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The next morning Harry awoke feeling a great deal better. He was still a bit sore, but it was the kind of sore you feel after a long days work, rather than the outright pain of the night before. He noticed that there were two potions and a cup of tea on the table next to the bed, and he smiled to himself at the thought of Ginny making sure he had everything there.

As he reached for the tea, his heart stopped when he noticed the photo of them propped up against the lamp. Had she put it up to let him know she had found it, did she simply think it had fallen off the table to begin with, what did she think of him for keeping it?

He sat up in bed, adjusting the pillow, and remembering the splint on his leg. He took a sip of the tea, still stressing about what Ginny might think of the photo. Then he noticed a folded piece of paper, which had been weighted down by the teacup; he picked it up and unfolded it.

Good Morning Harry!

I’ve left some more pain and bruise potion for you, please take them both. When you’re ready to get up, call for one of the house elves to come get me and I’ll check your leg to see if the splint can come off today. You might want to wait a bit though, as mum is in full on “tidying up the nursery” mode and wants to organize your whole property! Hope you slept well!

:heart: Ginny

Harry was even more confused after reading Ginny’s note. Sure she’d signed it with a heart, but he’d seen her do that at the end of lots of letters to friends and family. It was more her signature than a sign of affection, wasn’t it? She’d joked with him in the end of the note, so he hoped she wasn’t too upset about him prying last night.

He sat a stewed for nearly an hour, and then decided there was nothing for it. He was just going to have to move on and see what happened.

“Kreacher?” He asked?

Kreacher appeared with a pop, “Yes Master?”

“Kreacher, please just call me Harry. Can you please get Ginny for me?” Harry asked.

“Not proper for house elves to use Masters given name.” Kreacher said, looking horrified. “Kreacher will fetch Mistress.” And with a pop, disappeared.

A few minutes later, he heard Ginny coming up the stairs. She knocked softly before coming in the room. Harry’s breath hitched in his chest, she was wearing a soft pink t-shirt and denim overalls, which had dirt stained on the knees. She had obviously kicked off some boots upon returning to the house, and was in her stocking feet. Her hair was pulled up into a messy knot behind her head. Harry could see that she had lost a great deal of weight over the past year, as her clothes hung off her skeletal form, but he still thought she was beautiful.

“Good morning!” She chirped. “Let me just wash the dirt off my hands and I’ll have a look at your leg.” She ducked into the loo, and he heard running water.

“Hermione and I have been working in the garden.” She called back through the open door. “It’s really spectacular, just needed a bit of weeding and organizing!”

“I didn’t know we had a garden.” Harry replied, grateful for a neutral topic of conversation. “I guess that makes sense though, it is a farm!”

Ginny reappeared, and moved over to the bed. “Lets have a look at that leg.” She said, and Harry pushed back the covers and rolled up his pajama leg. Ginny muttered an incantation, and passed her wand over his leg. The tip glowed blue, and Ginny smiled. “Diffindo.” She sliced off the bandages, and removed the splint.

“You’re very nearly as good as new!” she said, “you can go about normally, but please give it a few more days before you go falling off a broom or something.”

“Thanks Ginny!” Harry said gratefully. “I’m so glad you can look after me and I don’t have to go to St. Mungos.”

“Sure, what are friends for?” She said with a grin. “We all know how much you like attention.”

With that she bounced towards the door. “Come have a look at the garden when you’re ready!” She called back over her shoulder.

Harry stared at the place where she was a moment ago, still confused, and then headed toward the loo to take a shower.

Outside the door to Harry’s room, Ginny leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor. She was so confused about Harry; she didn’t know what to say or how to act. They both had a lot to work through before everything would be back to normal, but she had hoped they could pick up where they left off.

Thinking back to before Harry left made her think of Hogwarts, which made her think of Fred, which in turn made her feel guilty for worrying about her relationship with Harry and not grieving the loss of her brother. She drew up her knees, and rested her head in her arms on top of them and allowed herself a few moments of despair. There was no one about, so she let the tears fall freely.

In her moment of weakness she didn’t hear George come up the stairs. He spotted his little sister sitting on the floor and slid down next to her.

“I know I’m not Fred, but I’m a good understudy.” He said quietly, slipping his arm around her.

“Oh George!” Ginny sobbed, burying her head into her brother’s shoulder. “How are you so calm? You were a mess at Hogwarts, how did you get past it?”

“I’m not past it.” He said. “It feels like there’s a bloody great hole in the middle of me. Sometimes I think I’ll go crazy. I keep listening for a ghost to finish my sentences; maybe I am crazy.”

“I keep thinking this is some horrible nightmare, and I’ll eventually wake up, home in the Burrow with everything as it should be.” Ginny sniffed.

“I’m quite glad we’re not at the Burrow.” George admitted. “There’s no memories of Fred here, it helps it hurt a bit less. I wonder if the hurt ever stops.”

“No, it doesn’t” Came a voice from behind them; Harry had come out of his bedroom. “It’s like having an arm amputated, I expect. You’re never the same again, but eventually you learn to live without it.” He sat down across from Ginny and George.

George looked up at Harry. “You know, I never did thank you.”

“For what?” Harry asked.

“For letting Ron sit with you in your first year on the bloody Hogwarts Express.” George said with a laugh. “Only smart thing he’s ever done, getting into your compartment.”

They all giggled, it was good to hear George joking around again.

“Well, you must be telling the truth, because you’ve lost a load of people and I don’t see you falling to bits all the time.” George said to Harry.

“Maybe I fall to bits when no one is around?” Harry said quietly.

Ginny looked up at Harry. “No, you don’t fall to bits. You obsess. Hermione goes to the library; Ron gets mad. Dad buys muggle things, and Percy writes reports, and Mum cooks. Charlie just stays away more, and Bill tries to hide it from everyone, and Fleur’s accent gets thicker. And George, you joke. I seem to be the only one who goes to bits.”

Harry smiled at her perceptiveness. “Ginny, haven’t you been healing everyone like a mad woman and acting as happy as the lollipop lady at St. Mungos?”

Ginny paused, and then nodded.

“You don’t have to singlehandedly cheer everyone up Gin!” Harry said, “It’s okay to let people see that you’re down! You’re the healer, you can’t honestly tell me that it’s healthy to bottle up your emotions like that!”

Ginny sighed. “No, I suppose not.”

“Alright, now what’s this you were saying about the garden?” Harry asked.

Down in the garden Hermione was working on charming a scarecrow to walk amongst the rows of plants. Upon arrival in Australia she had learned that the native Sulfur Crested Cockatoos were, while quite pretty, immensely obnoxious creatures with appallingly loud screeches, and a penchant for destroying crops. She was hoping that the scarecrow would work better, if moving.

After perfecting the charmed scarecrow, Hermione had set to identifying the plants. The garden had gown without attention for an unknown number of years, and the plants had grown large and somewhat unmanageable. Hermione guessed that they must have been magical varieties, as they grew without regular watering.

Still, after a long morning of work with Ginny, the plants were pruned back, and the rows organized. If Hermione could identify them, then she could see what needed to be magicked onto trellises.

“Tomatoes!” She muttered to herself, recognizing the leaves from her parent’s small garden at home. She transfigured several pieces of eucalyptus bark into pyramid shaped trellises, and then used wingardium leviosa to lift the plants onto them. Then she marked the row with a bit of impurviused parchment on a stake.

She continued for quite a while, until she had labeled all of the plants. She wished Neville were with them, as she knew he could charm the plants to be ever-bearing.

It was only after she finished, that she realized that Ginny had been gone quite a while. Hermione hoped it meant she and Harry were talking, as she knew Ginny was stressing over the state of their relationship.

Hermione was a bit confused about her own relationship with Ron. They had kissed during the battle, and she had fallen asleep in his arms after the battle was over, but beyond that there hadn’t been much more. Sure Ron had taken her hand on more than one occasion since then, and had frequently hugged her when she was upset; but those were things that Harry had done from time to time as well when he was trying to cheer her up.

Hermione hoped it was the close proximity they had all been living in before coming to Australia that had prevented further progress. They had all been on top of each other in Gryffindor tower, leaving only to bury Fred amongst the other fallen heroes in the graveyard that was now the land around Dumbledore’s tomb.

Still, Molly Weasley was keeping them all busy straightening up Drover’s Haven, and that meant Ron was in the barn with Bill and Percy organizing whatever was in there.

Time, we’ve got nothing but time. She thought. It’ll all work out; things can only get better, can’t they?

She was so lost in thought, that when Ginny tapped her on the shoulder she spun around wand raised, in shock.

“Oh, sorry Gin, I didn’t hear you come up.” Hermione blushed, stowing her wand in her pocket.

“No, my mistake. We should all know better than to sneak about.” Ginny said sadly, “I think we’ll all be a bit jumpy for a while yet.”

“This looks fantastic!” Harry said, looking over the garden. “I didn’t really even notice this was a garden yesterday.”

“Hermione did a lot more while I was upstairs doing my impression of a hosepipe.” Ginny said, “How’d you do the trellises?”

“Transfigured some bits of bark.” Hermione said absently, eyeing the scarecrow.

“There’s plenty of that about.” Said a voice from behind them.

Hearing Ron’s voice, Hermione couldn’t help that a chill ran up her spine. “Yes, it’s the type of tree. I looked it up in a book I found in the sitting room. It’s called Eucalyptus, colloquially known as Gum Trees.” She prattled.

“Well, we’ve finished sorting out the barn.” Ron said, smiling at Hermione’s ability to know more about wherever they were, regardless of the fact that they’d been there less than 48 hours. “Let’s go for a walk. We’ve been cooped up for days, lets get some air!”

The other three agreed, and they wandered, mostly in silence in the direction of the river. Harry was taking notice of more around him, now that Ginny had mostly patched him up. Without the distraction of pain, he was starting to fret about things, mostly Hogwarts and Teddy, but for the moment he pushed those thoughts down.

They had moved out of the home paddock, and into thicker trees. The forest was beautiful, and peaceful; the refreshing smell of the Eucalyptus trees was invigorating, and seemed to relax them all. No one spoke, there were no feelings that could be simplified into anything as limiting as words, and so they didn’t try. Talking would come later, for now they just enjoyed being together.

After a while they found themselves near the river and Harry, who was beginning to feel the ache in his leg again, slowed down and sat on a fallen tree.

“This looks like a good place to swim in the summer.” He said, looking at the river, which was quite wide and slow.

“What about crocodiles?” Ron wondered aloud.

“I don’t think this is really crocodile country, but I expect we could find a charm to repel them.” Hermione said.

“I’ve got an idea!” Harry cried. Pulling a book and his wand out of his back pocket, he flipped quickly through the pages until he found what he was looking for, and began muttering a spell.

Ginny, Ron, and Hermione watched him confused until they realized that he was transfiguring more of the loose bark into a picnic table.

“There!” Harry said when he had finished the table, and levitated it to a flat spot near the water. “Now it’s really a picnic spot!”

Hermione leaned over Harry’s shoulder and looked at the book he’d been carrying, a transfiguration book. “Harry, can I see that?” She asked.

Harry shrugged and passed it to her, and then began another spell.

“This is a fantastic book Harry!” Hermione exclaimed, trying out a spell that produced an outdoor fireplace.

“I found it in my room. I think one of the Black’s was a big fan of transfiguration, because I’ve got a bookcase with hundreds of books about it.” He said, finishing what turned out to be a shade cabana.

The quartet took turns flipping through the book and trying out spells.

“This loads more useful than learning to turn a mouse into a teacup.” Ron said, as he turned a branch of a tree into a swing over the water.

“Yes, but you had to learn the theory Ronald!” Hermione said, sounding irritated, “Professor McGonagall didn’t teach us to turn mice into teacups because it was particularly useful, but because it taught us the basic structure of the spell.”

“Still, I wonder why we didn’t learn more things like this later on.” Ginny chimed in, “I mean once we had learnt the theory.”

“I dunno.” Harry shrugged, “maybe there’s just too many spells; I mean these were all quite easy to do, but I don’t think I could have figured them out without McGonagall’s practice on mice.”

Harry looked around at the little swimming-hole escape they’d created, when he felt something unusual ripple through him. He shook his head to clear it, and was trying to focus on what it was when Mr. Weasley’s weasel patronus popped into the clearing.

“Carl is on his way to talk to you lot, just a heads up.” Mr. Weasley’s patronus told them.

“He’s coming down the walk.” Harry said, pointing at the empty path.

Sure enough, a few moments later Carl came into view and called out, “Hey you lot, can I have a word?”

The other three looked at Harry, who shrugged and sat down at the new table. Everyone else found places around the clearing, or at the table.

“What’s going on Carl?” Harry asked. “Is this something that we should have the rest of the family here to discuss?”

“You can if you want to, but this mostly concerns you… Mr. Potter.” Carl said, deliberately using Harry’s name.

There was a hushed moment, and then all four had their wands out, pointed at Carl.

“Relax, I’m here on assignment from the Ngalaiya.” He said, setting his wand on the table in a show of good faith, “the Australian branch of the Order of the Phoenix.”

“How long have you known?” Harry asked, directly.

“Since shortly after I left your house yesterday.” Carl said. “Honestly, it didn’t take Ellie long to figure out, she knows all the English pureblood linage. Remember, she was a Prewett.”

Harry seemed unconvinced, but moved the conversation along, “And what does the Order want with me now?”

“Nothing specifically. My only orders from Kingsley are to inform you that we are operating in this area to keep you safe, and recommend that you apply new wards to the property.” Carl said, with a smirk. “Kingsley was quite adamant that you be told exactly what is going on. He seemed to think that you would react poorly to undisclosed observation.”

Ron let out a low whistle and Hermione chimed in quietly, “Well at least Kingsley seems to be learning from Dumbledore’s mistakes.”

Carl looked at Hermione questioningly, but pressed on. “Yes, well… there will only be two agents who know your exact location. The rest of the Ngalaiya only know that you’re in this state, and they are working to protect that information from the Australian ministry and magical society.”

“Who would the agents be?” Ginny asked, not looking forward to once again being under house arrest.
“Well, that’s entirely up to you, but Ellie and I were thinking that we would make the best choice. We’re your neighbors, so being seen on your property won’t come as a surprise to anyone. And as of now we’re really the only ones who know you are here. It would also allow you to go about your lives normally, with help just a patronus away.”

They all exchanged glances, wondering if Carl was trustworthy.

“Tell you what,” Carl said, sensing their tension, “why don’t you discuss it, and let me know.”

He got up and headed back up the path, “work on those wards, cos’ that’s priority one. I can help you with that if you need it, but I’d recommend having someone else set them for your own safety. If I don’t know how to take the wards down, then no amount of coercing will make it happen.”

“I bet he was an Auror.” Ron said, after Carl had gone. “They’re the only one’s I’ve ever heard use the word coerce instead of torture.”

“Think we can trust him?” Hermione asked?

“I think so.” Harry said, lost in thought. “If he was trying to work his way in as a spy, wouldn’t he just offer to set the wards himself? Besides, he was letting me use Legilimens on him the whole time.”

They all considered the new information for a moment, before Ginny chimed in with “I think we should ask Bill about the wards. I’d bet on him knowing some good ones from Egypt.”

“Good idea.” Harry said, getting up and starting to walk back to the house. The others followed him, but only Ginny noticed that he was walking with a slight limp. She made a mental note to check his leg when they got back to the house.

Back in the big house, Harry went up to his room using the excuse of a nap to get away. He thought it was all over, and here was the Order, setting up a protection detail again. While he appreciated Kingsley being straightforward with him, he couldn’t help but wonder why so much was already planned in his absence.

Crossing to the desk, Harry started to write a letter to Teddy, but his mind kept racing. Everything came flooding back; Dumbledore, Snape, Tonks, Remus, Fred… if only he could have ended it sooner. He found himself wishing for physical pain to take his mind off the mental anguish when his eyes came to rest on the letter opener.

It was a sharp metal opener, more like a knife; before Harry knew what he was doing he had drawn a line on his arm and watched the blood spill out. For a moment that was all that he thought of, and then he cut another line.

It would be so easy, He thought, looking at his wrists. I could just end it here. I was meant to die anyway.

But as quickly as the thoughts had come, Ginny popped into his mind. She would be the one who would find him. He couldn’t put her through that; he’d already left her once.

Then his eyes came to rest back on the cuts drawn on his arm. While the pain distracted him from his thoughts, he knew he needed to stop the bleeding.

Harry ducked into the washroom and grabbed a towel, putting pressure on his arm, and slid to the floor feeling stupid for letting things overwhelm him. He knew he needed help, but kept sitting on the floor trying to decide who could really understand.

After a bit he heard a noise at the door, and looked up to see Ginny standing there with a potion in her hand. “So you do fall to bits when no one is looking.” She whispered, coming to sit on the tiles next to him.

Harry flushed Weasley red, embarrassed that she had seen him like this.

“Let’s have a look.” Ginny said, motioning to Harry’s arm.

He hesitated, but knew that the bleeding wouldn’t stop on it’s own, so he moved his arm into her reach.

“What’d you do, fall on something, or catch it in…” Ginny stopped short, seeing the two perfect parallel lines on Harry’s arm. “Harry, what on earth?”

Harry flushed even redder than before, and realizing that the letter opener was still clenched in his hand set it down on the floor in front of them.

“Harry James Potter!” Ginny said, looking furious. “Do you mean to tell me that after dying and choosing, come back, destroying Riddle, ending the war, and letting me fix you up, you just tried to KILL YOURSELF?”

“No.” Harry whispered. “I just didn’t want to think anymore. The pain distracts me”

Ginny fixed him with a hard stare, while she muttered a charm to stop the bleeding.

“I need to go get my kit to fix this up.” She said coolly.

“No, Ginny don’t go!” Harry said, meeting her eyes for the first time, pleading.

“Harry, I need to bandage your arm.” She said, “I’ll be right back I promise.”

Harry sat on the cold tiles, feeling foolish and tired, until he thought of little Teddy and how he’d almost made him an orphan all over again, and he burst into tears. And then Ginny was there, soothing him and fixing his arm, giving him a potion and tucking him into bed.

She waited until she knew he was asleep to run downstairs in search of her father. She was a good healer, but this was way out of her league.

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