Cracked Shell

You can't sleep at night after Dumbledore's funeral. You just can't, not until the battle of Hogwarts is over and won. You survive on stolen naps. In the night, surrounded by the dark and the monsters of your mind, you can only stay up crying. You know Ron can't sleep either, and when he can it's always punctuated by screaming. Knowing Ron couldn't sleep would've – ordinarily – made everything much better. But it isn't, because you can't sleep for the wrong reasons.

You should be seeing Dumbledore's face, Dumbledore's body, lying still as a rock in his coffin. You should be hearing the Minister's meaningless words. You should be feeling pain and anger and horror for Dumbledore.

If you had, it would've been all right. If you had, you could've crawled into Ron's room like you did when you were tiny and you could stay up and talk and yank each other out from nightmares. If you had, grief and anger would've engulfed you, but not guilt.

But you don't see Dumbledore or hear Dumbledore and you barely even think of Dumbledore. Just Harry. You only see Harry, and hear his voice telling you the words that brought your life c-r-a-s-h-i-n-g down.

You lay broken.

A cracked shell.

A stupid guilty cracked shell, yes.

But cracked all the same.

You don't heal. But you paint over that crack once you get back to Hogwarts.

You have to.

"Hey Ginny." Seamus Finnegan rushes out of the corner, sporting two black eyes and a gashing wound across his face, looking around furtively for Carrows.

You draw in a breath, look around quickly, pull out your wand, and give him two quick Healing spells. "That should ease the pain a bit," you whisper.

"That's not..but thanks," he adds hastily. "I just – well, I know this is the wrong time but – do you think..well, we've gotten to know each other quite well this year, and you're – don't tell Ron I said this but you're a pretty amazing girl, Ginny. So, um, d'ya think you'd want to – to – to go out with me?"

For a few seconds, time stops.

Then, being a Weasley, you say the first thing that comes out of your mouth.

"Where would we go to?"

He laughs, gently runs a scarred hand through your hair. "Anywhere," he whispers. "Anywhere in the world." And then he's kissing you and you're kissing him and, oh, maybe someone else can save the world this time around –

You snap away, tears streaming down your face. "I'm sorry," you whimper. "I can't." And you run away, away, away, down the corridor and into your dormitory. You fling yourself onto your bed, cling to your pillow and sob.

Because you like Seamus, at least you do this year. But you've been fighting it, because you're scared. It's like once you've been hurt, you're so scared to get attached again. Like you have this fear that every person you start to like is going to break your heart. And you like him and he likes you and you're throwing it all away because you're broken.

You're not a girl anymore. You've changed, from girl to warrior to cracked shell. Once you got back to Hogwarts, you painted over the crack – it wasn't mended, but it was covered. And now Seamus's come along and the paint's rubbed away and the crack hurts, hurts, hurts, just as much as it did in the beginning. Because maybe you like Seamus, and you two might've sneaked up to the Astronomy Tower or turned the Room of Requirement into a cafe, and even if it didn't work out – you know in your heart it won't – it would've been fun..stolen hours in the midst of a war in all that.

But you were too scared to take it. Because Harry broke you a long time ago.

So you just lay cracked.

It's all you'll be for a long long long time.

A/N: Written for Rhr4eva's 99 love/pain quotes challenge on that wonderful place the HPFC. I got the quote: "It's like once you've been hurt, you're so scared to get attached again. Like you have this fear that every person you start to like is going to break your heart."