A/N: This is the sequel to Ginny Weasley and The Boy Who Lived. My intention is to be a bit more regular with updates on this one, so a new chapter should be posted once a week at about this time.
Prologue: The First Month
I've been reading back on my last memoir and have realised one slightly disturbing thing. It all ends nice and pat with a happy ever after and Harry and I snogging our way into the sunset at our wedding. Of course, that isn't at all the way it really was. Nothing is as easy as I made it look in the last two chapters of that work. It would have been nice, but life is never that wonderful. There were several loose ends hanging there as well. That's an unforgivable blunder for any writer, and most particularly for one who is detailing a life as famous as mine ended up. But I'll say more on that particular train of thought later.
It was most unfair that I allowed you guys to think that between the moment where we fell asleep after the battle at Hogwarts and our wedding that it was pretty much plain sailing. No life is that stress-free, and ours was no exception. Though, I guess those of you who have followed the press about Harry and I know already know some of these ups and downs. For those who haven't seen it all (where have you been? Under a rock?), or those who want those extra behind the scenes details, this is the memoir for you.
OK, let's first tie up some of those loose ends I left hanging with such disregard for closure and detail. For one thing, the fuss Mum made the morning after the battle was epic in scope and scale. I suspect she was using righteous indignation to cover her grief, but it was still rather uncomfortable to live through her vocal horror at our being discovered sleeping together.
That was, of course, all we had been doing. Neither of us was emotionally or physically up to anything more that day, but Mum seemed to think she'd been operating a bordello in her living room. Looking back now, I find it quite amusing, but at the time it was mortifying. Poor Harry had been through so much, and after the intense heart to heart we'd had that night about the horcruxes he should have had a warm welcome to the family. But as we all know, my mum is a lioness and very protective of her only baby girl. I had thought that would extend to only battles and such like, but apparently not.
Oh, don't get me wrong, she loved Harry, wanted us married more than anything, and was romantically delighted that we were together. But that delight didn't extend to sharing just one bed. In that particular way she was very old fashioned. Thankfully, Dad was around to calm her down, and explain that we weren't doing anything. Of course, he also took Harry aside and gave him the Weasley family 'talk' about appropriate behaviour.
Poor Harry endured it as best he could, but the simultaneous approval and disapproval from several members of my family confused and upset him. He had lived so long with the Dursleys making him think that everything he did was wrong, and even in the wizarding world, he had been repeatedly attacked for things he'd had no part in, or control over. But through it all, the one constant had been that my family, particularly Mum, had been welcoming and nurturing, loving him warts and all and never once questioning his integrity.
Now, he was still being treated as that beloved surrogate son, but as a beloved son who could explode and 'ruin' their daughter at any moment. I'm absolutely certain Mum had no idea what she was doing to him. For one thing, he hid his feelings pretty well, but I could tell. And for another, she was treating him exactly the way she would treat her own sons if they looked like they were ... er ... entertaining young ladies in the house. She didn't know, couldn't know because he was never that open about it, how bad things had been for Harry at that house he grew up in. Also, she was in the very fresh stages of grief and wasn't rational. Otherwise, I'm sure she would have at least noticed the effects on Harry and explained to him better the family dynamics that were at play here. Instead, that fell to me.
I took him away from the scene as fast as I could, dragging him out to the far reaches of the garden. Harry was coiled into himself, nothing remaining of that unburdened person I had woken to see in Gryffindor Tower. His jaw was clenched and there was tension written all over his body. He had come with me willingly enough, but was standing as far from me as he could, half-turned away. Looking at him, I sighed. I guessed this thing wasn't going to be as easy or as perfect as I had hoped last night. Without the freeing peace of the night we had been tugged away from each other yet again.
As I would have to on numerous occasions in the days and years to come, I reached out to him, using touch to break through to him. He flinched as my hand brushed his arm, but he didn't pull away. He was exhibiting a curious mix of wanting to be with me, and wanting to separate himself again to 'protect' me for my family. I curled my hand into his and pulled him down beside me on the ground. I didn't speak, preferring to allow him to come to it in his own time. He sat for a long time without moving, but still clinging to my hand as if it were the only anchor he had. Perhaps that was true. After an eternity, he spoke.
'Why? Why don't they want us together?'
My heart reached out to him. Was that really how he saw it? 'They do, Harry. They're just not ready to confront what that might mean ... one day.' I blushed as I said it. We'd had no time to explore that side of our relationship, either when we were together before Dumbledore died or in the months since then, and to be confronted with it so soon after we had found each other again ... well, I wasn't really ready for the whole situation either.
'No offense, Ginny, but I'm not ready myself. This last year has been too big, I've changed too much, to just go leaping into something like that without knowing who I am first.'
Squashing down the irrational hurt I felt as he said it, I asked, 'Then why are you so upset by what Mum and Dad are doing?'
'I guess, because they think I would do that. They think I would come out of a battle literally for my self, and immediately ravish their daughter.'
'I don't think they do think that, not really. It's just a knee-jerk reaction for Mum, and Dad – well, Dad lived through raising Fr- Fred and George. '
Tears stung my eyes as I was brought up short by the casual way Fred had just slipped into the conversation, and the knowledge that he wasn't there loomed over me. I shook the thoughts out of my head and tried to continue as if I hadn't made the blunder.
'With those two, Dad's talk would have been needed. Anyway, they love you, you can't doubt that. Believe me, if any one of the boys had been found in a similar situation, Mum and Dad would have behaved in exactly the same way.'
Ron came out then, with Hermione trailing in his wake. He had that look of 'Mum's sent me to do something, so I'd better do it' on his face. Beside me, Harry stiffened. He had become almost at ease while we talked, but now he dropped my hand and shuffled as if trying to put some distance between us. I rolled my eyes, and squinted up at Ron.
Exuding awkwardness, Ron sat down with us, and began to make banal small talk. Hermione slid down beside him and made a better go at casual conversation. Harry remained awkward and unsure of himself, and the conversation was a disaster. I decided to tackle the thing head-on.
'You two,' I pointed at Ron and Hermione, 'were sent out here by Mum to keep an eye on us, weren't you?'
Ron cast a furtive look at Harry, and nodded.
'You do realise there's no need? And unless you all want to be hexed til next century, you'll give me and Harry some time alone.'
'We know, Ginny,' said Hermione. ' But ... well, you know your mum. When she gets insistent, she never lets up 'til you do what she asked. It was easier to come out here than have her haranguing us.'
I sighed. How were Harry and I ever to get to know each other, and ourselves, if we constantly had Mum's guard dogs on our heels? We hadn't even been doing anything, but I knew Mum well enough to know that wouldn't matter. The idea was in her head now, and I was not of age and couldn't tell her to mind her own business – yet. Everyone was hurting so much, the realities of the day before hadn't sunk in properly, so I pushed the thought aside. I hoped that in the days to come, and Mum saw the way Harry and I interacted, that she would call off the dogs and that things would settle down.
I thought then, and I still think now, that Mum focussed onto one thing she could control in all of the mess that surrounded her. She couldn't control her feelings over Fred, or Lupin or Tonks. She couldn't control poor George's grieving process, or those of any of the rest of us. But she could control our romantic lives, at least to an extent. I noticed that Ron and Hermione came in for similar attentions. Over the next few days, the four of us were often sent on errands together, or told to go outside and relax, together.
True to my prediction, Mum wasn't keen to keep Harry and I apart, but she did want us chaperoned. Being with Ron and Hermione gave us a chance to do some mild snogging, but there was never a time when we could have the heart to heart talks I really wanted. We never got a chance to follow up on that horcrux talk. What was really important between us became impossible to talk about, and a gap began unintentionally to widen. Neither Harry nor I wanted to explore the details of being 'us' while with the others. I could sense some frustration coming off them too, and I bet they were feeling the same way.
After that first day, however, we all bit our lips and got on with it because underlying it all was the much more compelling grief everyone was feeling. George walked around all day looking lost and haunted, his absent ear always a vivid reminder of all we had lost. He was withdrawn and sad, any smile never reaching his dead eyes. The ghost of Fred seemed to whisper beside him, dampening all his energy and making every attempt at humour a mockery. Every time I saw him I would break in half again and though I tried to remain stoic, tears would sometimes slide down my cheeks as I retreated by myself to shed them in private.
Everyone has their own ways of dealing with grief, of course, and we were no exception. George tried, so hard, to be the jokester still, but it was grotesque. He didn't really feel 'funny' and only did it because he thought we expected it. Mum became rigid and controlling. She controlled everything from the housework and cooking, to what people did all day and on up to our relationships. Dad, poor Dad, was left to be the 'normal' one, the one to keep the family together, keep us functioning somehow despite the rigid new routines imposed on us. Harry retreated into himself, as he does, and after that first day stopped talking about the past with me. I was frustrated, but there was nothing I could do since we were so constantly timetabled and chaperoned.
A few days after the battle we held a private funeral in the back yard of the Burrow. George chose a spot that he and Fred had gone so often to have fun and make mischief. It was a dreadful day and a beautiful day. For the first time since I had apparated back here with Harry I allowed myself the luxury of crying in public. I clung to Harry, and he clung back. The festering pain in me was lanced a little and I could see that most of those around me felt the same. The grief was still there, but it was muted now. However, I could see that Mum and George were still broken, and I knew that only time could heal them. Over the coming weeks they learned to mask their raw grief, but I could always see it anyway, and every time I saw it I was cut through because I had caught myself enjoying time with Harry. The guilt I felt for not being steeped deep in grief was overwhelming every time it hit.
Thankfully, that didn't last very long and we found ourselves one Sunny day at the end of May being gathered up and sent back to Hogwarts to help with the rebuilding. Our time to grieve as a family was over. Now it was time to become part of the wider world again, and that meant emerging into the media circus that had arisen after the battle. Dad had put some sort of shield on the Burrow which meant that reporters, and thus the outside world, hadn't been able to intrude. However, that was over and we all knew it as we set off toward Hogwarts.