Disclaimer: All rights go to JKR, etc.
an. Never written anything like this before. Also, written between the hours of, like two and six. in the morning. So, no promises. I'll come back and edit it one of these days.
tw: reference to eating disorder. reference to suicide. sort of reference to rape.
You've been denying yourself for so many years that sometimes, you don't even notice you're doing it. Don't recognize the emptiness in your stomach, the heaviness of your eyes. The self-loathing became a part of you when you were only eleven years old; it's been thirteen years, now, and is too much a part of you to fight. But in all that time, you've never really changed. You're still the stupid little girl who was fooled by a diary. All the Quidditch trophies in the world can't change that; nothing brings you peace, refuge from that knowledge.
Your mum thinks you're a drama queen. "You have to grow up sometime, Ginevra," she says irritably the day she drops by your flat unannounced and catches you sitting at the kitchen table, staring blankly at your hands. "Someday, you're going to have to live in the real world."
She thinks you're stressed because the Harpies are going to the World Cup this year, and you're the star player. Even though you're not the Seeker. Your career isn't real, to her; she thinks you're playing games. And maybe you are.
It's funny, that she doesn't know. She always goes on to the others about how you've got this special bond. Like the fact that you're her only girl means something. But she didn't know back then, and she doesn't know now. And she never can, you remind yourself as often as possible. It would kill her.
The summer before your fourth year - the year of Umbridge - you find out that Harry thinks he's possessed. Something inside of you clenches, and there is a cold trickle down your spine. But Hermione sidles up to you and asks you to speak with him. Fix him. Your mouth smiles and you force out an agreement.
That night, after you've reassured Harry with vague explanations of hell, you can't sleep. Hermione can't either and is leafing through a dusty book when she suddenly looks up at you, eyes faraway.
"If you think about it, we're really sort of lucky we've got you," she says. "If it weren't for you and the diary, we'd have no way of knowing."
You freeze, and your skin itches; you want to scream at her, make her take it back. There was nothing lucky about it. You almost wish she would have to go through what you did, just so she would know.
Instead of saying such awful things, though, you mutter something unintelligible and pretend to fall asleep.
Bill has always been your favorite brother, although Charlie runs a close second. So after things have begun to settle down with the world - the war being a political one, now, leaving you with nothing physical to fight - you graduate and move in with him at Shell Cottage. Ostensibly, you're helping with the baby - and Fleur is indeed grateful, as she's pregnant with her second - but in reality, you just had to get away from your parents. From the Burrow, with the awful silences and the soft crying that comes from behind your parents' door every night. You're never sure whether it's your mother or father doing the sobbing, and you aren't sure you want to know.
You spend your mornings and afternoons helping with Victoire, and your evenings training. You want to get into the Holyhead Harpies, and one of their Chasers is on the verge of retirement. You're young, to be on such a renowned team, but you're also very, very good.
The night before your tryout, Bill asks you to go for a walk along the beach with him. You nod, although it's more than a little frightening. The last time he was so serious during a private conversation, he'd told you that George tried to commit suicide. You aren't sure what could be as bad as that. Unless he'd tried again and, this time, had succeeded.
But your fears are wrong. All he wants is to ask you what's wrong. "You seem so lonely," he explained. "Can't I help? Or Fleur? We could set you up with someone, if you like. Or just hang out more."
You smile, shake your head, wave open palms at him, insist everything is fine. Tell him you need to get some sleep before your tryout. Before he lets you go, he makes you swear to tell him if anything is really wrong. You accept to ease his mind.
You've spent most of your life lying to the people you care about; you've always known you had to protect them from your own dark mind. But for some reason, it's harder than it ever has been before.
You can feel your life slipping away, that night in the Chamber. Every single second of it. And it doesn't hurt.
When you find out you're pregnant with your first child, you take a vacation from the team. You speak to your Captain in private; she understands, but makes it clear that you will have to choose between being a mother and being a Harpy.
You spend a year traveling the Americas with Lee and refuse to contact your family; none of them know what's happening. When the baby is two months old, you tell Lee that you're leaving and never want to see the girl again.
He doesn't understand, and you know he never will. But you're only twenty-one years old, an athlete, a Weasley. And you'd be a terrible mother, anyway.
Years later, when your youngest is twelve, Lee owls you. The letter is full of forgiveness. He says that he and Holly have made a good life, and that they were both bitter for a long time, but have moved on. They don't need you, and they don't miss you. But he hopes that you're happy, too.
It was intended as a gesture of kindness. You know that. But it fills you with hot, desperate shame, the kind that demands penance. You ball yourself up on the floor and sob wildly for three hours, then go on to take a scalding hot shower that makes your pale skin flush bright red. Ugly. And still it is not enough.
The children are at school, and Harry is on a job that will last for at least another week. It is easy to skip meals and deprive yourself of sleep when you are alone. It's what you deserve.
For your honeymoon, the two of you go to a tiny wizarding village in Spain and spend three weeks there. It's beautiful, and you never want to leave. There is color, warmth, friendly people.
But every single night, you have nightmares. You can't tell Harry about them; he would immediately find some way to blame himself, and you couldn't bear that. But the dreams are vicious ones that leave you pale and gasping for air. Full of Tom Riddle and his hands.
The morning of your departure, when you awaken, you think it is him lying in bed next to you, not Harry. Every particle of your being is screaming at you to kill him then and there. Instead, you simply lie next to him, heart pounding so hard it hurts, mind racing, frozen in place. You'd always sworn that if you faced him again, you would do something. But you're just as helpless as you were when you were a little girl. It doesn't matter that it isn't real this time; it's proof that you're still worthless. Cowardly.
At age thirty-three, you break. You tell Harry that you have a problem, and you can't stop drinking, and you have to go away for awhile. He cries, and you promise to come back.
You go to Shell Cottage. When you knock on the door, you begin to cry. Fleur is the one who opens the door. She takes one look at you, ushers you in, gathers you in her arms, and promises that Bill will be home the moment she can get through to him.
You stay for six weeks.
Three weeks after you arrive, you ask Bill to go for a walk with you. Along the beach. The same path the two of you walked all those years ago, the day George tried to kill himself. And then, the day he asked you what was wrong.
This time, when he asks you, you don't lie. You break down, hardly able to breathe as the words come flooding out. You tell him all about the year you spent possessed. The blood, the feathers, the voice constantly inside of you. Crooning to you. Insulting you. Praising you. Manipulating, threatening, promising, cajoling.
And about the night you found yourself in a dirty stone chamber, a basilisk stirring behind you. Tom Riddle crouching in front of you, stroking your face with his long, pale fingers. How he took all of you that night, physically and mentally, torturing you for hours. For the first time, you say it aloud: the sensation of death came as a relief.
But just as you were about to slip under, you heard footsteps, and Harry Potter arrived. In that moment, he became both your shining savior and your greatest enemy.
When you tell Bill these things, he is silent for a long time. And then he lets out a loud exhale. "I wish I was the one who killed him," he says, his voice harder than you've ever heard it.
You shake your head. Insist that it was your fault, and everyone knows it; even your father. He'd said as much in Dumbledore's office, you remind your brother. Blamed you for trusting the diary.
Bill stares at you, dumbfounded. "Ginny," he says slowly. "What happened to you was anything but your fault. You did nothing wrong. Dad doesn't really think that. And he doesn't even know the whole story... Oh, Ginny. I wish I'd known years ago."
You spend the remainder of your stay at Shell Cottage relaxing in the ocean air and talking to Bill about the things you experienced. He keeps promising it wasn't your fault. And asking you to tell the rest of your shared family, but you always refuse. All in good time, you tell him.
And then, finally: There is peace.