Anything you don't recognize is mine, the rest is JKR's.You know the drill. :) ~cellochic44
Chapter 1- Forgive Me
“It’s a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.”- JKR, “The Hungarian Horntail”, HPGOF
The sun took a final, fiery bow before disappearing behind a curtain of large oaks bordering the back garden. Towering over the expansive orchard was a lopsided, ramshackle old building that looked as warm and inviting as it did unstable. But to the people who gathered here now around multiple tables sagging from the weight of Mrs. Weasley’s extensive cooking, this was home.
Tomorrow Bill and Fleur were finally getting married in this very garden. And tonight, Molly Weasley had promised them a rehearsal dinner. And in a manner typical to her, she had seized the opportunity to cook for days on end to produce an end result extraordinary enough to feed an army. In reality, the wedding guest list didn’t extend far beyond family and very close friends. So Ginny, the 16 year old redhead sitting at the far end of the table and trying to avoid eye contact with everyone or else be pulled into a conversation, had dressed casually in an old Gryffindor jumper and a pair of jeans that used to belong to Ron, because tomorrow she would have to wear a ghastly bridesmaid’s dress as it is was and this lot saw her come to breakfast in pajamas on a daily basis. The formality of the occasion was rather pointless. But as she picked at her shepherd’s pie moodily, Ginny Weasley figured she could use a reminder that some people still had reasons to celebrate.
Ginny’s mind drifted back to her second start-of-term feast. “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” Dumbledore had spoken those words. It was miraculous how such a simple statement had stuck in her memory all these years. But Dumbledore was dead and had taken his words of wisdom with him. The old wizard had abandoned them, abandoned Harry, abandoned her. Sure she would cast a lumos for everyone, but it wasn’t going to be any lumos maxima.
She couldn’t help but feel the slightest flare of anger. If Dumbledore hadn’t died, if he hadn’t left them like this, if the funeral had never happened… But no, she mustn’t think that way. It was inevitable…- fate-… that Harry had to finish this someday. It might as well be sooner than later.
“Why does every damn thing in my life have to be out of my own control?” she asked whatever higher power might’ve been listening then proceeded to stab her treacle tart irritably.
She glanced up from her plate and was pulled out of her rapture by another face a few seats down the table. His face. He sat eating mechanically, hunched over and looking like he was trying to hide from the world. The slight shadows under his eyes betrayed the façade. It appeared, she had been more successful in persuading Hermione to teach her a good glamour charm.
His thoughts were clearly miles away, but suddenly his head snapped up out of his own stupor. Automatically, she bowed hers to her plate once more, but it didn’t keep her from hearing what he clearly thought no one but Ron and Hermione could hear. He whispered it in an abrupt, decided, sort of tone, like he was continuing on an earlier conversation.
“Tomorrow. Right after the ceremony.”
When the alarm on Gideon Prewett’s battered old watch began beeping loudly, Harry hastened to quiet it. This would difficult enough without waking the entire house. As Harry swung his legs over the side of the bed, Ron did the same without needing to be awoken. The darkness masked Harry’s amused surprise. For once, even Ron had too much on his mind to sleep properly. Swiftly and silently they dressed but didn’t bother to pack anything, as they had already loaded Hermione’s beaded bag with everything they would need. Knowing they must be deathly cautious not to wake Mrs. Weasley, who had ears like a cat, the boys descended the stairs stealthily and made their way to the front gate. This was the agreed meeting point. They stood waiting anxiously for a moment, shivering in the crisp air of the early summer morning. Moments later, Hermione joined them. “Sorry, I’m late, I decided to pack some more books and then I thought Ginny was waking up and-“
“Shh! It won’t matter if you get us caught!” Ron interrupted exasperatedly.
“Well Ronald maybe you think I’m being overly cautious now, but you’ll have me to thank when we need an answer that’s in a book you made me leave behind!”
“Its not like you haven’t memorized every book you own anyway!” Ron retorted.
As usual, Harry was ignoring his friends’ banter and his thoughts were elsewhere entirely. “I need to do one more thing before we go.” He said whilst looking back toward the burrow. Hermione noted that his tone was distant, but not cold, yet also not void of sadness. Silently he stole back toward the house and through the side gate into the back garden.
He would leave behind his dreams of the future where they began- where they would be most missed.
Ginny rolled over, kicking the covers to her feet restlessly. She honestly couldn’t remember the last time she’d gotten a decent night’s sleep this summer. The constant worry that she’d wake up and the three of them would be gone had consumed her night time hours since- that day. Giving up on sleep altogether, Ginny silently swung out of bed and padded barefoot over to the window. Hermione was out of bed, but she was probably just taking a quick trip to the loo. Besides, the older girl could be trusted not to bother her. She knew Ginny hadn’t been getting much sleep. Sliding the pane up slowly, Ginny noiselessly climbed outside, hoisting herself onto the short section of roofing that ran adjacent to the window.
Shivering in the cool midnight air, she wrapped her arms around her knees as she lifted her face to the pale luminescence that was the full moon. Gazing at the heavenly depths of the sky, she remembered days gone by, happier, brighter ones. Days when there was more hope for the Order, the Ministry wasn’t attempting to persecute them all, and most of all, when there was no doubt in her mind that her closest brother, her best friend, and… he might leave for good.
She wasn’t even sure what he was to her. She couldn’t answer that question anymore. At the very least, she was his friend. Her sacrifice had proved that much. Little Ginny Weasley had done what the almighty Harry Potter would never have the balls to do if their situations were reversed: agreed to stay behind. She wasn’t the type to beg and plead. Between her pride and habits long ingrained from growing up in a home full of boys, tears were out of the question. Getting angry and completely losing it would not help Harry with what he needed to do and she would’ve regretted it later. No, Ginny Weasley had chosen to wait in the wings and make sure that he had something to come back to.
But it wasn’t that simple and deep down Ginny knew it. This whole mess reminded her of one of those old soaps her mum used to listen to on the wireless. Everything was tied up in drama and prophecies, love and war, good and evil. She had made her choice with the knowledge that her mother might just completely lose it if her youngest and only girl up and left too, she could never live with herself if she caused Harry’s death, and because she loved him with her entire being and saw this coming anyway. She saw this coming by placing herself in his shoes. She would die for him without hesitation. It would be a chosen death, no matter the scenario or consequences. Even if the fate of the world was resting on her shoulders like it was on his, this would be her choice. And although she thought this may be quite the egotistical assumption, she reasoned he must have reached this conclusion as well, or he would never have broken it off. So in a very convoluted way, Ginny Weasley understood that by leaving her, Harry Potter was showing just how much he cared for her. She could only hope that in the end, there would be more left than the memories she had of earlier days.
Absorbed in her thoughts and memories, Ginny sensed movement out of the corner of her eye. Peering down from her secret perch, she saw Harry making his way slowly toward the pond, where he stood and gazed upward at the moon just as she had. For an immeasurable amount of time she sat there in silence, watching him watching the heavens. Eventually, he reached into this pocket and pulled out something tiny that glinted in the moonlight. Holding it in his cupped hand, he reached out over the surface of the pond, then let it slip between his fingers. It hit the water and instantly sank beneath the dark surface, leaving ripples expanding outward in its wake. But as it tumbled through the air, Ginny realized what it was and abandoned her post as Harry watched the object settle in the depths of the pond.
Turning away from the pond, Harry thought he saw movement through one of the burrow’s windows out of the corner of his eye. Counting the windows as they climbed the side of the ramshackle building, Harry identified which was the one that had caught his eye. He had sensed movement behind the third window from the top. It was Ginny’s window. Unsure if she was truly awake or if the shadows had been playing tricks on his eyes, Harry pulled a scrap piece of parchment and a self-inking quill out of his jacket pocket. On it he wrote the words,
His hand shook so badly the word was nearly illegible so he wrote it again.
But I won’t be home again.
He levitated it up to the open window where he set it down on the sill, in perfect sight.
Ginny quickly pulled on her bathrobe, anxious to get downstairs before he could disappear. With a start, she noticed Hermione’s bed was still empty. This couldn’t be a good sign. Tonight was the night.
Ginny crept downstairs and through the back door, all the while praying her mum was still asleep. Having grown up in a home full of older brothers, someone was always getting caught in the act, and Ginny was a fervent believer that her mum knew about everything that went on in her house; it was miraculous that all four of them had managed to slip past her parents’ bedroom door. She prayed her mother wouldn’t wake up now.
Padding through the kitchen and out the backdoor, Ginny spotted Harry still gazing out over the pond. The dewy grass masked the noise of her bare feet as she approached him. She was unsure if he was aware of her presence and when she stopped to stand beside him he didn’t start or look at her.
“I know what you’re doing.” she said without looking at him.
“I know.” He replied without looking her direction either.
She turned to look at him. “But I don’t understand why it has to be this way. You promised mum you would at least let her know when you were leaving.”
“Because it’s easier this way.”
“Easier for whom?”
“Well, see, you’re not helping the plan, being awake and all.”
“Well I’m sorry for ruining Mission Escape! Happy?”
“No I’m not. But for different reasons altogether.” he sighed and took both of her hands in his, finally looking her in the eye. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I thought if I, I mean, the three of us, didn’t have to say goodbye it would be easier.”
“I see, but I don’t approve of your logic and Bill and Fleur will never forgive you. But you still won’t answer my question. Easier for whom?”
He sighed and turned away again, but didn’t let go of her left hand. “Me, us…” He squeezed the hand gently. “You.”
She gave a bitter laugh. “If you think this could possibly be easy for me, then you’ve got another thing coming, Potter.”
“I never said it would be, just easier.”
They both stood there for a while, just gazing at the moon. Finally Ginny spoke again.
“I don’t know how I’m going to deal with the uncertainty. Every morning I’m going to wake up, and have absolutely no idea if you’re even still alive. I’ll be trapped here or at Hogwarts without any knowledge of…anything…” She wasn’t sure if this was making the slightest bit of sense, but plowed on anyway. “No matter where I am, if you’re gone, I’m afraid this feeling that something is missing, that you’re missing, will just overwhelm me and swallow me up.”
“Then you must know what has to be done.” he replied
“Well, clearly not or I wouldn’t be standing out here talking to you at Merlin-knows what hour.”
“You can’t allow yourself to miss me. It’s that simple. I’m not worth-“ but she abruptly slammed into him, cutting him off with a passionate kiss. Only it wasn’t like any of those from last year she was missing. It wasn’t happy. It was desperate.
“I waited five years for you Potter. I don’t make promises I can’t keep.” she breathed. She wrapped her arms under his and up his shoulders, laying her head on his chest, surrounded by his embrace. Listening to his heartbeat underneath her head suddenly brought on a sense of content drowsiness, but she heard his next words as clear as day:
“Nor do I. So I can safely promise you this. I love you Ginny Weasley, and you have my word that I always will.” Then he bowed his head to hers, where it was still cradled against his chest, and kissed her lips softly.
And then the dream state dissipated as quickly as it had come, and he was gone, leaving Ginny Weasley to once again stare at the moon. Alone.
When she had heard three cracks of three people disapparating, she sank to her knees and reached into the water. He had given her his word, but that was all, nothing else. Ginny closed her hand around the silver band before raising herself off the ground and turning back toward the burrow.
Ginny Weasley never cried. She just didn’t. But as she closed her bedroom door behind her, she crumpled against it and her body shook with silent, racking sobs. She noticed the note on the window sill and upon reading it, began crying harder. She could hear footsteps on the landing and quickly climbed into bed, curling in to a fetal position at precisely the moment her mum opened the bedroom door. She had not however, had enough time to get her tears under control. Without speaking a word, Molly Weasley crossed the room and sank onto her daughter’s bed, cradling the sobbing girl in her arms, just as she had not so very long ago when she was just an innocent child. It was a long while before either of them spoke.
“They’re gone.” Ginny choked out in a voice weak from crying.
“I know.” Her mother replied simply and continued to rock her daughter in her arms, because it was true- Nothing went on in Molly Weasleys home that she didn’t know about.
Long after Ginny fell into a troubled, yet exhausted sleep, Molly continued to hold her in her arms before getting up and tucking the blanket around her daughter. She noticed her daughter’s left hand was still curled into a fist. Gently, Molly unhinged it with her own, to discover a small silver band bearing an emerald set with two smaller diamonds on either side. It was clearly an engagement ring, but the design resembled something of another time altogether. The ring had left an imprint on the skin of Ginny’s palm, having been clutched in her hand so tightly. Molly knew that it must not belong on her daughter’s finger or she wouldn’t be clutching it so tightly. Reaching around her own neck, Molly undid the clasp on a simple, yet elegant chain that belonged to her own mother. The late Charlotte Prewett had worn this necklace her whole life until she was defeated in her work for the first Order. Molly felt it embodied her mother’s spirit and had worn it constantly since her death. But now, she carefully strung the ring through it and placed it around her own daughter’s neck, where it rose and fell slowly against her chest.
Perhaps between her family’s chain and Harry’s ring her daughter might find some safety at school under the will of Snape, and indirectly, she remembered with a shudder, Voldemort. But she had no choice. Sending her daughter back to this foreign Hogwarts was probably equally dangerous as being a full-fledged member of the Order. Molly hoped that this makeshift necklace symbolized the strength of will and hope she knew her daughter would cling to. With her brothers and closest friends gone, it was about all Ginny had left at that accursed school. Ginny rolled over in her sleep, murmering something uninteligible to Molly and then fell silent once more, her hand closing once again around the ring now hanging around her neck.
Maybe someday you'll look up,
And, barely conscious, you'll say to no one,
"Isn't something missing?"
Molly Weasley hoped he realized someone was missing him.
A/N: Well, here is just the beginning of an idea that had been tumbling around in my brain for quite awhile... I only have an extremely vague idea of where this is going to end up and without a beta, I'm not entirely sure it makes an ounce of sense! This means I would LOVE reviews!!! Seriously. If you're an author, then you know the joy they bring. :) Please and thank you!!!