Title: when all the years fill in
Author: seraphcelene
Email: seraphcelene at yahoo dot com
Rating: G
A/N: Post-Deathly Hollows. I'd say movie canon because I haven't re-read the books since Deathly Hollows was released. That's a project for next year. tkp's Green Incarnations helped me to nuance Ginny and for that, I am grateful. It's Christmas and everyone's busy, so this is unbeta'd.
Feedback: Yes, please.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to J.K. Rowling and sundry people who are not me. This is just for fun and not profit.
Summary: In retrospect and examined from the distance of many years, it was all overwrought and melodramatic, but you were only seventeen and your whole life had become desperately tragic. when all the years fill in

Living under the Dursley's stairs, you dreamed of One Day. One day when you were bigger, stronger, a hero and saved the day. And then you were found and that day you had waited so long for wasn't as bright as you'd always imagined. When it came it was dark, loud and desperate and you wished, you prayed, for an anchor, a railing, maybe a hand to hold. It was war, you were seventeen and the only promise anyone had ever made to you was to die on your behalf.

Ginny was easy and as likely as anyone and maybe you fell in love with the color of her hair or the way that her neck curved when she looked down at her spellbooks. Maybe that is how it happened and maybe you don't really remember at all.

Maybe you just can't recall the first time that you thought of her in that way. One day she was Ron's little sister and then she was dating Dean and then you were breaking up before you'd even begun. Not that it really matters because the important thing is right now. Voldemort was all about the past and secrets and hoarded treasures. Right Now, you've learned, is the only way to survive. So you began counting moments: Potions, Herbology, summers on Privet Drive, Quidditch and the split second when you caught the Golden Snitch. But moments, you discovered, are like lightening bugs, a glimmer in the corner of your eye and then they're gone -- First Year, Sirius, Cedric, Cho, Dumbledore -- a procession of Right Nows that you have left behind. These are now your hoarded treasures because moments are destined to become the past.

Now you are here and right now you hold Ginny's feet in your lap. Your thumbs press into her instep and she sighs, settling more deeply into the cushions on the couch.

Strong, fierce and true without Hermione's stridency, Ginny doesn't fold like Cho. She is Molly's daughter, after all. You are grateful for that, grateful that Weasley's bruise but never break.

She's also a little bit like you -- A victim, used and discarded, trapped by an apparent destiny and raped by circumstance. People stared at her in the hallways, too, and maybe that is why you loved her. Once Tom Riddle was the bridge between you. Now, there is only her feet in your lap and your silence over tea. She always puts the butter on the table beside your toast and in that moment you admire the fragile strength of her wrist. When she touches your hair, you reach for the cream and casually shrug her hand away.

After Dumbledore died everything fell apart. You always knew that you could die, but suddenly the possibility was too real and too near. Ginny was your best mate's sister and someone who could be waiting for you at the end. You wanted that from her but could not ask. In retrospect and examined from the distance of many years, it was all overwrought and melodramatic, but you were only seventeen and your whole life had become desperately tragic.

Best intentions caved under the weight of seventeen and you held on to the image of her waiting. Ginny became the something that you looked forward to. Like the first day of school or D.A. meetings, Hedwig at your bedroom window with an envelope clutched in her beak. What you didn't realize was that seventeen is a long way from twenty-five or thirty-six and if you didn't die and the world didn't quite end, then there would be a whole life waiting to be lived.

You think of this as you watch Ginny step into the shower, awkward with the weight of her pregnancy. She is pink and white and covered with goose pimples. Her hair is pinned up and you are unnerved by the bare length of her neck.

"Wash my back?" she asks.

You think of moments -- the Basilisk and Gryffindor's sword, Tom Riddle lurking behind her eyes -- and you almost don't want to touch her.

"Harry?"

This moment should be an easy one, you tell yourself and smile as you reach for the soap.

Being seventeen and chosen don't necessarily go well together. When you come out the other side of it all and there's laundry to do and the shopping, the baby to feed and trains to catch, maybe red isn't your best color, after all. Not when the world isn't just about to end and you've finally had sex and kissed another girl besides Cho (a kiss that was all tied up with regret and guilt and saying goodbye to Cedric, anyway, so can't really even be counted).

When you roll over in the morning and the world hasn't ended and you didn't die and Ginny is asleep beside you, you think that you are lucky. You think that you are grateful. You think about how you miss Fred and how you miss George (who never quite recovered) and Sirius and Lupin, and the way Tonks' hair was never the same color. In those quiet moments, you even think of Colin Creevy and his perpetually flashing camera.

The world is a big place and it changes and quiets and just because you loved her when you were seventeen doesn't mean you have to love her now.

You are sorry that you didn't realize that sooner.

end