Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, they are the works of JK Rowling

Let Dead Men Lie - 01 Facing the World

Any time you are faced with intense, gut-wrenching sorrow, the world feels like an unfriendly place. Finding solace with friends and family can only give you so much, because everyone feels the same. You can see it in their faces. The light goes out. But as time goes on, which it is often prone to doing, there come moments when the world isn't so dark. These moments, although few and far between, they persist. Until finally there comes a time when you couldn't wallow any longer, when you square your shoulders and face the world.

This was her time. Yes, there was going to be an empty space in her heart, when you lose someone you love there always will be. But the time for her heartache has passed. The war is over, the battle that scarred the grounds of Hogwarts long gone cold. Let the dead men lie, and let them lie in peace.

She had come a long way from the little girl taking her first steps into Hogwarts, looking up in awe. No longer was she the innocent girl who was abused so viciously by a possessed diary, the old nightmares had been replaced by new ones. She was a little wiser, a little more jaded. She had stood on the ruins of her burning castle. She had found tentative, blossoming love; and then lost it as his platinum blonde hair brought her castle crashing down.

But this is HER time, her time for growth and healing. What better time to start then now? That and her bladder was uncomfortably full.

Ginny opened her eyes, reluctant to leave the warm cocoon of her thoughts. She found herself instantly regretting the decision when two round orange orbs peered eagerly into her face, followed by an assault of warm cat breath.

"Crooks, get off. I don't love you that much." The cat had taken to sleeping on her arm, and she had woken numerous times with pins and needles. Damn fat bastard needed to lose weight if he was going to continue this habit. Ginny propped herself up, encouraging the cat to move with her shoulder. It worked, and he moved. Slightly. Just enough to channel his full weight into one paw, (strategically?) placed on her underarm.

"Ow! Get off, you lug!" Ginny sat up, casting a glance on the clock. "Every morning, you dick head. Am I not allowed to sleep past 6 am?" The cat threw her a reproachful look before slinking around her door, probably sulking about being unceremoniously pushed off the bed.

She got up, threw on some shorts and ventured out of her room. Hermione was already up; she could hear the radio humming quietly in the kitchen. Ducking into the bathroom to relieve herself, Ginny peered into the mirror. This is the day, she repeated her mantra of the morning. This is YOUR time.

"Do you ever sleep?" Ginny asked as she wandered into the kitchen.

"Good morning to you too, there's fresh coffee in the pot," Hermione was leaning against the counter, eagerly perusing the morning paper.

"No, seriously, do you? I know I'm not awake by any notion of my own" Ginny threw a glare at the ginger bastard hiding behind his mother's legs. "Someone," she added pointedly, "needs to keep her cat in her room for the sanity of her roommate"

Hermione rolled her eyes without breaking concentration of her paper. "Gin, he is not that bad"

"His breath is that bad." Ginny grumbled under her breath as she poured a cup of coffee. Hermione may be a little neurotic sometimes, but damn did she make a good coffee. Probably because she could be bothered to clean the filter, something Ginny really didn't worry about.

Heavy footsteps sounded in the hallway. Hermione finally looked up, shooting Ginny an apologetic wince. "Harry stayed the night, I hope that's okay. I didn't think to tell you last night because I didn't think you'd be up so early on your day off."

"Of course it's okay. Why wouldn't it be?"

"Well… I just…" Hermione trailed off as a dishevelled man joined them in the kitchen.

"Morning Ginny" Harry said gruffly, reaching past her for the coffee pot.

"Morning. How'd you sleep? Hope the couch wasn't too lumpy this time?" She kept her tone light, not betraying the slightly vicious thoughts running through her mind.

"Slept in Mione's bed actually. So yeah, wasn't too bad" Harry threw a salacious wink at Hermione, an action that didn't escape Ginny's notice. The vicious thoughts got a little bigger.

"Right," She downed the rest of her coffee. "Well, if you two don't need the bathroom for anything, I think I'll shower." She put her cup in the sink, perhaps using a little more force than required, and followed Crookshanks out of the kitchen. "Don't look at me like that, fatty. Go beg your mum for food" Ginny said as she gathered a towel from the linen cupboard. The ginger cat wove between her legs. "Crooks, really? You're going to watch me shower again?" She wined as he darted into the bathroom. Rolling her eyes, she shut the door behind her. Ginny stripped and stood naked under the warm yellow light. Crookshanks curled up in the pool of discarded clothes. "Fine, whatever, you perv" She mumbled as she assessed at her reflection, a daily habit.

Red hair fell in unruly waves to her collarbones, pale shoulders sprinkled with freckles. Ginny ran her hand over the shadow of ribs. Not as prominent as usual? She frowned, allowing her hand to fall to her hip bone. Definitely not as prominent as usual... What had she eaten yesterday? Nothing out of the ordinary, she was sure. Damn it, how did this happen? She was always careful with what she ate, always weighing up the options. Ginny stepped into the shower, doubting herself. If she couldn't control something so simple, what hope did she have with her job? The job was literally classified as 'chaotic'.

It was only after the hot water pounded on her back that Ginny allowed herself to relax a bit. She attributed her slight (and it could only be slight) weight gain to a lapse in her strict routine. Work was preventing her from doing her nightly exercises so rigorously, she was just too exhausted after her shift. Dilemma answered, she turned her thoughts to the debacle in the kitchen. Fucking Harry. He'd changed since destroying Voldemort. A decorated hero, saviour of the wizard world, he could have had anything. He was employed by the Ministry of Magic for a couple of months, before walking out without notice. He took up a new past time with his unemployment, and spent many hours with the drunkards at the local pub. That alone was enough to made Ginny's blood boil. The icing on the cake was their failed relationship.

Looking back on it now, she didn't really think that she was ever quite in love with him. If anything, it was the pressure of their friends pushing them together, before and after the war. If the war hadn't happened, then Ginny had severe doubts things would have unfolded the same way. But the war did happen, and suddenly everything was slipping through her fingers. Then Fred was snatched from her life… And all she could do was cling to something familiar. Then, more than ever, she needed physical contact to drown out the overwhelming darkness. Harry was there; he was warm, he was safe, and he was alive. When she didn't need him physically anymore, they both withdrew into themselves to cope with their losses. In retrospect, that was probably the start of his depression. He refused help from everyone, preferring to drown his demons. So she left, not wanting to see him destroy himself. He quit his job, living off his inheritance, living with her family because they could never turn him away. And then he quit them too, getting his own place. Hermione was really the only one who stuck by him after that, Ron drifting by every now again.

Ginny snapped out of her thoughts, not knowing how long she'd been in the shower for. She stepped out, water pooling at her feet. Her skin was steaming and scalded pink, but she didn't feel the heat. Wrapping a towel around her naked body, and tugging her clothes from under the cat, Ginny walked back to her room. She ignored the murmuring and giggling from behind Hermione's closed door.

Throwing her clothes in the laundry hamper on the way past, Ginny noticed a small owl perched on her window sill. Groaning in anticipation, Ginny grabbed the letter it was ferrying.

Ginerva – So sorry to disturb you on your day off. We really need you here, I wouldn't write if we weren't desperate! Can you come in for a few hours? - Polly

Ginny swore under her breath. "You have got to be kidding me," she grumbled as she rummaged for her uniform.