If this won't depress you, you need to let up on the lithium. ;-) Seriously, though. I don't know where this came from, except that I had a bit of a lousy New Year (I hate boys. I hate them, hate them, hate them!)...the story about the little boy is true. Obviously I had to alter it - Ginny didn't really capture him. But it happened. I swear.

God, what a great world we live in, eh?

Okay, okay, sorry. Read and review. :)


My eyes slid over the other idiots outside in the freezing cold. Most of them were children, bundled up and warm, cheeks rosy, laughing and playing in the snow, an occasional parent was splattered among the houses as they supervised. There was one teenage couple, holding hands at the bottom of a driveway and kissing goodbye for the evening.

And then there was me.

I lit the cigarette in my hand and took a drag.

My fingers shook slightly as I brought it away from my mouth and blew out smoke. It was damn cold.

Cheery music floated outside. Inside of the house behind me, I knew that the family and girlfriends were getting ready to greet the New Year. Champagne was being poured, the girls likely as not laughing and chatting about who married who and what baby is being born. The men were animatedly discussing Quidditch strategies and who caught which Death Eater.

I took another puff and relished the taste in my mouth before letting it out again. The smoke curled into the air listlessly, curling at the edges and rising above my head like a loose balloon.

I put the cigarette into my mouth and reached into my pocket for my gloves. My hands were beginning to numb. The warm fag rested between my lips as I tucked my hands into the warm fabric of the homemade gloves.

"Ginny?" I turned around at Harry's voice and nodded at him in acknowledgement. "What are you - er - doing?"

I blew more smoke out into the air. Pollution, I suppose, but it's the simple things in life that keep us from going insane. "Shagging a squirrel, Harry," I deadpanned.

He snorted and sat down beside me. "I haven't seen you since four or so Christmases ago," he muses, picking up some snow and playing with it. "When Ron and Hermione got married."

I nodded and then took the cigarette from my lips and flicked some ash onto the ground. "Stupid idiots," I muttered.

He looked surprised. "What? Why?"

I laughed at him - I think he was surprised to find that it's not the sweet, tinkling laugh I had when I was sixteen. "No reason," I said, highly amused. "It's just that - well, in case you haven't noticed, Voldemort likes to go after things in groups."

He stared at me. "What...what do you mean?"

I shook my head a sadly. "You're so naive, Harry." I sighed and idly dropped the cig onto the ground and squashed it with my foot. "Ron is a high-profile Quidditch star. Hermione is one of the top Aurors. Together, they're dynamic. They're the talk of the town."

I raised my eyebrows, but he still didn't seem to get it. "Thickhead," I muttered. "Harry, if Voldemort decides to do something big, something to let the people know that he's still in control, who the hell do you think he's going to go after? A single Quidditch star, or the Couple From Hell?"

His eyes widened. "Holy hell," he muttered. "You're right."

"I know." I snorted and lit another fag. The end lit up as I inhaled. We sat in silence for a moment, and then he ventured, "What have you been doing these past years, Ginny? You seem...different."

I chuckled darkly, shoving my hands into my leather jacket's pockets and keep the cig between my lips. "I'm an Unmentionable, Harry," I said, and squinted into the now fading light. "Moody's done wonders with me."

He looked over in alarm. "Oh, no - you aren't a paranoid nut too, are you?"

"Constant vigilance," I muttered sarcastically, and tossed my hair out of my face. "And no, I'm not. I do undercover work now."

Interest flicked across his features. "Oh? What sort of stuff?"

"Undercover stuff," I repeated, shrugging. "You know the drill - get dressed up, go into a bar, let a guy hit on you and then hex him until next Tuesday so that they can throw him in Azkaban."

It was not beneath my notice that worry shimmered in the back of Harry's eyes. "Don't worry about me," I said automatically. "I'm a big girl, I handle myself well."

He looked away, but the expression did not leave his face. "Harry," I finally snapped, after a moment of awkward silence, "I really can take care of myself."

He nodded. "I know," he said slowly, "And that's what scares me."

Well, this was new.

I flicked the cigarette away and reached for a new one, but he grabbed the pack out of my hand. "And this!" He said. "This! When did you change so much? You used to be different than this. And now you're smoking, you're doing undercover work, you're not inside enjoying New Year's..."

I grabbed the pack irritably from him. "Habit," I snapped. "Smoking does that, you know. Try it once and you're done for." I paused, knowing that every second in silence was killing him.

He was wondering where Ginny went.

He was wondering when she got placed with Ginevra.

"You know, Harry," I said, "I've seen a lot of crazy shit in my lifetime. I've seen guys that seduce women and then murder them in horrible, painful ways, I've seen women that do the same to men. I've seen Death Eaters fall in love with Muggles or Muggleborns to the point that they go crazy at their unrequited love and kill themselves and/or the object of their desire. I've seen women so addicted to Voldemort that they fancy themselves in love with him and try to seduce the bastard."

I laughed. "I've seen young girls - ten years old, max - raped and killed because they were a 'mudblood'. And that is only the tip of this damned iceburg."

It was almost completely dark, and I squinted at the street. "And the crazy thing is, not even half of that shit had to do with Voldemort. Sure, he encouraged it, but it's all inside here, Harry." I tapped my chest. "It's us that does all that. We kill, and maim, and rape, and hurt. It's us. Half of those things had nothing to do with blood, and everything to do with one to many Firewhiskeys."

Harry turned his green eyes to me. They were as intense as ever. "Yeah," he agreed, shaking his head. "Yeah, it's us, but..."

"But nothing." I shook my head firmly. "Voldemort or no Voldemort, we'd still be living in this fucked up world. Less intense, maybe, but still there." I looked at the cigarette, glowing softly between my fingers.

"You know, there was a man once that I caught and put in prison, who kidnapped a four-year-old on Easter, chopped off his fingers, and then crucified him. He said that he watched the whole time, smiling, nodding, laughing as the little child moaned. He said that the kid died quickly - four hours. Four hours was quick."

I shook my head in disgust. "He was proud of it, Harry," I gritted out. "He took special pleasure in how the skin made a strange sound as he nailed the child's hand to the wooden cross."

Neither of us said a word, and then I finished my story. "That particular incident had nothing to do with blood. No. It was all to do with Jesus, God if you will, and religion, and heaven. God, Harry. God! He did this because of God!"

The front door opened and Mum poked her head out. "Harry, Ginny, we're going to watch the ball drop on that fascinating muggle device from Hermione soon. Aren't you coming in?"

"Give us a minute, Mum."

She shut the door. Harry and I stared out into the darkness. Then, abruptly, Harry conjured two bottles of beer and grinned at me. "Don't see you as a champagne kind of girl anymore," he explained. I nodded. "Happy New Year." He muttered.

I snorted and clinked glasses sardonically with him. "Yeah. Happy New Year."

We waited in silence. Excited squeals poured out from the house and we knew the ceremony was seconds away. The new year was approaching. Another year plagued by Voldemort, another year with death and fear and crime.

For the others, it was a fresh start - they could hope again. Harry and I exchanged glances as they began to count down. ("Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven!") We knew what it really was, the two of us. Him after the so-called Dark Lord and me after the crimes too 'unimportant' to mention anymore: the ones with little boys and wooden crosses in the back streets where no one could hear.

"Five! Four! Three! Two! Aaaaand...ONE!" Cheers and laughter erupted, glasses clinked, and kisses were undoubtedly exchanged.

Harry said nothing. Then, sarcastically - "Welcome to '05, Ginny."

I took another drag.