This is a story about what I feel would have happenned after the final battle. It is canon with everything in the books except for the epilogue of Deathly Hallows. The main pairing will be Hermione/Harry, but it won't necessarily be the focus of the story.
My aim is to create a moving narrative dealing with the stresses and trials I think would have been an inevitable part of their lives after Voldemort's defeat. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny are the main protagonists, and the story will be told variably from their point of view. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter.
The floorboard creaked under the slight weight that fell on it, and Ginny Weasley swore at the unexpected sound. 17 years she'd been walking through that front door, and the floor had never raised a peep. Now, just when she most valued stealth, it had decided to announce her presence.
Honestly, it was enough any rebellious teenager sick.
She paused for a second or two, but when no sound came from the dark and silent house, she cautiously crept through the jumbled mess of the living room, a task made much more difficult by her current state or liberal inebriation.
Just as she reached the staircase, and was beginning to think she may be home free, lamps burst into life all around her and she fell, startled and swearing, on her back.
"GINNY WEASLEY!" came the all too familiar shriek of her mother. Ginny groaned, and began to get to her feet, but her coordination was hampered, and she fell back once again. Attempting a look of haughty dignity that was marred slightly by her current predicament, she looked into the blurry, though quite clearly furious face of Molly Weasley.
"Hi mum." She said in a small, slightly slurred voice.
"Don't you hi mum me! Just what do you call this hour to be getting in at, young lady? And stinking of firewhiskey no less!"
Figuring that she may as well be hung for a dragon as an egg, Ginny took her mother literally and looked at her watch.
"Err, about 3:30?"
Molly swelled with indignant fury at her daughter's disrespectful answer.
"That does it! Ginny Weasley, you tell where you've been tonight and don't even think about lying to me or so help you will be grounded for eternity."
Ginny sighed, forcing her buzzed brain to think fast.
"I was spending the evening with Harry. You know, just a comfort thing. We might have had a couple of drinks…"
Mrs Weasley gave a tight smile to her youngest child, before asking in a deadly voice.
"Is that so? Then how come, when I flooed Harry an hour ago to ask whether you were over there, he claimed to have absolutely no knowledge of your whereabouts and said that he hadn't seen you in days?"
Ginny stared at her mother in shock, mouth hanging open. She wasn't worried so much at being found out, more that Harry had totally failed to cover for her. She was indignant. Surely, being his girlfriend (or ex-girlfriend, she wasn't really sure which any more) meant that she could rely on him to cover for her every now and then? Well, apparently not. She struggled to come up with an excuse for a few seconds, but hung her head in defeat as she realized it was hopeless.
Her mother spoke again.
"Now, do we feel a little bit more like telling the truth, or do I have to break out the veritaserum my dear?"
Ginny just shook her head, and launched into the true story of where she had been; an off the hook party at Dean Thomas's. Her mother's scowl became more and more pronounced as Ginny explained the nature of the gathering. When Ginny had finished, her mother looked just about ready to explode, so when she spoke with some measure of restraint, Ginny was pleasantly surprised.
"I hardly think I need to tell you how disappointed I am Ginny. Go to your room and don't come out tomorrow, you're confined to the house for the next week."
Ginny was horrified. How could she survive an entire week with the meagre entertainment on offer within the Burrow, and said as much to her mother.
"Well perhaps you'll think a little harder about that before you go gallivanting off to wild parties in the future." She replied with a satisfied smirk.
Ginny just scowled.
Harry Potter stared sightlessly at the holy and phoenix feather wand that lay on the table in front of him. He remembered how he had felt when the wand had miraculously been repaired by that most desirable of Hallows, the Elder wand. He had been so happy, so joyful at the restoration of his most trusted weapon.
He couldn't quite believe he had ever felt that way, the emotion seemed a million miles away now. In the aftermath of that terrible battle, he had felt drained, emotionally and physically, but still he had told himself that happiness would come. He let out a bitter laugh at his own naivety. How could he have though happiness would come when the bodies and the names were etched so caustically on his retinas?
And so, so many others who had died in his name. He had watched in his mind's eye as Fred, still laughing, fell under the rubble, as Lavender screamed when the beast tore into her. He didn't know how the others had met their end, but his mind always imagined the terror and the pain that must have enveloped them.
And now on top of everything else there was another orphan of war. Another poor child left with a godfather so ill-equipped to care for him it was almost laughable. What was the point exactly of having a godfather, he thought bitterly, if they were just as unable to care for as your dead parents?
He thought of his friends. Ginny hadn't spoken to him in days. Not that he blamed her. Why should she keep trying to bring him closer when all he did in response was push her away? She was bitter, he knew, and he was under no illusions as to why.
They had held each other close after the battle; her desperately wanting to regain what they had had, he simply searching blindly for a source of comfort. Neither had found what they were looking for, and they had stopped trying after a while. He wondered what she was doing now, and was reminded suddenly of the conversation he had had with Mrs Weasley last night.
"Harry? Harry dear!"
Harry looked up from the splotch on the table that had held his attention for the last half hour, grateful for the distraction. He saw Mrs Weasley's head in the fireplace and moved to kneel in front of her.
"Yes Mrs Weasley? Is everything… is everyone okay?"
Mrs Weasley smiled tightly.
"In a manner of speaking dear. I was just wondering if you knew where Ginny was? She still isn't home and I thought perhaps she might be spending the night with you at Grimauld Place."
Harry frowned, a tiny tendril of worry worming in his stomach, despite his current apathy.
"I'm afraid not Mrs Weasley. I haven't seen her in days. Do you think she's in trouble? Would you like me to go looking for her?" He asked, not entirely altruistically. It would be a blessing to have an excuse to go out, to do something. To act the hero. Mrs Weasley just shook her head however.
"Oh no dear, I wouldn't ask such a thing. Do let me know if you hear anything though, won't you?"
She smiled slightly.
"Sweet of you."
The mystery had been solved soon after, and Harry had received a hurried not from Molly telling him not to worry, that Ginny had simply been at a party. He had been surprised when he had felt, not relief, but anger at the notes words. Ginny had been to a party.
He couldn't explain, even to himself why he found the thought of celebration so irksome. He had received an invitation to the self-same party in fact, but had never even though twice about attending. He realized now how foolish it had been to assume his friends would feel the same way. He hadn't spoken to any of them, and now he felt a mixture of isolation and shame that did nothing to improve his mood.
He couldn't help but wonder if Ron and Hermione had gone to the party, without even trying to get him to come along with them. It was a miserable thought which, if true, would in his mind at least finally mark the complete separation of himself from their lives. They alone amongst his friends continued to make the effort to know him, but he couldn't help thinking that perhaps even they were finally tired of his attitude. Even though such musing brought dread the likes of which he rarely experienced, it was still not enough to shake him from his funk and make an active effort to do… well, anything.
He slumped back in his chair, attention focused once more on his wand. Strange, half formed thoughts swirled in his mind concerning it. They were both frightening and yet strangely tantalizing at the same time. They had been gnawing at him for weeks, months even, and with each passing day they became slightly more substantial, until it was all he could do to drag his mind away from them.
What exactly was stopping him, he wondered? He knew the spell, knew what it took to cast it. A few short words and he'd never have to worry about disappointing anyone ever again. It was such a simple escape…
Too simple… a voice whispered in the back of his mind. It had been saying much the same thing for a long time. At first it had been strong, shouting down the melancholy with rationality, but as time progressed it had grown weaker. Now it was little more than a murmured warning in his ear, like that of an overly protective parent or a school friend too cowardly to embark on a new spree of mischief.
So easy to ignore.
He picked up the wand.
They were arguing.
They were arguing again.
When were they not arguing..?
…Why were they arguing?
Ron Weasley stood in his bedroom at the Burrow, face to face with the witch he had loved for so long; screaming his lungs out at her as she did the same to him. One part of his mind worked hard to think up new and inventive ways to wound her with his words, while another tried, futile though it was, to understand why they were doing this to each other.
It had all seemed so simple, when the war had ended. He and Hermione were in love, he was sure of it. Ginny and Harry were the same. The darkness had ended, and they all had a chance to feel happy again.
He had so been looking forward to the future.
But everything had gone wrong. Ginny and Harry hadn't lasted more than a few days. At first he had thought it was a phase, and they would be back together when they had had time to think. But Ginny had slowly stopped going over to Grimauld place, and while Harry still visited the Burrow, it was always to see Ron, never Ginny.
Then things had gotten ugly. Ron recalled with grim vividness the shouting matches between Ginny and Molly, Ginny and Arthur, Ginny and Bill, Ginny and Charlie, even Ginny and himself. He remembered how she had started disappearing for hours, even days at a time, until the entire Burrow would be in a frenzy of worry. How she would always choose the height of hysteria to make her reappearance, to general remonstrations, which she seemed to seize upon almost gladly as if keen to initiate a row.
At first he had tried to blame Harry. Surely he had broken her heart, and that was why she was acting out so. Harry for his part had refused point blank to take any blame, and that stubborn refusal and Hermione's persistent remonstrations that Harry shouldn't be held accountable had finally weathered Ron's anger, and he had forgiven his friend. Harry had in turn forgiven him. Again.
Harry always forgave. It was part of who he was.
But who Harry had been and who Harry was now were no longer one and the same. Between his sister acting out, his grief at Fred's death and the ever more frequent rows he was having with his girlfriend, it had taken Ron a long time to notice that there was something wrong with his oldest friend.
At first it had blended into the overall mood of the community, Harry's new found melancholy. As people began to rebuild their lives and happiness replaced grief as the all-pervading emotion amongst their acquaintances however, Harry alone had remain stubbornly glum.
His attitude had changed. He missed a Weasley family dinner not long after the Final Battle, when he had always been so happy to be included before. From then on, it was anyone's guess whether he would attend them.
Then he had failed to answer the door when Ron and Hermione and come knocking one day, instead letting them find their own way to him, hunched over a bottle of fire whiskey at the kitchen table. They had straightened him out and he had eventually seen them on their way with a cherry wave, but Ron could see the darkness behind his eyes, and was worried.
Over the ensuing weeks it only got worse. Ron and Hermione would have to check and double check before they went to see him, because he was so rarely at home. They didn't know where he went, and when confronted about it, a grunt was as good an answer as they received.
Now, if Harry made himself known to them even just once in a week, it was considered a good one.
Nothing was working out as he had expected it to, and now, as the rest of his life spiraled out of control, Ron realized with terrible clarity that the last thread he had been clinging to so tightly, his relationship with Hermione, was about to snap.
The part of his mind that was presently preoccupied with arguing against said girl, suddenly took over from his musings, and Ron was jerked back to the bitter scene. Hermione's face was red and blotchy, and she was sobbing in between shouts. He didn't know what about, since he hadn't been focused on the argument for the last ten minutes, but by the looks of it it wasn't something he could fix with a few well-placed words. Just as he opened his mouth to say something; what, he wasn't sure, the thread snapped.
"No Ron!" Hermione screeched. "Don't even try! I can't do this anymore, it's over."
Ron shut his mouth so quickly he though he may have cracked a tooth. They stared at each other, each digesting the words she had said. Ron was vaguely surprised that he wasn't upset, but then, he had been expecting this for far too long for it to be a shock. Knowing what she said was true, he shrugged.
Hermione gave him a searching look. She wasn't crying anymore, and he was a little gratified that she at least didn't look happy at the breakdown of their relationship.
"I'm going to Harry's." she said.
He didn't know what made him say it.
"Yeah, me too."
"What?" She asked incredulously. The look on her face was one that would have given Ron much amusement in another, less horrible situation.
He shrugged again, looking intently at a bit of peeling wallpaper just to the side of her head.
"You know as well as I do that being with him keeps us from each other's throats better than anything else, and I was about to say the same thing anyway. I don't see the harm."
For a minute he was sure she was going argue. But to his surprise, she simply turned on her heel and swept from the room, perhaps unwilling to embark on another argument.
"I'll see you there then, I suppose." Came the call from her retreating form.
Grinning ruefully, Ron Weasley stepped out of his room, and followed his ex to the fireplace, where she was already flooing to number 12, Grimauld Place.
Well, there's chapter one, let me know what you thought! If you have any suggestions for the narrative, then by all means hit me up with a suggestion as I'm open to tweaking the story.