Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of its affiliates. All of it belongs to J.K. Rowling.
A/N: AU, obviously. I'm very happy with this story.
Faded by Time
Harry and Ginny, avoiding break-up tension, clean the attic a week before the wedding, unearth amusing Weasley memories and make some of their own. AU, summer before DH.
"Ginny dear, bring these up to the loo, then drop these clothes into the boys' room. Oh, andwould you please find Ron and Hermione? Mind you, they've been gone an awful lot this past week," Mrs. Weasley shoved two piles into Ginny's arms. She staggered slightly under the weight, but nodded to her mother. Molly Weasley gave her a grateful smile and headed off to check on lunch. Moving her head slightly, Ginny took a tentative step to the right. The piles shifted into each other. Ginny groaned as she took another step.
"Gone an awful lot? More like snogging an awful lot," the redhead grumbled, moving up the stairs slowly, a towel falling on her head. She now looked like a makeshift bride. Ginny let out a yelp as her toe hit something hard. "Ow! Bugger these stupid piles. Let's see a man do some of this wo-"
The piles of clothes were suddenly lifted from her arms. Surprised by this sudden act, she nearly dropped the towels. Ginny looked up to see the smiling face of Harry Potter looking up at her. Her eyes widened considerably.
Harry couldn't see her like this! Her hair was a disaster, probably frizzy, her face was most likely dirty, and there was something white in her vision. Ginny groped for the towel on her head and pulled it down. She gave a nervous laugh and looked at Harry. He seemed to be staring deeply at her. Ginny cleared her throat.
"Um, thanks. The piles were really big and I couldn't see anything, so you saved me by picking up the pi-" Ginny winced as she noticed her pointless rambling. "Those are yours and Ron's. Thanks!"
With that, she pushed passed him and ran up the rest of the stairs, not stopping until the loo's door was closed tightly behind her. She threw the towels in the cupboard and leaned against the door, letting out a breath she wasn't aware she had been holding.
"You can't avoid him forever. He may be your ex-boyfriend, but he can still be your friend," Ginny scolded herself quietly. "A friend, Ginny. Friend." She repeated this over and over in her mind, becoming more and more frustrated at herself. She finally gave up and walked out.
Harry was standing there, his hands in his pockets. He looked up when he saw Ginny closing the loo's door behind her. "Hey Gin, would you like to play a friendly game of Quidditch? Ron and Hermione are a bit..occupied."
Ginny mentally shook herself. Even he said it. Friendly. Friend. Frie- "Ginny? Are you for it?" Ginny nodded.
"Sure, but I have to change and ask Mum. There's so much to do before the wedding next week."
Harry didn't answer, but he did blink in recognition. Ginny rushed down the stairs. Her mum was in the kitchen. Ginny quickly got an answer and a scolding that after lunch she was to find Ron and Hermione and persuade them and Harry to help clean the attic. Rolling her eyes exasperatedly, Ginny hurried off. Hurriedly throwing on old clothes and grabbing her broom, Ginny slid down the stair railing and landed next to Harry. He grinned.
"Ready?" Harry asked, shouldering his broom. Ginny arched an eyebrow.
"I'm not sure Mr. Potter. Are you ready for me to kick your-"
Ginny winced. "Sorry, mum."
Two hours, four sweat ridden towels, and twenty-eight insults later, Ginny and Harry headed back to the house. Most of their 'breakup' tension had been broken and both were now very easily talking to each other.
"Are we the only ones who think Ron and Hermione spend too much time together?" Ginny questioned Harry.
Harry shrugged. "I'm not sure. We didn't spend that much tim-" Harry noticed Ginny's stricken expression and quickly adverted his eyes. "Sorry." Ginny nodded.
The truth was, during the game there were brief moments when Harry would stare at Ginny. When she'd turn back his way, he'd look away. Seeing her so alive and excited made him ponder why he broke up with her in the first place. He was shaken out of his reverie only by a Bludger to his head.
"Oh, would you mind helping me clean the attic? Mum said to ask Ron and Hermione, but I really don't want to, you know, walk in on them," Ginny looked away, disgusted. Harry sniggered, cut off by Ginny's elbow in his side.
"Sure. I'd be happy to help, milady," Harry mocked, bowing, as Ginny slapped him on the shoulder. They both ran laughing to the house, as Mrs. Weasley looked out the window, shaking her head.
Harry grabbed two sandwiches from the plate on the Weasley's kitchen table and headed up to the attic. Ginny was there already, moving a box out of the way. A cloud of dust rose from beneath it, coating her hair. She now looked like she had aged fifty or sixty years. She shook her head furiously and the dust fell to the floor.
A string of unintelligible words came out of her mouth. Harry recognized quite a few that had come out of Ron's mouth that morning when Harry had walked in on him and Hermione in a compromising position. Remembering this, Harry chuckled to himself and felt the spot on his head where the trainer had hit him.
Ginny, hearing someone behind her, turned around and saw Harry standing there, rubbing his head and laughing. He stopped abruptly when he saw Ginny's puzzled look. She decided not to ask and gestured to the first box.
"I think that's mine and Ron's old baby pictures, but it might be Fred andGeorge's. Watch out for those; both of them liked to run around nude and there's quite a few pictures." Harry kneeleddown next to the box as Ginny plopped down beside a second one. She undid the flaps and gazed down at pictures of Ron and her when they were little. She smiled a little, thinking about how close they had been up until Ron had gone to Hogwarts and made his own friends. A thought struck her.
"If I got this box, then Harry must've got-" She turned to look at him and laughed aloud at his stricken expression.
"I'm guessing this isn't you and Ron?" He asked, horrified. He handed a picture to her that showed two children, both with red hair, mooning the camera. Ginny shook her head and gave him a picture from her box.
"Afraid not, but this is." Harry smiled at the picture of a small Ginny and a small Ron making faces at the camera. "I always wished I had siblings," Harry told her wistfully, a soft smile on his face as he looked at Ginny sticking out her tongue and giving bunny ears to Ron, who was giving Ginny deer ears and scrunching his face up. "You guys must've gotten along really well."
Ginny snorted and rummaged through her box, pulling out three photos. The first one, as Harry saw, was of a slightly older Ron and Ginny. Ron must've been six and Ginny a year younger. You could clearly see that they were both visibly upset. Ginny's face was red and she was pouting with her arms crossed. Ron had tear tracks down his face andwas looking at the ground. There were two eight year olds with faces that resembled Fred andGeorge's in the background also. One was holding a teddy bear's body and the other was holding it's head.
Harry chortled. "What happened?" Ginny pointed at Fred and George's devilish smiles.
"They were mad that they still had to wait three years for Hogwarts. So they took it out on Ron's bear, whom he loved a lot." Ginny explained as the Fred and George in the picture tossed the head back and forth. Harry pointed at small Ginny, who was shaking her head. "Oh, andI tried to defend Ron's bear's honour but my mum had caught me after I had tackled Fred. " She pointed at Fred's cheek, where a small handprint was visible. Harry looked at the Ginny sitting next to him and saw that she was very close to him. She noticed also, and quickly moved back. She gave him the other two photos.
"Those are just family photos. All of us, then just the kids." The one of just the kids sent Harry into fresh peals of laughter. Ginny mused over how nice it was to hear his laugh.
In that particular photo, Ginny was on Bill's back with her arms comfortably around his shoulders with a bright smile on her face. She was the only one looking at the camera. She was pointing down, where Bill was looking. Charlie was next in line and he was also looking down, but while Bill looked happy, Charlie looked disgusted. Ron stood tentatively on the side of him, a piece of cake in his hands. He had one leg up in the air like a flamingo and was holding the plate of cake above his hand. He looked down fearfully. And what made Harry laugh so hard was what everyone was looking at. Fred and George were on either side of disgruntled Percy, both holding up new wands. Percy was in a kneeling prisoner position with both hands behind his back. Every now and then, Fred and George would poke him with their wands. When that happened, Percy would tackle Fred, who was on his left and send him flying right near Ron. George would climb on top of Percy and they'd all wrestle.
"This was right before Fred and George went to Hogwarts. Mom wanted a group photo of all of us since she'd only have me and Ron at home. It was my eighth birthday. Ron wouldn't put his piece of cake down, even for the picture. George and Fred were a little happy about their new wands and they also used Percy as their test subject." Ginny frowned a little when she said Percy's name. Harry could see the hurt in her eyes. She shook it off and pointed to the whole family photo. It was from a Muggle camera. It wasn't moving like the others, but Harry could see happiness in everyone's eyes. They were all lined up, Ginny once again on one of her brother's back. Harry pointed it out and Ginny giggled.
"Oh, yes. I never had to walk. I liked being carried when I was little, especially since I missed all my brothers when they went off to Hogwarts. Ah, I'll show you how much I missed them." Ginny pulled out another photo. It was of her, sitting at the kitchen table, coloring a banner. The banner said 'Welcome Home, Weasleys! We've missed you.' Ginny in the picture would color a bit, then look up and grin.
"So, you made a banner?" Ginny shook her head at Harry, and rolled her eyes.
"Yes, I made a banner. On the 2nd of September." Harry looked surprised then burst out laughing. Ginny slapped him on the shoulder.
"Alright, I'm going to get allergies from all this dust. I wish we could've waited until next week when you can use magic." Harry gave her a confused look. She arched an eyebrow. "Your birthday, you prat! How could you forget?" Harry shrugged and looked away. He didn't want to tell her the truth- that he hadn't even though about it since he's been there. Ginny muttered andlooked around. "A good Scourgify, a couple new boxes, we would've been done in five minutes, tops."
"Well, you can repack those boxes into those new boxes. I think those are the only photo boxes that need to be repacked. I'll go deeper into the unknown." Ginny gave him a brave salute and headed deeper into the attic. Harry decided to start with Fred and George's baby pictures and closed his eyes as he did so. Just as he was about to start Ron and Ginny's transfer, he remembered something Ron had told him.
"Ginny? Isn't there a ..ghoul in the attic?" He could hear Ginny's soft laugh from the darkness in the attic.
"Mum must've put him in the basement, or a closet." Harry hoped Ginny hadn't heard his audible sigh of relief. There was a peaceful silence as Harry sorted and Ginny moved things to shelves.
Harry couldn't help but look at all the pictures of Ginny. She looked like a delightful, happy child. He laughed when he found a picture of all the Weasleys', Mrs. Weasleyholding a baby wrapped in pink, standing in front of a sign that said, 'Finally! A GIRL!' He chuckled when he found a picture of Charlie, in uproarious laughter, holding the baby Ginny while Bill stood near them both, looking at his thumb in bewilderment. There were bite marks on it. He smiled at the picture of Ron, with dirt on his face and Ginny, whose hair was very red andvery messy, both wearing identical grins. He grinned when he found pictures of Ron as a child. In nearly every photo he was either eating or had something on his face that he had already eaten. He sighed a little when he saw Ginny at maybe three or four, propped up in bed with Mr. Weasley beside her, reading a book that had Harry Potter in the title. The look on Ginny's face told Harry that she was clearly enthralled with the story.
Just as he had finished that box, he heard a gasp from the back of the basement where Ginny was. Harry stood up hurriedly. "Ginny? Are you alright?" Ginny gave a shaky sigh and called to him. "Fine, thanks. Just don't, don't come back here."
Harry ignored her and went back there. She was sitting by a box marked 'OOTP.' It had opened to reveal many pictures.
"Order of the Phoenix?" Harry heard himself gasp, his legs giving out as he sat on the floor next to Ginny. Ginny handed him two photos.
The first one was of his mother and father. The baby in his father's arms was a baby Harry. His father was holding him very carefully, like he was afraid to move him. His mother was laughing next to his father, emerald eyes alight with happiness. Ginny looked over at Harry's pained expression. Harry looked at the other picture. It was a picture of him as a baby once again, a little older. He was sleeping next to a baby with red hair, who had milk crusted around his mouth.
"Ron?" Harry gasped. Ginny nodded and was quite happy to see a smile on Harry's face. "What else is in there?" Ginny shrugged and gestured to the box. Harry dug into it and found a picture of all the Order, and people he didn't know. He saw his parents once more next to Frank and Alice Longbottom. He saw pictures upon pictures until he thought his eyes would fall out. Ginny tugged him back.
"We'll come back to this one. I'd like to get finished before dinner." Harry looked out the window and was shocked to see that it was already mid afternoon, the sun slowly sinking into the horizon. Harry nodded, more to himself than Ginny and got up. "We just have to move those boxes-" she pointed to one side of the wall, lined with boxes. "-over there." She gestured to the other side of the room where empty shelves were.
They got to work silently. Both could feel the tension building in the room once more. Ginny groaned inwardly. She didn't want any more awkwardness. After a half hour of silence, the first three reachable shelves were filled. Ginny grabbed a box and started climbing up the selves.
"Ginny!" Harry said, a little shocked. Ginny almost fell from the sound of his voice. "What are you doing? You'll get hurt!" Ginny hoped that meant that he cared about her enough to not want to see her hurt. Ginny lost a hold on her footing for a second and heard Harry come right behind her. "You be careful." He warned, sounding just like Ginny's mother. "Can't you use a ladder?"
"A what?" Ginny asked, sliding the box to the back of the top shelf and carefully sliding down herself. "Don't need one. I can handle it. There's only one more box left anyway." Harry still stood in back of her on the way down just in case. She got to the second shelf and jumped, ignoring Harry's angry comment about fracturing her spine. She scrambled to the other side of the room, grabbed the last box and hurried back to the shelves. She was just starting to climb up again when Harry whispered something under his breath. She sighed and climbed to the top, placing the box there. She wiped off her hands and gave a little laugh.
"We're done," she shouted, just as she lost her footing and fell off the top shelf.
She groaned as she fell and thought about the bones she'd have to regrow. There was a grunt and suddenly she was in his arms. Harry's arms. His arm was around her waist and she felt quite warm in the drafty attic. He slowly put her on the ground and turned her around to face him.
"Are you okay?" he asked breathlessly, looking down at her body for any visible bruising. His arm was still around her waist. And knowing that he wasn't her boyfriend anymore made the arm around Ginny's waist burn slightly.
"Fine, thanks." She shrugged off his arm and dusted herself off. She could feel Harry's eyes on her and didn't look as she asked him, "What?" When he didn't answer, she looked up. He was gazing at her with pain in his eyes. One hand was clenched at his side and the other was hanging limply by his side.
"Why does it have to be like this?" Harry muttered, a little angrily, actually. Ginny broke off his look and glanced at the floor. "You don't realize it, do you? Everything I love, it gets taken away from me. I only broke up with you to protect you! I didn't want you getting hurt. I couldn't live with myself if that happened." And with that, he fell silent.
'Oh, bugger,' Ginny thought. And when she replayed that scene in her mind once more, she caught something and looked into his eyes, the ones that had never left her face. "You l-love me?" Ginny asked in amazement. Harry broke the eye contact and nodded to the floor. Ginny went right in front of him and stood there until he looked up from the ground, right into her eyes. There was pain in his green eyes, but Ginny also saw something else.
A glimmer of hope.
So Ginny acted on it and pressed her lips to his. She was thrilled when he responded, wrapping his arms around her waist and deepening the kiss.
They pulled away after quite a while. Ginny leaned her forehead against Harry's. "I love you, too," she whispered and he smiled before kissing her once more.
Neither saw the broken camera that was taking picture after picture of them. Nor would they know that it had done just that until many years later when they would be cleaning that attic once more.
They'll unearth the pictures, puzzled. They'll smile at each other and Ginny will reach for Harry's hand, which will put a smile on his face. They'll sit close together and go through the boxes like they had done when they were teenagers. They'll pick up the pictures, dust, old and faded by time. They'll both remember a piece of their yesterdays and both will smile about their tomorrows.
A/N: Yes, the ending was cheesy. Reviewing would be the only way I'd know if you liked it.