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SIYE Time:10:43 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: 6916; Chapter Total: 806
Awards: View Trophy Room






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Harry didn’t even have time to react when Ginny turned and sprinted away from him.

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


As Harry and Bill neared the Great Hall, Harry noticed the shadow of a very large person rounding the corner of the corridor. He remembered that he’d promised himself he’d talk to Hagrid as soon as he could, and now seemed like a good time to keep that promise.

He looked at Bill, saying, “I just saw Hagrid. I need to see him after everything that happened…” Harry trailed off. Bill nodded in understanding.

“Take your time. I’ll let Ginny know where you are,” Bill responded as he peeled off, heading back into the Great Hall while Harry began walking quickly in the direction he’d seen Hagrid’s shadow moving.

Rounding the corner, he saw Hagrid at the end of the corridor. He started to jog but winced in pain as he was reminded of the aching in his muscles that he’d noticed when he woke up this morning.

“Hagrid!” Harry called out, resigned to walking to catch up to his friend.

Hagrid turned around and beamed when he saw Harry. Harry wasn’t sure that he’d ever seen Hagrid actually run before, and it made for a terrifying sight as the much larger man barreled towards him, sweeping Harry up in a tight hug. Gasping for air, Harry grabbed Hagrid’s shoulders since that was as far as he could reach. Hagrid must have heard Harry sputtering because he looked down at him, still beaming, and set Harry back down, supporting him while he crouched over, trying to fill his lungs again.

“Sorry ‘bout that Harry,” Hagrid said, lightly patting Harry’s back, “Got a bit carried away there. I’m jus’ so happy ter see yeh after… ev’rythin’.”

Harry looked back up at Hagrid, who wasn’t trying to hide the tears running down his face, even as he still smiled affectionately at Harry. Sniffling, Hagrid took out a pink handkerchief the size of a small tablecloth and blew his nose into it. The trumpeting echoed throughout the corridor, and Harry winced. He wouldn’t have been surprised if some people in the Great Hall thought Hogwarts was now under attack from an elephant army.

Hagrid stumbled to the wall, now dabbing his eyes, and he sat down against it, causing a small tremor in the floor around him. Harry followed his lead, sitting next to his friend, trying to think of what to say. Hearing Hagrid sniffling again, Harry reached out and patted Hagrid’s forearm.

Harry fumbled with his words as he tried to apologise. “Hagrid, I’m so sorry for- you know- what happened. Yesterday, I mean. I didn’t think- didn’t want anyone to see me in the forest. I can’t imagine how you felt seeing that and then- having to carry me back to the castle. Merlin, Hagrid, I hate him for making you do that. I’m sorry I put you through that.”

Harry looked back at Hagrid, who was shaking his head at Harry. “Wasn’ yer faul’ Harry. Yeh did wha’ yeh had ter do. Blimey, it was the wors’ thin’ I’ve ever seen, but s’alright. I- I was glad it wasn’… anybody else bringin’ yeh back, if someone had ter. I reckon you had a good reason fer goin’ inter the fores’ yesterday. All tha’ matters is yer still here.”

Harry nodded, wondering how he’d gotten so lucky as to have so many people who cared this much about him.

Hagrid smiled at him then. “But don’ ever make me need ter do tha’ again. Yer a lot heavier than when you were a baby,” he joked, chuckling at Harry’s incredulous expression.

“Sorry Hagrid, I’ll make sure to diet and exercise if I ever need you to carry me again,” he joked back with his first wizard friend.

They shared a laugh before sitting in silence for a few moments. Then Hagrid clapped his knees and stood, reaching down to help Harry up.

“Jus’ so you know, I knew you were special since the firs’ time I saw yeh. I ‘spect lots o’ folks will think yer even more special now. But don’ forget, you were special ‘fore yeh even knew a thing ‘bout magic,” Hagrid said, a little huskily as he got choked up, looking at Harry.

Harry didn’t really know any way to respond to that other than to hug Hagrid again. He’d never forget that Hagrid was the one who changed his life when he told Harry, all those years ago, that he was a wizard. And even though he wouldn’t bring it up to Hagrid, Harry would never forget that in the midst of the battle, Hagrid’s only concern was protecting his body. For the second time in a matter of minutes, Harry found himself wondering how so many people could care that much for him.

Finally, he pulled back from Hagrid, smiling up at the gamekeeper, whose eyes were teary once more.

“Thanks, Hagrid. That- that means more than you know,” Harry told him honestly. “I’ve got to get back to the Great Hall now, but I’ll make sure to come down and see you before I leave in a day or two.”

Hagrid nodded. “No problem, Harry. I’ve gotta go see ‘bout my house, an’ I reckon there’ll be some folks startin’ ter clean up. I’ll see yeh, an’ make sure ter say hi to Ginny fer me,” Hagrid added with a wink, turning and walking away, leaving Harry surprised at just how quickly news spread throughout Hogwarts.

Shrugging, he decided he’d ask Hagrid how he knew the next time he saw him. For now, Harry had to return to the Great Hall; it had been far too long since the last time he’d seen Ginny.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH GHGHG

Ginny marvelled at how easy she was finding it to talk to Fleur. Had Fleur changed? Or had Ginny? Deep down, Ginny knew that she’d been immature in how she treated Fleur, but she also suspected that Fleur had been defensively prideful when she first started getting to know the Weasleys, and she might now be shedding some of that as well. Regardless, Ginny was intrigued at the possibility of having a friendly relationship with Fleur.

“Anyways, at Beauxbatons, our 'ouses are much less- 'ow you say… intense zan zey are 'ere. And we don't sort until ze third year. Eet gives more time for ze minds to be fully baked, you see?”

Ginny nodded, very interested in how different Beauxbatons was from Hogwarts. It sounded beautiful, and honestly, it made some sense to her to give a couple years before sorting.

Ginny admitted, “I’d never thought about that, the possibility of being sorted later. It does seem almost unfair to tell eleven year olds who they’ll be for the rest of their life. And people change a lot, especially in the first few years at Hogwarts.” Ginny ignored the creeping feeling that she’d changed more than most in her first couple years, for reasons nobody else dealt with.

“Oui, exactly! Eleven eez much too young to be told who you're supposed to be. To me, eet eez much better to wait and see who ze children are becoming, rather zan who zey started as,” Fleur responded, almost as enthusiastic as Ginny had ever seen her other than when she was with Bill.

At that moment, the door to the Great Hall opened, and Bill walked in, but Ginny was surprised to see that he was alone. When Bill sat down next to Fleur, he immediately answered her unasked question.

“Harry saw Hagrid and needed to talk to him about yesterday. He’ll be back soon.”

Nodding slowly, Ginny realised that Harry must have been talking to Hagrid about what had happened in the forest. Glancing back up at Bill, who had an arm wrapped tightly around Fleur, she asked, “What did you talk to Harry about?”

Bill shook his head. “I think if Harry wants to talk about it, you’d be the first person he’d go to. It’s just- well, he’s dealing with a lot right now, Ginny. He really needs you to be there for him.”

Ginny had been worried that there was something bothering Harry. The way he’d acted earlier made that obvious, although she wondered why Harry was talking to Bill about it and not her.

Clearly seeing her furrowed brow and frown, Bill interrupted her thoughts, “I had to ask him what was going on, Ginny. He trusts you, and he’ll tell you when he’s ready to talk about it freely.” Bill smiled comfortingly at her. “If it makes you feel any better, he’s totally barmy for you. All I’ll say is that if you don’t already love him, you will when he does tell you about it all.”

Ginny blushed deeply and looked down at the table with a small smile on her lips. She wasn’t used to being so embarrassed, but what Bill said really affected her. Love? They’d been together again for a day, and Bill was talking about love? Of course she cared deeply for Harry, and she’d be lying if she said she hadn’t had dreams where she married him.

Laughing internally, she realised she was being stupid. Of course she loved Harry. If she really thought about it, she’d probably loved Harry for much longer than she realised. But she didn’t want to scare him off- what if he wasn’t ready for that yet? There was a lot of change that was happening around them. Would he want one more thing added to his plate? And what was it that Harry said that made Bill so sure that Ginny would love Harry for it?

Blinking, she realised her mind had been running so rapidly that she didn’t notice that both Bill and Fleur were grinning at her, although Bill’s smile did have a hint of a smirk to it. Suddenly curious, Ginny asked the first thing that came into her mind, what she’d been wanting to know about since she first saw Harry after the battle.

“Did he talk to you about the forest?” she asked quietly.

She felt Hermione stiffen next to her as Bill’s eyebrows raised and he paled slightly. She could see him trying to decide how to respond to her, which told her all she needed to know. Eventually, he sighed, seemingly making up his mind.

“Yeah. He told me enough. More than I was expecting, honestly.”

Ginny let out a breath she realised she’d been holding in. Now a second person knew what had happened, and it wasn’t her. She wanted Harry to feel comfortable talking to her, and he was clearly telling her a much more detailed story than Bill heard, but Ginny couldn’t deny that she didn’t like her brother knowing something about her boyfriend that she didn’t. Opening her mouth, unsure what she was going to say, she was saved by Bill talking again.

“He’s going to tell you everything, Ginny. He made me promise not to tell you because he wants to be the one to do it. He said he’s telling you the whole story of it all, so it’s taking a long time to explain, but he does want to tell you about it.”

Ginny felt a little satisfied with that, knowing that Harry did want to talk to her, and he wanted to make sure she had the full version, not just the small part that Bill got. Still, she was looking forward to Harry continuing to show his trust in her when he did eventually tell her the rest of the story.

Glancing over at Hermione, Ginny saw her pretending to not eavesdrop. Nudging Hermione, Ginny asked, “Has Harry said anything to you and Ron about it yet?”

Frowning, Hermione shook her head. Ginny was surprised; she thought they would’ve talked about it yesterday morning after the battle when the three of them disappeared. Realising her friend looked worried about Harry, Ginny patted her hand softly.

“He’ll probably tell you two before I find out about it. You both know the rest of the story leading up to yesterday, so it’ll be easier to tell you.”

Hermione chewed the inside of her cheek, clearly pondering what could’ve happened in the forest. She focused her eyes back on Ginny. “I wish we could fill in those gaps for you, but like Bill said, Harry wants to be the one to tell you everything. He missed you so much, and I think he’s been looking forward to explaining it all to you for a while.”

Even more pleased, Ginny smiled, deciding that she could wait for Harry to tell her everything. He would definitely make it worth the wait.

“Hey, mate,” Ginny heard Ron say. She leaned back to look around Hermione and saw Harry coming back, looking much better than he had an hour ago.

Ginny was surprised when he sat next to her and pulled her into a tender kiss, lacing his fingers through hers in a move he was rapidly refamiliarizing himself with. When he pulled back, she couldn’t stop herself from leaning towards him slightly before opening her eyes, peering up at him longingly, not caring that her family was probably staring.

“Sorry I took so long,” Harry whispered to her.

Ginny smiled and whispered back, “It’s okay, this time. Just make sure to ask if you’re going to be out of my sight for more than thirty minutes in the future.”

That got a laugh out of Harry, who pulled her into a tight hug, and Ginny closed her eyes, savouring the strangely spiced, woodsy scent that was just so Harry.

Harry was a much more active participant in conversation now, easily talking to Bill, Fleur, Ron, Hermione, and even Percy. Ginny considered herself lucky that Charlie had gone to the Owlery, looking to make some inquiries about the dragon from Gringotts and saving her from a lot of embarrassment. Personally, that was another part of the story Ginny couldn’t wait to hear, but as she locked eyes with Harry while he was laughing at something Bill had said, she knew that she’d do anything for him, including waiting. Merlin, she didn’t think she’d ever get over how his green eyes seemed to sparkle and glow for her alone. It was one of the things she loved most about him.

There was that word again. Love. Realistically, Ginny knew that he probably felt the same way, but she was still worried that she’d complicate things for him if she was the first one to say it. She’d just have to be as lovable as possible until Harry couldn’t take it anymore and told her how he felt. Smiling to herself, she decided that she could definitely be lovable for him.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGH GHG

Harry felt better after talking with Bill and Hagrid. It had been much easier to talk to the Weasleys when he came back to the Great Hall, but he still craved more time alone with Ginny. Always keeping one eye on her, Harry noticed her looking at him strangely as he laughed at a joke Bill had just told about a goblin, a hippogriff, and a hag. He looked at her for a moment, but she seemed to be lost in her thoughts.

He leaned close to her, squeezing her hand while whispering, “Do you want to go for a walk?”

Harry was pleased to see Ginny nod enthusiastically, so they stood up and said goodbye to her family for now.

Exiting the Great Hall, they almost ran right into Neville, who was walking in. Immediately, Ginny gave the taller boy a hug and kissed him on the cheek. Neville was still blushing furiously as Harry started to give him a handshake before pulling him into a hug that involved some poundings on the back.

Harry pulled back, getting his first good look at Neville since before the battle had even started. He’d seen glimpses of him here and there, even spoke to him briefly yesterday, but Harry had forgotten just how bad Neville had looked when he’d met them in The Hog’s Head. Both of his eyes were swollen, he had cuts all over his face and arms, his nose looked like it might have been broken, and one of his lips was puffy. He looked heroic to Harry.

“Neville, you were incredible yesterday, mate. We wouldn’t have won without you and that brilliant sword fighting,” Harry said, smiling at his friend appreciatively. The truth was that he hoped Neville never found out just how important what he did was. The less people that knew about Horcruxes, the better, and Harry saw no need to burden Neville with that.

Neville grinned back at him, “Thanks Harry. I spent all year trying to do what you would do. Guess I kept doing that when I did the stupidest thing imaginable and ran at You-Know-Who with a sword.”

Harry and Ginny both laughed at that. “I mean my first thought would’ve been to go with a wand, but the sword definitely did the job,” Harry joked with Neville.

Neville laughed and shrugged, “You always had a flair for the dramatic, Harry. I didn’t want to disappoint and ruin a good show.” With that he clapped Harry on the shoulder again, gave Ginny another hug, and let them exit the Great Hall, still laughing at Neville’s joke.

As they started walking hand in hand through a corridor, Harry thought aloud, “Neville looks like a wreck. At first, I thought that was from the battle, but I just remembered he looked almost as bad when we saw him before.”

Ginny responded, almost absentmindedly as if it was a known fact. “Neville’s looked like that for most of the year.” Harry noticed as her face darkened slightly, and she whispered, so quietly that he almost didn’t catch it, “He’s not the only one.”

It took Harry a moment to process that, but when he realised what she was saying, he stopped walking. Ginny turned to look at him, but Harry couldn’t think straight. Neville looked like that because of the Carrows, but if he wasn’t the only one, then who else…? Realisation clicked in Harry’s mind as he thought about the faded bruises he’d noticed on Ginny’s arms and legs this morning. He looked at her, feeling his eyes narrowing slightly as he tried to control his anger at the people who had caused all this pain.

“What happened here this year?” Harry asked.

Ginny closed her eyes as her face shuttered, looking like she was trying to make herself as expressionless as possible. He noticed that she’d stiffened and her fists were clenched because she’d let go of his hand.

She took a couple breaths and opened her eyes, and her face was devoid of emotion. “Nothing,” Ginny let out impassively, steadfastly refusing to make eye contact with Harry.

It was almost convincing, but Harry knew her too well, knew her eyes that flashed emotions so powerfully that he often found himself mesmerised looking into them. Right now, he saw everything she was trying to hide in her eyes. He saw the hurt and fear and traumatic memories and why the hell was he opening his mouth again?

“Gin… I’m here. You can tell me anything,” he said, softer than he’d spoken before. That didn’t seem to have any effect on her. She squeezed her eyes shut again, and when she opened them, a tear leaked out of one of them. Harry reached up to cup her cheek when she recoiled. Harry stared at her, almost stunned at how she seemed afraid of his touch now.

“Harry-” Ginny began with the pain now clear on her face. Harry didn’t even have time to react when Ginny turned and sprinted away from him, flying down the corridor and around the corner before his brain had processed that she was running away from him.

He felt his heart in his throat as he suddenly found it very difficult to breathe. He couldn’t let her be by herself when she was hurting this badly. Even if she didn’t want to talk about it, she still needed him. Thinking of nothing else, Harry ran after her, ignoring the pain he felt shooting through both of his legs. When he reached the corner she had turned and looked into the next corridor, she was already gone.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG HGHG

“Crucio!”

Even though she’d known it was coming, Ginny could do nothing to prepare or defend herself as her body erupted in pain. She tried to scream but all of her energy was focused on keeping herself conscious. After what felt like hours, the intense pain subsided, replaced with a throbbing ache across her whole body.

She opened one eye to see Amycus Carrow standing over her, gleefully grinning. Seeing that she was looking at him, he kneeled down in front of her.

“I’ll ask again. Who put those pictures of your boyfriend in the Great Hall?” he asked, bending so close to her that Ginny almost retched looking at the leering face in front of her. They could do whatever they wanted to her; they weren’t going to get any of the others.

She spat in his face.

He recoiled, cursing and aiming a kick at Ginny’s stomach. Ginny felt the wind being knocked out of her, but she acted unfazed. Alecto took her brother’s place, standing over Ginny and smiling sadistically as an idea for a punishment seemed to enter her mind.

Alecto sneered down at Ginny. “Maybe you hope he’ll come back for you if he hears about this. Maybe he’ll miss his pretty girlfriend so much that he runs back in here to save you. I think he’d be surprised if he found his girlfriend to be much uglier than when he left, don’t you Amycus?”

Amycus nodded stupidly, as if he knew what direction Alecto was taking this in. As if he understood anything more than causing physical pain with the Cruciatus.

Alecto continued, “One more chance, girl. Tell us who put Potter’s pictures up, or the next time he sees you, he’ll leave your ugly arse for someone else.”

Ginny wasn’t vain. She knew she was attractive, but she never let her looks define her. There were things that mattered more to her than looks, and she hoped that, as much as Harry liked her looks, he felt the same. ‘I’m sorry, Harry. I hope you’ll forgive me,’ Ginny thought before opening her mouth.

“Go to hell,” she spat out defiantly.

Alecto’s sneer widened into an ugly grin. “I’m gonna enjoy this.”

The last thing Ginny saw before she blacked out was Alecto’s boot flying towards her face.


Ginny didn’t know how long she’d been running, didn’t really have any conscious thoughts in her head at all actually. She wasn’t even entirely sure what she was running from. When she finally stopped running, she was outside, and she sat down against a large birch tree by the Black Lake. As her breathing slowed, her mind began to piece together what had just happened.

Harry, Ginny thought, groaning as she put her head in her hands. She was surprised to find that her cheeks were wet. Wiping her eyes, Ginny realised she must’ve been crying while she was running even though she had no memory of it. The last thing she remembered was the look on Harry’s face right before she turned and fled from him and his impossible question.

How could she tell him what had happened? He left her, rather stupidly but nobly in her opinion, thinking she’d be safer without him around, without being in a relationship with him. It’d been really stupid of him to break up with her privately after they’d dated so publicly. Nobody believed her when she said they’d broken up, and even if they did, there certainly wasn’t anyone who believed Ginny was over Harry.

It didn’t even matter that she had dated him. Sure, that was why the Carrows started with her. Well, that and her family’s aversion to killing Muggles. But by the time Ginny left Hogwarts for the Easter holiday, she was a target for so much more.

She didn’t know that Harry would believe that, if she even had the courage to tell him. For the past month, she’d avoided as many of her family’s questions about what had happened as she could and tried to forget it all. It was only when Harry, the boy she could never lie to, asked her that she snapped as the memories resurfaced in her mind. It wasn’t just the fear of reliving it as she talked about it that scared her. She worried that Harry would be disappointed in her. Disappointed in her for not being safer. Disappointed in her for taking risks. Disappointed in her for not being stronger, for not doing more, for not being braver.

She wasn’t a fool. She may not know the details of what had happened in the forest yet, but she knew that Harry had walked into the forest to Riddle alone and somehow convinced Riddle that he’d won. And then he duelled with Riddle in front of everyone, defeating the darkest wizard ever. Yesterday was only the culmination of years of Harry being brave when others wouldn’t have been. Who else could’ve fought Riddle as many times as he had and still been willing to do it again? Who else could’ve won the Triwizard Tournament and survived a fully powerful Riddle as a 14-year old? Or, as a 12-year old, entered the Chamber of-

Ginny was trembling, out of control of the involuntary movements of her body. She felt like the same scared first year lying on the floor of the Chamber, watching helplessly as Harry had almost died in front of her after saving her life. What would her Harry, the grown up Harry, think of her? He’d always been so brave. That was one of the many things she loved about him, even though it infuriated her sometimes. Ginny had done her best this year to be brave, but she felt like it paled in comparison to what Harry, Hermione, and even Ron had done, and she didn’t even know the full story yet. All she knew was that despite her efforts, people, her friends, had been hurt over and over again at Hogwarts. She’d failed miserably, and that’s why she was so scared to talk to Harry about what happened. Because as much as she wanted him to talk to her about everything he’d been through, she knew that he succeeded, and she couldn’t bear to disappoint him if he thought she could’ve done more or should’ve done less.

Not that it mattered, she realised sadly, fighting to blink away the stinging in her eyes and swallow the lump in her throat. She’d seen the look on his face as she pulled back from his comforting touch. He’d been hurt, and it was Ginny’s fault. Once again, she wasn’t brave enough. Not brave enough to be a Gryffindor, and certainly not brave enough to be the girlfriend of The Chosen One. Surely he wouldn’t be looking for her after what she did. He’d have his selection of witches much braver than she.

She usually put the facade on of a perfectly courageous Gryffindor, but for years after the Chamber, she’d wondered how she’d been sorted into Gryffindor when she’d been so cowardly and caused so much harm. She’d started getting over that feeling when she joined Dumbledore’s Army and started feeling like the things she was doing made a difference, especially at the Department of Mysteries. But now she felt like she was back to square one. Like nothing was different than when Tom Riddle had nearly stolen her life and left her with scars she was still dealing with.

That was when she felt Harry near her, and she unconsciously stiffened. She didn’t know how long she’d been sitting there, wallowing in her thoughts of despair, and she certainly didn’t know how she could sense when he was nearby, just like she had when he walked past her into the forest. Whatever the reason, she knew he was close, and he was looking at her.

Ginny wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, not looking at Harry even though she was sure he’d seen the change in her posture. He didn’t say anything at first. He just sat down against the tree next to her, looking over the Black Lake that was shining under the slowly setting sun. Not close enough that he was crowding her, but if she wanted, she could reach out and hold him. If he wanted.

“I hoped you’d be here,” Harry broke the silence after a while, speaking in a rather calm tone, considering the hysteria Ginny had been in.

It was only then that she realised where ‘here’ was. Their tree. She’d been so caught up in her thoughts and it had been so long that she hadn’t even noticed. Any time either of them needed to get away from the castle or just wanted to spend some time together, they’d come down here. Almost like magic, the other would be there within minutes. It was their tree.

Without looking at him, she asked, her voice raw from her crying, “Do you remember the last time we were here?”

“Like it was yesterday,” he responded immediately, and Ginny felt her memories pulling her to a simpler time, before Dumbledore had died and the world as she knew it had come crashing down.

“Let’s take a break from studying,” Ginny whined playfully.

Harry tried his best to put on a stern face. “Your O.W.L.s may influence your future for
many years to come,” he lectured.

Ginny gaped at him. “Did you memorise that from an O.W.L. pamphlet?”

Dropping the act, Harry grinned and shook his head. “Memorised it from Flitwick at the beginning of last year. Always thought it was funny, me thinking that some tests would determine my future and not Voldemort,” he joked, clearly not thinking about how it sounded because Ginny stared at him in shock.

Harry quickly noticed the look on her face and put his arm around her. “Merlin, Gin. I’m- I’m sorry I said that, I wasn’t thinking.”

Ginny shook her head, looking up at him. “I think that’s what you’re always thinking. You just don’t want people to know it.”

“It’s not what I’m always thinking,” he corrected her. When she raised an eyebrow as if she didn’t believe him, he continued earnestly. “When I’m with you, I’m not thinking about him or what he may do to my future. When I’m with you, it’s like nothing else matters. It’s just you.”

Ginny exhaled deeply as Harry looked at her, blushing a little but refusing to look away. She smiled a little. “So let’s say your future doesn’t involve any raving, violent lunatics. What does it look like instead?”

Harry’s brow furrowed, and he looked deep in thought. After a moment, he looked like he might have an answer, but then he gave her a smug look. “You first.”

Ginny almost said that she asked first so he should go first, but she already knew what her answer was. Even though she’d never actually admitted this before. “I want to play Quidditch.”

There it was. She looked down momentarily, knowing that her family would think it was ridiculous. When she looked back up at Harry, she blinked as if to confirm that he was grinning at her.

“Professionally? You’d be brilliant!” Harry exclaimed. “And my girlfriend would be a world-famous Quidditch player, the best Chaser in the league!”

She laughed, giving him a kiss for that answer. She leaned back, and Harry smiled contentedly. “What was that for?” he asked. “Not that I’m complaining.”

She shook her head and pecked him again. “I’ve never told anyone that before. I always worried that it would sound silly. But that was the perfect response, even if I won’t be the best Chaser in the league… at least right away,” Ginny grinned mischievously.

“I don’t think it sounds silly at all. You’re the best Chaser I’ve ever seen. You’re gonna be great, and I can’t wait to see it,” Harry said fondly, running his hands through her hair like he loved to do.

“I’ll make sure you have a ticket for my first game. But it might be tough to get more for other games. They’ll all be sold out, you know. Every witch and wizard in Europe will be trying to come see me,” Ginny joked with him, not bothering to hold back her beaming adoration of her boyfriend.

Harry laughed and pulled her into a tight hug. She snuggled up against him, loving how safe she felt in his arms. But then she remembered and pulled away quickly, surprising Harry.

“You’re not getting off the hook that easily, Potter. You’ve gotta answer the question too,” she said sternly, wagging a finger at him for emphasis.

Harry’s brow furrowed again momentarily. “I don’t really know about my career ambitions,” he began. “I suppose a lot of people would expect me to want to be an Auror, and that does sound really interesting, but I think in this future, I’d be tired of fighting dark wizards for a while. I liked teaching enough in the D.A. even though I didn’t feel qualified. Maybe I’ll become a teacher.” He chuckled a little, “And Snape could spend even more time with me without being able to give me detention.”

Ginny laughed with him, even though she was a little surprised that he was talking about teaching. She’d always expected, like everyone else, that Harry Potter would of course be an Auror. Pleased that she’d thought to ask him about this, she was surprised when he continued.

“I hadn’t really thought about it before, but Quidditch does sound like a lot of fun. Maybe we could even be on the same team!” he realised, grinning at her matching smile. “Honestly though, Gin? I have no idea what I want from my future yet. Other than I want you to be in it.”

He looked at her with such intensity as he spoke that Ginny thought she might faint. He was always intense, but those green eyes had a special intensity for the things he cared about, namely her. And that look, as he told her she was his future, was what sent Ginny over the edge. She’d never stop adoring him.

Very pleased with that answer, she pulled him into a deep kiss that lasted for several minutes, and when she finally did pull away, she whispered, “I like the sound of that future. We should write it down in case we forget it.”

Harry pulled out his wand and pointed it at the trunk of their tree. He carved ‘H+G’ with a heart around it. It was so bloody cheesy that it would’ve made Ginny sick if she’d seen anyone else do that. But with Harry, it felt so happy and special and right.

“Forever,” she whispered to him before kissing her fingers and placing them against this promise of their future together.


Ginny realised that her hand had found its way to that same spot as she’d relived one of her favourite memories in the blink of an eye. She still wasn’t sure what to say to Harry, but she knew she wanted to talk to him. Before she could say anything, he placed his hand gently on top of hers against the tree. And now she was looking up at him because how could she not after remembering that? His eyes pierced her own with the same intensity they’d had when he had made the carving for them.

“I thought about it every day. When I couldn’t see an end to any of it, when I thought for sure that I wouldn’t make it, I thought about your face when I told you about the future I wanted. That one word you said to me got me through the hardest days of the last year,” Harry spoke, eyes never leaving hers even though tears were running down both of their cheeks. “You said-”

“Forever,” Ginny whispered, kissing him and putting her hands in his hair as he hugged her into his body. Far too soon for her liking, Harry pulled back and looked down at her.

“Gin… I’m sorry if I pushed you. You don’t have to tell me about anything you don’t want to. I never want to hurt you or make you feel uncomfortable. I’m always here if you want to talk to me, but don’t feel like you have to. I’m happy just being here with you.”

Ginny felt the pain in her chest fading at that simple statement. He just wanted to be there for her. How could she have ever run away from him?

“It wasn’t your fault, Harry. I just wasn’t expecting it, and it brought back a lot of memories and feelings that I’d tried not to think about since I left. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you because I do. I’m just- I convinced myself when I left that you’d be disappointed in me if you’d known what happened here,” she blurted out, clearly catching Harry off guard because his eyes widened in confusion.

Ginny continued before he could say anything. “I know that’s probably not the case, but I’d gone months without talking to you. I had no idea where the three of you were or how you were doing. Things were… really bad here. At first, I thought about what you would do and wanted to live up to your reputation for bravery, but then it became necessary for survival. And a lot of people got hurt. I got hurt. After I left, I felt like I’d failed, that you would’ve done so much better. I was ashamed that I couldn’t do more for you or for Hogwarts. It had been so long without seeing you that I thought if you knew, you’d want nothing to do with me.” Ginny let out a deep breath, amazed at what she’d just admitted to him.

Harry just held her hand over their carving, looking at her with so much concern and affection that she wondered if he could’ve possibly understood because if he did, he wouldn’t be looking at her like that.

“I could never be disappointed in you, Gin. And I’m not going anywhere, so you can get that idea out of your head right now. You’re stuck with me. Forever,” Harry whispered, resting his forehead against hers.

Ginny felt everything from her head to her toes tingling. She kissed Harry on his nose, grateful that he was still there, but she’d already started, so she might as well see this through. She moved until she was sitting between his legs and leaned back against him, inviting him to brush her hair with his hands. She enjoyed the contact and intimate feeling of his hands in her hair as much as he did.

Bracing herself slightly, she began to recount her memories. “I used to come to this tree every time it felt like it was too much in the castle. I’d spend hours out here wondering where you were and hoping that somehow, the problems in the castle wouldn’t be there when I went back inside. Then they closed the grounds to students in March, so I started pretending I was here when I was in my bed. I felt like you were somehow with me or watching over me sometimes, and that would make it a little easier to sleep without waking up from nightmares every couple hours.

“It started pretty early on. There were ‘Ministry officials’ on the train and at the castle the first couple days, as if they expected you to just walk in to go to Charms or something. The Carrows were in charge of discipline, and they got to make up the crimes too. They reformed Umbridge’s Inquisitorial Squad into something that made the original look like a poffle of Pygmy Puffs. They wanted everyone to learn how to use the Cruciatus Curse and to practise it on students in detention. If you refused, someone got some extra practice with you.”

Harry stiffened as his hands stilled in her hair. She rubbed his leg. “Harry, I’m just warning you, this story doesn’t get any easier. I’m gonna keep talking, and you’re going to hear a lot of things you don’t like. If you want me to stop, let me know, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

She warmed as he started stroking her hair again, and she felt his face in her hair as he kissed her head, whispering, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Emboldened, Ginny continued, “The Carrows took a special interest in me as a blood traitor and girlfriend of Undesirable Number One.” Patting his leg again, she looked back at him. “Nobody really believed we were broken up. You have to admit now, it was kind of daft of you to break up with me in private.”

Harry looked like he’d never thought about the possibility that people wouldn’t believe it. He opened his mouth to say something, appearing extremely distressed, when Ginny placed two fingers on his lips.

“They were only interested in me for a little bit because of you, Harry. I became such a pain in the arse for them that they only wanted me for that. But that happened later. I tried to keep a low profile in September, but I knew the Carrows and their Squad were watching everything I did. Eventually, I couldn’t sit on my hands waiting for something to happen anymore. I remembered hearing the three of you talking about the Sword of Gryffindor while you were still at the Burrow. I didn’t know how I could get it to you, but I knew you needed it. I hatched a plan with Neville and Luna to get into Snape’s office and steal the sword. Neville set off a bunch of Wheezes stuff in the Great Hall during dinner while Luna and I snuck into Snape’s office. We got the sword out of the case, but somehow, Snape must’ve known what we were doing because he made it back just as we reached the bottom of the stairs. I thought for sure that we were finished, but he only gave the three of us detention with Hagrid.

“It hadn’t gone like we wanted, but we’d proven that we could work together to do something here, if we had more help. In our detention, which ended up just being us weeding Hagrid’s garden and taking a walk through the forest with him, we decided that we were gonna start Dumbledore’s Army again. Luna was able to charm some more Galleons like Hermione did, and we started recruiting. One of the first things we did was cover the clock tower with a massive, glowing ‘D.A.’ banner and a sticking charm that took the Carrows ages to undo because none of the other professors would help them. The Carrows didn’t know what the D.A. was or who was responsible, but we had about fifteen people from the old D.A. let us know they wanted back in. They started recruiting the people they could trust, and pretty soon, we had thirty people. We started meeting in the Room of Requirement, and we discovered a quirk that we didn’t know the first time around. When you’re asking the room for a place to go, you can ask it to not let anyone in that you don’t want coming around, and it can open up doors in other places in the castle too, in case they ever figured out where we were meeting and we needed another way out.

“The next big thing we did was in November. We put pictures of you, actually, all over the Great Hall so they were there for breakfast. Above the Headmaster’s chair, we painted ‘We Stand with Harry Potter’. Unfortunately, Snape helped the Carrows deal with that, and the whole thing was done pretty quickly. He must have told the Carrows that we’d broken into his office because they interrogated me. That was the first real punishment I’d gotten from them. Amycus just wanted to make me hurt, so he cast the Cruciatus on me a couple times, trying to get me to give them the names of everyone involved. But… when I didn’t talk, Alecto got a new idea. She thought I might have been hoping you’d come back if you found out about it. So she decided a better punishment would be to make me less pretty, so you wouldn’t be interested even if you did come back.”

Ginny felt Harry’s hands leave her hair, and she worried for a moment that he was going to leave because he blamed himself. Instead, he wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly but not speaking at all. She marvelled at how safe she felt in his arms, even though she was telling some of her worst memories to him.

“She broke my nose and knocked a few teeth out. Then she had Amycus shave my head. They wanted me to be an example to the school. Instead, more people joined the D.A. even though they saw what the consequences could be. Slughorn helped me brew a Hair Growth Potion to take when I went home for Christmas, and Madam Pomfrey helped me with my teeth and nose right before the holiday since she wasn’t supposed to treat their victims. I couldn’t let my family know because they wouldn’t let me come back, and we had big plans for the new term.

“Luna was taken right off the train when we were going back for the Christmas hols. Now, we had someone new that we were fighting for, so we went way beyond some simple graffiti. We started messing up their Dark Arts and Muggle Studies classes. It was different stuff every day. One day, Alecto’s Muggle Studies classroom was covered with pictures of famous Muggles from the old textbook, all with captions making fun of her. Another day, all the books in Amycus’ classroom attacked him. Seamus had the brilliant idea to transfigure all the desks in their classroom into dogs. The problem was that they were punishing anybody they thought might have been associated with it. A lot of people got hurt. We had to learn how to perform some type of healing magic in the D.A., and the Room of Requirement turned into a kind of field hospital for the victims of the day. The Carrows had moved beyond just casting the Cruciatus. They were starving people in the dungeons for days, coming in only to remind them of the pain they could cause as well.

“At the beginning of March, it got worse. A fourth year named Sam Collins snuck into Amycus’ office while I was in his class and released one of the twins’ swamps. He almost got away, but Crabbe saw him and interrupted class to report him to Amycus. I think that was the last straw because Amycus almost turned feral and started ranting about killing him. He ran out of the room, and I immediately ran to the Room of Requirement. Sam was in there laughing about his prank. I asked the room for a way out of the castle, and it made the tunnel to The Hog’s Head. He made it out, but Amycus suspected that I had something to do with it. I spent three days in the dungeons before they finally let me out. It turned into a cat and mouse game. I’m not sure why they never tried to kill me, but they seemed to enjoy hurting me more. Every few days, we’d get wind of the Carrows hunting someone else down and get them out before they could find them.

“Except… at the end of March, we- I didn’t find out fast enough. Chloe Williams, a second year Hufflepuff, was overheard by someone in the Inquisitorial Squad talking about how she wanted to join Dumbledore’s Army because the Carrows were evil. By the time word got to us, we were too late. I don’t know what they did with her, but nobody saw her again.”

Ginny had been so caught up in her story that she barely registered that she started crying as she thought about poor Chloe, who just wanted more good in the world and didn’t deserve what happened to her. Harry kissed her head again but remained silent, knowing that her story wasn’t quite over yet. Taking a breath, Ginny resumed her story with a slightly shakier voice.

“I’d run to the Hufflepuff dorms to see if we could get her out, but the Carrows had gotten there way earlier, and Alecto stuck around to see if she could catch whoever had been breaking people out of Hogwarts. I ran right into her trap. Instead of the dungeons, she put me in an empty classroom with Crabbe and Goyle and told them to let her know when they were done. I couldn’t even count how many times they cast the Cruciatus on me, and in between, they’d take turns punching me in the face or yanking on my hair. Frankly, I was expecting them to be… a little more touchy, but my one bit of luck was that they didn’t seem interested in that. They let me go finally, and I was in the Room of Requirement recovering until I went home for the Easter hols a couple days later, barely able to walk.

“A few days in, Bill sent us a Patronus telling us to go into hiding because Ron had been seen with you, and the Death Eaters would know that we’d lied about him having spattergroit. We made it to Aunt Muriel’s house, and Bill told us that all of you were safe, but we couldn’t see you. I was so mad because you were so close but still so far away, and I was terrified that I wasn’t at Hogwarts to try to protect as many people as I could. Those were the longest weeks of my life, wanting some sort of update about what was happening at Shell Cottage and here. Bill never told us anything more about you three other than that you all had been talking to Ollivander and a goblin. Then a couple days ago, we heard on Potterwatch that the three of you had broken into Gringotts, and that night, the D.A. Galleons burned again, letting us know that you were at Hogwarts and needed help.”

Ginny finally stopped talking, breathing deeply as her story reached the point where Harry entered. She felt slightly relieved that she’d made it through, but the longer Harry went without talking, the more uneasy Ginny felt that maybe she’d been right in debating whether to tell him. When she couldn’t take it any longer, she turned around to look at him.

He stared at her, his cheeks wet with a flood of silently shed tears. His eyes, normally so bright and vibrant, were dark and mournful, and he looked at her with nothing but sadness and concern. When he didn’t move, Ginny wrapped her arms around him, and they cried together.

It was Harry who finally untangled himself from the embrace enough to look at her. “Gin,” he croaked, his voice cracking with emotion, “I’m- I’m so sorry. I wish I could’ve protected you. I wish you’d never had to go through any of that. I- you never deserved any of that. You were so brave, Gin. I hid in a tent for most of the past nine months. You fought every day, and you saved a lot of lives. I’m- words can’t even express how proud I am of what you did. You’re so amazing. Honestly… if anyone should be disappointed, it’s you. I should’ve finished this sooner. Maybe that would’ve kept you from getting so hurt. Maybe-”

Ginny shook her head in disbelief at him. “How on earth could I be disappointed in you? After everything you’ve done since I met you? You’re the bravest person I know. I’m the one who couldn’t save Chloe,” she argued, almost a little angry that he was so dismissive of himself. She still didn’t understand how he could act like she hadn’t messed up, like she couldn’t have done more.

Harry reached up and wiped a tear from her eye. “When I talked with Bill earlier, he told me that we can honour the people who died by living the lives they wanted to live. I told him- I feel so guilty about all the people who died yesterday. I feel like it was my fault that they were here. Bill said people were here fighting for their freedom and their right to live like they wanted, not to defend me. It doesn’t make the guilt go away, but… I think it’s making it a little more bearable. Chloe wanted to fight for good; she wanted to be like you. It’s not fair that the Carrows got to her first, but you have to keep living like you did. Keep being the person Chloe wanted to be like.”

Tearing up again, she smiled softly at Harry, “I don’t know how you think you aren’t good with words. You always know what to say to me.”

Harry smiled a little back at her. “It’s magic.”

They held each other for a while before Harry spoke again. “By the way, I want you to know something.”

Ginny leaned back to look up at him. He was looking at her with that familiar intensity, his eyes brighter than they had been a few moments ago.

“You are really hot-” Harry said, ignoring Ginny’s snort “- and cute, beautiful, and altogether gorgeous. But…”

Ginny raised a challenging eyebrow at him even though she was blushing, “But…?”

“I’m not with you because of that. It’s a nice perk, but I’m with you because of so many things about who you are, not what you look like.”

Ginny blushed even deeper, trying to remember how to breathe as she felt like she had in that moment under this tree a year ago. Smiling sweetly at Harry, she decided to see where she could go with this. “Are you keeping a list then? Of reasons you’re with me?”

Harry chuckled. “Wouldn’t you like to know? Maybe someday I’ll share it with you. But I don’t need a list. Every second I’m with you makes me more sure that you’re the only person I want. Even if you looked like a troll.”

Ginny wrinkled her nose. “That’s sweet, Harry. I wish I could say the same, but I’m really only with you for your looks. Well, that and your impressive kissing ability.”

Harry couldn’t help but laugh loudly. “I know that’s not true. If you were after looks, I don’t think you’d be with me.”

Ginny realised he was serious, and it only made him cuter knowing that he had no idea what his looks alone did to her. Grinning, she leaned closer to him, “You’d be surprised. Besides, you really are a marvellous kisser.”

Seemingly determined to prove her right, Harry closed the gap between them and brought her into an intense kiss. A small moan escaped her lips as Harry worked his tongue against hers, his hands caressing her back and hair, pulling her deeper into a kiss she never wanted to end.

Unfortunately, they both did still have to breathe. They pulled away slightly, breathing heavily. Harry was incredibly red, and Ginny noticed that he couldn’t take his eyes off her lips, which she could tell were swollen from that rather spectacular snog. Not that she could judge him. She knew she was looking just as hungrily at his lips.

Harry abruptly stood up, holding a hand out to help a surprised Ginny to her feet. He laced his fingers through hers and pulled her into walking beside him.

“Where are we going?” Ginny asked breathlessly.

“I know exactly what we need right now,” Harry responded, looking very excited now.

Ginny was puzzled, not sure where they could possibly be going. They walked away from the lake but not towards the castle. She suddenly realised where they were headed, but didn’t want to ruin Harry’s surprise. Instead, she decided to distract him.

“So… when am I gonna get that list?”

“Hmm?”

“The list of the reasons you’re with me.”

Harry laughed, “I think I’ll tell you pieces of it randomly so you can keep being surprised. It’s not like I’ll run out anytime soon.”

Ginny squeezed his hand at this genuinely adorable compliment that Harry didn’t even seem to realise he made. He was just honestly saying that there were so many things about her that made him want to be with her. The thought warmed her so much, and she wondered again at how she could have worried that he’d reject her if he knew about this year.

“First,” Harry interrupted her thoughts as the stadium came into view, “I’m with you because you love Quidditch, and you’re so amazing at it.”

Ginny smiled at him and kissed him softly.

“If that’s the reward for every item on the list, I might just tell you the whole thing later. But first, we really need to fly together.”

Ginny grinned widely, “I think that sounds perfect.”

Taking a couple brooms from the school supply, they made their way onto the pitch. Harry kicked off first, and Ginny followed right behind, looping up and over him as he shot around the pitch. They soared high above the ground, enjoying every moment of being alone together, but before long, they were back to speeding around the stadium. Ginny smiled in a moment of clarity as she looked over at Harry flying rapidly beside her. Because surely this, the wind in her hair, the smell of the broomstick, and Harry next to her, was the freedom they’d fought so hard for.

/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*
A/N: Yeah, I know, both Harry and Ginny have a lot of problems they’re dealing with. This was another really special chapter for me because it’s the first time that we see a memory of Ginny’s. I wanted to use her memories as a storytelling device to fill in a lot of gaps in her life and character that don’t really have answers. Some of those memories are going to be of the rough things in her life, like being abused by the Carrows, but a lot of them are going to be much happier, like their first talk under their tree. And by the way, yes, the promise they made to each other was forever. And it’s gonna come up a lot.

This chapter was also presented the interesting challenge of being my first real exercise in matching up the existing canon with my additional stories in the form of memories and Ginny’s retelling of the past year at Hogwarts. It took a while to make sure all the timelines matched up right, but I definitely got better at it as I continued writing and basically memorised every single story beat that Ginny has in the books. (There’s more than you think).

It was also one of my first real chances to show how Harry and Ginny handle and express emotions with each other, even though it’s going to continue being explored in future chapters. They both have a lot of room to grow, but they’re doing it together, and that’s the beautiful thing about their relationship to me.

So that’ll do it for the first release of Summer of Recovery. Moving forward, I plan on releasing chapters on Tuesdays and Fridays, generally in the afternoon (US time), but no promises on an exact time because my schedule as a college student seems to change every week. But please, let me know your thoughts so far! I’d love to hear from anyone who’s reading this!
And be sure to subscribe or follow along so you don’t miss out on the Tuesday release! Like I have a quote from the text at the start of every chapter, I’m going to include that quote and the title of the next chapter at the end of every A/N as a teaser!

Coming Tuesday: Blazing- He supposed he should’ve been grateful that they had given him a day before they started asking questions, but honestly, he was just annoyed.

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