His Princess in the Tower
Sometimes she feels like she can't breathe.
Ginny likes Astronomy – she loves it actually, loves it so much she has considered becoming an Unspeakable, just so she could study the night sky. She likes Charms, and Herbology, and has come to love Potions, although she will always loathe Transfiguration with a burning passion. Still, she does her homework every night and works on her essays so diligently that Hermione would be proud.
Sometimes she feels like a fraud.
She's captain of the quidditch team, which feels so unspeakably wrong that sometimes she wants to throw up. Every time she pins the badge on her chest she thinks of dead man's shoes, and shivers. She doesn't want to be captain. Nor does she want to be Seeker, but all the other people who tried out were so appalling that she has no choice, and Demelza leads the Chasers well, with a little coaching.
Sometimes she feels like all she can do is cry.
She tries not to linger in the places they used to go, but it's hard. The table by the fire was always their spot, and part of her wants to lay fierce protective claim to it, because maybe they are gone, but Ginny will be damned if they're not coming back. She finds herself tearing up at the oddest moments – seeing two girls chattering on the sofa as she and Hermione used to do, watching the Creevey brothers argue, or … She prefers not to look at any couples.
Sometimes she wants to flee Hogwarts for the real world.
In school they chat and gossip, and her friends talk about who's kissed whom, who ought to kiss who, and who will kiss who, but never comment on the students who vanish when something appalling happens. It's desperately important to them that she win the Cup, and she can feel her skin crawling under all the expectations.
Sometimes she thinks she's going mad.
Ginny scours the Daily Prophet every day to hear who has lived and who has died, and to see if there is any hint, any trace of what they have been doing. Her best friend Louise has been unconscious since an attack on Muggle Liverpool during the summer, and her other best friend is out doing God knows what, and it makes her crazy because no one else can ever understand.
Sometimes she will run for a day or two on pure rage.
They haven't written to her. Not once. She doesn't know if they're alive or dead or in some ghastly state in between. He hasn't written to her. Not once. He says – well, he doesn't say, which makes it all the worse – that he loves her too much to have her in danger. He doesn't love her enough to let her know he's not dead. She wants to kill him for this, because Parkinson or Nott or Zabini will taunt her every day, that Potter is dead, along with her brother and her best friend. They joke about three of the people she loves best in the world being dead, and Ginny can't help a paroxysm of fear that it might be true.
Sometimes she has to fly and fly until she has no breath left.
Harry took away her choice, and someday she's going to hate him for it. It would be selfish and stupid of her to run away and beg to join the Order, because … Ginny can guess what Voldemort might do, what that might mean for the wizarding world – always supposing Harry was sincere. So she doesn't do what every natural instinct impels her to do, which is to fight, fight against the vicious cruelty that has embroiled them all. If she stood up for the light side, she would only make things worse.
Sometimes she wants to vomit.
There are people dying out there. Every single day brings news of some new death, some family torn apart in a new and horrendous way – and Ginny goes to lessons, and plays Quidditch, and writes essays. She hates herself for it. She's a slug, sitting pretty and safe in a fairy tale castle, while the people she loves are out fighting to defend her. It's weakness, that's what it is, and there are moments when Ginny can't believe she's allowed Harry's words to bind her in this way.
Sometimes she has to go to the Owlery and scream.
If she left … if she joined the fight, it would kill her mother. Fred and George would worry themselves to death and spend more time to defending her than watching their own backs. Bill would rather lock her in a dungeon than send her out to face Death Eaters.
But it's killing her. They go into battle, they fight with everything in them, heart and mind and soul, and Ginny has to wait, not knowing what horrors they have faced, just waiting for Professor McGonagall to find her, with a sad and sombre expression.
Sometimes she is so torn she can only sit in sloth.
She thinks there is no more ugly or despicable word in the English language than useless. Harry at least can fight, can stand up to Voldemort – Ron is his most faithful friend, his companion of choice, and Hermione is most essential resource, his most trusted source of knowledge, and Ginny is his Princess in the Tower.
She knows they all want her to be safe – knows that it is an entirely admirable and understandable emotion for them to feel, but … she wants them to be safe too, but she has not locked them away.
Ginny is a powerful witch – she knows this. She could help, she could actually make a contribution, she could be a valuable asset. She knows a lot more than most people give her credit, and she will learn on her feet if necessary.
But, she's not foolhardy enough to imagine she could duel Voldemort and survive. And that is what she faces – and she accepts that. She remembers Tom Riddle too well to imagine he would not stoop to use her against Harry. But if Ginny has to die to make sure that people like Hermione and Louise and Dean and Harry are allowed a place in her world, she's willing to do so (although that she can admit this to herself frightens her.) She is willing.
But Harry is not willing – at least she thinks he's not willing, though there are times, when, stupid as it sounds, she almost deludes herself that it was all a dream. If he really cared he would let her know he was alive, damnit, because he would have some inkling that the ignorance is slowly tearing her insides to pieces.
However, Harry is not the only factor in this equation. She rather suspects that Ron would be equally unwilling to let her face death, and Ginny knows Hermione too well to pretend that her sentiments would be any different. They are not willing.
But they are also not there. They have not written to her. They do not have to feel guilty for doing nothing. Their consciences are clean.
She turns the question over and over in her mind, not knowing what would be better. Is it right to sit on the sidelines, doing nothing, while people are butchered all around her? Ginny thinks not.
But is it right to intervene, when doing so could, but only could, create a worse situation? Could, but only could, lead their one hope of salvation to destroy himself?
It is not in her nature to be passive – but it is not in her nature to wilfully risk the lives of those she cares about either, and so she turns the question over and over in her mind, until she no longer knows left from right. And it is all for Harry.
Sometimes she wants to be him.
He does not have to question his every impulse. He does not have to restrain himself as she does. He is with Ron and Hermione – and perhaps he sees the twins sometimes – and he is doing something. While Ginny is an exile from her family, in a school where petty words and games and lessons shroud the fear that stalks them all, and where there is no one for her to talk to. She loves Neville and Luna, and all her friends, but their dilemma is not the same as hers, and never will be. They cannot understand.
Each day she must expend more energy to restrain her desperate urge to fly home and join the Order. Each day she must force herself to sit down and do her homework, rather than writing long rambling letters to Harry, or her Mum, or Hermione, or Louise's mother, or to the twins or Ron or Percy – at least if she writes to them, though the letters may never be delivered, she feels close to them. And each day she feels more and more trapped in the towers of the castle, more culpable for every death, more weak and contemptible for her inaction, more bitter that Harry's fear makes her a slug.
It is becoming harder and harder to swallow those feelings; harder to strangle them before she screams out loud; harder to lock them away in her heart so that no one will know her desperation. She is terrified that one day it will all come pouring out in a hopeless stream of babble – terrified of exposing herself so utterly – but it yet she knows that a crisis is upon them. She must soon decide, and that fills her with terror, because there is no right choice.
But that choice is coming – perhaps because she can no longer bear to sit idle, or perhaps forced by some outside event – and by the feelings that simmer in her heart she knows it is coming ever closer.
Sometimes Ginny feels like she can't breathe.