I know I should be working on Ten Little Things, or Child Of War, but this wouldn't leave me alone. Based off of my Ten Little Things for Ginny and Percy.
Fred and George exchanged uneasy looks, and Ron whispered that maybe she ought to go upstairs.
She wasn't going to go upstairs. She was going to listen. Had to listen, because Percy couldn't really be saying the things she thought he was?
Besides, the rate they were yelling, she'd have heard from her room anyway. So she remained seated, on the steps with her three of her brothers.
And then – then Percy's voice rang out, loud and clear.
"RIGHT! WELL IF THAT'S HOW YOU FEEL I'M OFF THEN! I'M LEAVING! CONSIDER ME NOT A PART OF THIS FAMILY ANYMORE!"
He stormed out of the room, looked momentarily ashamed at the sight of the four of them, then forced his way through them, up the stairs. Five minutes later he was back, a bag over his shoulder.
He reached the front door, opened it, then turned back to them. He's not really going, Ginny thought. He wouldn't walk out on them. Of course not. Not Percy, annoying but dependable.
But he didn't close the door, or even put his bag down. He just looked at his youngest siblings, and whispered, "Bye." And then he left, slamming the door behind him. He'd gone – he'd really walked out on them.
Their mother was crying. Ginny could hear her, but couldn't move. How could he have walked out on them?
Fred and George looked back at Ron, then pointedly at Ginny, before leaving the steps and seeking out their mother.
"Come on, Ginny." Ron muttered, taking the hint for once. He tugged her to her feet and up the stairs. She couldn't make sense of it.
Percy Weasley had just abandoned his family.
Two years later.
She was crying. Damn, she hated crying. Maybe because it made her feel small and pathetic. Maybe because it didn't help, at all. Or maybe it just came from when she was younger, when her brothers treated her like a silly little girl (well, not all her brothers; being so close in ages, Ron treated her normally and the rest of their brothers kinda treated him like a little girl, too) and so she fought the tears to prove that she wasn't. Silly or little, that is. She was most definitely a girl.
But this was different. This wasn't a grazed knee, or name-calling, or even something like being trapped in the Chamber of Secrets, all of which had made her cry at a younger age. This wasn't even from anger. She still sometimes found tears forming in her eyes from anger, a fact that made even more mad, because why would she want to cry when she was so angry?
But this was different. This wasn't something trivial. Not that the whole Chamber thing had been trivial, but this was worse. So much worse.
This was Fred. And Fred was...
She couldn't even think it. Couldn't link the two words together, even in her mind.
Because Fred – Fred couldn't be – he wasn't allowed to be...
If only. Even through this unbearable, inexplicable sorrow, a wry, hollow smile graced her face. If only it was that easy. To just say, "No, it's all wrong, he's not allowed to be dead," and have Fred appear, smiling of course, and saying how stupid it was for them to believe he was really gone.
But it wasn't that easy. There was no bringing him back. She'd looked. In those first few hours, she'd holed herself up in the library – what was left of it, anyway – and searched through every book she thought might be relevant. All in the restricted section, too. Because if there was a book on bringing back the dead, it would be there, wouldn't it?
After a while, Hermione had arrived. Ginny had looked up defiantly, expecting to be told it was no good, to stop, to join her family in their grief, because there was no reversal. They both knew there was no reversal. But Hermione did none of those things. Instead, she sat down beside Ginny on the floor - the tables were all in pieces, as was much of the room- and started looking through the books she hadn't yet got to. Hermione knew there was nothing of any help in there. Ginny knew it, too. But they spent a good few hours looking, until Bill found them, told them quietly that they were leaving, now, going home.
"Come on, Ginny." He whispered, when his first words failed to make her move. "Let's go. Let's go home."
She stood, let Hermione take her hand and lead her through the wreckage of the library. Harry had been looking for her. He told her when he found her, and wrapped his arms tight around her.
For a moment she clung to him, felt safe. Finally, finally he was holding her again. After all these months, he was here, clutching her as if he'd never let go, as if everything would be OK.
But he had to let go. And nothing was ever going to be OK again.
Now, four days later, the tears had arrived. She'd fought them for a while. Crying wouldn't help. It would make it more real. She had been trying to be strong, for her mum and dad, for George and Ron.
But now, she curled up, and let herself cry. Screw strength. Forget about help. She'd cry, because Fred was dead, and what else was she supposed to do? She couldn't fix it.
The door opened quietly. She'd never been a quiet crier. Loud sobs caught in her throat and escaped. She was shaking violently. Her eyes, she knew, would go red, and stay that way for hours.
Still, she looked up, to see who was witnessing this humiliation.
It was Percy.
He hesitated at the doorway, then strode across the room, sat beside her on the ancient, tiny bed, and wrapped his arms around her.
Stupid twins. They'd terrified her with their story. Even though she didn't really believe it. She was seven, far too old to believe in monsters. But still...She couldn't sleep. Couldn't close her eyes, because what if the monster came out of the wardrobe, like they'd said it would?
She didn't want to be eaten.
There was a creek, somewhere in the house. To little Ginny Weasley, it sounded like her wardrobe door slowly opening.
Tears were already falling from her eyes as she leapt out of her bed and ran from the room, with speed only pure terror could bring.
She barely thoughts about it. Percy's room was nearer than Ron's, and Percy wouldn't laugh at her for crying. Besides, Percy was bigger, he'd be better protection against monsters than Ron, who was, after all, only a year older than her and few inches bigger.
Percy was about twelve at the time, and awoke violently when the small body of his little sister flew across his room and dived on his bed, sobbing.
"Wha..." He managed, blinking in the darkness.
"Monster." Ginny mumbled through her tears. He must have known straight away that it was the twins' fault. But she was sobbing, shaking, terrified, and so he wrapped his arms around her, tugged a blanket over her.
"It's OK. I've got you, you're OK." He mumbled, and let her cry it out.
The memory was sudden, real, and made her angry. Because she'd depended on him. On all of them, more than she'd ever known. And then he'd left – he'd abandoned them, as soon as the war started. Walked away when she needed him most, needed to know they were all there.
She pushed him away, so suddenly and roughly that he nearly toppled off her bed.
"You can't fix it." She hissed. "You can't come in here and hug me and pretend that everything's OK. You left. You left us, and we needed you."
"Ginny -" He began, but she cut him off, her words strained and quiet, barely understandable through the tears.
"You left. We were about to start fighting, fighting him, and you just walked away. We needed you, we needed you there, I needed you, and you walked away."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"I thought I could count on you. I thought you'd always be there for me but you weren't – you weren't – and now -" Her voice broke. "Now he's gone, too, he's abandoned us like you did – but he – he's never coming back -"
This time, she didn't push him away when he hugged her. She didn't have the strength.
"I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I'll never leave again. I promise." He was crying, too, and how could she be mad at him when he was crying? "I let you down, Ginny, and I – I can't change that, can't fix it – but I'll never leave you again, OK? Never."
She didn't speak, couldn't. Because he was her brother, and she loved him, and she was glad to have him home. But a part of her hated him a little bit, because she'd thought her brothers would always be there for her, and he'd proved her wrong.
(So had Fred, and she hated him a little bit for it, too.)
She didn't push him away, but sat there, trying to draw comfort from him. This was the brother she'd gone to when she needed to cry. The brother who'd stopped Fred and George's teasing when it got too much for her. The brother who'd forced pepper-up potion down her throat because she looked a little pale. The one who'd checked her wardrobe and under her bed for monsters. Who'd tried to protect her.
And still, he was the one who'd disenchanted her. The one to show her that her brothers wouldn't always be there. And somehow, right then, it didn't balance out and you couldn't forgive him.
It was later, weeks later, that she finally managed to say it. And mean it. She looked him, dead in the eye, and said only three words. Three words important to him, important to her.
"I forgive you."