LbN: The saga begins! You all asked for a long Ginny/Tonks fic, so here it is! Since it's so long, it's going to have a lot of different stuff in it. Fluff, drama, tears, laughter...I'm going big this time! Basically, it'll follow both of the girls, each of them getting every other chapter. They'll have their own plots that kind of intertwine in different ways. Hope you like the first chapter!
The monsters of the mind are far worse than those that actually exist. Fear, doubt, and hate have hamstrung more people than beasts ever have.
~CHRISTOPHER PAOLINI, Brisingr
"Are you nervous?" Tonks asked, pulling on her shoe.
"Yeah," Ginny said. "I'm back to the starting line if the kids don't want to talk to me. What about you? Do you have any idea what this new assignment is?"
"None at all. Kingsley's been practically silent about this whole thing. The only thing I know for sure is that Harry's not a part of if, which is odd."
"Not really," Ginny said, shrugging. "Kingsley probably doesn't want the…er…integrity of the Auror department resting on whether or not Harry's a part of it. If this is as big of a project as you think it is, he probably just wants Harry out of the limelight for a while."
"Guess that's true." Tonks grabbed her bag from the table and hugged Ginny. "Just remember to be careful—not only with the kids, but with yourself too. Some of the things these kids have seen…" Tonks trailed off, shaking her head. "Just let yourself take a break if it gets to be too much."
"I will, promise." Ginny gave her a quick kiss. "See you tonight?"
"I think so. If I have to go somewhere, I'll send an owl home."
"Cheers," Ginny said, smiling. She blew a kiss to Tonks before going into the hall and Disapparating.
Ginny had always thought the name "War Orphans' Home" was a bit blunt, but it told the tale better than anything else. About 60 kids in all now, they had all been found after the war had ended. Some were Muggle-borns who'd been in Azkaban, accused of stealing magic. Others had wizard parents who'd been killed by Death Eaters. And there were other stories as well, which was why Ginny was there.
She rang the bell at the entrance and stood back as a boy, no more than ten years old, answered.
"Hello," he said, smiling. "Welcome to the WOH. May I help you?"
"My name is Professor Weasley," Ginny said warmly. "I have an appointment with Mrs. Longbottom today."
"Yes ma'am," the boy said, standing back to let her enter the building. "My name's Ryan. Are you here to tutor someone? Summer holidays have just started!"
"No," Ginny chuckled. "I'm not that kind of professor. I study people, not books. I learn about how they think, who they are, what they fear…and I try to help them understand themselves better."
"That sounds neat," Ryan said. "So which one of us needs to be looked at? Or are we all touched in the head?"
"Ryan, you're not supposed to bother guests," said another boy, coming around the corner.
"Sorry, Chogan," Ryan smiled. "I was just wonderin'. Here's the office," he told Ginny.
"Mrs. Longbottom should be waiting for you," the boy named Chogan said. "I don't think she's had any other appointments today."
"Thank you," Ginny said, knocking on the door.
A moment later, Hannah Longbottom answered the door. "Morning, Ginny," she said, giving her a hug.
"How are you Hannah?"
"Busy as ever. Come on in, I've made some tea."
The office was small and cozy, the sort of place where, when you walked in, you automatically called to mind your favorite primary school teacher. One wall was covered from floor to ceiling with filing drawers, each with a child's name on it. Some of the names were color coded which, Hannah explained, denoted siblings.
"I keep their records, the ones who have records, at least. The others, I keep their school work and any information about them—medical histories and the like. So, tell me about your plan for this summer."
"I want to do a case study with the older children. I just want to hear what they have to say. If I can, I'd like to look at their memories. I'm going to be up front with them all about what I'm doing, and let them know that they don't have to be a part of this if they don't want to. I'm not planning on using names in the book, but still. If none of them want to be a part of the book, then it will strictly be kept to the research side of how they're coping. More than anything, I want to help them."
"I think it's great that you want their voices heard," Hannah said smiling. "But you should know that it's not going to be as simple as sitting down over a pizza and having a chat. It's not even going to be a matter of getting them to let you sift through their memories. The older children here are very guarded."
"I expected that. I would've been shocked if they weren't."
"Quite. May I ask you something? Why did you wait? It's been two years since the end of the war. I understand wanting to give them all time to adjust, but…I think they needed you then too."
"Right after a traumatic event, sometimes kids shut down. They suppress the memories of what's happened to them. I didn't want to do an extensive study on what they'd been through right then, because I didn't want to force them into it. I want this to be their decision. I don't want to go fishing through their minds on a mission to fix them—they're not broken. I want them to know that they have stories to tell, and that there are people who want to listen."
Hannah nodded. "Well, Minister McGonagall has already approved it of course. I think it's a good idea, but I would like to be kept in the loop."
"Of course. Will you tell me more about the Home?"
"Certainly. Come with me, I'll give you a tour."
They walked down the main hallway and up a set of narrow stairs. "This is the school landing," Hannah explained. "Most of our children are not old enough for Hogwarts yet, so they have classes here. The day care is the last door on the left. Our youngest are two, four and five years old. This next landing," she said as they continued up the stairs, "is the girls' floor. There're five to a room, and each room has a bathroom with two showers, two toilets and a basin. The boys' floors are just above us, with the same set up. The main floor has my office and rooms, the library, the dining hall, and…er…I suppose the best term for it would be the 'time out room'." She smiled seeing Ginny's look. "Some of the children have violent outbursts every so often, and they need some time alone. That's what that room is for."
"I see," Ginny said, nodding.
"Have I scared you off yet?" Hannah asked, leaning against the banister.
"Not at all," Ginny grinned.
"Are you worried at all?"
"Extremely. I don't really know what to expect. But I know that I need to do this, and some of the kids need this as well."
"Too right about that. Well, I suppose we should introduce you to the children. I'll call them down to the dining hall."
Ginny followed Hannah back downstairs. As she listened to Hannah call the children in from their various activities, she wondered exactly what she had gotten herself into. With a steadying breath, she followed Hannah to the dining hall, ready to meet the kids.
LbN: Hope you liked it! Send reviews please! There's a new, kind of funny, poll up on my profile about a possible story undertaking :)