Title: Fallen Embers
Author: Aelan Greenleaf
Category: Angst, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ginny
Summary: Harry is maimed and scarred, emotionally and physically, after the Final Battle. The Chosen One faces his own demons, and finds there are no defences against himself.I am here to help.
Once, when night seemed forever, I was with you - Fallen Embers, Enya
"Harry, I..." There's nothing, really, that I can say. They are empty words, words that needed to be spoken, but yet, have no meaning. There is something, a feeling, an emotion at the pit of my stomach; it can't be identified, but it's there, waiting, coiling. I feel sick, almost.
He won't look at me. I don't think he's moved since I arrived. Back turned, face covered, hands folded and hidden in his lap. I know he's embarrassed. I know he's scared. And I know, most of all, that he's ashamed.
"You should leave, Ginny." His words aren't muffled, and I didn't expect that. Strange. There's a sudden chill in his voice, like an absence of feeling. A void hangs in the air where life should be. I shiver, but it's involuntary, and somehow, I feel guilty.
"I can't leave. You know that." I don't think I could ever leave. No matter what the damage is. No matter what the cost. You don't leave the ones you love.
He sighs, but there's sorrow there. "Ginny... I'm not who you think I am. I'm- I'm a monster."
His back shifts, and for a fleeting moment, there is a flash of fabric as his cloak moves and his hand hides. I can see only space, a strange silvergap where a palelimb should be. My spine tingles as my mind accepts exactly what it is that I am seeing. I look away.
A flash of bright green, tiny but visible, and I know he turned around just in time to see me look away. My heart hurts inside my chest and I just want to hold him and make it better, but it doesn't work that way. I can hear the sarcastic and despondent smile in his voice when he speaks again.
"Not a monster? Then why can't you look at me?"
"Harry..." But the words just aren't there. Silence is a giant concrete barrier between us, reinforced and heavily armed. The tension is palpable. I think that I may cry.
His voice breaks the barrier, shattering the wall. "Remember, so long ago, when we first kissed? I remember you just coming towards me, and I couldn't help myself. I needed and wanted and I had to have you, right then, and I didn't care who saw. Remember?"
I whisper, but it may as well be a shout in the night. "Of course."
"I care now."
Tears emerge, sliding down my cheeks like messengers of grief. I don't brush them away. If he turns around again, I want him to see them, I want him to react, and I want to hear some god-damned emotion from him. Anything. Please, Harry.
"Why can't I see you? Harry, turn around. Show me." I'm pleading openly now; I don't care if it seems weak. There are no holds barred now.
"No!" There is emotion, anger building beneath the unspoken thoughts.
"Why?" My voice matches his strength, thunder in the small room.
"Because I'm not the man I used to be! Damn it, Ginny, can't you understand that? I'm not Harry Potter anymore!"
There are no words for the frustration, for the pain and for the anger that I feel. Suddenly, without thought, I'm moving forwards and I grab the hood that guards his face, and I pull it away. He reacts, and with sadness so deep it makes me gasp, I see that there are no hands there anymore. Only silver replicas, reflecting in the dying candlelight.
And then, only then, do I full absorb where my eyes are meeting his. My hand goes to my mouth, and the tears have become a torrential downpour, and I'm crying so hard that I gag. His emerald orbs are dark with pain and a half-masked fright.
There are markings, scars and blemishes, cuts and bruises all over his handsome face. The right side is completely obliterated; only a green eye, a nostril and half of his mouth are visible against the burnt skin. The left side is bruised, cut, but still recognizable as theman that I love.
"Now, you can see." he breathes, and there is so much emotion there now, so much that it overwhelms me. Part of my mind screams out in horror and shame.
"Harry..." I say it yet again, but finally, finally there is a purpose behind my words. The heaving fades away as the sobs recede and I can breathe normally. The tears start to try in their tracks as I reach out my hand to touch him. "Does it hurt?" I'm not really even sure if I spoke; was it just an echo in an empty mind?
There is no answer. He closes his eyes, as my fingers meet the first piece of mangled and discoloured skin. I forget to breathe, and it all comes into my lungs so fast. Before I know what I am doing, my other hand is pressed up against his face, and I'm holding him through my touch, and I can feel that the man underneath is still my Harry, is still my love.
The world is in this moment. Forever is contained in the air, hanging within us and between us. And I know then, in that second, that our love, started so simply and so superficially, transcends all mere flesh and skin. It sounds cheap and classic and predictable, but I know with all of my heart that it's true.
I blink, and suddenly, the Harry I've always known is there, green eyes glowing, grin plastered onto his face, cheeks just so slightly red. The lightning bolt across his forehead is the only blemish on the perfect image, but somehow, it's right. Without it, he wouldn't be complete. I smile, and he starts to cry.
"I love you." The tears mix with the words as they leave his lips.
"I know." I say, and I laugh, a sudden sound in the quiet dark. He grins back, and I kiss him, unable to do anything else. We stay united for a long time.
"I- I was worried you wouldn't want me anymore. That no one would want me anymore." The boy, self-conscious and anxious, is still inside of there. Innocence from before the war.
"Never think that. I'll love you, no matter what."
He smiles again, from deep within, and all the scars and disfiguration in the world could not remove the beauty from his grin. "I know."
He kisses me, and I'm kissing him back, and everything else seems to fade away.