The five years weren’t expected to be as long and harrowing as they were. Though there were moments of hope, of happiness and bliss, those moments were shrouded in depression and longing. There were more lows and highs. The Wizarding World kept fighting for two years after - it didn’t just end with a bang bang, you’re dead. Without their leader, most Death Eaters gave in, taking examples of wizards from the First Wizarding War and claiming they had been forced and threatened and put under the Imperious curse. But some kept fighting, believing that their Lord would rise again, like he did before, and return more powerful and thirsty than before; and these ‘some’ grew in numbers. Eventually, the Ministry and the Order hunted all of them down and arrested them – or they were killed in battle. Many disappeared though; there were several unconfirmed reports of sightings in America – San Francisco being a regular rumour – but it was wasn’t within the newly instated Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt’s jurisdiction. The United States Government of Magical Beings refused aid, believing it was too much of a risk – they did have a point. How could Kingsley Shacklebolt prove he wasn’t another Death Eater under command, making up lies and plotting to take over the United States?
And so the War dwindled, becoming ash that blew away gradually, bit by bit, until just scars and memories were left. Harry James Potter was awarded a posthumous Order of Merlin, First Class, and a memorial dedicated to him in the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft And Wizardry (officially, it was a memorial for all of those who lost their lives in the Final Battle at Hogwarts, with all of the names arranged in alphabetical order and many Order Of Merlin, Third Class awards beside their names. But, at the bottom of the list, there was Harry James Potter, July 31st 1980-October 31st 1999, Order of Merlin, First Class, The Boy Who Lived – complete with an animated portrait of him). The United Kingdom settled down to peaceful years of normality and, though all of the inhabitants graciously accepted their freedom, not all of them accepted the loss of their hero.
As in life, when one person leaves us, another enters. Eight months after he left them, she came. It was a warm June 5th, at three pm, in Saint Mungo’s. She had a tuft of vivid red hair and bright green emerald eyes. She cried and cried. She was Lily Jean Potter.
The numbers glowed a vivid red in the darkness; she couldn’t make out the outline of Harry’s old Muggle alarm clock, or the outline of her bedside table, or even her hand in front of her face. All she could see was the bright digital numbers, reading 08:59.
Beep beep. Beep beep. Beep beep.
Merlin, why did Muggles make their alarm clocks so annoying? Maybe to force them to summon the energy to turn it off. Whatever it was, it did its job.
Slamming her hand down on top of the machine, Ginny pushed back the covers, softly flicking her wrist. The lights around her room lit, dimly, brightening every minute. Stumbling to her feet, she pushed her vivid red hair back, walking automatically towards the bathroom.
Half an hour later, she was dressed in a floaty floral dress and long, heavy cardigan, preparing breakfast; the room was bathed in yellow light from the rising sun, which she could see, rising up over the hills in the distance. Waving her hand over the ceramic plate, it grew amber, softly toasting the bread on it; summoning two glasses and a vial of pumpkin juice from the fridge. As the bread toasted and pumpkin juice poured itself, she gazed absently out of the window.
Her house was a fifteen minute walk from the Burrow, a three second Apparition, exactly six fireplaces down or a short broom ride away. She had grown up in Ottery Saint Catchpole and she loved it there, and had no plans to leave. The city was too loud and supernatural to her, and she wanted her daughter to grow up in the same, peaceful surroundings she did – with summer broom rides down to the lake, Quidditch games in the back garden, the pains and competitions that came from de-gnoming the garden, her family surrounding her…
The plate returned to its normal colour, the vial whooshing back to the fridge. Placing the toast and glasses beside the cereal, she took a slice for herself, taking a bite –
The four year old ran into her mother’s legs, hugging her tightly before seeing her breakfast on the table behind her.
In a stream of red hair, Lily jumped onto her seat, greedily digging into her Magic O’s, squirming with delight as they changed shape and colour. Ginny couldn’t stop the smile that came to her lips; glancing at the calendar, she saw it was May 14th. In no more than twenty two days, her little girl would be five years old. Half a decade would have gone by. Five years - one thousand eight hundred and twenty six days - forty three thousand eight hundred and thirty hours - two million six hundred and twenty nine thousand and eight hundred seconds…
She wondered what the next one thousand eight hundred and twenty six days would bring, and the following after that. Would she find someone else? Would Lily be stalked by the media? She remembered the early days, when the word got out that she was pregnant with the Harry Potter’s daughter, despite the Weasley’s attempts of keeping it as quiet as possible. Paparazzi and journalists and Wizarding Wireless hosts and civilians hounded the Burrow, desperate for a picture or an interview or a handshake or a prayer. Molly and Ron were very protective, shouting insults and threats and warnings and maybe even a harmless spell or two. Eventually, Arthur Weasley took it to Wizagement – which heightened the press, but in the end got a restraining order on all uncalled, unorganized press. No journalists or paparazzi – or anyone – were allowed to badger any of the Weasley’s for information or pictures unless a press conference or interview had be organized. But that was set five years ago. Before Lily was even born. Ginny had been too grateful, too ecstatic, to check an ‘expiry date’ or what would happen after birth, when Lily grew up. There had been days, spent at a public Quidditch pitch or a park or even shopping for groceries, when the paparazzi would follow them stealthy, lurking behind bushes and crowds, snapping pictures that would later make page two news. They pissed Ginny off, causing her mood to turn sour and snappy – Lily, however, waved and smiled and laughed, not knowing why they were taking her picture, curious towards them. Ron, when he was there, often chased them off, throwing a bottle or a jinx or so at them, often getting into trouble and brought to court for physical and/or verbal harassment. There were a few fines, a couple of hours of Community Service, but he regretted none of it.
Still absently watching her daughter, she sent a prayer to whatever higher power was above them, wishing and wishing that her daughter would be happy, be normal, be respected. She didn’t want people to give her special praise; she didn’t want her daughter idolized. She had watched Harry for years under the fickle pressure – one wrong step sent the whole school of Hogwarts, whole Wizarding World, against him. She didn’t – wouldn’t – have her Lily under the same scrutiny.
“Are we still going to the park today, Mummy? With Uncle Ron and Auntie Hermy and James and Halie?” Lily asked excitedly, crumbs speckling her face, her glass of pumpkin juice clutched in her hands.
“Yep, we’re going at lunch – and I think you need a bath! Quick, jump upstairs and turn the hot water on as Mummy cleans up breakfast, okay?” Ginny said lightly, kissing the top of Lily’s head and banishing the used cutlery and dishes towards the sink. Happily, Lily stood on her chair, kissing Ginny’s cheek before jumping up the stairs. Smiling softly, Ginny quickly washed the dishes and performed a Quick Drying Charm on them before following her daughter upstairs.
Laughter and shouts echoed through the field. Children and adults alike whizzed around on brooms, chased their dogs and Crups and owls and Diminutive Dragons (a living breathing dragon that fits in the palm of your hand and comes in all sorts of species - a Weasley’s Wheezes smash hit product), played in friendly duel competitions and played Snatchers. Since the Second Wizarding War, Ottery Saint Catchpole rapidly became a complete wizarding town, with no Muggle inhabitants. How it happened, no one is really sure, but there were suspicions as to why.
Sitting comfortably on the large rug, shoes abandoned and toes tanning in the spring sun, the two mothers watched as their children and Ron Weasley played loudly several feet away, playing Snatchers.
“Snatched! You’re it!” James screamed, catching his dad’s shirt before darting in the other direction; his younger sister, Halie, giggled, running around them in circles. Lily shrieked as Ron lunged for her, but ran away successfully, hiding behind James; the two proceeded to run circles around Ron, darting away from his hands.
“He really is a big kid at times,” Hermione sighed, opening the bottle of Butterbeer from the Muggle cooler and offering it to Ginny after taking a drink.
“Oh, please. I don’t think he’s ever grown up,” Ginny smirked, thankfully taking the drink. The two girls watched, unable to keep the smiles off of their lips as Ron snatched James around his waist, hoisting him up easily in the air and putting him on his shoulders, screaming victory as Lily screamed unfairness, ducking under her uncle’s legs and running to Halie. “Suits him, though. Annoying as it is at times.”
Hermione grinned, her hands holding her protruding stomach. Suddenly, she made a silent, painful noise, shifting her weight again; Ginny’s eyebrows immediately furrowed, but before she could question anything Hermione calmed her, “He’s a kicker,” she laughed, smoothing her shirt over her stomach delicately.
Ginny relaxed, gazing at her friend’s – sister’s – very large, very pregnant stomach. “He’s due soon, isn’t he?”
“Very soon,” Hermione nodded, “Next week soon.” She bit her lip, “I’m excited, but a bit sad that I don’t have a solid reason as to why I want Ron to get me a strawberry and fudge ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s at half two in the morning,” smiling, she moved, leaning against the tall oak tree beside them.
“You could always use your femininity to persuade him,” Ginny said slyly, crossing her legs and placing the Butterbeer bottle back into the cooler. Hermione blushed.
“Ginny, you know I couldn’t do that!” she protested, cheeks growing redder and redder. Mature as she was, Hermione always became flushed under talk of her own sex life.
Laughing at her embarrassment, Ginny apologized, “Oh don’t worry, I’m only teasing,” she winked wickedly, looking through the cooler before finding a Chocolate Frog. Ripping open the packet, she quickly caught the frog in her hands before it could escape; biting the head off of it, the chocolate stopped struggling. Eating the frog, with her free hand she pulled out the chocolate frog card.
Also known as ‘The Boy Who Lived’ or ‘The Chosen One’, Harry Potter is
often cited as the ‘saviour of the Wizarding World’. Raised by unfriendly
Muggle relatives, he is most famous for his battles against He Who Must
Not Be Named – the first battle in 1981 when Harry Potter was just one
year old and which rendered He Who Must Not Be Named powerless
for thirteen years, and the final self-sacrificial battle on Halloween 1999,
with many life threatening encounters in between.
Scowling, Ginny cast the card away to the wind, not noticing Hermione picking it up as it fluttered to her feet. She hated the fact that just the very mention of his name brought tears to her eyes. She hated how, even when he wasn’t there, he made her feel - feel everything. His name, his very name, struck her – struck her with his smell, his messy black hair, his bright emerald eyes, his voice, his skinny frame, his laugh – him. She couldn’t even hold a single conversation, or think a single thought about him without her eyes burning. It was ridiculous, it was stupid, and she hated it. Would she ever move on? Would she ever – definitely not forget – but accept? Find someone else? But she didn’t want someone else. She had never wanted someone else. Not Michael Corner, not Dean Thomas, not any of them. She grew up listening to the stories Mum and her brothers told her, the books and newspaper articles about him, Ron’s admiring descriptions of their first year and Harry’s reckless courage. And when she finally saw him, met him, he was everything she had expected, and more. He was funnier, braver, taller, messier, more humble and honest and just more. Crushes came and went, but her crush on him remained; eventually, she had grown out of her awkwardness and grew in confidence. She was able to talk to him without blushing, hold a proper conversation – she always believed she would just be ‘Ron’s little sister’ or at the very least a friend, but had almost accepted that she would never be anything more.
But she still held onto her dreams, her hopes; hope still glimmered and shone – hope when she caught him looking at her; hope when she saw his expression when he and Ron interrupted her hormone influenced snogging session with Dean Thomas; hope when he grew awkward around her. And then came that day, when she was Seeker and it was Ginny Weasley against Cho Chang, and Ginny won. The party in the common room, then Harry stumbled through the portrait, and she saw him and just ran up to him, throwing her arms around him in a hug, and he pulled back and kissed her –
She jumped, head snapping up. Without realizing she had drifted off, eyes glazed over and staring unseeingly at the grass, the Chocolate Frog melting in her hand.
“Damn…” she muttered, purposely busying herself with the melting chocolate; she quickly ate the rest of it before grabbing a bottle of water and some tissues.
“Ginny, are you okay?” Hermione asked carefully, biting her lip. Ginny glanced up at her, drying her now clean hands with the tissues. She could see the card crumpled in Hermione’s fist.
“Yeah – yep, I’m fine,” she said, adding a smile for good measure. Hermione wasn’t convinced.
“If you want to talk - ”
“I’m fine.” Ginny said sharply, banishing the tissues into the bin. Wiping her hands on her heavy cardigan, she searched for a distraction, a change of topic, before Hermione could push it.
“You haven’t - ”
“Have you thought of a name?” she asked quickly, pushing her hair out of her eyes and leaning back on her hands. Hermione sighed, clearly agitated. She wasn’t stupid. She knew what Ginny was doing. She was doing what she had always done. Skirting away from potentially hurtful or emotional conversations with a light joke or, in this case, a quick change of conversation. It was stupid and just caused more pain. No one had talked to Ginny about Harry, because she refused to. Molly had tried, Arthur had tried, Ron had tried, she had tried – hell, even Fred and George had tried. It was one of the few times they had been deadly serious. It was weird, unnatural, seeing them so concerned and forlorn; but, try as they all did, the attempted conversation either ended with a shout or a slammed door. Ginny refused to talk, and everyone could see how it affected her. She wasn’t as bubbly as she was, she wasn’t as light-hearted and sociable. And, though Hermione longed to try to get Ginny to talk, to confide, all of them had grudgingly learned that it was never the right time.
“No, not yet,” Hermione muttered, before clearing her throat, attempting to suppress her hormonal emotions, “We’re tossing around a couple, but none of them feel right…”
Hermione was clearly pissed off. She wanted to get Ginny to talk, and pregnant pissed off Hermione wasn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world. But she wasn’t going to talk. What was the point? What was the point in talking, in confessing fears and dreams and memories, and crying buckets, only to feel even worse afterwards? It was a stupid, weak, time wasting, pointless thing to do. She had grown up in a boy’s world, where you just sucked it up and went on with life. And that was what Ginny was doing.
Or trying to.
Before Ginny had to continue the conversation, Lily and James tumbled towards them, their arms outstretched and spinning in circles. Halie wasn’t far behind, gurgling and trying to do the same – she held out her small arms and spun, before toppling to the ground and climbing back to her feet to start again. Ron picked her up, holding her upside down before spinning in circles himself –
“Ron! Stop that – she’ll be sick!” Hermione shouted, pushing herself upright, making to stand.
Halie laughed, giggling loudly, her arms outstretched as her father spun her; pouting, Ron stopped spinning, turning Halie right way round and placing her on his shoulders, “Spoil sport Mummy says you’ll be sick,” he said sulkily, bouncing his way over to the rug so that Halie shrieked, grabbing his hair for support, “So we have to stop having fun…” he sat down beside Hermione, kissing her on the cheek before picking Halie off of his shoulders, letting her run over in circles towards Lily and James.
“You know she’ll be sick,” Hermione protested, glaring at Ron, “She just had lunch!”
“She’s got the stomach of a Quidditch player, Hermione! When has she ever been sick from me spinning her about?”
“When she was eight months old and she threw up over your face,” Ginny interrupted, smiling brilliantly at the memory, “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day…”
Hermione laughed as Ron’s ears glowed bright red, “She - she was a baby, she’s not a baby anymore.”
“Yes she is!” Hermione said quickly, frowning slightly, “She’s only two years old, she’s still our baby!”
Ron – probably out of months of pregnant emotions and arguments of realizing that it was best to through in the towel than to have a debate – threw his arm around Hermione’s shoulders and kissed her cheek, “And she always will be,” he said defiantly, watching and smiling as the children continued to spin. Hermione’s frown disappeared, a soft smile lighting her face as she curled up to Ron, resting her head on his shoulder. Ginny watched them for a while, remembering Ron from years ago and wondering how Hermione ever put up with him. And how Ron put up with Hermione. But it worked. She didn’t know anyone better suited than them, and – though they had about ten arguments a day – it always worked out. They would both die for each other, no questions asked. Ginny felt a twinge of jealously, of hate, that she would never be able to curl up with the person she loved more than everything, she would never be able to watch their children play, or grow old together, or even have a picnic on a warm spring day…
Hastily looking away, she turned just in time to see Lily and James run awkwardly towards them, falling left and right from dizziness, Halie following James’ steps, “Mum!” Lily shouted, falling over just as she reached the rug. Quickly Ginny picked her up, brushing the dirt off of her and pushing back her hair, “Mum, can James and I play on the broomsticks? Please, please, please?” Lily begged, her eyes wide and pleading.
“No, definitely not!” Hermione said immediately, sitting upright, “James, you might fall or crash or - ”
“But that’s the fun bit, Mum! Please?” James begged, leaping towards his parents in excitement, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.
Hermione opened her mouth again, but Ron quickly cut in, “As long as you promise to be careful,” Ron said quickly, glancing at Hermione, “No diving!”
“Mum, can I dive?” Lily begged, holding her mother’s shoulders.
“I need to practise!” James insisted, voice still begging, still bouncing on the balls of his feet.
“I’ll go with them,” Ginny said, climbing to her feet, “I haven’t been out in a while anyway.”
Hermione paused, but she knew that Ginny wouldn’t allow them to do anything extremely dangerous or life threatening. “Just be careful!” she insisted, kissing James on the cheek before clambering awkwardly to her feet, “Halie, Ron and I will be in the park,” she said, brushing herself down before picking Halie up off the ground and resting her on her hip. Ron thanked Ginny silently, knowing that Hermione would be more relaxed if Ginny was supervising; smiling, Ginny pulled the broomsticks, glad to be in the air. The only distraction up here would be James plummeting to the ground, laughing as he did so.
Lily fell asleep quickly that night. Ginny did not.
Sleepless nights didn’t bother her as much as they used to. In fact, they were probably more comforting; she was able to read more medical books, advancing in her career (she had aced her Trainee Healer exams, thanks to nights of revision)… she was able to organize and reorganize everything in the house so it was in perfect condition and Molly didn’t get on her back… she was able to get some Quidditch practise… she was able to do anything she wanted, as long as she didn’t wake Lily – she placed a Silencing Charm around her room, to give herself more freedom and Lily more sleep. It was safer, staying awake and relying on Energy Potions than risk falling asleep, only to fall into nightmares she couldn’t wake out of and dreams she would never achieve. Too many times had she woken up in cold sweat, or filled with pointless hope.
Tonight, she was searching through her medical books. Yalnets Houdgen, a long term patient of hers, was still not improving. He wandered into the hospital, alone and in tatters, bleeding and with a weak heart, no idea who he was or where he came from. He was very intelligent - he knew the answer to every question on Wizarding History and the World itself posed to him, but of his personal life, he knew nothing. Ginny had used every Memory Charm and potion available, but nothing had worked. His heart had failed him several times, but Healers were always there to save him.
She couldn’t concentrate. The words blurred into each other, jumbling and making no sense. She didn’t know what it was, she just couldn’t focus. Yalnets. Where did he come from? Where was his family? Did he have a wife - children? Was his life hard, exciting, normal, boring, easy, complicated? Why was his heart in such bad condition? Why had no one looked for him? A surge of anger flooded through her, red hot and piercing; how could his family just leave him, abandon him? Did they not care? He was still alive. He was walking and talking and breathing. He could be found. He was lost, as lost as you could be – living under a different name, in a different place. But he was still him. He could still be found. Why wouldn’t they look? Where they looking? Or did they just decide that, one day, he’ll come back. Or did they not care? Or did they just – just give up?
Feeling tears, knowing that she wasn’t just talking about Yalnets’ family, she threw the book across the room, staring at it as it fell to the floor with a thud. Opening the top drawer on her bedside table, she shifted past her socks, pulling out a heavy photo frame.
Hogwarts was tall, visible in the background; the grass glimmered with dew drops, sparkling in the sunlight, the trees waving as the light wind blew through. They smiled up at her, waving. His hair was as messy as ever, black and untidy, emerald eyes bright in the summer day that was. She was leaning against him, his arms drawn protectively around her, her own eyes bright with happiness.
If only that moment could be played on repeat, forever and ever. If only she could feel that happy, that alive, every second of her life. Why did they stop looking? She couldn’t remember who spoke the words first – she knew that a lot of them were thinking it, the looks in their eyes when she found a new lead, when she travelled somewhere else, but one of them spoke the words first. Then the others, slowly, grudgingly, accepted it. Ginny refused to. She wasn’t an accept-and-move-on person. She was a fight-to-the-end person. Her searching, researching, travelling, was wearing her down and, though she refused to see it, the others did. They asked her to stop, then they told her to stop. And when she stopped, she didn’t accept it. She didn’t move on. And she still looked, looked for leads, for new theories.
Why did they stop? How could they abandon him? Did they not care? He was still alive. She knew he was still alive. He was Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, The Chosen One – he couldn’t leave. He was still walking and talking and breathing. He could still be found.
Why did they just give up?
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