Author's Note:This is a one-shot songfic, based on the song "Once Upon a December" from the movie Anastasia- which I recommend you download while you're reading this. Told mostly through Ginny's point-of-view, with occasional bits of Harry's inner thoughts.
Also, the portions in italics are Ginny's flashbacks and the first group of italicized words occurs after the second flashback. It makes sense as you read it, but just so you know…
On with the show!
The Glass House
By Sabrina Clarke and Edited by Fiona Chan
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy…"
Romeo and Juliet - Shakespeare
Snow fell softly outside The Glass House.
A myriad of windows surrounded Ginny with the effects of a perpetual kaleidoscope. Little pieces of light hovered on her eyelashes, floating like bits of colored cellophane in the wind, and forming a colloid of the milieu.
Ginny's head knocked against the wooden foot of a hanging puppet- its forever cheery face reflecting her inner ecstasy. She wanted to thank every object in the room for being an accomplice in her happiness. Her brown eyes flickered around, drawn to the hazy sunlight and to the people walking up and down the streets, carrying packages for a belové d. She couldn't suppress a sigh.
Despite her surroundings of painted smiles, Ginny suddenly felt sad- and incredibly alone.
Yet, she loved this shop. It was one of those stores with knick-knacks strewn about haphazardly with no care at all about aesthetics, but the overall effect, nonetheless, was one of charming chaos. I really must come here more often. Her fingers trailed loosely on the oaken tabletops lingering, wherever and whenever Ginny's interest was ensnared. And this shop was certainly full of items of interest.
She picked up a small figurine and twirled the little creature on its pivoting paws. As she felt the coolness of the painted bear in her palm, the feeling of utter peacefulness settled on her shoulders in an insulating layer of recollections. Because it was so familiar- the moment, her steady and calm breathing, and the tinkling melody of a music box- all were like fragments held together by the tender connections in her mind like spider's silk. Covered in dust.
Cobwebs- that's what they were. Because somehow, this morning- one of many similar days, grew roots into her memory.
A small glass butterfly drifted, borne aloft on the unseen currents that passed through the shop. It's wings had a transparency that blurred everything and tinted it in shades of rosy pink and faint azure. Her curious fingers caught it. Ginny admired it's petit delicacy, but was fearful for it. The thinness of the glass under her fingers felt unsubstantial and incredibly fragile. She felt as though even the faint misting of her breath on the gossamer-like wings was steadily eroding at it.
Another silken connection to a moment, so memorable and yet unrecognizable. Like the undertow in the tide, each board on the floor below her feet was like a inexorable wave; a ubiquitous reminder. Like this feeling that was nagging at her, in a relentless tug on an invisible leash. This feeling of déjà vu- like she was walking among familiar shadows. This feeling of a fold in time. That somehow then and now had managed to overlap and superimpose until then was now. And now was-
Ginny shook her head. Wasting my time on utter nonsense. "Utter nonsense," she repeated aloud to herself, as a testimony to her resolution. Distracted by her confusing thoughts, she dropped the delicate butterfly and the pieces impatiently burst out from their designated places.
The pieces floated together and bonded seamlessly, but the figurine did not move again. Ginny was disappointed. To be sure, this is normally what one expects from a non-living object, but Ginny was nonetheless as disenchanted as the object before her, and inexplicably guilty, as though that butterfly had been alive and she was the murderer. She hated its stillness.
It was inanimate, although the play of colors on its faintly iridescent wings was still lively. Although, it was whole once again.
It was still broken.
Things I almost remember
She waited. Her memory was so elusive and vague. Like the search for an unfound word. The hesitance, the pause before the realization. So she anticipated that moment, silently constructing a house of cards that contained her fragile recollections.
She picked up the butterfly again, feeling the cool stiffness, dead against her fingertips.
"I'm sorry… I never meant to hurt you, but-"
Ginny hastily dried her tears. "I don't want to hear it."
"Don't pretend that your reasons are worth anything-" She nearly stopped herself from saying what came out of her mouth next, but the angry words burst from her mouth as though determined to make her feel guilty, "You're afraid. Afraid of commitment."
"I'm afraid you might be hurt- I'm a target." Just another reason to say goodbye.
Ginny crossed her arms.
"You're a coward." She savored the irony on her tongue, tasting the unfamiliar anger and relishing the release of a quelled insecurity.
She loved the surprise on his face. The utter blankness.
"Oh, I know how the story goes." Her voice took on a singsong tone in an insightful taunt, "Harry Potter the Boy-Who-Lived. The child hero." She crossed her arms. "The coward." She held his unopened present in her tightly clenched hands.
She didn't remember much else afterwards. Did I storm off? Slam the door? Keep my composure, like I always wished I would? But never could. All she remembered was the look in his eyes before she left. Harry Potter the helpless. Harry the disheartened. Harry the martyr. Always, finding himself in circumstances that involve a sacrifice for the greater good. Always in a situation beyond his control. Always the hero.
Let me pray for my knight. Let me wait for my miracle. Miracle- such an amorphous concept, but such a hopeful word. Let me hope.
And a song, someone sings
Ginny Weasley. Forever, Ron's little sister. Forever, the redheaded afterthought of the Weasley family. Forever, forgotten.
Forever deserving. "For everything I did wrong." So much anger. So much regret. She wished that her denial would recreate the moment and tailor it to her exacting specifications. She remembered the tears as they washed out the memory, like a watercolor painting left out in the rain. Blurred colors leaving nothing but green. The color of rejection.
Ginny picked up an emerald green toad and another song came to mind, a stark contrast from the gentle, music box melody dancing tantalizingly on the confines of her consciousness. Luring her back to reality. Tiptoeing away from her reverie. His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad, his hair is as dark as a blackboard, I wish he were mine- he's truly divine, the hero who conquered-
Once upon a December
Another gentle tinkling interrupted the song on the unseen music box as the door was opened. Patiently, the silken strands of memories clung, hanging listlessly like forgotten notes on a repressed memory- waiting for a moment when she would remember. She kept a tight clutch on the ceramic toad.
The storekeeper nodded politely. "Good evening, Mr. Potter."
Someone holds me safe and warm
And he was behind her, watching her fingers gently run over the shiny, almost slimy surface of the toad. He smiled faintly.
"Remember in second year, that Valentine…?" He allowed his voice to fade away as he could decipher no discernible reaction from her countenance. His words penetrated her bubble of contentment and shattered the silence in The Glass House. She put down the toad and turned.
"I was just thinking about that!" Ginny's face lit up in surprise, and she had the sudden urge to reach out and hug him.
He beat her to it. Rather hesitantly put his arms around her in a plutonic gesture. However, the awkwardness was an insurmountable barrier between them. Harry let go fairly quickly. "So, how've you been?"
"Semi-conscious." Harry raised his eyebrows. "Not really one thing or another. You know, acting out the same sequence." Weasleys- they never say what they mean… They beat around the bush, giving cause for impatience …How many years did it take Ron to tell Hermione how he felt about her?
"Ah, I see." He paused and studied her in a way that made her feel as though he had taken her every expression and read her like a book. He gave her a searching glance, before continuing, "Are you okay? Now that-"
She still held the butterfly in her hands and suddenly felt an affinity to it. Except Ginny knew she could fly if she wanted to. Except she could never let go of gravity. She could never let go of that nagging voice that said-
"I'm sure going to miss it."
Ginny brightened. "Really?"
"Yeah, Hogwarts was like… home to me."
"Oh." Ginny couldn't push the disappointment out of her voice. She couldn't emulate the painted smile on the puppet above her. Her face felt as transparent as the butterfly's wings, revealing the emotion that had augmented since it's original advent as a girlhood crush.
"You thought I meant-"
"No, of course not." Please, don't say anything-
Harry decided to press the matter further, "Ginny-" Ginny was surprised. He was always one to leave her to wander in the labyrinthine passages of her recollections alone, preferring, instead, to empathize with her fears of the Dark Lord, and offer silent comfort. Ever since second year, unconsciously she became more reticent with her feelings. Only Harry had understood. "-About that day-"
Although there were many days in a year and more still since the two had last seen each other, there was no question as to what day 'that day' was.
"Yes?" Was that hope? Or was it denial?
"Do you still think about me?"
"Do you still think about me?"
No, no of course not. Say it. No, I'm not bitter. No, I'm not angry. No, I'm not sad. I don't care. I don't care. I don't care. "I don't care." She hated herself for saying that.
Even though he deserves it.
Horses prance through a silver storm
Somewhere an organ grinder played a gentle melody.
Amid her surroundings of squinted eyes and hunched backs to keep out the winter chill, Ginny Weasley held out her hands in an embrace of her surroundings, allowing the flakes of snow to drift into her mouth. She was a declaration of improbable glee in the biting cold. The generous skirt of her robes rose with momentum and plunged as she spun, until she returned to Harry's arms- so warm as they metamorphosed out of the swirling cold. She felt the dizziness settle upon her as the world twirled from her viewpoint in Harry's embrace. That, she concluded with unusual decision, was exactly what love is supposed to be like. Perhaps, she'd tell Harry that later.
"Harry!" She snuggled up next to him, tucking herself under his arm, warming herself up against the winter cold that entered through the cracks and crevices in her clothing that she never knew existed. Harry didn't stop it from chilling her. Just with Harry, she didn't care. "Let's go on one of those horse carriage rides."
Harry smiled, opened the door, and lifted Ginny Weasley into the red-velvet lined seat. Before entering himself, he studied her for a moment. Her thick, white robes contrasted with her red hair and the snow tumbled about her in eddying patterns of unseen air waves. She was framed in a halo of white, and her lips, naturally upturned, gave her an expression of perfect contentment.
Years later, Harry would find himself remembering and recalling that moment- every detail an accomplice to his regret at his final decision. For now, he was content to watch her.
He climbed in and paid the driver a couple of Galleons.
"Ah, I see." He distracted himself by looking at a small figurine of ballerina playing a gentle melody, rocking him.
They rocked gently on the velvet cushion, as the horse cantered on the cobblestones. "Ginny, I-" He looked at her again and felt speechless. "I don't think this should continue."
Ginny bit her lip. "If you think the ride should stop, I agree. I never liked horses, did you? I didn't think so. After all, they're awful smelling." And graceful. And romantic. "Plus, this whole thing, it's quite unoriginal. I know! We can go to Honeydukes and get some cockroach clusters to hide in Ron's food. Wouldn't that be fun? Or…or are you cold? Let's go to the Three Broomsticks and get a butterbeer-" She allowed herself to talk into Harry's silence. Because her voice soothed her and prolonged Harry's next words. Because she was utterly afraid of what she expected to hear next. "Or we could…" she stammered, searching for another option, "We could- we could…" Her eyes went wide and she blinked to hold back a flood of tears. "We could-" A pause. "We could do anything you want. Anything-" Just don't say you don't love me.
Her eyes were so open, honest. Harry found he couldn't look at anything else.
Figures dancing gracefully
He caught the little figurine's hand and twirled it again, rewinding the music and, all the while, knowing that the song would bring him crashing back to the memory. He was so tired of reality.
"No." He narrowed his eyes. "You know that's not what I meant."
"Are you feeling sick, then? I told you seven pumpkin pasties-"
"Ginny, this can't go on."
She finally allowed herself to cry.
"I'm sorry… I never meant to hurt you, but-"
Across my memory
Harry was the first to break the silence, "Remember the taste of butterbeer…?"
Ginny caught on this vein with enthusiasm, "Remember the snowball fights?"
Harry paused, and tentatively opened a door for her to reenter his life, "Remember… Hogsmeade during wintertime?" Now, his voice was quiet. Less intrusive. Clearly, the stillness and quietness of The Glass House was contagious.
Ginny was silent for a moment and turned over and over the bright green toad before replacing it on the tabletop. Her fingers had stopped wandering restlessly on the faintly dusty countertop. "D'you… d'you… remember the horse carriage rides they used to give?"
Far away, long ago
"It was a while ago." He focused out the window behind her and seemed to imagine the scene replaying just outside the scope of her vision. "But I still remember everything. You know, you were wearing white." He stopped, and his eyes seemed to focus in on the window with more intensity, "I remember thinking, God- she doesn't look like she belongs on Earth." He gestured vaguely towards the stained glass ceiling. "She belongs somewhere up there."
"And then you said that you didn't want it to go on," Ginny couldn't help adding.
"Were you happy, Ginny?" He paused, "Were you?" I only saw you perfectly happy once. On the carriage, right before I said it was over.
"No." Suddenly, Ginny felt stupid. As though all those years of blaming Harry were unjustified. She was lying to herself.
"I was." He paused again, "But it hurt, you know, seeing that you weren't totally happy." He sighed, "You were right, though- at least about that. I guess I was kind of- well-"
"Yeah- of how things were going along. You were the first serious girlfriend I ever had. Don't they say that you never forget your first love, or something like that?-" Cho, right? "-Well, for me at least- that was you."
"Oh." But so much was contained in that 'Oh'. She couldn't think of a way to express the torrent of emotion that assuaged her senses. And tucked inside guilt and regret-
So distant and subtle-
Glowing dim as an ember
So vague and faint. Was gentle dizziness of too much butterbeer. The giddy feeling of love.
"I always had a crush on you. Kind of." Ginny thought she saw Harry's mouth twitch, (Kind of?) but immediately it relaxed back into solemnity.
"But it took you a while to love me."
"I think I loved you-" She paused, "For real- the first time, I mean,- that moment in the carriage ride. I was going to tell you-"
"Tell me what?"
She hesitated, then smiled. "You know that feeling you get when- when you hold out your arms, and you're spinning and spinning, for- for ever and ever?" Harry nodded, although he had never done such a thing in his life. Yet, the nod was sincere.
She beckoned him to bend forward, although even a couple years after Hogwarts, Harry had never lost his Seeker build and height. She bent forward and whispered conspiringly, "Well, that's what love is like."
Oddly enough, Harry understood her.
Things my heart used to know
"Do you still love me?"
"Do you still love me?"
Things it yearns to remember
They shared a secret glance, although The Glass House was empty of any other customers.
And a song, someone sings
Ginny's eyes danced with hidden mischief, oddly reminiscent of the twins'. "His eyes are as green as a fresh-pickled toad. His hair is as dark as a blackboard. I wish he was mine; he's truly divine. The hero who conquered-" she suddenly stopped and winked, "my heart."
Once upon a December.
"You know, I kept it."
Ginny tucked her hair behind her ear. And revealed Harry's gift to her. It was a butterfly hairpin*. She smiled. "I definitely feel kind of dizzy."
"Me too. Maybe, that's because before I came here I had couple of butterbeers."
"Nah, it's just because you love me." How comforting it was to say that. She felt as though her feelings were kept all bottled up inside, just waiting for the cork to pop. But now that it has, Ginny said to herself, I can enjoy the sweet taste of wine. She thought, I'll definitely tell Harry that one later.
"You know that's the first time-" Harry abruptly stopped himself, "The funny thing about you Weasley's-" Harry laughed as she put her arm through his, "You never say what you mean."
Or maybe, I'll just tell him I love him. She kissed him.
When the shopkeeper reentered his shop from the storeroom he was disappointed to find that his two customers had left. Few people came to linger and enjoy the simple beauty, epitomized by his array of knick-knacks. Especially during the holiday season. He had been watching that redhead for quite some time. She never bought anything, but somehow, incomprehensibly, she belonged there as much as the little music box or the emerald toad.
On top of the register, was a little pile of Knuts and a couple of Sickles. Next to it, written on an old receipt were the words, "For the butterfly."
Somehow, he understood.
"He that is strucken blind cannot forget
The precious treasure of his eyesight lost…"
Romeo and Juliet - Shakespeare
A/N:Eh… short and fluffy, with yummy bits of inner introspection. Hope I did the song justice! Please review, oh gentle reader!
*Think of the butterfly hairpin in "Titanic" that was green and had it's wings at the top with a comb-like thing attached to the bottom that you put in your hair.
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My short n' fluffy D/Hr Songfic- "One Slowdance"
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