Summary: Before Ginny met Harry, she started having curious dreams about a magnificent snowy owl.
A/N: Familiarity with the song "White Bird" is recommended – look it up, you won't regret it - but not required. As usual, I don't claim it or anything in the Harry Potter universe.
White Bird Must Fly
In a golden cage
On a winter's day
In the rain
In a golden cage
The leaves blow
Across the long black road
To the darkened skies
In its rage
But the white bird
Just sits in her cage
White bird must fly
Or she will die
- "White Bird" by It's a Beautiful Day
Ginny Weasley was alone in the kitchen when the song came over the wireless, part of a session of Muggle "oldies." She had been peeling potatoes, but paused mid-stroke, captivated by the strong yet slightly husky male lead vocal, perfectly contrasted by a clear alto in striking harmony. It was a beautifully sad melody accompanied by a plaintive violin that seemed to evoke the melancholy of the bird. Ginny could not help the slow trail of tears that ran down her cheek as she listened.
She had the first dream that night - a beautiful white owl, blinking slowly as it sat on its perch, seemingly awaiting something, or someone . . . then darkness, a feeling of confinement, a small shaft of light from a slot along the floor revealing worn-out trainers . . . a flicker from an electric torch, a small hand grasping a cracked mirror, a face of a bespectacled boy with messy hair, testing the purple bruise on his left cheek . . .
Ginny awoke with a start. She breathed a sigh of relief, seeing the sun's first rays slanting through her familiar bedroom window. She had never had a dream quite so vivid and wondered if perhaps that song was playing tricks with her mind. Eventually she rose to help her mum with breakfast; it would be a big one since most of her brothers were home for the summer.
She continued to have similar dreams over the next few weeks, always beginning with the same white owl, then a strange scene that seemed to be inside some kind of dark closet. When there was enough light she could see a pair of knobbly knees that were not her own, or those skinny fingers holding a book. She had no idea what this could possibly mean, but she was curious nonetheless and welcomed the vision of the sad boy, wanting to reach out and help him somehow.
o o o
It was in the Diagon Alley owl emporium that Ginny first saw her - the magnificent white snowy owl from her dream, staring at her - and she could hardly breathe at the realization.
"Ginny, dear, are you all right?"
"Yes, mum, I was just looking at this snowy owl."
"Oh my, she is beautiful, isn't she? I don't suppose Percy would want her?" Her third oldest brother was getting an owl as a reward for becoming a prefect at Hogwarts School.
"No, he can't!" Ginny replied with surprising intensity. "She belongs to someone else."
Molly Weasley stared curiously at her only daughter, youngest of seven, but made no comment before turning to find where Percy got off to.
That night, Ginny's dream was different. After the owl, there was darkness again, but she could tell immediately that the place was different - a dreary room with wooden walls, a wristwatch on someone's arm was approaching midnight . . . suddenly a loud knocking and a door crashed to the floor, a huge man loomed overhead.
Ginny almost screamed out loud when she awoke. She breathed heavily for several minutes, fearing for the life of the boy. It was just a dream, she tried to reassure herself, but after seeing the owl that day, she wasn't sure what to believe anymore.
She looked at the clock by her bed; it was midnight, just as in her dream. She glanced at her calendar and quickly remembered - it was now the birthday of the Boy Who Lived. He would be eleven now.
And just as she had on 31 July every year for the past seven years, Ginny jumped out of her bed and knelt to say a prayer for the young hero, that he was safe and well cared for. Ever since her dad had told her the story of the baby boy who somehow defeated the darkest wizard of all time, she held a special place for him in her heart, especially since he was growing up in hiding, away from evil ones who might try to get revenge.
She climbed back into bed and fell into a peaceful dreamless sleep, and she never had the dream about the owl and the skinny boy again.
o o o
"Excuse me, could you tell me how to get on the platform?"
Ginny was dumbstruck. Standing in front of her was the skinny boy from her dreams talking to her mum, and on his trolley was the same magnificent owl from the shop. One large eye winked at her.
By the time she had regained her composure, he and all her brothers had gone through the barrier. She hustled after them and found the boy searching the train for an empty carriage.
"She's a beautiful owl; I saw her in Diagon Alley last month."
The boy turned around at her voice. Behind his broken glasses she could see that he had sparkling green eyes. "Erm, thanks. She was given to me, for my birthday. Hedwig's her name."
For the longest time, they just stared at each other, not knowing what else to say, but not minding in the least.
"Hey, need a hand with that?" Ginny's twin brothers, Fred and George, had arrived and got the skinny boy, his trunk and owl situated in a compartment. It wasn't until after he'd gone that Ginny realized they hadn't introduced themselves.
She was beyond thrilled to learn moments later that he was in fact Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived had been in her dreams! She didn't stop to think just then about how awful the dreams had been.
The train was leaving the station, and Ginny couldn't help herself. She was running after it, waving, laughing, crying. Harry Potter was going off to Hogwarts with her brothers. Next year she would be going too.
Maybe she would see him again. Yes, she was sure of it.
o o o
Ginny lay the sleeping boy tenderly in his bed. She knew he would be a feisty one even before he was born, and now the house was never quiet until James was out for the night. She smiled at his peaceful expression before sliding around under her husband's arm to hold him around his well-muscled torso. She glanced up and saw a familiar far away look in his eyes as his other arm was fingering the purple stuffed dragon on the dresser.
"Knut for your thoughts, Harry love?"
He offered her the lop-sided grin that always gave her goosebumps.
"I just realized that I dreamed once about a stuffed dragon just like this, sitting in a window."
Ginny swallowed. "Was the room painted yellow by any chance?"
Harry looked sharply at her. "How did you know?"
"It was my room. Charlie gave me that dragon for Christmas after he went to Romania."
They stared at each other, wide eyed, until Ginny pressed, "What else was in the dream?"
"Funny thing, I also dreamed about Hedwig, but it was before Hagrid came to tell me I was a wizard. He bought her for me; the first birthday present I can remember. I couldn't believe she was the same owl. The dreams started after Dudley's birthday when we went to the zoo and I got in trouble for setting a snake loose. Uncle Vernon was so mad. . ."
Ginny gasped and touched Harry's left cheek. "He hit you, here."
Harry's mouth dropped open as the wheels turned in his head. "You were dreaming too! I remember now . . . there was a song, I heard it on Dudley's new radio that morning."
And he began to sing softly, and Ginny stood back and joined in with the harmony as they reminisced . . .
In a golden cage. . ."
They found themselves in the parlor, staring at the picture of a young Harry at Hogwarts, holding Hedwig on his outstretched arm, her wings spread as if to take flight.
"She knew somehow, didn't she?"
"She was incredible. I never really understood those dreams; they stopped after Hagrid came for me. But for some reason I felt at peace after I had them. The only other times I felt like that were on my birthdays. Even though I never got any acknowledgement, I always got this warm feeling that everything was gonna be okay somehow, like someone was watching over me."
"I know," Ginny managed, hugging him tighter, tears wetting his shirt.
"I miss her."
"I do too."