First person feels like a foreign language. It's fun, in a very "at least I don't have to look up translations" kind of way.
I walked out into the backyard, quietly shutting the door. The afternoon matched my mood—the clouds were out and a menacing gray, signaling the incoming storm. But our storm had already come.
I walked towards the clearing where Harry likes to fly. He'd been the only one absent when we'd heard the news…Ron and Hermione knew; it was up to me to tell him.
Hermione's parents were—
I looked up at the sound of my name, in time to watch him fly down, t-shirt flapping on his thin frame.
"Harry." I steeled myself as he landed, trying to find the words.
"Is it dinner already?" He sent a small smile towards me. I want to cry.
"No," I replied flatly. Alarm flickered in his eyes, and his hand crept to the pocket where I knew he kept his wand. Reflex.
"Harry, there's been an attack."
He frowned. "Was anyone from the Order hurt?"
"No one from the Order. No."
"The attack was on Hermione's house. Her parents are dead."
Harry reeled back, and I wished I had had the strength to be more gentle. But there was no going back now.
"…dead?" Harry managed to croak out.
I nodded, growing more irritated with the itching behind my eyes.
"When did you find out?"
I swallowed hard. "Tonks just flooed the message. Ron, Hermione, and I were in the kitchen and Mum quickly told us before she left."
"She's devastated. But Ron is with her now."
Harry nodded grimly. "She'll need him."
It was silent. I looked to the sky—there was a storm approaching. The clouds grew darker every minute.
"I hope he suffers."
Jolted, I looked back at Harry, who had an ugly, horrible glower on his face.
"I hope he suffers as much I can possibly make him."
I felt my temper rise—not at Voldemort, the unspoken ‘him', but rather, my anger reared at life. At people. Because anger was safer than tears.
"Harry. Don't start that," I ordered coldly.
"I can hate him if I want, Ginny," he retorted, shifting his stare at me.
"That's the same mentality as they have." I glared at him, and he glared right back.
"That's not the same, and you know it."
"It's exactly the same—" my voice rose, "He hates Muggles, you—"
"But there's no reason to hate Muggles!"
"There is in his eyes! And that doesn't matter! You could be full of stupid, reckless, righteous anger and hurt someone!"
"What if they need to be hurt?" he roared in my face, eyes piercing into mine.
"Then you should go about it a better way—use justice, prove guilt—"
"I don't need to take this bullshit! This is war! People die!" He twisted away from my gaze, facing the door to the house.
"But we don't need to—where do you think you're going? I'm—not—" I reached out and grabbed his arm, wrenching him with all my might—"done!"
I don't know if it was that tug or my sharp intake of breath that made him turn around. Maybe he even felt it happen. All I could comprehend, at that moment, was the burning sensation spreading across the palm of my hand.
I looked up to Harry's face. His eyes, the ones so angry before, were now filled with terror.
"Harry, what…" I gasped out, but I couldn't finish the question. There was a fantastically red handprint on his arm, which quickly faded away. It was though it had never been there.
I held out my hand between us. The topmost skin was gray, spotted with maroon and yellow. It was greasy—from what, I don't know—and the layers of skin below were a dark, foreboding red.
"We need to get to the kitchen," I said mechanically, trying to ignore the searing pain. "Mum has—has a potion or something, it should heal it."
We walked quickly to the kitchen. It was deserted; Ron and Hermione must have gone somewhere else.
"Quick—go into that pantry, find the blue bottle—"
Harry did as I told him, finally pulling down Aunt Brill's Burn Solution and turning to me. "Ginny, I'm so sorry—"
"Not now, Harry! It hurts—"
He seemed to snap back into reality, and he quickly unscrewed the top, reading the back of the bottle. "We massage it in—come over to the sink—then rinse off after four minutes…"
I rushed over to the sink and held out my hand. Harry poured some of the soupy blue substance into my palm. He looked at me. "Ready?"
I nodded and closed my eyes.
At his first touch, it hurt something terrible. When he added pressure, it got worse. I gritted my teeth until it stopped.
I opened my eyes. My hand's hue was growing lighter by the second; the flaps of skin were curling back into place. I let out a breath, something between a sigh and a moan. "It's working. Thank God."
"Yeah." He looked so sad, so sorry. It seemed to radiate off of him—and I wanted to help him feel better. I looked at him closely.
"You just need to learn to control it, Harry."
"Yes. You're right. You were right before, too—this is what happens when I get—"
"We need to rinse this off," I interrupted. I needed to sort through my own thoughts—so much had happened—all I knew was that I didn't want to argue anymore.
I closed my eyes again as he turned on the water. His hands were gentle and cautious, guiding mine under the faucet. Eventually the water stopped, but I didn't move. And his hands were still on mine.
"Does it…still hurt?"
"No, it just itches a little." I opened my eyes to see he shoulders relax the slightest bit. "I—I'm going upstairs. I—" I couldn't take it, this confusion, this fighting of tears, not anymore. "I need to write a letter—I—I think I'll take a nap…"
He didn't buy it, but he nodded. "See you at dinner."
I climbed the stairs slowly, without looking back. I didn't cry for myself, for Hermione, or for Harry, until I fell onto my bed.
Supper was a somber affair. Neither of my parents were able to there, they were off on some sort of business. We weren't told what it was, of course, or how dangerous it might be. Fred and George brought food from The Three Broomsticks and we ate silently around the kitchen table.
It was hard not to stare at Hermione; I felt my eyes flicking back towards her against my will. I couldn't imagine what it would be like, to lose my parents, the ones who are always there…well, I could imagine, and that's what kept me crying in my room for so long. I wanted to cry what Hermione couldn't, relieving some tears for her, my close friend.
I picked at the mushy peas, feeling sorry for everything.
"How do you do it, Harry?" Hermione suddenly asked. Her voice, which I hadn't heard since that morning, sounded as cracked and strained as her skin, as raw as the bright wet streaks on her face. "How do you survive without them?"
Her eyes pleaded for an answer. Something to go on for…
But he just shrugged. "I never knew them. I don't know what having parents is like, first hand."
Hermione didn't even flinch. "I wonder if you're the lucky one." She carefully placed down her fork and burst into tears.
Ron scooted his chair next to her, pulling her into his arms, murmuring into her hair. I looked at Harry. He was watching the bubbles in his butterbeer float to the top.
Soon enough Fred and George excused themselves—"must get back, plenty to do—" uncharacteristically serious, and Harry had carried his dishes to the sink and went to think elsewhere.
I stared at the damp tearstains on Ron's shirt. It wasn't true, what Hermione had said. Harry wasn't better off.
"He was too alone, for too long."
Ron and Hermione looked up at me. "What?" Ron asked.
"You won't be alone, Hermione." I said. "You'll have us."
She gave a watery smile and nodded. "But that's not what you said before."
I stood up and moved the dishes to the sink. "It doesn't matter. I'm going to go find Harry."
"He's probably up in my room," Ron offered.
I shook my head. "The thunderstorm has come. He likes to watch the lightning in these summer storms."
Ron looked at me in the way only a close older brother can—nostalgically, protectively, intimately. "You always liked that too."
I nodded. "I always liked that too."
Harry was, indeed, on the front porch. His gray shirt matched the tumultuous sky, the afternoon storm flashing white in the distance. I sat down next to him.
"She's wrong," he said.
"But she'll have to learn that on her own," he added, not tearing his eyes from the skyline.
"She will." We sat in silence, thighs touching in the sticky heat. There was a flash to the right, illuminating the chicken coop. It was empty—no one had the time to care for them anymore…
"I just can't handle the waiting."
I looked back at Harry. "Waiting?"
He nodded grimly, face set. "It's not even biding my time. Just waiting. I'm the only one who can save us, and I can't do anything. Not yet."
I pulled out my arm, the one separating us, and stretched my palm out before us. "Look at my hand. Feel it. It's healed. I won't forget this—but it's healed. See?"
I traced a finger down my hand. When he reached across his lap to touch my palm, I closed my fingers over his.
"Harry," I said, looking him straight in the eye. "When this is over, I think we're all going to be okay. After some time, we'll be okay."
He stared at me, then smiled—asmall smile, but a smile just the same. He picked up his closer arm and stroked one of my stray hairs away from my cheek, then put his arm around me.
I settled in, and we satthere for a while, me playing with his hand, Harry fiddling with my t-shirt sleeve. Both of us watching the lightning strike the horizon.
"I think you're right, Ginny. I think you may just be right."
Thanks to BasilM, for doing what you do best (body parts), Joe, for the best encouragement I've needed, and Allie (and husband) for attempting the mechanics of the end. :o)
And thanks to the readers. Every review is special. Plus, Phoenixsongers rock the rest of the fandom, let me tell you.