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Aftermath… By DeeMarie Chapter 9. The Butterfly Effect Harry slammed the door hard behind him. He had to get away from the house, away from Ginny. He started to run. He ran across the yard and vaulted the fence that led to the fields. Harvesting had just been completed and the field had been mown. Fresh furrows of dirt had been turned and Harry ran between them. He ran hard and fast, the tears that had threatened to brim over in front of Ginny, made his cheeks wet. He wanted to scream, to howl out his anger and frustration. He let his mind go blank, concentrating only on putting one foot in front of the other. He reached the end of the field and turned left, following the fence that bordered his property. His side ached from the effort it took to keep up the pace. If he stopped he would think and that was the last thing he wanted at the moment. He slowed his pace. He was jogging now, still concentrating on his feet. He looked up. He was fast approaching the stone wall that surrounded the gardener’s cottage. Breathing heavily he made for the wall. 20 yards, 10 yards, 5... He came to an abrupt stop. He placed both hands on the cold stone and leaned over the wall gasping for air. He had stopped crying. His lungs labored, his legs were aching and weak. He lay on the wall more than leaned on it. He needed some water. Remus would probably be home. Once he was able to stand, he would go to the cottage. It was only a short walk to the back door. Remus had been cleaning away his lunch tings. He saw Harry running toward the cottage. He watched as Harry collapsed against the wall. Harry was angry. Remus knew the signs. Every time Hedwig had returned from Ginny without a reply, Harry had gone running the field. He always returned dirt streaked, breathing heavily, and holding his side. Remus had been expecting this, only he had thought it would have come sooner. He knew Harry and Ginny had been dancing around the last 6 weeks. Harry had wanted to explore the past and what happened to them. Ginny, he suspected, had wanted only to dwell in the present. Remus knew Harry was right. If they talked, really talked about that night, then their true feelings would have come out. Remus knew they loved each other. They were just to afraid to admit it. Afraid the other wouldn’t feel the same, afraid the other did feel the same. Why was love so hard? If only he had spoken his own heart. He remembered the girl with the curly brown hair and eyes that were the color of a doe’s. Remus shook his head and looked out at Harry again. Harry wasn’t laying across the wall any longer. He was standing, still breathing heavily and holding his side. He bent over, a pained look on his face. Remus grabbed a pitcher of water and a glass and went out the back door. “Thought you might need this,” Remus said. Harry grabbed the glass and started to drink. “Why don’t you come inside, Harry. You look exhausted.” Harry followed Remus inside. Harry sat at the kitchen table, his breath becoming normal. Remus sat across from him, placing the pitcher in easy reach of Harry. They sat quietly. Remus was waiting for Harry to speak first. That’s how they always began their conversations. Harry was thinking now. He was going over everything he and Ginny had said. “I said some foolish things, Remus,” Harry began. “I let my temper get the better of me. How could I do that?” “None of us is perfect, Harry. You were angry, I gather?” “Yeah, but I really didn’t have a reason to be. I know how much completing her schoolwork means to Ginny.” He took the glass of water between his hands and turned it slowly. “I love her so much, Remus. All I want to do is make her happy. She wants a career. That’s a good thing, but it will take her away from me, from the baby.” “Do you honestly think Ginny Weasley,” Harry looked sharply at Remus. “I mean, Ginny Potter would neglect those she loves for a job?” The expression on Harry’s face softened. “No. No she wouldn’t.” Harry remembered how staunchly Ginny has supported him over the years. How many times had she risked expulsion to help him? “Harry, she does love you. I can see it.” Harry sighed. “I don’t think so, I asked her and she couldn’t say it.” “You’re not giving up, are you, Harry? Don’t lose hope. You know what happed the last time you gave up on her.” “If you hadn’t been there…” Harry’s voice trailed off as he remembered. “Harry,” Remus put a comforting hand on Harry’s arm. “Give her time. Try to understand. There’s so much going on in her mind right now.” “But I said some truly awful things…” “We all do when we’re angry. Talk to her, explain why you said them. She’ll understand, eventually.” There was a quick knock on the door and Ginny burst into the room. “Remus, have you seen…” She saw Harry. “Oh, Harry! I’ve been searching for you! I felt it! I felt the baby move!” She had come to Harry and was kneeling by his side, her face lit up with joy. Harry grabbed her arms and helped her into a chair. “When, Ginny? When did you feel the baby?” “A little while ago. I was in our room. It was amazing.” She paused, her hands dropped to her abdomen. “It’s happening again!” She grabbed Harry’s hand and placed it on her abdomen. “The baby’s not big enough for me to feel it yet, Ginny,” he said gently. “A few more weeks and then I can feel the baby too.” There was a brief look of sadness in his eyes. “What did it feel like, Ginny? Tell me.” Remus watched them. He knew this was an important moment for them. Smiling, he left them alone. Ginny felt as if they were the only two people in the world. No, make that three. The baby was moving gently inside her. She was trying to think of the right words to tell him what this felt like, to explain how each movement stirred her heart. “It’s a fluttering, Harry. It’s like a butterfly…no, it feels like a small bird trying it’s wings.” Harry looked into her eyes. “I’m sorry, Gin. I didn’t mean half those things I said.” Ginny’s hand went to Harry’s cheek. “We’ve both said things we didn’t mean, Harry.” She lowered her eyes. “ I have been neglecting you, and I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional. You only wanted to help me today. I should have realized…” Harry’s hand came up under her chin. He raised her face so he could look into her eyes. “I said some awful things. I know you would never leave your baby or me.” He was searching for forgiveness in her eyes. “It wasn’t fair of me to ask if you loved me. There’s a reason I did though. You see, Ginny…dear heart, I love you.” Ginny’s breath caught. “If you can’t say it back to me right now, that’s okay. I just wanted you to know. You’ve given me something special, Ginny. This is the only way I know to give you something special in return.” He leaned into her and kissed her gently. They walked back to the house together arm-in-arm. Neither had said anything after their kiss. Harry told Ginny to get some rest, she looked tired. She agreed, a nap would do her good. Harry tucked her tenderly under the covers. He grabbed fresh clothes and headed for the shower. Ginny tried to sleep. The baby had stopped moving and she tried to blank her mind. Thoughts of the life she, Harry and the baby would share kept intruding. It was no use. Sleep wasn’t going to come. She sat up. She could see herself in the Vanity’s mirror. Her hair was a mess. She got out of bed and sat at the vanity and began to brush her hair. The secretary lay open. The letter from Harry lay on top of the pile. She put down her brush and picked up the letter. Harry said he loved her. That in itself was amazing considering how she had been treating him. What did this letter say? Ginny broke the seal and began to read. Dearest Ginny, Please, please write to me. I’m sorry, dear one for what happened. I don’t know what come over me; I didn’t mean to do it; it just happened. Please, Ginny, I didn’t mean to rape you. I thought you wanted to do it too. Rape? My God, Harry thought he raped me? Dear Lord, no, he can’t have thought that. I was as willing as he. She continued reading. Now I see that you didn’t want to do it. Please forgive me, I can never forgive myself. I stole something precious from you, I can never give it back. I want you to know that I feel more than just friendship for you. I realize now that these feelings have been coming for a long time, but I was too stupid to know it. When you curled up close to me - and I know now that it was to save my life, not because you loved me - I thought you were wanting me as much as I wanted you. When you did nothing to stop my advances, I mistook your concern for me to be a desire as great as my own. Oh, Harry. No. You can’t blame yourself. I did want you. I wanted you so very badly. There was more to read. I raped you. There is no other word for it. I let my passion and my instinct take over in a weak moment, now we both must deal with it for the rest of our lives. I cannot atone for my crime, all I can do is let you know that, on my part, it was more than just lust, there were deep feelings involved. At the moment I woke next to you, I knew that I needed you. When you responded to my embrace, I took your lack of struggle to be consent. Now I must live with my guilt. No, Harry, Ginny thought, it’s my guilt, not yours. I let you love me that night. I wanted you even more than you wanted me, I just didn’t realize it. She continued the letter. I do not ask that you forgive me completely; I know that what I did was wrong. Just realize my weakness took place in a moment of emotional stress, I still need you; if you can’t accept me as a lover, please accept me as a friend who erred. I cannot let you withdraw from my life. You have become as much a part of my life as Ron or Hermione. I would like you to be more, but if that cannot be, please see it within yourself to let me be your friend once more. I’m a fool, she thought. A cruel, selfish fool. I thought only of my own pain. Oh, Harry, I’m the one that needs to be forgiven. There was one paragraph left. If you cannot forgive me enough to be my friend, I don’t see how I can go on living. My obligation to the Wizarding world has been completed; Voldemort is dead. I want to find out if we can be more than just friends. I want to find out if what we shared can blossom into something more. Can we fall in love? If we can’t, if it just isn’t possible anymore, knowing what I did to you, at least let’s try to remain friends. Without your love or friendship, I see no reason to continue on with my life. I must hear from you. If not, I see no other recourse. With hope for more, Harry Ginny looked into her mirror. Tears were coursing down her cheeks. The letter fell from her numb fingers. She stared at her reflection. What had she become since that night in May? She knew now that she had run. She ran from the love Harry had offered her. She ran from what she felt for him. She ran because she loved him. She had always loved him, since she was 10 years old and had seen him at King’s Cross. She ran because he was never going to love her as much as she loved him, and she couldn’t bear that thought. He did love her. Harry loved her so much that the thought of life without her was life not worth living. She hadn’t even opened the letter. What stopped him? Ginny buried her face in her hands and sobbed. Great wracking sobs that shook her body to its core. “Ginny?” Harry said opening the door. He saw her at the vanity and ran to her. He pulled her into his arms and began rocking her, stroking her hair. “Ginny, what’s wrong?” She couldn’t answer. She clutched at his shirt and sobbed into his shoulder. Harry saw the letter. He knew which one it was. Each word had been burned into his memory. Lifting Ginny gently, he took her to the bed. They lay there, Ginny crying into Harry’s shoulder. Harry held her in a tight embrace, letting her cry it out. He knew they would talk when she was ready. Finally the sobs subsided, exhausted Ginny fell asleep. Harry lay next to her until he was sure she was deeply asleep. Harry went to the vanity and picked up the letter. He knew she hadn’t read any of the letters he sent after the first one, but he didn’t realize she kept them. He folded the letter and went to put it in her letterbox. There they were, all of them. Just 4 seals broken. The last six were more pleading her to write to him, asking Ginny to meet somewhere or come to his birthday to talk. This one, though, this one was where he had hoped she would respond, pull him from despair. Harry could keep his feet no longer. He sat down and remembered. Harry had spent a sleepless night. Another sleepless night. He hadn’t slept well since Ginny had sent her note, he still had it, it was committed to memory. Harry, Please don’t write anymore. I’ve answered you. We have to forget what happened. Move on, Harry. Find someone who will make you happy. Ginny Doesn’t she know? She’s the one who can do that. She’s the one that I want to fall in love with. Ginny, you’re the one I want to find out about love with. Please, Ginny, please, teach me, snow me, love me. Harry scanned the brightening sky. Where was Hedwig? He usually sent Hedwig to Ginny in the morning with his letter. By nightfall the owl would return. Yesterday’s letter had been difficult to write. Hedwig hadn’t left until mid-afternoon, still she should have been back by now. Perhaps Ginny was writing a reply? Harry’s heart clutched onto that hope. In the back of his mind he knew the truth, Hedwig needed to rest. She would return without a letter. Harry had fallen asleep at the window. It was Hedwig’s return that woke him, a letterless Hedwig. No, Harry refused to dredge up that memory now. If Ginny asked, he would tell her the truth, but he didn’t want to think about it now. He checked Ginny. She was still sleeping soundly. He kissed her cheek and went to the kitchen. The evening shadows were just entering the bedroom window when the baby’s movement woke Ginny up. She stretched, working the kinks of tension from her back. The baby continued it’s movements. Ginny put her hand on her abdomen. It was no longer flat. Her belly had become rounded. Harry had remarked about that two nights ago. He found it extremely attractive. The remark had made Ginny smile. Harry. Where was he? She had fallen asleep in his arms. She needed to talk to him. They finally had to talk about the past. Ginny was wrong. Harry and she needed the past if they were to have a future. And she wanted that future now more than ever. I love him she thought. I never stopped loving him. I will always love him. He needs to know that. She found him in the kitchen. The smell of lamb stew drew her there. Harry had learned to cook since he and Remus came here. Now he was sitting at the table making notes on the paper she had abandoned that morning. He looked up and smiled at her. “Hope you don’t mind about this,” he said pointing to her paper. “It’s good, but there are a couple of things that would make it even better.” Ginny smiled back at him. “Thanks, Harry. I wasn’t happy with what I had. I appreciate the help.” She went to sit next to him. She took the quill from his hand. Ginny turned back to Harry. “It’s time.” “It is,” he replied. “Harry, I’m sorry I didn’t write. I just couldn’t bear it. I was scared. I was running, Harry. Not just from you, but from myself as well. Harry, I should have at least written. What happened? What happened after you wrote? That letter was desperate and I never answered you.” Harry sighed. It was time to tell her everything. He began by telling her how he felt waiting for Hedwig to return, falling asleep at the window. It was Hedwig poking her beak in his ear that woke him. He slowly drew his head up. There was no letter. Harry sighed. Hedwig poked her head under his chin. She nudged at him. Harry stroked her feathers. “It’s okay, Hedwig. I don’t blame you. This is all my fault. Come on, I’ve got some owl treats here somewhere.” Harry handfed her the treats, stroking her feathers. “You’ve been a great friend, Hedwig. The truest.” He gave her one last treat, then left the room. Remus was asleep in the chair in the sitting room. He was exhausted. He had just finished his transformation for this month. Harry stood in the doorway, arms crossed leaning against the jamb. He stood like that for awhile. I wish there was something I could do for you, Remus, he thought. All the times you were there for me and I can’t really repay you. I can’t repay anyone. “I’ve done all I can. It’s over now.” He looked about the room, then turned and looked around the house. This would have been a great home to grow up in. He imagined the house filled with the laughter of children, the love of his parents. Harry went to the bathroom. He turned on the tap for the tub and let the warm water slowly fill it. He turned to the sink. “Here I am. The boy who lived. I’m 18 years old and I don’t know what to do with my life. I thought being an Auror might be worthwhile, but I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to spend my life facing the dark side. I’ve been there too long and it nearly took me over. “Quidditch? The real thrill is the flying. But I can’t stay on a broom forever. Once on the ground, everything returns to normal. “What do I have here? Remus doesn’t really need me. I only remind him of what he’s lost. Ron and Hermione have each other now. They don’t need me. Ginny. Ginny doesn’t want anything to do with me. What’s left?” He picked up the straight razor that Remus kept on the sink. He turned it in his hand. Light glinted off the blade. “Do you know how incredibly selfish you are being right now, Harry?” Remus’ voice startled him and Harry dropped the razor. “Not to mention incredibly stupid.” “What’s left for me, Remus?” “There’s so much here, Harry. You have people who love you. The Weasleys consider you another son. Molly and Arthur would be devastated.” Remus walked to the tub and turned off the tap. “You’re more than a brother to Ron. Hermione considers you family. And,” he paused, “you are my son. Yes, my son.” Harry started to cry. “If it’s Ginny Weasley you’re worried about, I say give her time.” “She’s not answered any of my letters. She doesn’t even want me for a friend.” “You honestly believe that? After everything you’ve been through, you think she would just leave you like that?” Harry lowered his eyes. “I don’t know what happened, and I’m not asking you to tell me. But I suspect that Ginny may be scared, Harry. I think you need to give her time and the space she needs to come to grips with everything. “This isn’t a fairy tale, Harry. Evil isn’t defeated and everything turns out happily ever after. There are consequences to all our actions. It takes time for people to recover. You haven’t yet, have you, Harry?” Harry shook his head. “Come with me, Harry. Let’s talk. Talk about any and everything. It may not solve all your problems, but it may help you understand.” “For the next few days all we did was talk. It helped. I realized you would talk to me eventually. Those other letters were just asking you if you were ready to talk.” “Oh, Harry, please forgive me,” Ginny said softly. “Already done, dear heart. The moment you accepted my proposal.” Harry held open his arms. Ginny sat on his lap and was folded in his warm embrace. “About your career,” Harry said. “Whatever you want is fine with me. Your dreams are different from mine. We’ll work this out.” “Harry, I appreciate that. We have time to work all this out. We need to talk all this out. I’m sure we can some up with a plan we both can agree on.” She leaned on his shoulder. “I realize now that we should talk. About everything. “I was afraid, Harry. I was afraid I would remind you too much of the past, I would remind you of Riddle and all of those things he did to you. How could we have any future if all you see when you look at me is what happened to you?” “Don’t you see, Ginny? The past is a part of that. It’s because we share that past that we can make a future together. You understand what happened to me. You know what it was like to have Voldemort try to take you over. It was the same for e. We can talk about it, we can help each other heal. That’s what that night was about. Reaching out to each other, sharing the pain, starting the healing process.” Ginny looked up, chocolate brown eyes met emerald green. “You said you love me, Harry.” “I meant it, Ginny. I didn’t know it then, but I’ve loved you for a long time. I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, but it did.” Ginny sat staring into Harry’s eyes. He could see she wanted to tell him something. She was trying to find the right words. Ginny took a deep breath. “I thought I was over you. I had taken the silly school-girl crush and squashed it. I was happy just to be your friend.” Ginny looked away. Where had her courage gone? She was a Gryffindor after all. She had been running away from this for a long time. It was time she started acting like the true Gryffindor she was. She turned back to Harry. “I can’t deny it anymore, Harry. I love you, too. I’ve loved you since I saw you at King’s Cross all those years ago. I’m helplessly, hopelessly in love with you.” Harry went completely still. “I always will be.” “Ginny,” he breathed. Gathering her in his arms, he kissed her deeply. Harry stood, Ginny cradled in his arms. He took her to the bedroom where they reveled in their discovery.

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