A/N: Prompt from tumblr! Been working on it in segments and hopefully you all enjoy. Regular life has been crazy lately but seeing notifications in my inbox for follows/favorites/comments make me smile :) Thank you 3 Let me know what you think.
The normally muggy Potions classroom is downright unbearable when Ginny slumps into her aisle seat and sets her cauldron on the creaky table with a thunk. Normally, she would wait to choose a seat, favoring the old 'safety in numbers' adage, but since Luna…
At least Slughorn's already in the classroom, fiddling with the broad, steaming cauldron that sits covered at the front of the room. He sends her a wan smile as he swipes his forehead with a monogrammed handkerchief he'll probably brag was a gift from some well known dressmaker from the continent.
A smile ticks the corner of Ginny's mouth, gone like a whisper before it really settles once the heavy door creaks open, a couple of broad, beefy looking Slytherins eyeing her distastefully. Unease trickles down her spine, following the sweat that drips from her hairline, as they settle down across the aisle and one row back. Ginny can practically feel their dark gaze on her, dangerous and judging, as she putters with her ingredients, squinting at the Slughorn's chalky letters curling across the board.
Slowly, in singles and groups, the rest of the 6th year Potions students filter into the room, voices pitched low and eyes hesitant, like everyone's has been since the Carrows came, since Harry didn't.
Ginny blinks rapidly, fighting the rush of tears pricking at her eyes and flips through her textbook until Slughorn calls the class to attention. The students quiet fairly quickly, in fact most students have kept to themselves unless they're among the chosen few in Slytherin or willing to risk detention with the Carrows. Most of professors prefer to keep their chastisements to a minimum, knowing a bit of unruly behavior doesn't deserve the type of punishment likely to be handed down to muggleborns and blood traitors by the new regime. Early on, McGonagall and a few others attempted to deal out their own punishments quietly but were quickly outed by 'do-gooder' students on the increasingly violent Inquisitorial Squad. Eventually, the heads of house decided privately that any indiscretion committed by a student wasn't justification for inhumane treatment, and the students seemed to come to the same conclusion. It wasn't that the increase in corporal punishment was effective in a positive way – more that the spirit of Hogwarts students was slowly being crushed beneath the weight of Voldemort's reign.
And apparently Slughorn's preferred way of combatting the pressure was introducing a large vat of love potion to his Sixth Year Potions students. After flicking his wand and instructing the class to turn to the appropriate page for the instructions, Slughorn asked them to file forward in an orderly fashion so they could observe the ideal result up close.
Ginny's somewhere in the middle of the queue, jaw clenching with each angry shove from seemingly phantom limbs. When she's standing at the brim of the cauldron, her eyes slip closed of their own accord, her lungs drawing in the heady scent wafting from the swirling tendrils of steam.
Gingerbread. Late winter nights at the Burrow, crowded around the fireplace with the whole family wrapped in newly gifted sweaters, each cracking open their personal tin of freshly baked gingerbread lovingly prepared by Molly, and Ron and Ginny once they were old enough. She can almost taste the sharpness of the unbaked dough on her tongue, small pinches stolen when Molly wasn't looking to closely.
Fresh cut grass. A smile spreads across her face, warmer, broader than she has since – a long time – as her mind drifts to late nights out in the Burrow's paddock, toes brushing along the soft green shoots. But not just that, she can almost see Harry's flushed face, eyes alight with happiness as he goads her from his perch on a broom now smashed to bits.
And then, it's a combination of smells that calls to mind late nights piled around the wireless at the Burrow pressed close against Harry's side, long hours spent battling over the snitch on beat up brooms with dangling feet barefoot and dirty, that smell that's a mix of warm woodsy boy and fresh laundry dried in summer air. That smell she knows from stolen afternoons beneath the beach tree, sticky with sweat and faces flushed with sun and each other. She can almost feel the breeze off the Great Lake, hear the Giant Squid playing in the waves, and for a moment, she wants to turn and offer Harry a whispered quip over one sun-kissed shoulder and watch his emerald eyes spark with mischief and laughter. That aroma that can only be described as Harry.
She's still wrapped in the warmth of her memories when another shove, harder and angrier than before, nearly sends her toppling into the bubbling cauldron. Before she can even think, rage boils up her spine and floods through her fingertips, and somehow her wand is in her hand, spell after spell leaving her lips with dangerous precision honed during those hours in the Room of Requirement with the DA.
Maybe her temper sparks because for a moment, she forgot that the memories weren't reality – that she was estranged from one brother, while another was wandering who knows where with one of her best friends and her brother and her – Harry.
And as if they can read her mind, three grumbling Slytherins begin spewing hatred for Harry and anyone associated with him, promising torture and death and worse.
Blood pounds in her ears and she can barely hear Slughorn's increasingly frantic shouts as her spells slice across the room, students diving for cover.
The only thing that stills her is the chill that settles across the room, lamps flickering as the door creaks open and even her attackers stand back.
And then he's there. Two figures haunt her dreams, one that leaves her waking, desperate for more sleep just to see him for a little longer, even when she knows he's just a figment of her imagination. The other wakes her too, but ends with shivers and closely gripped sheets, followed by desperate nights fighting increasingly heavy eyelids. And it's the latter that enters now, dark robes billowing around his inhuman form, red eyes slitty and snake like as he hisses those words she still remembers, those words she tries and fails to forget no matter how many years pass, "Harry Potter, is dead."
Suddenly finding her tongue, shouting and screaming until arms grasp her from behind, and someone's calling her name, rough and soothing and she thinks she's gone mad until she finally jolts awake, sweaty and out of breath.
She fights the twisted sheets and kicks them to the foot of the bed, letting her feet drop to the side of the bed, braid wild and hair matted to her sweaty neck.
A hand, cool and broad, lands on her bare shoulder. "Gin?"
Then she can't catch her breath, lungs desperate for air but unable to expand enough, so she begins to see spots before her eyes in the moonlit room, until a second hand slides up her back and presses her head between her knees, rubbing circuits around her spine. "It's alright Gin."
And then sobs, quiet and dry, wrack her body as the sweat cools on her chest and neck. He's wrapped around her now, breath on her collarbone, hands stroking her hair back, holding her in that embrace he knows is tight enough to make her feel secure, but loose enough that she won't feel smothered. Ginny takes a deep breath, settling her nerves and lifts her hands to keep Harry's in place, fingers brushing across the scar of those hateful words, faded but still etched across his skin.
Once her breathing calms, Harry releases her and flicks his wand toward the lamp on her bedside table, lighting the room with a soft glow, before he arranges the pillows against their headboard and settles back with his legs parted. Ginny takes the invitation for what it is and settles in the gap, and soon Harry's running a brush through her undone locks, smooth and sure.
The kinks are worked from her hair and Harry's deft fingers begin working three sections into the loose plait she favors when she sleeps. "Can you – would – do you want to talk about it?" Harry offers, voice scratchy with sleep.
Ginny sighs heavily, shifting until she's curled against Harry's chest, nose pressed against his beautifully thrumming pulse, his heady scent filling her senses, stronger and more beautiful than the mimic that day in potions. His arms curl around her, strong and sure and Ginny, a slight tremor still running through her body, nuzzles closer and Harry's breaths brush across her cooling forehead. "What can I do?"
After a moment, she kisses his shoulder, lingering there so her lips brush across his skin, scent warm and sharp, when she murmurs. "Just this."
Harry hums quietly and lets the conversation drop, running soothing strokes up and down her back, her loose nightshirt crumpling beneath his ministrations. Thunder rumbles, distant but trembling across the countryside and Ginny holds her breath, waiting for a cry to come from down the hall, but the house simply creaks beneath the first drops of rain, a summer storm rippling across Godric's Hollow.
"I thought they'd go away by now. Or at least – "
His chest lifts as his lungs fill, strong and deep, exhale ruffling her flyaways. "Not as often though, yeah?"
Ginny nods against his chest. "True. Who'd've thought you'd be the optimist."
"Over ten years of marriage," Harry chuckles, "it was bound to happen sometime."
She draws absent minded circles across his bare chest, light and gentle and he grumbles when she manages to find his most sensitive spots. "Ticklish, Mr. Auror?"
"And to think I was about to offer up my chocolate stash."
Ginny sits up, abrupt, and props herself on her elbow. "I'll do whatever you say."
Before he can answer, two dark heads appear at the door, the taller form clutching a red and gold blanket close to his chest. "The storm woked – woke – us up."
Albus stands close at James' side, rubbing his eyes tiredly as he nods in agreement. "Woke."
Swiping beneath her eyes, Ginny makes sure her face is clear, before patting the space beside her. "Come on up. Don't wake Lily."
James snorts. "She sleeps like a snorkack," he pauses and shares a grin with Albus, "Snores like one too."
Harry and Ginny hide their laughter beneath a cough and a sneeze respectively before Harry turns a stern face on the boys. "No making fun of Lily for her Weasley tendencies."
He barely makes it through the sentence before Ginny's elbow is in his gut. She quirks her brow challengingly, then turns back to the boys as they clamber into the bed. "Want to share dad's chocolate?"