Chapter 1 : I Will Be Strong
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Harry was there with me, every step of the way. The war ended three months ago. There was a mass funeral for everyone that died, but Remus and Tonks had a separate, private one held by Tonks’s family. Their son, Teddy was there. He had no idea what was happening. He sat on his Grandma Dromeda’s lap, gurgling happily and waving his fists, his hair changing from brown to ginger to bubblegum pink, the personal favourite of his mother’s.
We were all invited. I cried. I think everyone did. Mad-Eye’s body was never found. He would have sat in the corner trying to hold in his tears. ‘Constant vigilance’ he would have told us. Remus had no family left. In a way, we were his family. The only people he had left. Harry cried. I could feel him shaking as he held me close.
My seventeenth birthday, on August eleventh, four days before the funeral, was not a day of celebration and joy. I got presents. I got a cake. And I got bad news. The worst news I’d ever heard.
While on patrol for the Order (who I deeply resented and hated now), my father, Arthur Weasley, was killed by an unnamed Death Eater. His body was found just outside Ottery St. Catchpole, on his way home. He was to have a joint funeral with my big brother. Fred. Freddy.
My mother cried nearly every day, over the death of the son she had loved so much, and the husband she had loved since the day they met.
I hated the Order. It was their fault my father was dead. I was angry at the whole world. Why was everything so normal outside when two people I loved most were dead? I refused to eat, to sleep, to do anything. I sat in the Burrow, in front of the fireplace. Lack of sunlight made my skin pale, almost grey, nearly transparent. Bags appeared under my tired brown eyes and I was wasting away. I could hardly fit into my clothes anymore, I was so thin. Hermione visited regularly, at first for Ron, but now for me. She put her arms around me and hugged me. My best friend. She was always there.
Luna came too, with Plimpy soup and tales of Rolf Scamander. She told me that she hoped they would get married. I smiled and told her congratulations, but inside I was secretly furious. How could she think of anything as wonderful as a wedding, as blissful as married life, when Arthur Weasley was no longer walking the earth? When Fred was not pulling practical jokes or chatting up Angelina?
She came too. She was so upset. She loved Fred and knew my father well. She was coming to the funeral too.
Hermione told me we’d go shopping for dresses. I told her I’d go in my pyjamas. Fred and Dad wouldn’t care. They would just want me there. I was outraged that she could try to while away time with such a vulgar thing as dresses. What was the point in dressing up and looking nice? Funerals were meant to be sad times. Black dresses were fine. Nothing else. Muriel would probably be in a flamboyant pink dress or something, with a huge fascinator.
The day after the war, May third, we stayed at the castle to try to clear things up a bit. Some of the castle was still intact, but at least sixty-five per cent needed restoring. With hundreds upon thousands of wizards working together, most of it was done within a day.
The mass funeral was held the day after, in the grounds. Too many people were lying in those coffins. Too many. I had six people left of my family. Harry had none. I had no idea how he coped. We both cried and held each other and went home to the Burrow a few hours after the funeral.
More bad news was to follow, as on May fifth Harry received a letter from the Ministry of Magic, from no less than Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister himself, saying that, regrettably, Petunia Dursley and her husband Vernon had been found dead with their son Dudley sobbing beside them. We went to their funeral. Dudley’s girlfriend was as grief-stricken as he was. We didn’t know if she knew our magical abilities, but she seemed nice enough as she shook Harry’s hand and pulled me into a rib-cracking hug, though we had only just met. She was very pretty, with long blonde hair, blue eyes, a little pointed nose and a delicate little figure.
The funeral of Mr and Mrs Dursley was very quiet and simple, which surprised me if I took into account the things Harry and told me about them. There were not many people, just a few of their relatives and neighbours. All Muggles, except for Mrs Figg, who sat quietly at the back as though she had not even been invited.
When I received the news of my father’s death, I felt as though I had lost everything. I was only seventeen and I had already lost two of my family. But, I reasoned with myself, Harry was only a year older and had lost his family as a baby, and now lost his aunt, who must have loved him very much, and his uncle, who, despite resenting him, must have cared for him a smidgen.
The day of the funeral arrives suddenly and without warning. I am lying in my bed when there’s a knock on the door and it opens. I roll over quickly and pretend to be asleep.
‘Ginny?’ someone says softly. It’s Mum. ‘Ginny, dear, wake up. It’s the – the day.’
I still pretend to be asleep. Mum places one warm, soft hand on my cold bare shoulder and I shiver. I can feel her shaking, but I don’t know if it’s because she’s getting old or because she’s upset or scared or what. My long hair covers my face, so I open my eyes without fear of being caught. All I can see is red and for a worrying moment I think I’m trapped inside a fire, engulfed with no way out. That’s how I feel.
‘Ginny?’ Mum calls my name once more. I think she knows I’m awake, but she kisses the top of my head and leaves. I sigh and roll onto my back, staring at the white ceiling of my bedroom. There’s a poster of the Weird Sisters next to my head and I stare at the face of Kirley Duke, lead guitarist, for a while. I wrap my arms around myself and rub my shoulders. Despite the heat of the day, I am cold. I am wearing a loose tank top and shorts. I regret it.
I get up and trudge slowly into the bathroom. I bump into Bill, who is staying over with Fleur for the funeral. We hardly even look at each other as he moves down the stairs. After I wash, I go back into my bedroom to change. I look at myself in the mirror, but before I can take anything in, the door opens again and in comes Harry. He’s dressed in black dress robes with a grey rose in his button hole, his hair neatly combed.
‘Ginny,’ he says. He crosses the room and pulls me into a tight hug. I guess I must look really pathetic, just a silly little girl who hasn’t slept. Then the tears start coming. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry, and it isn’t even the funeral yet. It takes place at eleven o’ clock, and it’s quarter-to-ten. My mother must have woken me up much later than everyone else. I quietly sob into his shoulder and Harry holds me and whispers comforting words to me. The tears keep coming, but I smile as I reach up.
‘Your hair still isn’t flat,’ I say, patting down that bit of hair. Harry smiles.
‘I’ll let you change,’ he mutters. He presses his lips to mine for a moment, then squeezes my arm and leaves. I open my wardrobe to pull out the black dress Hermione bought for me.
I put it on and examine myself in the mirror. It’s very tight fitting and hugs my body in a way that makes me look like a tart. The neckline is square and isn’t too low cut. It has straps, which comforts me. I hate strapless dresses. They always feel like they’re about to come down. The hemline has a charcoal-grey ribbon around it and comes just below my knees. I made Hermione swear not to buy me heels, so she got a pair of plain, dark grey ballet flats.
‘Harry,’ I say in a whisper, so quiet I can barely hear it myself, but he comes into the room at once. He zips me up and I turn to hug him tightly. I glance at myself again. Harry gently drags my comb through my ragged hair, making it smooth and sleek. There’s a little black Alice band on my dresser. He picks it up and puts it in my hair. I feel like a little girl.
I notice that my cheeks are hollow and my eyes are very red. I have cried a lot recently, which is something I hardly ever do.
‘Are you OK?’ Harry asks, putting his hands on my shoulders.
I nod, but I sniffle and blink back tears and Harry looks at me with concern. I shake my head. ‘I don’t want to do this, Harry. I don’t think I can.’
‘Of course you can Ginny. Just … be strong.’
‘How did you cope? Losing your parents, I mean?’ I ask cautiously.
Harry shrugs. ‘I didn’t really know them. I guess it was pretty hard. But, Ginny, you can get over it like I did. You’re strong.’
I shake my head and sag. ‘I’m not. I’m not strong. I can’t do this.’
‘Of course you can,’ Harry says, pulling me into a hug. ‘Let’s go downstairs. You have to eat.’
Normally, I would have stood like a statue, then burst into tears and run back to bed. But I let him take my hand and lead me downstairs. For Fred’s sake, and for Dad’s, I will be strong.
We sit down at the table and Mum puts a plate of toast and a bowl of porridge in front of me. I feel like pushing it away and raging at Mum for thinking of eating when so many things are going wrong. But her eyes are as red as mine and she has lost a lot of weight. George is sitting across from me. His eyes are downcast and he looks as if he has lost the will to live. His shirt is buttoned all wrong and the rose in his buttonhole is dead and wilted.
I glance around at my family. We all look as pathetic as each other. Ron has his arm around Hermione, who is on one side of me. She is wearing a dress of dark grey and her brown hair is tied in a ponytail and curled. She has an empty bowl of porridge in front of her.
Cautiously, I pick up my spoon and scoop a tiny bit of porridge towards me. As soon as it touches my tongue, I want to puke it back up again. I regret ever putting it in my mouth. Be strong, be strong, be strong. I swallow, but my throat feels closed up. I can feel it rising in my stomach. Be strong, be strong, be strong. Harry’s voice chants over and over and over in my mind as I raise the spoon again to take in another mouthful of porridge. It takes a while, but I finish my breakfast. Mum looks proud.
Harry’s voice has taken up its own rhythm in my brain. Be strong, be strong, be strong, be strong.
We line up outside the Burrow and wait for the Ministry cars to arrive: me, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Mum, George, Percy, Charlie, Bill, Fleur, Luna and Xenophilius.
The cars arrive, long, sleek black limos. Two of them. I slide inside with Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna and George. Once we are all ready, the driver pulls out of Ottery St. Catchpole.
The funeral venue is in a Muggle town, but hidden, like the St Mungo’s entrance. It is in a little park, where children are playing and dogs are barking. To get in, we have to run through the trunk of a huge willow tree in the middle of the park, with long, sweeping branches. I am cautious. But it doesn’t whack out at you like the Whomping Willow back at Hogwarts. Holding tightly onto Hermione’s hand on one side and Luna on the other, we run through into the wizarding graveyard.
It is a beautiful place. There are Muggle plants and wonderful huge cherry blossom trees with its dainty pink petals waving in the wind and drifting to the lush green grass. Two-quarters of the place is made up of the graves. There are big ones for adults and little ones for children. There are even big tombs for important wizard families. One of them belongs to the Malfoys, I notice. The other third is a sweet little garden, sort of like a memorial place. People have put up brass plaques or stone slabs with their deceased’s name and birthday on it. Their family and friends have written messages, unfading over the years. Near the memorial garden is a little stone church. The whole place is shimmering, not just with magic, but with love and loss as well.
Our party moves over to the memorial garden. Slap bang in the middle of the wall are two big brass plaques, bigger than the others. One saying:
Date of birth: 6 February 1950
Date of death: 11 August 1998 at age 48
The one next to it says:
Date of birth: 1 April 1978
Date of death: 2 May 1998 at age 20
We all reach forwards with magical quills to etch loving messages to Fred and Dad. There are other families grouped around their own slabs and plaques, crying silently. Through their tears, they notice Harry and point.
After everyone’s done, Mum takes us to a little stone bench big enough for two, maybe three people if they’re not too fat. Embedded on the seat it says:
This bench is dedicated to Arthur Weasley (1950–1998) and his dear son Fred (1978–1998)
I burst into tears and Luna shuffles over to give me a cuddle. She whispers something about Blibbering Humdingers and I laugh. After the garden, we head into the church and take our seats on the front pews on either side of the aisle. Auntie Muriel is sat near the back wearing a sombre black dress, yet a flamboyant grey hat. She makes no sense to me.
A small man, who was at Dumbledore’s funeral and Bill and Fleur’s wedding, stands with a Muggle microphone at the front. Normally, using the Sonorous charm would have worked better, but we were so upset using something Muggle just seemed so wonderfully simple and far away. The little man begins his speech:
‘We are gathered here today to witness the funerals of Arthur Weasley and his son Fred. We have a few people who would like to make a speech …’ he glances over at me and I find myself getting very nervous. I gulp as I reach into my purse for the piece of paper I wrote my speech on. Harry squeezes my hand and I get up. I walk on shaky legs to the front and take the microphone from the little man. Just before I turn to face everyone, I catch a glimpse of the two coffins. Both are decorated red and gold for the Gryffindor colours. The one on my left has a picture of Dad propped up and the other has a picture of Fred. My eyes already watering, I look down at everyone.
Someone says hello back. It doesn’t make me any less nervous.
‘Uh, well you all know why we are here. For my big brother Fred and my dad Arthur. My dad. He – he was a brilliant man. He was just amazing. When I was a little girl, he used to put me up on his knee and sing me to sleep. Of course, he stopped singing after a while … he used to say he was getting rusty like the Muggle junk in his shed.’
A few titters.
‘But to my dad, none of that was junk. When I was about six or seven, I went into Dad’s shed for the first time. At first, I thought he was mad, but slowly I realized that it was a lot more to him than it was to us. I don’t know why, but he loved Muggle things. He collected batteries and spark plugs and wanted to know everything about escalators and televisions and electricity … Nobody really understood why he needed all that Muggle stuff, but I knew. I’ve never told anyone this … he went and dabbled with Muggle junk when he was upset, or needed solstice. Someone to confide in. He never got that. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. He was too busy with work –’ I glance down at Kingsley Shacklebolt sitting next to Ron ‘– and everyone was too busy with their own lives. I always adored my dad. To me, he was king of the world. He could do anything for me. I loved him so much. I still do. Wherever he is, whatever he’s doing right now, I just want him to know that I miss him.’
I can see Mum sobbing silently into her handkerchief. Angelina had an arm wrapped around her and so did Fleur.
I take a shaky breath and continue. ‘Well, what can I say for Fred? He was a troublemaker, a prankster. He was so disobedient and funny and I love him. He and George always looked out for me, no matter how much of an annoying little sister I was. When Fred and George opened their joke shop in Diagon Alley, he said to me “Ginny, today is the day when the wizarding world stops taking life so seriously and lets go a little bit.” Before the Battle of Hogwarts, before we arrived through Ariana Dumbledore’s portrait, Fred said to me “Today the world will change for good. You’ll see.” I think he always knew he’d die that day. Fred was clever like that: he could always tell when something was coming. He never said anything about it. On a different note, Fred was a Beater on the Gryffindor Quidditch team with George. He was an exceptional team player with a very good aim, especially during games versus Slytherin.’
Some laughs. My voice sounds hoarse now, probably due to lack of use over the past few months. I am coming to the end of my speech now. ‘Fred and Dad will be missed loads by everyone here, because they were bright, funny, loved people.’ I throw my head backwards and address the heavens. ‘Dad, Fred, if you’re listening, I want you to know that we all miss you and love you loads.’ My voice breaks as I say this last sentence, and eventually I start to cry again. ‘My – my mother, Molly, has a few words to say …’ I add as I stumble back down to my seat. Harry gives me a squeeze and a kiss on my forehead as Mum straightens her dull black shawl and makes her way to the front.
In loving memory of Arthur Weasley (1950–1998)
A dear father, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend and so much more
I look over at Fred’s gravestone next to it.
In loving memory of Fred Weasley (1978–1998)
A wonderful son, brother and friend
Mum leans on my shoulder. ‘You’re so brave, Ginny,’ she whispers to me.
‘So are you, Mum.’ I say through the tears.
‘I could not have gone through this without you,’ she says. ‘Without any of you,’ she says, louder and gesturing to the others.
I look down at the two neat mounds of freshly moved earth. I conjure two beautiful bouquets of flowers and put them beside the graves. ‘I hope you like them,’ I say. I can almost hear Dad saying,
‘They’re lovely, Ginny dear.’ Or Fred saying,
‘I would have preferred one of my Skiving Snackboxes … Ha, ha, you know I’m joking, Gin, thanks for the flowers.’
I can nearly feel their warm arms around me, or my Dad’s voice singing me to sleep. I can hear Fred’s laughter as he sets off a Dungbomb for Filch to slave over. And I can hear the last words he ever said to me: ‘Today the world will change for good. You’ll see’. He was right. That night, on May second, the whole world changed – for the greater good. As Gellert Grindelwald said. I try not to quote a Dark wizard, but he was right.
As I wrap my arms tightly around my mother as we shuffle back to the Ministy cars, I look up to the clear blue sky and whisper, ‘Goodbye.’
Mum cries the whole journey back. I keep my arms around her, and so does Fleur. She’s in a different car to Bill, just so she can comfort her mother-in-law. She has tears streaming down her beautiful, perfect cheeks and I think back to the times I called her Phlegm. I guess she isn’t so bad. I struggle to keep back the tears as the cars park up just outside our house. People are already there, gathering for the mourning party.
Instead of joining in, I streak right up the stairs into Fred and George’s room. As I expected, George is there, his back to the door, weeping over a framed picture of himself and Fred.
‘George?’ I say hesitantly. I don’t know how he’ll react. He turns round, his face contorted into rage, anger and sadness. I’m afraid he’ll throw he picture, but when he sees it’s me, his face softens and he gestures for me to come and sit with him. ‘Are you OK?’
‘I’m fine,’ George replies, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. ‘I miss him.’
‘I miss them both. But – but it’ll be alright in the end. Eventually.’
George looks up at me with hopeful eyes. ‘You think so?’
‘I know so.’ I say confidently, brushing my hair over my shoulder. ‘Fred and Dad are OK up there. I know that too. And in the end, we’ll be OK down here.’
In the next few days that follow, George gets out of the house long enough to propose to Angelina Johnson, who happily says yes. Their wedding is scheduled for next April, on George’s birthday.
On the twenty-third of August, early in the morning during breakfast, Ron plucks up the courage to kneel in front of Hermione on one knee in the garden, produce a little black box from his pocket and say,
‘Hermione Jean Granger, will you marry me?’
As I expect, Hermione jumps on Ron and shoves the ring on her finger, screaming yes and kissing him.
To lighten the mood and banish the dark aura of the funeral and death that still lingers over us, we arrange picnic tables outside so we can all eat together. Me, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Luna, Rolf Scamander (her boyfriend), Mum, Fleur, Bill, Charlie, Percy, George and his new fiancée Angelina.
Something I do not expect happens that day after lunch. We are still in the garden, sitting on picnic mats and chatting happily, all thoughts of funerals gone, but Fred and Dad still in our memories, latched in forever, Harry kneels up in front of me. It’s the same pose Ron assumed before proposing, so I have an inkling of what’s coming next. Harry pulls a Tiffany box from his jacket pocket and opens it up. Inside is a little silver ring with a gold diamond on it. I can feel the colour rising in my cheeks and the excitement building as I know what Harry says before he does:
‘Ginevra Molly Weasley, I love you more than anything in the world, and I think you love me too, so will you marry me?’
‘Yes! Yes, yes, yes!’ I squeal. Despite the happy occasion, I can’t help feeling repulsed at myself for how girly I sound, and sorrow because Dad and Fred won’t be at my wedding or see my children. Dad always dreamed of my wedding day, saying how proud he’d be when his little girl grows up and gets married.
Harry pushes the ring onto my finger and I wrap my arms around his neck as I give him a big kiss. When we pull apart, everyone’s clapping and cheering.
We arranged our wedding to be on the same day as Ron and Hermione’s, in a field belonging to Rolf’s late grandfather, Newt Scamander. The wedding is set for three years away, a long time, but I am only seventeen, so Mum wants to wait until I am at least twenty.
That night, Ron and Hermione cannot bear to be apart, so Hermione moves into Ron's room for the night. I invite Harry into mine, and he accepts gladly. We kiss and hug and think up ridiculous wedding plans and I cry some more. Half of happiness, half of sadness. When George and Angelina get married, I don't know how he'll cope. They never spoke about their weddings, as far as I know, but George needs someone there for him.
Harry falls asleep before I do, but holds me close. I gaze at his peaceful face and bury mine into the groove where his neck meets his shoulder. I think about my unsettled past, my wonderful present and my mystical future. I don’t know what lies ahead. There will be love and more loss, that much I know. Trouble, maybe. I am unsure of my future. But there is one thing I am absolutely sure of: whatever comes my way, whatever kinds of trouble I face, for them I will be strong.
AN: Hey guys. Thank you for reading this. Can I just say, before any of you start to hate me, that it killed me to have Arthur murdered. I am so sorry. I hope I made up for it with George getting married and Ginny and Hermione's joint wedding. I may write a sequel about that, but it depends. I literally hate myself, but I think it's a good story, and poor poor Arthur was in danger. Please review, compliments are best, but critisism is appreciated too. Thanks xx
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