Disclaimer: I own nothing! *tear*
Uh, okay. This is just a really short celebration!fic. 'Cause guess what? It's the three bestest people in the whole world's birthday tomorrow! And since I'll be out doing crappy things for the better part of tomorrow, I'm writing this and posting this now.
Dedicated to: Harry James Potter, Neville Longbottom (not Schlongbottom ;), Jo Kathleen Rowling, and Joey Richter - whom I am in love with. :D He's one lucky bastard to share a birthday with HP and Jo. And yes, I do realise I'm very disturbed due to the fact that I'm talking about fictional characters ('cept Joey and J.K.!)… or are they? *dramatic music*
after all we've lost
(three stories of healing)
I'm not a perfect person
there's many things I wish I didn't do
See, he's not the smartest grape on the vine, nor is he the most ambitious. He isn't always loyal and during his time at Hogwarts, he was close to failing every class. He's never really been good at anything but luck and love and forgetting to skip that vanishing step on the staircase. He's no genius Ravenclaw, no cunning Slytherin, no hard-working Hufflepuff, and, yeah, okay, they call him The Gryffindor these days like he's braver than Godric himself, but all he really is, is Neville Longbottom.
(And she's the only one who remembers that.)
He's good at making mistakes. This is not opinion, not question, not theory. This cold, hard fact. And maybe the way she makes him forget memories, the way her soft, vanilla-scented fingers feel crawling up his scarred arm, the way her silvery hair clouds everything around him until all that is exists is him and her in this moment is proof of this.
So now, tonight, he doesn't want to recall the images of his mother pressing wrappers into his hand, his father's blank stares at never-moving walls. He doesn't think about his previous cowardice or the torture of a Crucio; doesn't think about Bellatrix Lestrange or Hannah. He lets her kiss him and he lets go.
"I love you," she murmurs lightly, and in spite of the pitch black atmosphere in this lonely room, he sees her, loud and clear.
Pausing to take in the image of her, glowing, he presses his lips against hers, and loves, loves with everything he's got
After the War, he spends his days with Firewhiskey and his wand, creating floating, sparkling images of nothing really in mid-air, letting these squiggly creations fly around the room before exploding and bleeding colour. He ignores the owls from the Weasleys, doesn't talk to Ron or Hermione as they stand in front of him, frustrated at his agony. He sits there, thinks about the people he's killed, and simmers.
Of course, she shows up at his door, and this façade goes up in flames.
"What is wrong with you?" she demands, crossing her arms over her chest. In the short time they'd been apart she has grown, her stick-straight red hair darkening slightly and lengthening, already reaching her waist.
He smiles slowly and looks up. "Oh, hi, Ginny."
She lets out a strangled sigh and plops herself onto his lap self-consciously. He flinches at the human contact, and instead focuses on her innocently brown eyes. "Harry, for someone who's saved the entire Wizarding World," she begins in a motherly tone, "you sure are quite idiotic."
This is the part when everything self-combusts. "Do you know how many people have died?" he manages to choke out, covering his face with his palms and letting her stroke his hair softly.
"Harry," she breathes, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. "A lot of people have died. A lot of people died before you were even alive; this isn't all your fault, if that's what your thinking." He looks up at her, feeling pathetic with tears running down his cheeks. She lets out a deep breath, and wipes them away with a thumb. "Think of it this way: Do you know how many people will live now?"
He closes his eyes, pushes her away gently, and stands. "Teddy," he mentions, ruffling his hair. "He's going to have to grow up with his parents now."
"Teddy probably wouldn't have grown up had you not done what you did," Ginny protests, standing with him. "And look, you were raised with no parents, and you turned out fine!"
Harry sends her a glare. "That's definitely not a good example," he grumbles. "At least Teddy's got Andromeda." He watches as Ginny rolls her eyes, and turns to the windows to draw the curtains. Blinded by the sudden sunlight, he is amazed at how bright it is already outside.
"Exactly," Ginny says dramatically, and walks up close to him, pressing their chests together. She wraps her arms around his lean waist, tucks her face into his neck. "So get over yourself already, will you?" He tugs her closer to him, relishes the feel of her hair below his chin.
"Thank you," he mumbles gratefully.
"You're welcome," she replies, smiling widely. She stands on her tip-toes, presses a kiss to his cheek. "Now, go and take a shower, will you? You smell like Ron after Quidditch practice."
He laughs out loud, the first genuine sign of happiness in weeks. "I love you."
Okay. So, there was this thing that kind of sort of maybe had happened before they had faced their could-be-deaths. And he's not sure if the fact that they survived changes this for her, because it sure as hell doesn't for him. And so he's stuck sitting at the breakfast table, pretending to be concentrated on his scrambled eggs when really he's waiting for her to look at him.
They're alone in the dining room of the Burrow. His father hasn't left his room for weeks, his mum only abandoning it to dust random spots of the house with a charmed feather-duster. Charlie's staying with Bill and Fleur at Shell Cottage, George staying with Percy at his flat. Ginny was out doing who-the-hell-knows-what and now he's trapped in this God-forsaken awkwardness that they haven't faced since Viktor Krum.
"Ronald," she huffs suddenly, making him choke on his bacon, "I suppose we need to talk."
"Ah, yeah, yeah," he grunts, turning pink. This is it. This is it, he chants in his head, excited and scared for his life. "Er, what's up, Hermione?"
She coughs, wiping at the corners of her mouth with a cloth napkin she conjured. "I was just, um, thinking. That maybe we should go visit little Teddy Lupin. With Harry, of course. I think Harry should see him." Hermione scrapes at the last bit of egg white stuck to the plate, avoiding his eyes.
Ron nods vigorously, and turns around to glance over his shoulder nonchalantly. He gazes at the clock, with Fred's hand having fallen off, and swallows dryly before turning back to look at her. "Yes, yes," he replies quickly.
Hermione gives him a look, exhausted and irritated. "Well, I'll be going up to my - er, Ginny's - room, then. I - I'll see you, then, Ronald." She stands up, carrying her plate with her. She places it in the sink and begins to walk away, brushing her hands off on her jeans. As he listens to the staccato of her footsteps, she turns suddenly on her heels with a large sigh. "Ron, are you really that daft?" she cries, throwing her hands up in the air.
Standing up and facing her, he scratches at his scalp. "Er, probably?" he responds tentatively.
In a flurry of brunette hair and pink lips, she flies into his arms, tears dampening his shoulder. "Oh, Ron," she sobs, and he presses his nose into her bushy hair, hugging her thin body. "I - I'm so sad all the time and all I can remember is Fred and Lupin and Tonks and Dobby and Colin and everybody, and God, this is so horrible, and Harry never leaves Grimmauld Place and your parents… Oh, your parents! And imagine how George must feel. And what should I do about my parents? How am I ever going to find them now? And, Merlin, so many people, so many people have died…" She pulls away slightly, enough to set her feet back on the ground steadily. Blushing fiercely, she wipes at her tears with the back of her hand. "Sorry," she whispers, "I guess I've just been holding that in."
His cheeks colour, and he tries to ignore the urge to kiss her again. "'Salright," he murmurs back gently, staring at her blatantly. "I - I've just been wondering."
"Yes?" she says back without missing a beat, obvious hope in her eyes.
"I - I… 'Mione, I -" he splutters, his face turning a brighter shade of red with every failed beginning.
Slowly, a smile begins to form on her thin lips. "Oh, Ron," she repeats, laughing quietly, and leans in close to him. "We'll get through this, right?"
He blinks at her proximity, intoxicated by her presence. "Yes," he mutters hoarsely. "I think we will."
"Good," Hermione says, and kisses him with no regrets, no reluctance. Pulling away, she speaks, giggling at his closed eyes. "I've been thinking about that first kiss," she mumbles shyly, "and I was wondering if you only kissed me as a spur-of-the-moment thing. Because you thought we were going to die."
"No, no, of course not," Ron responds quickly. "I was wondering the same thing. About you."
She rolls her eyes, cups his cheek nervously. "Oh, okay. That's a relief." Ron grins at her, looking sheepish. With a deep intake of breath, she nears him hesitantly, and then presses her lips to his, letting go.
And after all that is lost, there will always be something waiting to be gained.
Again, happy birthday to Neville Longbottom on July 30, and Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, and Joey Richter on July 31!