A/N: In this story, I attempt to deal with a subject that is still a relative taboo in our society: Mental Illness. Even those who love them misunderstand people who suffer from emotional disabilities. While it can be categorized as a tragedy, I hope that the reader will see that this really is a story of love. A special thanks to my friend and beta, LadyTory: She is one of those special people who has chosen to spend her life helping the mentally ill and has been an incredible source of support, information, and honest critique as I wrote this. I dedicate this story to her. Thanks as well to Anna, Ken and my sister, Missy for their Pre Beta read and encouragement.
Ginny stared out the window of the small cottage to watch Harry the in back garden. Usually, she would be out there with him, pulling weeds and chatting about nothing. Today, though, she was feeling a bit under the weather. Her stomach was upset and she was very tired.
It was no wonder she was feeling poorly. Yesterday was supposed to be a happy day for them, followed by a surprise that Ginny had planned for Harry. He would have been so pleased. Instead of a joyous evening of celebration, Ginny had spent all night rocking Harry in her arms trying desperately to cheer him, to give him a little solace in his pain and confusion. It was a relief to see Harry in the garden now. It was good that he slipped back into his routine so quickly. Yesterday had upset him so.
The garden was his favorite place. Neville came by often and taught him how to tend to the plants. When the cold weather came, he would still stop by to help Harry plan what they would plant in spring, what new benches and winding paths they would add. Neville was kind and such a loyal friend; they were so lucky to know him.
Hedwig flew lazily along with Harry, resting on the branches of the trees that were artfully scattered around. She watched over her master as he made his way through the rose and hydrangea bushes. Ginny was grateful beyond measure for the security that Hedwig provided. On quite a few occasions, the snowy owl had flown to Ginny to alert her when Harry was wandering too far from the safety of home.
Harry began to pick flowers for Ginny, taking great care as he made his selections. He did so every day at this time, right before they had tea. He was always so good to her.
He had only wanted a sundae. Ginny knew they shouldn't have gone to Diagon Alley. She should have asked someone to help her take Harry into Muggle London. But he so wanted to go to a magical place. And Ginny had wanted yesterday to be special for him. Stupid Wizard Press! Did they have to see him? Did they have to ask him about Voldemort again? It only confused him, and they knew it.
Ginny thoughts were interrupted by a soft, high-pitched voice. "Mrs. Harry Potter, Miss, you is having company."
She turned to see Dobby looking at her with a mournful expression. It must have been someone unpleasant, because usually Dobby smiled. Dear, sweet Dobby. He always looked out for Ginny and Harry. He insisted on working for them and Professor McGonagall had no objection. She knew very well that Ginny needed the help.
"Who is it, Dobby?" Ginny asked.
"It is, well it is Mr. Harry Potter's Wheezy and his wife, Mrs. Hermione. Shall I show them in?"
"Yes, thanks, Dobby."
This was the last thing she needed today. But, they were family, and Ginny had half expected them to stop by today. Someone always did whenever Harry's name surfaced in the press.
It was almost teatime. Teatime was their favorite time. Ginny hoped that Hermione and Ron wouldn't stay long. She knew that they meant well, but they just didn't understand about Harry. Not many people did.
Why, just last week, her parents had stopped by and asked if perhaps she would like to go visit Charlie in Romania or maybe spend a week shopping in Paris with Fleur. Of course, her mum offered to "mind" Harry while Ginny was away on a proper holiday. Why couldn't they comprehend that Harry wasn't a burden? He was a blessing to Ginny, a constant reminder of what love really was. She would never think of taking a holiday without him.
Ginny greeted Ron and Hermione with a smile and a gesture to sit down. Both her brother and his wife were wearing matching looks of concern. Ginny sighed with resignation.
Hermione began in a soothing tone, "Ginny, how are you today?"
"I'm fine, Hermione and you?" Ginny asked, knowing where this conversation was going and not looking forward to it in the least.
Hermione answered kindly, "Really, Ginny. You can relax with us. We are family, after all. Ron and I know about the incident yesterday; it was in the paper and…"
Ginny couldn't help but tune her out. She knew that Ron and Hermione only wanted to help Harry. But, they only saw a damaged shell of their oldest friend. Sadly, they could not seem to look past the surface and see the gentle, caring man that Harry was.
Fortunately, there were others who could. Luna spent hours chatting with Harry about the latest magical creatures to appear in The Quibbler. She was so patient with him, and he was always delighted to see her. Sometimes, when Luna visited, Ginny was able to run short errands because Harry completely trusted the quirky blond.
Fred and George would stop by often and show him their latest inventions. Of course, they never used them on Harry, from the beginning understanding instinctively that he was too fragile to prank. Instead, they merrily experimented with their products on each other to Harry's endless amusement.
Then, there were the Lupins. Tonks was always entertaining Harry with her metamorphmagus skills. Remus, or as Harry liked to call him, Uncle Moony, would come by often to play chess with Harry. Sometimes, when Harry was feeling confused, he would call Lupin Padfoot or Sirius or even Dad. Ginny could see, in Remus' eyes, the pain these lapses caused. Lupin, however, knew that he was the closest thing Harry had to a parent and would never think of correcting him.
Ginny knew that Harry often asked Remus for advice on how to treat her. Harry had told his uncle that he wanted to be sure that Ginny was happy and would never leave him. Harry worried that he would lose his wife as he realized that there was something different about him. Sometimes, late at night, Harry would weep and ask why he couldn't be normal. Ginny would hold him close and tell him that he was too special to be normal, that normal people weren't as kind and loyal as he was. Then, she would tell him how he saved the world, leaving out all of the scary parts, of course.
Ginny decided to tune back into Hermione's banter so as not to seem rude.
"…St Mungo's isn't the only place he can go, you know. The muggles have made great strides in…"
Ginny interrupted Hermione. "He doesn't like muggle doctors, Hermione. You know that. We have been to them. Nothing helps."
Ron decided to take his turn. "Look at the story in the Prophet, Ginny. You can't say that doesn't bother you. I would like to go down to the Prophet and hex that stupid reporter into next week. Of course, then that would get into the paper and, well…"
Ron paused as he adjusted the paper to reading height. " I mean, the headline alone, 'The Boy Who's Addled?' Listen to this, 'Harry Potter, 25, was spotted in Diagon Alley with his wife, Ginevra, 24, having ice cream. When approached by fans, the former hero of the Wizarding World became irrational and started throwing objects at innocent passers by. One must wonder why Mrs. Potter doesn't seek long term, closed ward treatment for her obviously deeply disturbed husband.'"
Ginny snorted. "What do I care? They don't understand. And, don't bring that rubbish into our home again. What if he sees it? It will upset him. He doesn't need that."
Ron continued, "Neither do you. This is too much of a burden for you. You deserve better. Look, he is my best mate, always will be. I'm mad as hell that all of this has happened to him, to you. Gin, you are so young. You could still, you know, finish your schooling, have a career and Harry, well, we could have his memory modified so that he doesn't even know and…"
Ginny interrupted, "You actually think that I would allow anyone to mess with Harry's mind like that? Mad, that's what you are. Completely mad!"
Tears threatened her but she took a moment to thwart them. She continued, "He saved all of us, you know. You wouldn't have your home, your children and your lives! No one would. And, how is Harry thanked for taking no less than five Avada Kedavra curses that night? For killing the most evil wizard that ever lived? The sodding Ministry declares him Magically Incompetent, breaks his wand and allows that rag of a paper to make him into a laughing stock. Ungrateful bastards!"
"But Ginny," Hermione started again, "If Harry knew, really knew what you were going through, he wouldn't want you to suffer so."
"Suffer? The only reason I suffer is because no one will give us any peace," Ginny retorted. She glanced again out the window and her heart leapt to her throat. Where had he gone? Hedwig, where was Hedwig? Oh, Merlin!
Before the panic took full effect, Harry flew into the kitchen on his old Firebolt. Kind Professor Flitwick adjusted the charms on the broomstick so that it couldn't leave the property, couldn't do more than hover a few feet above the ground and could only glide slowly. Harry dismounted and handed Ginny the bouquet he had made. She giggled and thanked him with a kiss on the cheek. He blushed with pride.
Hermione said, "Ginny, you shouldn't encourage this behavior. Harry shouldn't be allowed to ride a broom. Honestly, he could hurt himself!"
When Harry saw Ron and Hermione, he dropped his broom, backed away and bumped into the wall, muttering, "No, please. I don't want to go. Please, don't take me away. I can't go, must stay here…"
Ron walked towards Harry and said, a bit too brightly, "Hey, Harry, mate. Fancy a game of chess?"
Instead of responding to Ron, Harry slid down to the floor. He began to speak frantically, "Ginny, I'm sorry about the ice cream yesterday. I didn't mean to throw it. He just scared me, talking about, talking about the bad man. Please, don't let them take me away."
"Harry," Hermione said in a motherly tone, "No one is going to take you away. Now, what is all of this fuss about?"
Harry crawled on the floor, trying to escape Hermione and Ron. This was more than Ginny could take. She was hit by a wave of dizzy dread and began to sob softly.
Harry's demeanor changed in a flash. He stood up and was suddenly in front of Ginny, wiping at her tears with his rough, calloused hand. Always saving her, always her hero.
"Ginny, are you all right? Did I do something wrong again? Is the bad man back?" Harry tentatively asked this as he looked at her, eyes full of remorse.
"No, Harry. The bad man isn't back. You made him go away and he will never return. You did nothing wrong, love," Ginny answered gently, reaching out and taking his hand.
He smiled at her touch and said in a cheery voice, "It's almost teatime, isn't it? Can we have tea in the garden? Can we have treacle tart?"
"Yes, tea in the garden sounds wonderful, Harry. Tell you what, why don't you carry the tart out to the table and I will bring the tea out in a few minutes?"
"OK, but you won't be long, will you?" Harry asked, as he looked at Ron and Hermione with suspicion.
"No, I will be right there," Ginny said reassuringly.
Harry beamed at her, grabbed the treacle tart and bounced out of the room, humming tunelessly to a song playing somewhere in the recesses of his mind.
"Now, if the two of you are done, I have a date for tea," Ginny said.
"But Ginny, he doesn't even know who we are any more. It is getting worse." Ron's turn again.
"Oh, he knows who you are, all right," Ginny answered bitterly, her temper barely under control. "He remembers that time you came over with those healers and tried to talk him into leaving with them, luring him with Chocolate Frogs and Every Flavor Beans. I am surprised you can even face him, face us after a stunt like that."
"Now, Ginny. You know very well that we love you both. Deep down, Harry knows that, too." Ron intoned in a paternal voice, clearly trying to sooth his sister.
Ginny was having none of that. "He knows you want to lock him away, just like everyone else. He doesn't deserve that; he deserves to be happy."
Hermione again, attempting to reason with Ginny, "But at your expense? When you married him, it looked like he would recover. Everyone said so. But, it just isn't going to happen. Everyone can see that you will never have a normal marriage, no…" she hesitated for a moment before beginning again in a hoarse whisper, "… real physical intimacy. You could meet someone; maybe have a child or two. I know this all sounds a bit cold to you. I understand that. But, no one would blame you if you decided to think of your own happiness "
Ginny was done with this conversation. She and Harry did have a normal marriage, including physical intimacy. Harry was a caring and enthusiastic lover. Not that Ginny would share that information with these two. "I am happy; happier than you could ever imagine. Please leave now. It is teatime and I don't want to keep Harry waiting."
With sighs of resignation, Ron and Hermione finally left. It wasn't that Ginny didn't appreciate their efforts. She knew that they only wanted the best for them. Why couldn't they open their eyes and hearts and see this was what was best for Harry and her?
Ginny carried the tea tray that Dobby quickly prepared out to the garden where Harry waited for her. He jumped up and took the tray from her and placed it on the table, a bit roughly. One of the cups fell off of the table and dropped to the ground with a crash.
Harry immediately started to apologize, "I'm sorry Ginny! I am so useless. I messed up again, didn't I?"
Ginny pulled him into a hug and whispered soothingly in his ear, "No, Harry. You did nothing wrong love. Besides, you can fix the cup. Remember I showed you how? Here, take my wand."
Harry took the wand in his hand reverently and looked at Ginny for approval. She nodded at him. He raised the wand, pointed it at the cup and said, "Reparo."
The cup was whole again in an instant. Harry laughed with delight and handed Ginny back her wand, saying, "Handle first, don't point the wand at you, right Ginny?"
"That's right." She answered.
Harry picked up the repaired teacup and gently placed it on the table. Then, with a grand gesture, he held out Ginny's chair for her and carefully poured them both some tea. Ginny thanked him and toasted him with her cup.
Harry looked at Ginny shyly and said, "Ginny, you are so beautiful. You are always nice to me. You take care of me, and I want to take care of you. I have lots of money, you know. Will you marry me?"
Apparently, Hermione and Ron's visit and yesterday's trip to Diagon Alley had upset Harry more than he was letting on. He usually didn't forget something as important as their marriage. Indeed, he loved to look at the pictures of their wedding almost every day. But, no matter. He would remember.
Ginny smiled as she looked into those innocent, hopeful green eyes and said, "Harry, we are married."
"Really? Wow, I am lucky, aren't I?" he said with great glee.
"No," she answered with a slight quaver in her voice, "I'm the lucky one."
Harry and Ginny stayed in the garden, drinking tea and enjoying each other's company. They stayed outside longer than usual. Harry needed the extra time outside to recover after the last few days. Dobby silently and dutifully cleaned up the tea things and brought them out a light supper at sunset.
Once they finished eating, the Potters took a walk, hand in hand, and sat on a bench Harry had built a few years ago all by himself, as a birthday gift for Ginny. Well, it was Harry's very own idea, at least. Hagrid, their gentle half-giant friend had spent countless hours teaching Harry how to make the bench. When Harry's attention would wander, as it did from time to time, Hagrid would sit with Ginny and watch, with tears in his eyes, while Fang and Harry scampered about the garden.
Ginny thought that Harry's fate had affected Hagrid more than anyone else. Indeed, there were times when Hagrid's tears turned into sobs as he cursed himself for leaving Harry with the Dursleys all those years ago. Ginny tried to reassure him that, by following Dumbledore's instructions, Hagrid had kept Harry alive so that he could defeat Voldemort.
Harry and Ginny silently gazed for a time at the starry sky. When Ginny shivered slightly from a cool night breeze that danced through garden, Harry put his arm protectively around Ginny and pulled her to him to warm her. She snuggled close and was enveloped by Harry's unique scent of earth and spice.
"I remember the wedding now. I'm sorry I forgot earlier. You aren't mad at me, are you?" Harry asked quietly.
"Of course not, Harry. Everyone forgets things every now and then," Ginny answered.
"You never forget anything. You always remember how I like my tea, and how to make me laugh, and that I like treacle tart, and how to make me feel better when I am sad. You don't ever try and send me away," Harry said, caressing Ginny's hair.
"I wouldn't ever send you away, Harry. I can't live without you, love," Ginny said, and she felt tears come to her eyes again. This time, though, they were tears of joy and she let them flow.
Harry, sensing correctly that Ginny was not sad, leaned in and kissed his wife. Ginny responded in kind and soon their passion grew and overtook them. They made love on the mossy ground underneath a large apple tree that stood in the center of the garden. Afterwards, Ginny summoned a large sleeping bag and enchanted it with a heating charm.
Before she drifted off to sleep, snug in Harry's arms, Ginny thought of the surprise that she had yet to share with her beloved. It was something Harry spoke of often, something he wanted more than anything. She should wait just another day or two; she decided, to give Harry some extra time to recover. He would be so very excited. Ginny was expecting their first child.