. I hated that I couldn’t tell you. I hated that I had to leave. I hated myself for what I did to you.”

At this, Ginny took his hand in hers and kissed it gently, unable to let him blame himself for all of this. “Harry, I won’t pretend that I wasn’t hurt by what happened. But it wasn’t because of you. I was hurt because of what I knew you were going to have to do, and I couldn’t do anything to help you. But don’t be angry at yourself for it. We’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. I mean, look at us, sharing a breakfast in bed, acting perfectly domestic. I couldn’t be happier than I am right now just being with you. We had a long road to get here, but now we don’t have to let go of this again.”

Harry smiled softly. “How is it that you always know exactly what to say?”

“Magic,” Ginny whispered as she grinned back at him before he kissed her lips gently again.

He pulled back, and Ginny thought he looked even more at peace than he had before, just with that confession that he hadn’t wanted to keep her in the dark. She waited for him to pick up with the story, not wanting to pressure him at all.

“Sorry, it’s just that it’s such a long and complicated story. I’m trying to figure out the best place to start,” Harry explained apologetically. Ginny waved her hand to indicate that she was happy to wait. “I guess… have you ever heard of a Horcrux?” Harry asked, looking at her with a mysterious veil over his eyes.

Ginny involuntarily shuddered. The word felt like it carried some disturbing definition that her body innately opposed. She shook her head, and Harry nodded, “I figured,” he began, “I didn’t know anything about them until I started my lessons with Dumbledore in sixth year. So… when someone commits murder, they fracture their soul. As I understand it, if someone wanted to, they could intentionally tear their soul into pieces. If someone wants to split their soul, there’s a process that Hermione read about once and swore to never talk about again that allows them to do that. A Horcrux is an object that holds that part of a person’s soul that they split off from the rest. The idea is that if the person is killed, they’re not actually dead because part of their soul is separated from their body. So it tethers them tighter to life than a normal person because all the parts of their soul have to be destroyed to actually kill them. Otherwise, they exist almost as a spirit, but they can come back again.”

Harry took a breath, and Ginny felt sick. She tried to wrap her head around what Harry was saying. Obviously, Harry was suggesting that this was how Riddle had come back again. So many questions flooded her mind, but the most important one was obvious.

“So Riddle had one of these Horcruxes, then? That’s how he was able to come back even though he should have died when you were a baby?”

Ginny saw Harry start to formulate in his head what to say next. He seemed like he was trying to be careful with how he explained things. “Sorry again,” he said, “I’m not trying to keep anything from you. It’s just hard to follow, so I’m trying to remember the order that I found things out in, and hopefully that’ll make the most sense. But yeah, Riddle made a Horcrux. Actually,” Harry paused slightly before seemingly steeling himself to finish the sentence, “He made six of them,” he almost whispered.

Ginny’s jaw dropped. “He made six Horcruxes?” Harry nodded, looking slightly paler than he did before. She continued, “So that means… the three of you had to find these six objects and somehow destroy them before he could be defeated.” Harry nodded again, and something clicked inside her mind at once. “That’s why you all were gone for so long. You had so many to find while still having to not get caught.”

Harry cleared his throat and started talking again, “Well, we actually had a little bit of a head start. Two of the Horcruxes had already been destroyed before we left, and we had a lead on a third.”

“What were they?” Ginny asked, curious to know what sorts of things a Horcrux could be since that would’ve determined just how difficult their quest would’ve been.

“Horcruxes can be anything really. Riddle was honestly stupid because he chose to make his Horcruxes things that were important to him. Personally, if I had to make one, I’d pick a grain of sand, drop it on a random beach somewhere in the world, and trust that there was no chance it would ever be found. But Riddle’s ego was much too big to do that, and he was just as egotistical as a teenager as he was an adult,” Harry paused again, giving her a meaningful glance, and Ginny’s mind started whirling when Harry mentioned Riddle as a teenager. As more pieces fell into place for Ginny, Harry spoke softly, “He made the first Horcrux when he was fifteen years old. It was””

“The diary!” Ginny blurted out as she realised that it now made complete sense how that diary had been sentient- it had had an actual piece of Riddle’s soul in it from the beginning. Yet again, Ginny felt sick. For years, Ginny had done everything she could to forget the torture that was her first year at Hogwarts. For an entire year, her soul had been covertly attacked by someone she thought was her friend, and it led to her almost losing her mind and her life. The only reason it hadn’t cost her everything was the man sitting next to her, who was looking at her with overwhelming concern. Ginny could see tears in his eyes, threatening to fall as he knew that she was remembering the horrors of that year.

Ginny squeezed Harry’s hand and nodded, letting him know that she was okay, and he could talk openly about it. Nodding, Harry continued, “Yeah, his diary was the first. He made it after he opened the Chamber and had the basilisk kill Moaning Myrtle. Ginny, you should know… Hermione told us once that she thought every time he made a Horcrux, he split his soul in half. By the time he made his last one, she reckons he only had about one percent of his soul still inside him. But if she’s right, and when is she ever wrong, that means that the diary had half of Riddle’s soul in it.”

Ginny felt a couple tears leak out as she shook her head. “I was so stupid, Harry. I can’t believe I willingly gave myself to that monster for a whole year.” She looked up and was surprised to see that he looked surprised.

“Ginny,” Harry said, “you were eleven and you fought against half of the soul of the darkest wizard to ever live for an entire year. He manipulated you like he manipulated people his whole life. That doesn’t make you stupid; it just makes him evil. Even before I knew about that, I thought you were a badass.” Ginny giggled as she wiped the tears from her eyes. “Hermione’s not around to judge me for swearing, so I have no problem saying that the fight you gave him, and the fact that you survived, just makes you even more of a badass,” Harry said with protective pride gleaming in his eyes.

Ginny looked up at him, adoring how fiercely he cared about her and wanted to protect her. He knew that she needed to be independent and stand up for herself too, but it felt good to have someone care so much about her that it was clearly written on his face. She pecked him on the cheek, and he blushed slightly even though they had already done more than that this morning.

“How do you always know exactly what to say?” Ginny asked.

Harry grinned, and she already knew the answer. “Magic, of course.” Ginny gave him another peck for that, and visibly emboldened, Harry returned to the story. “So yeah, the diary was the first one. When I stabbed it with the basilisk fang, that destroyed it. It turns out that basilisk venom is one of the only foolproof ways to destroy a Horcrux. I just got really lucky that I had a fresh supply there when I needed it. Dumbledore found the second one. It was a ring that had belonged to Riddle’s wizard grandfather, Marvolo Gaunt. He was this… crazy blood purist, and he also spoke Parseltongue since he was descended from Salazar Slytherin. His daughter, Merope, repressed her magic because her family was abusive towards her. But she gave a Muggle from the village they lived near a love potion, and that led to Tom Riddle being born. Dumbledore suspects that she was so in love with Tom Riddle Sr. that she thought he’d still love her if she stopped giving him the love potion. Instead, he returned to the village, saying he’d been tricked by her, and she died shortly after, having lost all will to live. Tom Riddle Jr. grew up in a Muggle orphanage before going to Hogwarts. The summer before his seventh year, he went to the village that his Riddle family lived in, and he killed his father and Muggle grandparents.”

Ginny gasped at that, in shock that even someone as twisted as Riddle could’ve committed patricide when he was as old as she was now. Harry nodded, obviously agreeing with that sentiment, and continued, “He used that murder to make the ring a Horcrux, and he hid it in Marvolo’s old house. When Dumbledore found it, it cursed him. That’s why his hand looked like that all last year. But he was able to destroy it using the Sword of Gryffindor.”

Ginny must have looked confused because Harry explained, “When I killed the basilisk with the sword, its venom somehow worked its way into the sword because it’s made of goblin metal. So we could use the sword to destroy Horcruxes too.” Ginny nodded in understanding, realising that they were getting to the point in the story where Harry, Ron, and Hermione had disappeared.

“The Horcrux we had a lead on was a locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin. The night Dumbledore died-” Harry paused for a moment and took a deep breath before continuing “-he and I went to a cave where Riddle had tortured kids with his magic, even before he’d been to Hogwarts. In that cave, there were a lot of protections, including Inferi and a potion that had to be drunk and caused whoever was drinking it to relive their worst memories. Dumbledore was weak that night because he made me let him take it instead of me. We barely made it out of there alive, and after the fight that night, I looked at the locket. It wasn’t the real thing. It had been stolen by a former Death Eater with the initials R.A.B.”

Ginny interrupted, “R.A.B… I know those initials.” She thought for a moment before it hit her and she exclaimed “Regulus Arcturus Black!”

Harry looked stunned. “How on earth did you know that?”

Ginny smirked. “I pay attention, Potter. And I was cooped up in Grimmauld for a long time without hero business to occupy my time.”

Harry nodded, still looking very surprised. “Damn, I shouldn’t have listened to Dumbledore about not talking to you. We would’ve been a couple months ahead if we’d known that.”

Ginny smiled comfortingly, grateful he was finally realising that things were better when they were open with each other. “No more secrets,” she whispered.

“Never again,” Harry agreed affectionately. “Unlike you, we didn’t figure out R.A.B. until after the wedding. We disapparated to London when the Death Eaters showed up. Immediately, we triggered the Taboo and had to fight Rowle and Dolohov. After we took them out, we went to Grimmauld, hoping that the protections Moody had set up against Snape would work. They must have because we never saw him. After we got to Grimmauld, we realised who R.A.B. was, and because we were just so lucky, we realised that we’d seen that locket back when we were cleaning it out during fifth year. We asked Kreacher about it, and it turned out that Mundungus Fletcher had stolen it from the house after Sirius had died. Kreacher was able to track Dung down though, and he told us that he’d sold the locket to… wait for it… Dolores Umbridge.”

For what felt like the tenth time in the morning, Ginny’s jaw dropped, unable to believe that the pink toad had reared her ugly head again. Harry grimaced, evidently agreeing with her reaction.

“We spent weeks planning how to get into the Ministry to get the locket from her. Finally, at the beginning of September, we used Polyjuice Potion and knocked out three Ministry workers to get in. Umbridge was holding ‘trials’-” Harry emphasised this word with sarcastic air quotes “-for Muggle-borns, trying to determine how they stole their magic from a real witch or wizard.”

Ginny shook her head sadly, repulsed by how disgusting the discrimination towards non-pure bloods had been in the last year.

Harry continued, “I ended up in Umbridge’s office and found a file with your dad’s name on it. It said they were tracking your entire family because you all don’t hate Muggles, he was in the Order, and they expected that I’d try to contact someone in your family for help. I knew then, as much as I hated it, that we’d made the right decision leaving when we did. If the Ministry had found out that we were trying to get help from you, I can’t imagine what they would’ve done.”

Harry paused for a moment, lovingly caressing Ginny’s cheek before starting to run his hand through her hair. Ginny felt her whole body tingle at the contact. Last year, she and Harry had passed hours talking as he ran his hands through her hair, seemingly never tiring of it. She wiggled even closer to him and looked back up into those piercing green eyes, squeezing his other hand that she hadn’t let go of since he started talking.

“We found her interrogating a witch in one of the courtrooms. She was wearing the locket, so I stunned her and Yaxley to take it off her. We barely escaped the Ministry; we were chased by dementors and Yaxley caught back up to us as we were disapparating to Grimmauld. As soon as we landed, Hermione disapparated again because Yaxley had made it there with us, so it wasn’t going to be safe at Grimmauld any longer. She took us to the forest where they had the Quidditch World Cup, but Ron got splinched.”

Harry had been getting more animated as he told the story of the Ministry infiltration, but he paled as he was clearly remembering how Ron had been injured. Ginny winced, knowing that splinching was supposed to be incredibly painful. Every year when sixth-years had their apparition lessons, at least one student would end up in the hospital wing with some part of themself missing. The pain and recovery process was said to be horrible. Apparition lessons had been cancelled this year, so there weren’t any new splinching stories, but everyone knew how bad it was.

“Luckily,” Harry resumed, “Hermione was able to heal him as best as she could, but it still took a while for him to get back to normal. So we had the locket, but we didn’t have any way of destroying it. Dumbledore had tried giving me the Sword of Gryffindor in his will, but Scrimgeour refused to pass it on.”

Feeling convicted, Ginny nodded, knowing where the sword had been. This was part of the story that she knew she’d had an impact on, and she’d have to tell Harry about it at some point. For now, it was enough to know that she’d been right that the sword was important to Harry when she’d tried to steal it at the start of the year.

“We spent months not knowing what to do. That was the darkest time for us. We were on the run, changing locations every couple of days. We had the locket but no way to destroy it. We had suspicions about what some of the other Horcruxes could’ve been, but we didn’t know where they could’ve been. We barely even had enough food to eat because we couldn’t risk going into towns to get any. It just- it looked so hopeless, Gin. Finally, we decided to go to Godric’s Hollow. I- I wanted to go see my parents, and we thought it was possible that Riddle may have hidden a Horcrux in a place that mattered to Godric Gryffindor because he was obsessed with wizarding history. We didn’t realise until we got there, but it was Christmas Eve.”

Ginny felt as hopeless as Harry sounded talking about those months. She didn’t realise just how difficult their hunt had been. Of course it would’ve been difficult being on the run for that long, but not knowing what to do for months on end must have been torture for them. She thought back to Christmas. It had been her first reprieve from the horrors in Hogwarts, but it wasn’t a festive time at all. Every hand on the Weasley clock pointed to mortal peril, and the house felt empty with the three of them not there, plus Percy was still staying away and Charlie hadn’t yet come back from Romania. They’d gone months without any update about the trio, not since Professor Lupin had told them that he knew where they were and that they were safe in the middle of August. Ginny didn’t want to admit it because she tried to be strong and brave for everyone else, but she’d cried herself to sleep most nights during that Christmas holiday, wondering where they were, if they were okay, and if the war would ever end.

Realising Harry was remembering a really difficult moment, Ginny rubbed her hand over his forearm, willing her strength into him to continue reliving the events that undoubtedly left emotional scars on him. Taking a deep breath, Harry spoke again.

“When we got to Godric’s Hollow, we went to the church and found my parents’ graves. Then we found the- our old house. It was surreal, being there, seeing the damage. Nobody’s ever done anything with the house, but there were loads of messages written on the fence outside. I think one day, I’ll want to go back there with you. I need to go back again eventually, but I- I can’t go through it again without you.” Ginny warmed inside as Harry ran his thumb over the back of her hand, so thankful that he’d want to share that vulnerable part of himself with her.

Harry spoke again, “While we were outside the house, we noticed an old woman watching us. We realised when we got closer to her that it was Bathilda Bagshot. I’d wanted to talk to her since I’d heard about Rita Skeeter’s book on Dumbledore. Bathilda knew him when he was younger, and she also knew my parents. I was hoping she’d be able to tell us about all of them. She took us back to her house, but something was off. She only wanted to talk to me, so she took me upstairs. She asked if I was Harry Potter, and when I told her I was, I felt Riddle become really excited. Then Bathilda… she turned into his snake, Nagini.”

Ginny gasped as Harry winced again, struggling with this memory. “Riddle told her to hold me there until he arrived. Hermione heard me fighting and ran upstairs. She got the snake off of me, but Riddle was already there. Hermione and I jumped out of the window, and she disapparated us away right as Riddle entered the room. He was so angry, Gin. And I saw… I saw his memory of the night he killed my parents.”

Harry’s voice shook, and Ginny raised up, cupping his cheek in her hand and using her thumb to wipe the tears that had finally escaped from Harry’s closed eyes. She leaned forward, kissing the tear trails from his cheeks. He slowly opened his eyes and looked at her with unabashed adoration.

“Sorry,” he said softly. “I’ve just tried to not think about it since it happened. I know there’s a lot to cry about now, and they’ve been gone for so long that it’s silly to still be crying about it, but-”

“No,” Ginny spoke forcefully, “Harry, you’re the strongest person I know. It isn’t silly at all to cry about it. I can’t imagine having to live that memory. You, more than anyone, have the right to mourn and feel whatever you feel. Don’t ever apologise for who you are or what you care about.”

Ginny realised she was breathing heavily and was surprised to hear Harry chuckle. “You know when you’re fired up about something, your face gets as red as your hair?”

Ginny blushed and shyly looked down. Harry put his finger on her chin and pulled her head back up to look at him. “Honestly, I think it’s pretty hot,” he whispered, taking her breath away as he pulled her into a deep kiss.

It took several moments for Ginny to regain full awareness after he pulled back. He looked as flushed as she felt. They sat in silence, just smiling at each other and enjoying each other’s company. Something was eating at the back of Ginny’s mind though. She thought for a moment about what they’d been talking about before that kiss when she realised what was bothering her.

“Harry?” she mumbled.

“Hmm?” He looked at her and seemed so peaceful that she almost didn’t want to ask any questions of him now. But he told her they weren’t keeping secrets, and it had been his idea to start talking to her today, so she decided she wasn’t going to hold back anything either.

“You said Hermione got the snake off of you, and the two of you disapparated away when Riddle got there. Where was Ron?”

Harry’s eyes widened, and Ginny knew she’d asked a question he didn’t really want to answer. Harry began tripping over his words, trying to explain why her brother hadn’t been at Godric’s Hollow on Christmas Eve with Harry and Hermione.

“He- well, he wasn’t with us- because…” Harry trailed off looking down at their hands, still entangled together, not wanting to look Ginny in the eye.

“Harry?” Ginny asked again.

Harry closed his eyes, opening his mouth to speak again, but both were surprised as a new voice interrupted their silence.

“I left.”

Ginny felt Harry stiffen next to her as she spun in bed to see Ron standing in the doorway of the dormitory.

“Hey mate,” Harry said casually, acting like the tension in the room didn’t exist. “How long have you been there?”

Ron cleared his throat. “A few minutes. Probably should’ve said something sooner, but I didn’t wanna interrupt. Don’t worry though, I’m just gonna pretend I didn’t see that kiss.”

Ginny could feel Harry blushing next to her, but she couldn’t even make a biting response back like she would’ve a year ago. She was just confused.

“What do you mean you left?” Ginny asked with an edge creeping into her voice.

Ron looked down at the floor and spoke softer now. “In- in the middle of October. I left them.”

Harry tensed again. Ginny felt anger coursing through her veins because how dare he? How dare he! After everything Harry and Hermione had done for him, he left them?

Harry tightened his grip on Ginny’s hand. Testily, she choked out the only question she could form amid the rage clouding her brain. “Why?”

Ron didn’t look up. “I don’t know. I regretted it as soon as I left. We’d been wearing the locket around our neck for weeks. It made me so angry, all the time. I was worried, not hearing any news about any of you, and we had no clue what we were doing. We didn’t know where any of the other Horcruxes were or even how to destroy the locket. We hadn’t eaten a real meal in more than a month-”

“Ronald Weasley! You left your friends because you were hungry?” Ginny shouted as she launched herself at him, propelled by the white hot fury within her, intending to beat him senseless for the betrayal of his friends. Ron recoiled as Ginny felt herself being yanked back onto the bed by Harry, who still hadn’t let go of her hand.

“Ginny-” Harry started to say, but Ginny didn’t want to listen. How dare he?

Ginny practically screeched, “Harry, don’t you try and defend him now! You know as well as I do that that’s a bloody awful excuse for betraying your best friends!” She tried to throw herself at Ron again, who looked so ashamed that Ginny almost would’ve felt bad for him if he didn’t deserve every bit of it.

Before she could make it to Ron, Harry leapt between the two siblings and put his arms on her shoulders, not holding her tightly, but stopping her from making it to her target.

“Harry Potter, if you don’t let me go, I swear I’ll-” Ginny began to threaten him, but she was interrupted by Harry, who still looked at her like he loved seeing her when she was angry.

“He saved my life, Gin. I would’ve been dead if he hadn’t come back when he did,” Harry said earnestly, almost begging her to listen.

Ginny was still furious, but she took a couple breaths, deciding to hear him out before she attacked her brother. “Fine. When did this idiot finally come back, and how the hell did he save your life?”

Harry kept his hands on her shoulders, but she could see him relax now that he knew she wasn’t going to try and fight him to get to Ron yet. “It was the day after Christmas. I was keeping watch when I saw a Patronus, a silver doe. I felt like I had to follow it. It didn’t make sense for it to be there, nobody knew where we were. I followed it to a frozen over pond, and it disappeared. When I looked in, I saw the Sword of Gryffindor. I didn’t stop to think about why it was there or if it was a trap. I just dove in. As soon as I grabbed the sword, the locket started strangling me. I couldn’t get it off, and I couldn’t get out of the water. I almost blacked out when Ron pulled me out of the water and cut the locket off. If he’d gotten there a few seconds later, I wouldn’t have made it.”

Ginny realised that her hands had clammed up and she stared in horror, hearing how close Harry had come to death. She pushed forward against Harry again, and he didn’t resist her as she wrapped her arms tightly around his waist. Harry nuzzled his nose into her hair, and she warmed, feeling his lips on her head.

She heard Ron clear his throat again, and she pulled back from Harry enough to see Ron. “Believe me, Ginny. I feel worse about it than you could imagine. I went back almost as soon as I left, but they’d already gone, and I couldn’t find them until Christmas. I don’t know how they forgave me, but I’ve done everything I could to make up for it since.”

“Mate, you made up for it as soon as you came back. You saved me and destroyed the locket. At least- well, we were good right away. It took Hermione a little longer to forgive you though,” Harry said, grinning a little at his best friend.

Ron chuckled and looked back up at them. “Yeah, she was right scary for a while after I came back. But she finally came around.” He locked eyes with Ginny. “I messed up, sis. I know you made me promise to stay with him, and I failed. I’m sorry.”

Harry looked at her curiously, and Ginny’s mind flashed back to a conversation she’d had with Ron last summer. She peered up at Harry and admitted, “I told him he had to stay with you since I couldn’t be there. I made him promise to protect you for me.”

Harry blinked and Ginny could see the emotions running behind his eyes even though he refused to cry again now. She knew he wasn’t used to having people who cared about him, and she counted herself lucky that she got to be the one to make him feel that.

“Oh… thanks, Gin. That- that means a ton,” Harry said with a slightly scratchy voice.

She smiled gently up at him and kissed his cheek and then his lips. Then, he moved aside, and she looked at her brother, who still looked a little scared that she was going to attack him. She strode right up to him, and she took a little pleasure in seeing him tense, but he held his ground. Ginny raised her hands, and when Ron raised his slightly as if to defend himself, Ginny wrapped him in a tight hug. After a moment, she felt Ron relax and wrap his arms around her.

“You stupid git. You definitely messed up, but you still kept him safe. Thank you,” Ginny whispered before she pulled back from him. Ron looked surprised but pleased at this unusual show of affection from his younger sister. Then, as if remembering why he came to the dormitory in the first place, he looked at both of them again.

“Mum sent me up here to see if you two were awake. We weren’t allowed to come up here yesterday, but I reckon she’ll want to talk to you at some point about your sleeping arrangements,” Ron said, smirking at Ginny.

Ginny looked at him sharply. “Really, Ron? And I suppose you were sleeping alone last night then?”

Ron flushed and he looked at Harry, who merely shrugged. Ron looked back at Ginny, who rolled her eyes and said, “Honestly, you thought I wouldn’t notice the way the two of you were looking at each other yesterday morning? It was rather disgusting.”

Ron grinned slightly and responded, “Think how I felt seeing the two of you in bed kissing like it was your only source of air. But… I will say it’s good to see that you two are finally together again.”

Ginny grinned right back at him. She looked at Harry and saw he looked a little surprised. Ginny caught his eye, and he blinked owlishly.

“Are we… you know… together?” Harry asked quietly.

Ron laughed loudly at this. “Honestly mate, it’s good that she’s as mad for you as you are for her because nobody else would put up with how thick you are.”

Harry blushed a little, smiling at Ginny as she nodded when Ron said she was mad for Harry.

Ginny wanted so badly to mess with Harry, but she couldn’t. Not while he was looking at her like she was the only thing in the world that mattered. Instead, she settled for saying what she really felt.

“I didn’t wait for a year to not be with you, Potter. You said you didn’t have any Veela waiting on you, and I’ll hex any other witch who thinks she might have a chance with you. You. Are. Mine,” she declared emphatically.

Harry just grinned widely at her aggressive statement of possession. “I wouldn’t ever want to be anybody else’s. It just feels really good to hear someone say we’re together.”

Ginny smiled brightly at Harry, thinking he looked extremely kissable right now, but Ron must have seen what was coming next because he started talking again. “Merlin, please don’t start kissing again right now. I’m supposed to bring you both down for lunch since you’re awake. Seems like you two already ate-” he gestured towards the now empty tray on the bed “- but I’m pretty sure Mum will still want to see you both.”

Ginny nodded and reached her hand out to Harry to go downstairs with him. When he didn’t grab her hand, she looked at him and saw that he’d paled considerably. She stepped towards him, wondering what was bothering him when she felt a wave of recollection that had been building all morning sweep over her.

She swayed as her feet stopped moving. Harry instinctively reached out to steady her, but she didn’t notice. She only had one thing on her mind.

Fred.

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

A/N: I know, I tricked you with the first chapter being shorter. This is more the average length of chapter that you can expect from the book. I’ve found that I personally prefer longer chapters rather than three times as many shorter chapters, so that’s how I’ve structured the book moving forward.

This chapter was really cool for me to write because it’s the first time I explored Ginny’s POV. Generally, every chapter is going to have roughly equal parts Harry and Ginny POVs, with some elements unique to both of their sides to the story, and it was fun getting into her shoes for the first time.

The disclaimer I have for this chapter and the next few is that there is quite a bit of retelling of information that we already know for the benefit of the characters. I wasn’t going to say that “Harry told Ginny all about the hunt for the Horcruxes, and she felt xyz about it” and leave it there. It’s really important for the development of both Harry and Ginny’s characters to see how the story is told and how they move on from it all together. Plus, I tried to put in a lot more into it beyond just retelling the story, specifically because it’s interesting to me to hear Ginny’s internal thoughts on it all.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that I know there’s some disagreement on what caused Harry’s lightning bolt scar in the first place. Some people think it’s a mark of the failed Killing Curse, while others think it’s a mark of Lily’s sacrificial love protection. It’ll be discussed more several chapters from now, but my take has always been that it’s the mark of a failed Killing Curse, so that’s why Harry’s got another one on his chest now.

Again, please let me know your thoughts on the chapter, and I hope you enjoy the next chapter: Family Reunited!
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