It's been eight-and-a-half days since he told her they could never be them again.
She tells him so as his hand makes it way over the scar on her thigh, as his lips press against her shoulder. She tries to remind him about his words to her.
She knows he's not listening, so she keeps talking, because she wants to remind herself of his words to her.
The mattress is just lumpy, groaning with age, and patches are strewn over the covers – bits of bright cloth from Ginny's childhood, tangling over his ankles. The headboard is dark and so marred that it gleams, intentional, in the darkness, and the floorboards tremble and murmur under them, lending to the static that runs through Ginny's head.
When he's this close, coherent thought becomes a bit more difficult.
The curtains are lit with starlight – there's a full moon in the sky, and Ginny hears the restlessness of Bill, a floor above, in his little steps and hisses. Ginny feels his frustration, palpable, mingling with the unspoken strain within the house, and sighs as it fuses with the heaviness that's already filling her lungs. The soft, milky light is caught by the clock lying on Ginny's nightstand, so that the thick lead hands are shot with twilight. The clock hasn't worked for years, the seconds hand twitches every-so-often, but never goes beyond the annual shudder.
It seems she's not alone in her desire to stop the future from rushing in, from drowning them all.
Ginny's terrified - he's going to leave, with Ron and Hermione, the whole family can see - their trunks are barely unpacked, there are no arguments, it's about to happen. She knows what his destiny is, knows about the prophesized final duel. She's sure he can beat Tom, for Harry's twice the man Voldemort is, but she's not sure if he will. She thinks about this as his palm runs over her arms, leaving a trail of goosebumps rising on her skin.
It's so much harder to breathe with him here.
Ginny can't remember to inhale, when she feels his pulse, his wrist beneath her belly, and stays perfectly still to hear it, can't realize that she must keep breathing.
Ginny can't remember that he won't breathe for her, won't save her, and she accepts that, really.
He's always in the paper.
It's impossible to rid him from her life without ridding herself of the whole damn Wizarding World.
Ginny can't stand it.
Her fists quiver as she stands, resolutely still, the kitchen strung with silence, but for the soft sound of papers falling. She's tossed the whole Prophet upwards, and the pages float toward the ground, photos of yellow-toothed weathermen and men in clearance dress robes winking up at her amid heaps of ink, black letters that seem to run all over each other in the quiet of her house.
She's failed in her fury – the page that brought on her fit flutters down to land at her feet, as if it's begging her to read, and Ginny begins to laugh, cruelly, as her hands gather the front page.
She could never stop herself from looking at him, after all.
BOY-WHO-LIVED FINDS TRUE LOVE AGAIN: WILL HARRY POTTER BE HAPPY AT LAST?
An in-depth report by Julianne McKinnon.
NOTE: Harry Potter insisted that the new Mrs. Potter's name be omitted from all articles – in her words, immediately before the wedding 'I've been in the limelight enough as it is – perhaps the less my name graces the paper, the less I'll be captive to the public. Out of sight, out of mind, after all.' As she is notorious for her curses, this reporter will be obeying the newlywed's wishes eagerly.
It was a lovely scene – Harry Potter and his lovely bride smiling as they clasped hands at the altar. The ceremony was a brief work, watched by and accompanied by the sniffling of a handful of close friends and a number of relatives, in the case of the bride. It was the morning of August eleventh, a day which, the new Potters claim, had no prior significance to them. Even the weather seemed to be in their favor – sunlight poured into the tiny, unplottable spot chosen by the couple.
The joiner was none other than Minerva McGonagall herself, who let a rare smile grace her lips as she wed two of her former students, though this tiny miracle was missed by the pair themselves, who gazed only at each other through the duration of the ceremony, startled at the end, somewhat, by the realization that the onlookers were awaiting their vows.
Bill and Fleur look at each other, and promise to do so forever.
The hum of relaxed, light voices – a blend delightful French and brisk English - leaves even Ginny smiling as she's twirled around the dance floor by her eldest brother, who's spinning her in a silly way that makes her stumble quite a few times, graceless. The folds of her horrendous cobalt robe – her skin looks sickeningly stark-white against the thick fabric, dotted with sequins and pearls and mirror that she uses to blind guests during dinner, when she's bored by the third appetizer, beside the wheezing French godmother – swish over her calves irritatingly, and there's a tea stain blooming near the hem (Ron is as sloppy as ever, she thinks with a motherly smile). The music of a handful of wizards and the crickets, emerging to see the sunset, surrounds her. Beaming as Bill dips her over his arm, Ginny sees a pair of bright green eyes boring into her, and a scarlet flush sweeps over her body.
He looks away immediately, and the heat becomes anger as she knows he won't be looking at her again.
Ginny lets Bill finish twirling her over the floor before excusing herself - it's taken over a decade, but she's finally able to contain herself.
She's finished with letting him pick and choose his times with her.
The next morning, Ginny wakes with sweat sliding over her, and the windows are flung shut, dark shutters squirming against the drapes in the shadows, the dust coated with fingertips, and she can't help but weep, just a little bit, because she knows he's gone and left her, but she accepts this, with grace, really.
'Harry deserves to finally settle down,' said Molly Weasley, who's been a surrogate mother to the Boy-Who-Lived, and organized much of the event, 'After what he's been through, Harry deserves a happy ending more than anyone in the world.'
The field is swelling with blood and adrenaline, webs of spells catch each other in the air, Ginny's not sure if there's anything but the roar of battle, bodies turning and tumbling and dodging, crumpling, bleeding all about, and there's this sense of sureness within her that she thinks has fallen over the field: this is it.
The scene is terrific; there's an overwhelming flood of determination, and there are so many lights and limbs and shouts that Ginny feels rather detached from it all, watching, making perfunctory motions while unable to resist being hypnotized by what is, without a doubt, an infinite struggle.
Another tentacle, black and glistening, swings out of the water, tugging a few Death Eaters back with it. The lake is already beginning to take on a hint of red, though Ginny thinks that may just be her imagination – there's so much blood, so much, that she's beginning to think it's stained her eyes. She turns back to the task and hand, and lets off a string of hexes all around her, stunning and severing and disemboweling.
She doesn't even try to justify it to herself. It's really not about moralities – she's doing this because he is, plain and simple.
Ginny has accepted where her loyalties lie, really.
Harry suddenly is encased by a dazzling light, to her left, barely in her peripheral vision, and suddenly he is on his knees, panting, sitting beside the heap of ash that was Voldemort.
As the ashes are tugged apart by the midsummer wind, Ginny can't summon even a vengeful joy. Harry leaves without looking at her, looking at any of them, but she feels the despair peeling off him in waves, and as his figure merges with the horizon, Ginny can still see the black dust rising up, gone. She can tell he'll not want to look at them again, that it's taken so much life out of him to finish Tom, that he can't take it at all.
Something is just so anticlimactic about it, the two men who dwell in the most profound edges of her being, gone so suddenly. Something is extinguished, as the mediwizards begin to arrive, as the cameras of zealous reporters wink all over the battlefield, as Ginny feels Ron's hand cover her forearm, checking her for injuries, something is gone.
He is gone.
But she accepts it, expects it, really.
This is Mr. Potter's second wedding, a rare occurrence in the wizarding world. As best man Ron Weasley said, 'Harry's never been one to go by the expectations the public holds for him; I don't think he knows about these kinds of things, and I can tell you that at this point, he doesn't care. He really can't care what people think of him, by now. Could you, after your name's been alternately dragged through mud and worshipped by the public?'
Love doesn't conquer a damn thing, Ginny finds.
Love doesn't triumph over memory, and that's what she's overcome with. The anguish of it all is suffocating – Ginny is a reminder of deaths, of war and pain and helplessness, and so she's spurned, just like that. There's something so wrong about being victorious, devoting yourself to What Is Right, and being denied for it.
She feels hatred, frothy and cool, streaming through her as it goes on.
Her name is Katia Ivanovna. Ginny can only think of her by her full name – she's not sure why it is. Perhaps it's because the copy of Anna Karenina she nicked out of Hermione's trunk in sixth year is still on her bookshelf, edges worn with being re-read, and Ginny thinks of the Russians with their full names. Perhaps it's because it simply rolls off her tongue.
Perhaps it's because this way she is simply an entity, nothing vaguely familiar at all about her, she doesn't trigger anything in Ginny.
Perhaps it's because this way she reassures herself that there is no Katia Potter.
The reception following the service was simple and elegant – a white tent, hanging high above round tables with white cloths, and a tasteful buffet. The meal was uneventful, but for an exploding turkey that the groom would only explain as 'a WWW wedding gift.'
When giving his toast to the couple, at the lovely reception that followed, Miss Hermione Granger-Weasley said this: 'It's not fair, just how much Harry's been through. Just when he thinks he's done with it all, tragedy jumps him. I can tell you that we're all praying that fate leaves her cruelty out of this – don't you think he ought to live the good life, when he's won the title of Savior of the Wizarding World?'
Every other Sunday night, Ginny visits the Burrow.
Every night she refuses to attend, Harry and Katia Ivanovna visit the Burrow. She sees them, by accident, at the Leaky Cauldron, and Ginny considers her, takes in Katia Ivanovna's confident laugh and brass-coloured ringlets, poking out from beneath her cap, and she thinks:
That's that, then.
There's a dull ache that throbs against her spine, but that's expectable, acceptable.
Her family doesn't mention it, and she is glad that, for once, all of them respect her privacy. The dinners are the same as they've always been, platters of steaming meat and sugared puddings, chatter about business and politics and Quidditch, a scolding or three. There's no pity. Her family accepts that she can't, that is, won't, face him.
Out of sight, out of mind, after all.
After a bit of whispered persuasion from bridesmaid Hermione Granger-Weasley, the groom agreed, for the first time since his defeat of Voldemort, to a brief, three-question Q&A.
Q: How did you end up here? That is to say: how did the two of you find each other?
A: Well, I think it's obvious we've known each other for years. We went to Hogwarts together, she fought in every single battle with me since our fifth year, and, oh, I don't know, I ran into her at a Hogwarts reunion, and right away, I could tell she was what I needed.
Ginny is thirty-three when Katia is proclaimed dead. She's a headline-worthy corpse, unsurprisingly, and the black letters gleam crimson in the dim candlelight of Ginny's nightstand. Ginny glances at the photo, a dark head against a shut coffin, amid a sea of bouquets, and she turns the paper over before she blows out the candle.
Katia Potter is dead, and Ginny doesn't feel a thing. She's accepted it all, really.
Q: Tell us about the reunion, please.
A: Well, after the initial thrill, I was a mess. he chuckles I suppose, if you've read the Authorized Potter Biography, you know about the Cho Chang fiasco? Well, as Ron will tell you, I haven't gotten any smoother. I was awkward and fumbling the whole night, and by the end I thought I'd never see her again, I'd made such a mess of it.
It's been eighteen years since he stopped looking at her.
Out of sight, out of mind, she thinks to herself.
She tells him as much as his thumbnail tugs at the smooth skin of her thigh, as his mouth bites down on her shoulder, as exquisite sensation shoots through her, as she finds herself hypersensitive, thrilled.
She doesn't try to remind him of any of it this time.
There is no future that lies ahead of them, she thinks as his teeth graze her earlobe, he comes and goes, he's a seasonal thing, he's like the thirteen-year cicadas.
He's here, and somehow that's enough.
Ginny finds her frustration stifling, afterwards, when she wakes up with the door hanging open and the balls of her feet warm against the wrinkled duvet, the red dress she'd bought especially for the reunion slung over her armchair, alone with her acceptances.
When, the next day, the photo of Harry and Luna, clad in a simple bride's robe and satisfaction, drifts onto her floor, Ginny feels, for the first time, contented.
This is it.
It is done.
She accepts this, feels the glow of coming to terms with what she's sure is his final choice radiate through her, knows he'll never be out of sight.
It's not about love, about how much Ginny's limbs are falling apart and heaving when she thinks of him, about letting go – Ginny's got a good mind on her. He deserves to, finally, master his future. He is the exception, for her, always.
This is it.
Q: I've got to ask you – and our readers have been wondering, as well – whatever happened between you and Ginny Weasley? It was verified, years ago, that you two were together, and, well, I suppose many thought you two would reunite after the war.
A: Well, you see, Ginny and I, we, er, that is to say…right. Here it is: Ginny was wonderful. We agreed, at the end of my sixth year, that we were better off as friends. I'm glad for it; to this day, Ginny and I remain very close friends, you know.
A/N: So there it is, the plot bunny that's had me typing furiously for the last three hours. Reviews would be great – even an 'I read it' is always encouraging!