a/n: For Amy (FollowThisRhythm) because she writes perfection - seriously, though, if you haven't read her stories (and if you haven't, where have you been living) go read them!
Also, because she told to try writing HarryGinny again, so I did. And to (hopefully) make bad days a little less bad.
I wanted this to be fluffy. I did. But I failed miserably. But I'll tell you now, the ending's happy.
And I know that Harry/Ginny is nearly impossible to read, so I reallyreallyreally hope I didn't destroy this pairing.
disclaimer: I'm not a genius, these characters and this world aren't mine.
i. his last laugh will linger forever
She had this key. It hung from a slim silver chain around her neck, and he first noticed it at Fred's funeral. He stood with the family, and Ginny rested her head against his shoulder, right where it had always fit, so he could bury his nose in her hair and inhale its flowery scent if he just moved his head a little. But something wasn't normal in the way he was holding her. Because usually she wrapped her arm around his waist, digging her fingers into his side if she was nervous, or scared, but her hand was caught in the chain at her neck, replacing him with metal. And he decided, in the absent way that meant that he was trying very hard not to think about Fred, that he didn't like her new necklace for taking his place as her touchstone. He didn't know it was a key then; he couldn't see it, because none of them could see through the tears.
It was awful because they all knew that Fred would have wanted them to laugh their way through their goodbyes. But at that moment, while some distant relative was wheezing his dry way through a eulogy, laughter seemed so far out of reach that the word was barely recognizable as it slid distractedly through Harry's thoughts.
And then Ginny inhaled, straightened and pulled away from him, crossing the dew-slicked grass to where the ancient wizard was mumbling nonsense about a young life well-lived. Ginny pushed some red hair over her shoulder as she cut him off, her gaze scanning the crowd until it rested on her mother and her fingers playing with the necklace, which Harry still couldn't quite make out. "Fred would have hated this. He went out happy, you know? He would want us to laugh." She bit back her tears, "He was always laughing." Her eyes flicked to George, whose shoulders were jerking with silent sobs, and she held out a hand to him.
He moved toward her slowly, against the solid, heavy grip of the air, and when he finally reached her his fingers sought hers like she was his lifeline. She started speaking again, "He'd appreciate it if we passed out a bunch of canary creams right now, and if you all exploded into feathers. He'd love it if we celebrated his life with fireworks that mated into squealing pigs or if we put exploding flowers on his – " her voice caught in a net of tears, and she waited a moment before she managed to force the words out, "on his grave."
"He'd love it if we all went out and played a game of Quidditch, and if Percy played beater for him because he's always said that Percy's got all these problems pent up that a good game of Quidditch would get out of him," George's voice was hesitant, grating, like he hadn't opened his mouth for anything but dry sobs in days, but his words sparked a flow from the crowd.
"Fred would like us to dose all the Slytherins with Ton Tongue Toffees," Lee Jordan said.
"And he'd really be happy to see old Voldy gone for good."
"He'd wish that Harry had had time to slip Voldy a Ton Tongue Toffee before he finished him," Ron chuckled.
"Ew, no. Can you imagine what his tongue would look like? Fred wouldn't have wanted that forked thing flailing all over the floor!" Ginny's fingers fell from the necklace and Harry was finally able to make out the shine of the key. She returned to his side, still pulling George along with her, and she slid her other hand into Harry's as they gave in to their memories.
ii . eyes up, silly boy
It mesmerized him.
And Ron could yell at him all he wanted for gawking at his little sister's chest – which Harry was allowed to do, all right? Because he and Ginny were together. Well, okay, no, they weren't right now, but they would be. Anyway, that wasn't the point. The point was that Ron was completely unjustified in saying, "Harry! Either look her in the bloody fucking eyes or don't look at her at all!" because Harry wasn't even looking at her chest. He was looking at the small silver key with the three leaf clover at the top and the slightly tarnished end, noticing how her fingers moved to play with the charm whenever she was nervous, the way she'd run its end over her lips when she was thinking and how she'd tug at the chain when she was annoyed. And Harry figured she must have cast a strengthening charm on that chain because by the second week after the funeral she had her fingers twisted around silver in a constant, bitter grip. The pale skin on her right hand had taken on a greenish tinge from its constant contact with the necklace, and he thought that her lips might carry the sharp taste of metal, if he could taste them.
But he couldn't because it was too soon. It was too soon after the end of it all, and they both needed time. He wasn't used to feeling as if the world didn't depend on him and she needed time with her family, time to recover from the loss of Fred. And Harry needed to recover too.
And never mind that Ron and Hermione had jumped right in to the whole thing – they were different than Ginny and him, so of course they had. Hermione could shake her head at him all she wanted; he knew what she was thinking and what she expected him to do. But he wasn't taking advice from anyone, these days. He was following his instincts. And okay, he'd be the first to admit that they'd failed him before, when it came to girls. But he had come a long way since the disastrous Cho Chang thing, and this was Ginny, so he was going to do it his way.
Hermione collapsed on the bed he was sleeping on in Ron's room and he glanced up from the Defense Against the Dark Arts text he was studying to see that she was glaring at him. "You need to talk to Ginny."
"I have been talking to Ginny." He stuck a slip of parchment in the book and shut it, dropping it on the floor. "Just not about what you want me to talk to her about."
"You must have noticed that she's pissed off, Harry."
"You must know that you're pissing her off, Harry."
"So what are you waiting for?"
Harry stood, "I'm not waiting for anything."
He left her sitting on the bed, staring after him confusedly. At that moment, he didn't mind if he confused the whole world. This wasn't about Ginny at all. This was about him. He wished that they could see that he wanted to be perfect for her. That he wanted to be whole for her, and he just wasn't whole, not so soon after the end of it all.
He walked out to the garden, and he wasn't surprised to see Ginny sitting cross legged on the ground, her red hair shining fire in the sunlight and her bare toes digging into the dirt. He sat beside her, his hand reaching for hers where it tangled in her necklace and weaving their fingers together so there was no room for the key.
Honesty, "I need time, Ginny."
"For what?" When she looked at him there was no fear, no doubt. Only curiosity, and maybe some sorrow.
She nodded, squeezing his hand, "We might be able to help heal each other."
"That's not fair, though. To use each other like that." He looked at her, "When we're together, I want us to really be together, for there to be nothing between us, nothing holding us back."
"You want us to be wild and crazy in love, living poetry?" Her voice was on the very edge of scorn and he wondered if maybe his instincts weren't right, and maybe he should just close the space between them and kiss the taste of metal from her lips.
But he had to try it his way, "No. We are in love, or anyway, I'm crazy in love with you." Her eyes widened and her grip tightened on his, "Of course I am. But I want us to be complete apart before we can be complete together."
She was silent a moment, "I love you, Harry, I do. And I'll wait until you're ready. But I want you to know, I don't think we'll ever really be whole again." Her hand slipped from his and returned to her key, "And I think we have a better chance of healing together than we do apart. But I'll wait."
"Thank you." And he didn't make any promises that it wouldn't be a long wait, he didn't give them a deadline, he didn't swear that he wasn't looking for perfection. These were things he thought, things he wanted to say but couldn't. Because he just didn't know.
So he dropped a kiss to her fire hair and stood, silently promising himself that he wouldn't make her wait too long.
iii. and in those endless summer nights, we'll dream of forever afters
She wore it everywhere.
She'd dive between lily pads and the silvery glint would glow through the murk of the pond. They'd go out to dinner, and she'd wear dresses that would invariably make his heart stop, and the key would hang, tarnished and incongruous, against the fabric. She'd wake up in the morning and come into the kitchen, the key a lump beneath a ratty old shirt of Bill's. No one else seemed to think anything of the new necklace, but Harry still found himself staring at it, even as the silver color faded to black and the sheen turned dull.
By the middle of August, Harry could think about Lupin without having difficulty swallowing. He could tell Teddy stories about his dad and mum until the fussy baby fell into a deep sleep. He could laugh with Ron and George about some failed idea of Fred's, and he could take a picture of Ginny and Hermione trying to push Ron into the pond without thinking of poor Colin Creevey. Most importantly, he could sleep through the night, he could close his eyes and forget for a moment that a man with snake eyes and a twisted soul had nearly destroyed the world. And he knew he wasn't whole, because she had been right, they'd never be whole again, but he also knew that Ginny wouldn't need to hold him while he cried. And that mattered to him.
He knocked at her door late one night, and opened it when she called, "Come in." She was sprawled on the floor, notebooks spread around her in technicolor piles and she glanced over her shoulder at him in surprise.
"Can I - ?" Harry gestured at her bed, and she nodded. He sat down, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. "What're you up to?"
"Sorting through some memories." She smiled, "It might be easier if I had a Pensieve, but I guess old journals will have to do."
"I never knew you kept a journal."
She looked up at him, her eyes serious as they met his for a fraction of a second, "Well, I sort of stopped after first year. But before that, I did."
"Right." Harry leaned over and snatched a blue clothbound book from the pile, expecting some sort of reaction from Ginny. But she just watched him coolly as he flipped it over and looked at the cover. Diary was written in silver script, and a small tarnished lock kept it closed. He glanced at the key hanging from his neck and held the book out to her, "That's what the key goes to? A diary?"
She grinned as she took it from his hand, "It's been bothering you all summer, hasn't it?"
"Just a bit." He was silent a moment, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"I might not answer it, but go ahead." She began tugging the notebooks toward her, gathering them into a pile.
"Why'd you start wearing the key?"
"This," she waved the blue journal in the air, "Was the last journal I wrote in before I got Tom Riddle's diary."
"So the key is sort of…what, reminding yourself that life's back to the way it was before?"
She shook her head, "No. It's reminding me that life is better than it was before. He's really gone, this time, Harry. And," she lifted the chain over her head and slid the key into the lock, tugging at it until it fell from the notebook. She flipped the book open – Harry caught sight of childish handwriting and violet ink – before she turned down a corner on a page toward the end. "I wrote this the summer before first year, when you were staying with us – it's embarrassing, all right? But I want you to know that I'm serious."
"Is it any more embarrassing than bottle-green eyes and singing cupid trolls?"
She tugged the notebook away from his hands and chucked it at him, "Stop being mean."
"Sorry," he caught the journal just before it hit his face and flipped to the dog-eared page. "I want – "
"No!" She covered her ears with her hands, "No, don't read it out loud. I said it's embarrassing, Harry."
He grinned at her and sighed, "Fine, fine."
She had written the entry in blue ink, and her handwriting was almost as messy as Ron's had been when they first started at Hogwarts. The page was worn, as if she had flipped to it many times before, and he wondered whether she had been waiting for him to ask about the key all summer so she could show him the entry.
I want what my parents have. I think that I won't get it. But I want it. I want smiles and coffee every morning (I don't like coffee, but I still want it). I want him to hug me when thunder starts and I want to show him I'm brill on a broomstick and I want a lot.
I'm just a girl. And I just want a boy with green eyes, and dark hair.
I want to be able to be in the same room as him without turning tomato red and I really want to show him I can be normal. (Or as normal as a Weasley gets).
You know, diary, I'll keep hoping. Because miracles happen.
He put the book down on the bed and slid to the floor, and she looked at him for a long moment, color rising in her cheeks and he could have said something about tomatoes but this moment really didn't feel like the time for that.
"It's not a miracle." He told her, holding his arms out and she moved between them, resting her head against his shoulder, draping her legs over his lap.
"It's not?" she asked, her lips moving against his neck.
"No." And then he added, "Well, maybe you loving me is a miracle. But me loving you? That's natural."
"Hmm," And then her lips were on his and he didn't care about the biting taste of metal or about the past or the future because all that mattered was the girl he finally held, all that mattered was honesty, all that mattered was the empty spaces they filled.
"Hey Gin," Harry asked a while later, when they lay side by side on her floor, her notebooks circling them with memories, "Do you still not like coffee?"
"No, now I like it."
"Any chance you'd want to go out with me sometime? For coffee?"
She smiled, pressed her lips against his cheek and said, "A pretty good chance, yeah."
She kept wearing the key, but he liked it now. He liked the way it turned her fingers green, he liked the metallic taste on her lips, he liked how it was kind of a secret between them, a secret in plain sight.
A promise made in the moonlight of a late August night, a promise kept hourly, daily, yearly – a promise kept well past forever.
a/n: Please review, and let me know what you think.
(I'm not sure if this sucks or not. I really hope it doesn't, but if it does, be honest. :-))