Half a Heart
By Ekai Ungson
DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter the series copyright J.K. Rowling. Characters used without permission.
When Ginny Weasley was young, her family used to go to a place by the sea, and they would stay in a small house, spending at least two weeks in the beach. She remembered building castles on the shoreline with her brothers, most often Percy, who was the most patient of the lot, while Fred and George ran around with pails filled with sea water mixed with sand, chasing Ron, who had been very small at the time, while Bill and Charlie either sat in the sidelines rolling in laughter or trying to outswim each other. Her parents stayed in the little cottage, watching them all, no worry in their minds except that possibility that they may drown, which they never did. Those days were very carefree, and happy, and felt so very long ago.
In the year that Ginny turned six, she met a little boy on the seashore while looking for pretty seashells. The boy looked about as young as her, perhaps a year older, and had a very serious face set against a shock of platinum blond hair. He looked, to Ginny, very out of place, considering his coloring, that and the fact that his face was so tight out of his somberness.
She had been taught by her parents not to talk to strangers. So Ginny attempted to walk past him as if he were not standing there, so very close to the water that his sandaled feet were overrun by the waves coming in and going out. She kept her eyes on the sand, looking for shells that were bound to wash up on the shore sooner or later.
"Hey, girl," the boy had said. "You there. Redhead girl."
Ginny turned to him. "I have a name, you know. You can't just call me redhead girl."
"And you can't just ignore me the way you just did," the boy replied. "Who are you, and what are you doing on our private beach?"
To Ginny, that was the most incredulous thing she had ever heard. Who had ever hoped to own a whole beach? Did that mean they had to mark the waters, as well? "You own the beach?" she asked.
"Well, yes. And other things," the boy replied absently. "But you haven't answered my question."
"I'm from the cottage over there," she said, pointing the place out, but then she realized she was in fact so far from where she'd began to pick shells up. She shook her head and turned back to the boy. "My name is Virginia Grace."
The boy's face contorted into a frown. "Your first name's too long. I'll call you Grace from now on."
Ginny made to protest. "But—"
"I'm Louis," the boy replied shortly. "I stay in that house." He pointed to an area behind him.
Ginny turned and saw the most enormous house she had ever seen in her entire life. "Do you live there?" she asked with some amazement.
"No, but we stay here in the summers," Louis replied. His attention turned to the shells she had picked up in a bucket. "What are those?" he inquired curiously.
"Just shells," she replied. "I picked them up while I was walking."
"From here? At our beach?"
She looked at her shells. "Well, I suppose some of them are from your beach."
"Then that means I own some of your shells," he said, smirking. He reached for the bucket.
"Hey!" Ginny exclaimed, snatching the bucket from his grasp. "Pick up your own shells."
"Those ARE my own shells," Louis replied smugly. "You just did me the honor of picking them up for me."
"You wish," Ginny said, sticking out her tongue at him. "No way am I giving you my shells."
"Then I'll have to—" Louis began, but was cut off by the unmistakable call of his name by a woman from the higher dunes.
"Louis? Louis! It's time for dinner!"
She turned to go, happy that the boy never got his hands on her precious shells.
Ginny stopped short and turned at the mention of the name. Nobody ever called her "Gracie" before. It sounded like a pretty name to her. "Yeah?"
"Will you come by tomorrow?"
She cocked her head to the side. "I don't know."
And with that, the boy named Louis ran up the dunes to the big house on top of the hill.
When Ginny got back to the cottage, the sun was already setting and the skies had turned into a brilliant shade of orange red.
Her mother looked up when she saw he approaching.
"Where were you, Gin?" asked her mother. "You know it's not safe to walk all by yourself."
"I was just picking up shells, Mum," she replied, showing the bucket to her mother. "I walked along the shore and found them."
Molly smiled. "Those are very nice."
"And I met a boy farther up the shore," Ginny added. "His name's Louis."
"Ooh, Ginny's got a boyfriend," Fred chortled. "Ginny and Louie sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"
Ginny glared at him. All her brothers laughed.
"Stop teasing your sister," their mother admonished. "Was he nice?" she asked, turning back to Ginny.
Ginny frowned. "No, he was a brat."
Her mother whirled, surprised. "Ginny! Language!"
She shrugged. "But it's true!"
"Mind your manners, Virginia," called out her father from across the room.
Ginny stared down at her bucket of shells. "I'm sorry, Dad," she said. Then she went up the stairs to the room her parents had given her. She wasn't allowed to share with all the boys, because she was a "girl". Ginny found that very odd.
She deposited the bucket in a corner and turned to look out the window. She saw the big house on top of the hill. It looked very lonely.
Ginny stirred from slumber. Her surroundings swam before her blurry eyes. She closed them and felt the darkness of the dream world begin to pull her in again.
Tap tap tap.
She buried her face in her pillow, trying to drown out the sound.
Tap tap TAP.
The last sound jerked her into a state of near-wakefulness. She sat up, groggy, still half-asleep.
Tap tap TAP.
Ginny looked up. The sound was coming from her window. She padded over to it, her bare feet moving without noise on the wooden floor.
She opened the window and stared out the shore with half-closed eyes. A small figure was standing there, clad in black robes, his head bright against the darkness. He looked up at her, not moving a muscle.
She moved from the window and took her robe and slippers. Then she tiptoed downstairs and outside the cottage without a sound.
The sun wasn't out yet. It was very dark. She ambled outside, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. They cleared.
"Louis?" she began in a groggy voice. "What are you doing here?"
Louis took her in from messy red hair to blue nightgown to rabbit slippers and grinned. "I'm here to play."
"But Louis, it's late," Ginny reasoned. "The sun's not even out yet."
"It's three in the morning," Louis told her. "It's very, very early."
"Why are you awake so very early, then?" she asked.
"Why do you ask so many questions?" he replied, sitting on the sand and making piles with his hands. "Help me build a sandcastle, Gracie."
She dropped to her knees and began to pile sand as well. "How did you know where I stayed?"
"You told me," he answered simply. He was molding the sand to make it tall. "Make the walls and I'll build towers," he told her.
She obeyed quietly. They worked like that for several minutes, as serious as children can be, intent on their work.
Later, "Aaargh," said Louis.
Gracie looked up. "What?"
"The towers won't stand," he answered irritably.
Sure enough, the towers he'd been trying so hard to build were in various states of collapse. She found the problem quickly.
"It's too dry," she said. "It needs more water."
He looked at her incredulously. "How is water going to help us here?"
Gracie stood up and dusted herself. "Wait here," she told the boy, and went to retrieve something from the side of the house.
It was a red bucket. She took it and went over to the sea, wading into it but not before removing her bunny slippers. She returned to him with a bucket full of water.
He stared at her as she constructed a tower, every now and then wetting the sand with water. He watched until she had created a structure that reached his knees and goggled.
"Water makes sand hard," she said solemnly. "My brother told me."
He looked at her. "How many brothers do you have?" he asked as he attempted to copy her technique.
"Six," she answered. "Do you have any brothers?"
She shrugged. "Lucky."
They began working in silence once more, and a few minutes later they had succeeded in making a splendid castle with four towers and a moat. It looked impressive.
Gracie smiled as she surveyed their work. Already then the sun was rising. She sat back on the sand, feeling very proud. "It's pretty."
Louis said nothing.
She yawned and lay in the sand. "I'm tired, Louis," she said in a small voice. "I'll lay down for a while, 'kay?"
He gave her an imperceptible nod. She was asleep within minutes.
Louis sat staring at her for a long time. The wind whipped her hair and the edges of her robe around.
He took off his cloak and placed it over her. Then he stood up and walked away, farther up the shore, to the big house on the hill.
"Hey—hey, Mum! Here she is! Ginny's over here!" yelled George.
"What happened? Is she all right?" Molly cried out.
"She's fine, Mum," Bill said. "She's just asleep."
Ron noticed the sand piles beside her. "Hey, cool. She made a sand castle."
Arthur Weasley picked up his youngest daughter and carried her inside the house. That was when he noticed the heavy velvet cloak around her. It was made of rich, new material, with shiny silver clasps on the front. He didn't remember getting Ginny something like it.
He laid his daughter down on the bed, still wrapped in the cloak.
Ginny stirred. "Dad?"
Arthur smiled. "Go back to sleep."
And Ginny went back to sleep, dreaming of dawn and the sound of the sea and building castles in the skies.
Louis woke up the next morning very early, as was what he was taught to. He walked outside the house to the shore and found there, sitting, a girl with a shock of red hair wrapped in a thick jacket. He approached her slowly.
She must've sensed his presence because, without looking up at him, she spoke. "You left your cloak yesterday," she said in a small voice. Then she held up her arms and his cloak folded neatly, was in them.
He raised an eyebrow at her as he took it from her. "You came just to give it back?"
She looked up and smiled. Louis stared. It was a very open smile, and nobody had smiled at him like that before. Every smile he had received in his life always seemed to be hiding something behind it.
"No," Gracie said. "I came here to play."
"Hopscotch?" said Louis incredulously.
Gracie glared at him. "You make it sound like it's 'Bubotuber pus'."
"It's a girl's game," he said disdainfully. "I don't play girl games."
She rolled her eyes. "Boys," she said, as if being a boy was most abominable and couldn't be helped.
"I DON'T play girlie games," he repeated forcefully.
"You just don't want to because you're scared," she retorted.
He sputtered indignantly. "I am not scared!"
"Of course you are," she replied. "You're scared I might beat you."
"I am NOT," he repeated. "And I will NOT lose to you."
Louis glared at her. "All right. Show me how to play this pathetic game of yours so I can beat you and beat you good."
Louis was hopping on one foot from one square to another. The sun was setting behind him, coloring his silver hair a shade of burnt amber.
Gracie turned to the horizon and then to her friend, who was still hobbling. "Louis, I've got to go."
Louis turned to her, glaring, and Gracie found it hard to take him seriously, because he was hobbling on one foot and looked very silly. "You can't go. I haven't beaten you yet. And you did say three out of five."
"Louis," Gracie said patiently. "It's getting late, and my mother will come looking for me." A thought hit her suddenly. She turned to the big house on the hill and asked, "Louis, does your Daddy ever come out?"
Louis finished his turn. "No, he doesn't like the sun."
"But he took you to the beach," Gracie began, but Louis interrupted her.
"This was Mother's idea," he said. "Father just went along."
She picked up her pail and Louis turned to her. "You're really going?"
"Yup," she said.
"But you'll be back tomorrow, right?"
When Ginny woke up the next morning, the sun wasn't out yet, and she still felt very sleepy, but she felt compelled to go to the big house. To Louis' house. She didn't know why, just that she had to, she really HAD to.
So, groggy, she put on her robe and slippers and slipped out of the cottage and walked the distance to the house on the hill. She knew something was wrong when she saw the torches lit outside the house and Louis was outside, a suitcase beside him, as some adults ran around stuffing things into a carriage.
Louis looked very pale amid all the black things he was wearing. He was wearing a black coat, a black scarf, and black gloves. It didn't help that there was very little light to see with.
She was going to trot over to Louis but he got to her first.
"Where are you going?" she blurted out, without thinking.
Louis smirked at her. "Father wants us to leave now. We'll be going home."
Gracie's face fell. "Oh."
"Louis… Louis! Come along, boy!" yelled a big man from across the beach. Both children looked up at the sound.
"You better go," Gracie said. "Have a good trip."
"You'll be back next year, right, Gracie?" Louis asked her.
"Yeah," Gracie replied.
"Okay, great, here," Louis said quickly, taking her hand and dropping something in it. "Give it back to me next year." Then he turned and ran off to the waiting carriage.
Gracie watched as the carriage rode away until she couldn't see it anymore. Then she turned her hand over to see what Louis had dropped in her hand.
It was a silver chain, with a pendant of—Gracie stared at it, trying to decipher the shape and saw that it was one half of a heart pendant. It had letters at the back that she read to be "D. L. M."
In the carriage, Draco Louis Malfoy was wearing the same chain on his neck with the other half of the pendant.
Ginny and her family went back to the cottage many times over the years, but she never met the little boy in the big house on the hill again. In the year that she turned nine, a new family had moved in the big house and they had no children.
Nobody called her Gracie anymore.
Sixteen year old Ginny Weasley was clearing out her closet one day when she came across a small yellow box that did not look familiar to her at all. It looked very old, and it seemed as if yellow wasn't its original color at all.
She opened the box and found an assortment of seashells, some sand, a Wizard photo of herself playing on the beach, and—
The last item on the box was a silver necklace with a half-heart pendant.
That boy,Ginny thought as she fingered the chain. He never came back to take his pendant back.
She put the necklace on her neck and felt its weight. She had a feeling about the coming year, and the necklace felt like a good-luck charm.
Um, yes, I have a sequel. ^-^ But I figure it will take very long. So patience, et cetera. I'd like to thank Alli for wankering D/G with me and thinking up of Draco and Ginny's pretty middle names.
Alli: "But it's so Tom Riddle!"
Ekai: "Ergh. Percival?"
I'm sorry if it feels rushed or anything. It was either that or never finishing the story at all. I couldn't find anything to prolong it, and I figured prolonging it would be rather foolish.
Thanks for reading!