Disclaimer: HP isn't mine.

Wow. So it's been a while since I've written anything, but inspiration hit while – strangely enough – I was reading X-Men fanfic. Huh. This isn't as light-hearted as most of my recent stuff, so consider yourself warned. Not a tissue warning fic – I don't know that I'm even capable of writing a tearjerker – but still not fluffy kittens and Christmas lights.

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She isn't sure what she is now, exactly. She's not like she was when she was alive – she feels thinner, somehow, like the portrait got her surface but everything deeper, everything hidden from plain sight, was wiped away. But…she's not just memories and pigment, either. She can think just fine, and pangs of sorrow needle their way through her heart whenever she sees him – Harry.

The first few weeks after she wakes and her…well, her real self dies – the first few weeks, she's kept out of sight. She remembers the portrait painter saying it was best that way, to give the family some time to grieve, to get some distance, perspective.

So she's not certain how much time passes before she's brought out and hung up in the bedroom, but Harry looks…older. Tired and worn and strained, like every new day pulls a little more out of him, like he's being stretched to breaking point and slowly but surely his seams are beginning to tear.

It hurts her, seeing him like that, and she sometimes hates her new existence, but it's a shallow hurt and a shallow hatred and she can't help feeling incomplete. Or all too complete, maybe. They should have put more of her into the painting, so she could at least feel real. Or maybe they shouldn't have put much of her in at all, so that she wouldn't mind not feeling like the genuine article. Because she feels, sometimes, like she thinks Harry does all the time these days – like she's coming apart and can't stop it. Like she's balanced on an edge and can't step back to safety or take the final plunge over the side, though either would be preferable to this strained, gray-edged purgatory.

She doesn't mention it, though, won't make it any harder on her husband – ex husband now, parted by death – by telling him how this travesty of an existence burns. He needs her, needs her to smile at him and talk to him, because when she does he looks…whole, for a while.

Ginny's forgotten what it's like to be whole, and she almost envies him – until she sees the emptiness in his eyes, like his soul's been ripped out and shredded. And maybe she's just a remaining tatter of his stolen soul hung on a wall, colorful and dead.

He asks her one day what it's like, being pigment and spellwork. She hesitates before answering, not wanting to lie but determined not to tell the truth, not to hurt him. "It's like…well, it's like being an imprint of your Ginny," she says carefully. "Imprints – you get the nose and arms and all the proportions, but nothing inside shows up. I can react like your Ginny, but…I'm not. I'm the kiddy pool, she was the deep end." She flashes him a smile, hoping he won't dig deeper – hoping he'll never find out how much it hurts, how much she misses having depths and emotions that don't feel flat.

But he doesn't dig deeper, just nods thoughtfully and says, "You don't shine like she did."

She'll never tell him that his words hurt, deeper than she thought she could be hurt anymore.

The painter told them the spellwork would begin to fade, eventually, that sooner or later her personality would break down, break away, and she'd do little more than smile and sleep. She knows Harry doesn't want to think about it, doesn't want to imagine even this dull imitation of his Ginny fading away.

But it's the only hope she's still Ginny enough to have.