A/N: Written for the Hunger Games Competition and Gamma and Amber's Femslash Project. Because the world needs more femslash, guys. Get on that.
AU in that Gabrielle stayed at the with the Weasleys post-wedding. Due to a major, major brain malfunction on my part, I would like you all to pretend from this moment onwards that Gabi and Ginny are the same age. Thank you. And major thanks to the fabulous Wynne (who pointed that out) for betaing, or you'd all be reading nonsensical dialogue and general rubbishness.
(As a sidenote, do you know how long Ginny has wanted me to write her like this? Originally with Cho, but NO MATTER. IT WAS WRITTEN. Now get out of my head.)
Prompts used (five out of the ten provided in the HG comp): Gabrielle Delacour as a character, "There is something I've always wanted to ask..." (though I did French it up a bit...damn, I hope that's allowed), word count of 1,210, the word oak and, blissful as an emotion.
Autumn has always been Gabrielle's favourite time of year.
There is something so very calming about winds that aren't sharp with ice, about sun that doesn't burn too harshly. She thinks autumn is beautiful, and England carries it with grace.
There is art, she thinks, in the colour of the world when the leaves are dying and the sun is weak. The darkest shade of rusted red, eating away at the leaves like a beautiful disease; the palest blush of dying blossoms that litter the ground; the mahogany of trees that stand strong against the sky, baring their silhouettes like they're all they have left. And Ginny Weasley may be just a girl, but there is something about her that makes Gabrielle think of the edges of curled-up flowers, black with grief at summer's end.
Ginny Weasley is all the shades of autumn: eyes as brown as the bare autumn trees, red hair as rusted as the dying leaves, freckles stamped along her skin like wilted flowers and fallen petals along the pathway of a forest. Gabrielle finds she cannot look away.
"Do you like it here?" Ginny asks her sometime in the weeks after the wedding. "I doubt it's as pretty as France."
"Eet is beautiful," Gabrielle says, and she doesn't even blush.
There are days when she wishes to go home. Days when the clouds do not break and the gloom of England's descent into darkness could bring her to her knees – but she looks around, on those days, at the family who have taken her in.
Mrs. Weasley is kindly, and loud, and sweet,and Mr. Weasley has too many grey hairs and a constant tiredness in the set of his bones. The twins are loud, but they are the only light in this endless night, and they are the only ones who can put the smile back on Ginny Weasley's face.
And, Merlin knows, Ginny needs that smile.
Most nights, when it rains, Ginny goes outside. She stands in the back garden with her face turned to the sky, pale arms crossed, and Gabrielle can see from her shoulders that she is shaking.
There are nights when she follows. She stands there, notes that the orange leaves that flutter
to the ground are torn and dirty and the rain has left puddles of muck everywhere. She stands there and thinks that Ginny Weasley wears autumn better than the earth does.
"Why do you keep following me?" Ginny asks once, never looking away from the clouds.
"I do not know what else to do 'ere," Gabrielle says. "I theenk perhaps you could do with ze comfort also."
Ginny laughs, and the sound is desert dry. "I don't need any comfort. I need things to go back to how they should be."
"And 'ow is zat?"
Gabrielle watches as Ginny lowers her face, watches as the rain drips from her chin in a tiny river of droplets.
"Have you looked around? Everyone's giving up here; they're all going mad. And Harry – "
She falls silent. Gabrielle stares, unsure of what she should say.
"Zer is something I 'ave always wanted to ask," she says slowly, carefully, taking soft steps closer to Ginny's trembling form. "But I am afraid I do not know 'ow."
Ginny doesn't move. Gabrielle cannot help but admire the strength in her, the way she stands with her back straight even when she can no longer hold her head up.
"Why do you come 'ere when eet is raining?" she asks softly, no longer afraid.
"It's nice to know that wherever I am," Ginny says, "that the same rain might fall somewhere else. Might fall on him."
Gabrielle says nothing, but reaches out to touch the soft skin of Ginny's arm, cold and wet. If Ginny can be brave, Gabrielle can try. "Do you love 'im? Do you theenk zat – zat you should 'ave told 'im?"
"He knew," Ginny says. "Knows. That I love him. He has to."
And she looks at Gabrielle then, dark oak eyes set in her birch-pale face, red hair damp and stuck to her cheeks. Gabrielle knows she has been crying. And there is nothing beautiful about the endless autumn in her eyes, those dark irises full of death and change and darkness. Gabrielle swallows.
"Of course 'e does," she says. "'Ow could 'e not?"
Ginny is silent. But she does not move, does not so much as shiver in the night, though Gabrielle knows that she is freezing.
"We best get inside," Ginny says quietly. "You've gotten your answer. Come on."
"Zat was not my true question," Gabrielle says, heart pounding. "I 'ave anuzzer."
Ginny looks at her, and Gabrielle's breath stalls in her throat, her heart jumping around her chest, her cheeks burning.
"Go on then," Ginny says, and Gabrielle is sure that she knows what is coming, sure that Ginny has seen her intent in her eyes, but she has not pushed her away. She has not tried to run.
When their lips meet, Ginny tastes of harsh breezes and cherries, lips soft against Gabrielle's, and the surprised "Oh!"that slips from her mouth tastes of ice, of winter.
There is a moment, there in the midst of the autumn rain, when Gabrielle falls into the winter of Ginny Weasley's mouth, finds solace in the thought that someone so full of autumn could change, wonders if Ginny has ever been summer, and threads her delicate fingers through that red, red hair. She has never felt like this, never felt this bliss at the hands of another, never felt the burn of summer with the rush of winter, the beauty of autumn with the excitement of spring. Ginny Weasley...she is everything.
"I'm sorry, Gabrielle," she mumbles, but all Gabrielle can hear is the sound of Ginny's nails running along the velvet of her cloak, tracing circles into her sides. "I'm sorry, I can't – "
"Ah," Gabrielle whispers, finding Ginny's mouth again. "But you are."
"Harry—" Ginny stutters.
"Is not 'ere," Gabrielle says softly, and swallows all her worries.
When the rain stops, they are soaked and clinging to each other, fingernails cutting half-moons into each other's forearms, breath lingering in the air around them, and Gabrielle can taste her own apology on Ginny's lips.
"I didn't mean to upset you," she says when Ginny will not open her eyes, leaving Gabrielle to stare at her pale face. The veins there are pink and purple, tiny, bright flowers blooming in the folds of her eyelids.
"You didn't," Ginny says, but she keeps those dark eyes hidden.
"I theenk you are beautiful," Gabrielle whispers. "I just wanted you to understand zat."
In the silence that follows the moment Ginny leaves, Gabrielle watches the sky once more. The wind howls around her, and the clouds are darker than she remembers. The trees are bare and stark, bold and empty against the sky. For the first time, Gabrielle sees that autumn isn't simplicity and beauty; it is loneliness. Solitude.
When she goes inside, the wind whistles through the windowpanes and rattles the loose tiles on the roof, and Gabrielle falls asleep to the thought that perhaps winter is more beautiful anyway.
Perhaps autumn is not as beautiful as she once thought.