Disclaimer: Although it's been said many times, many ways, I don't own this; Jo does.
Thanks, as always, to Musings, the Alpha-beta.
Alan Richardson had just polished off his last slice of squid brain and now found himself with a little time on his hands. This was such a rare event for the post-graduate researcher in marine biology that he wasn't fully prepared to take advantage of it, but after some desultory wandering through campus failed to turn up anything particularly appealing, Alan finally came across a flier for a lecture about to start, on "The Metamorphosis of the Hero." He would probably not have stopped to look if not for the picture of Robert F. Scott (who had been Alan's own childhood idol) in the gallery of heroes illustrating the topic, but as it was Alan followed directions to the lecture hall, checked to make sure none of his Biology colleagues were there to see him crossing over into Humanities territory, and entered.
The talk, as it turned out, was surprisingly not-all-that-bad, though it was a bit of false advertising as Scott's name never came up. The basic idea seemed to be that the Hero, in antiquity, was literally a Demigod: one who demonstrated his status through violent conquest (the destruction either of monsters or of human enemies), who gloried in his own prowess, and whose superhuman bloodlines entitled him to something of the gods' privilege of punishing mere mortals who disturbed his mood, or interfered with his tan. The early Christian era then offered a different object for emulation: the Saint. Unlike the Hero, the Saint could be of humble descent, rejected all worldly glory, and suffered blows rather than dealing them out. In the modern era, the lecturer declared, different hybrids of these two apparently irreconcilable figures emerge, and it is this hybrid which comes to be called a "hero": a man (or woman) of extraordinary gifts who uses them for essentially altruistic purposes.
It was sort of interesting, but hardly life-changing stuff, until near the end when the lecturer noted that modern literature had essentially abandoned the notion of a hero as "something which, to the modern skeptical consciousness, has come to seem as fantastic and archaic as wizards or dragons." This was a very mild joke, if it could even be called a joke, but it elicited a rather hearty set of snorts from a trio seated near Alan: a tall young red-headed man, the brown-haired woman he was holding hands with, and – most significantly – a shorter, red-haired woman who, Alan decided on the spot, he was going to get to know better even if he had to fight a few dragons himself to do so. Regrettably, Alan had relatively little experience with women, and none at all in accosting perfect strangers. The closest parallel he could dredge out of memory was begging for a research grant from a panel of scowling outsiders and so he recalled the advice he had been given about making such proposals: 1) get to the point quickly and 2) accentuate what about he and his proposal was unique enough to make it worth their attention.
The lecture broke up, the audience got out of their chairs, and Alan -- armed only with those precepts and a face flushed with infatuation -- made bold to put himself in the path of the trio, face the red-haired woman and declare his challenge:
"Hello, my name is Alan Richardson. I do research on squid here, and I was just hoping to get to know something about you."
Three pairs of eyes stared in amazement at this.
Oh bugger, that didn't come out at all right.
Amazingly, this was not the instantaneous end of Alan's hopes. After some fumbled apologies, explanations and assurances – the tall bloke, who had to be the girl's brother, seemed mollified by Alan's offer to let himself be pummeled without resistance as a pledge of his sincerity – he was even able to get their names: Ginny Weasley, her brother Ron, and Ron's wife Hermione. He was not able to persuade Ginny to part with a phone number or email address, but he did get a smile from her before the three left. More significant, at least on a practical level, Hermione came running up to him a minute or so after they left, took down Alan's contact info, and said she would alert him the next time they were on campus, or in the area.
Matters progressed with gathering speed from there: Alan moved from being allowed to sit near the trio and accompany them to the coat check room, to being permitted to walk back to the train station with them, to eating dinner with the three of them, to finally arranging dates just with Ginny. He met her parents and her other brothers, and Ginny's odd family began to grow on him. As the relationship grew closer Alan actually found himself less frantic to be alone with her and more ready to enjoy the energetic interplay between Ginny and the rest of the Weasleys (though they often spoke some private language, as large families tended to do). Ron seemed to warm to Alan very rapidly, which was a great relief to him since Alan was still frankly a little intimidated by the large redhead, and was glad he hadn't known that Ron was a policeman when he made his first approach to Ginny. He couldn't quite picture how Ron and Hermione had managed to make things work; it seemed like something out of that American sitcom Frasier with the crusty cop and his intellectual wife. (Though Hermione called herself an "independent consultant," not an academician).
Alan particularly enjoyed listening to the back and forth between Ginny and Hermione on current events. Hermione was, Alan had no doubt, a pillar of every progressive and charitable organization in Britain from Amnesty to Oxfam, and could always be relied on to take the enlightened stance on any topic which could plausibly be seen as bearing on a question of social justice. Ginny agreed with Hermione on many issues, but her compassion for the downtrodden was mixed with a much greater degree of bloodlust towards the trodders-down. As Alan learned more about her he felt he understood not only why there was such initial caution towards him and such protectiveness from the rest of the family, but also – perhaps – why there were so many flashes of bitterness and vengefulness in Ginny's conversation. It was Hermione who filled in most of the details about Ginny's past, especially the tragic relationship with her last serious boyfriend, Harry Potter.
It was an awful story. Potter's father James had been an undercover policeman building a case against a psychotic ganglord named Tom Riddle. When James's cover was blown (supposedly by one of his own partners), Riddle had the Potter home firebombed, killing James and his wife Lily. Harry, then one year old, miraculously survived, his mother having sacrificed herself to shield him from the worst of the blast. Riddle used his 'legitimate' connections to have the presiding magistrate, Judge Cornelius (known as 'Judge Fudge' to the Weasleys) dismiss the murder counts for lack of evidence, and bargained his way into a sentence which left him eligible for parole in 15 years. Harry, meanwhile, was placed in the care of his mother's sister, Petunia Dursley. Aunt Petunia, unfortunately, was a fanatical Protestant (like most of the family, from hardline Orange roots) who had never forgiven Lily for marrying James, a Catholic. Harry inherited all the rancor her bigotry could furnish, and the Dursleys spent the next decade dedicated to making Harry's life as miserable as possible without opening themselves to legal inquest.
When Harry turned eleven, he discovered that he was eligible to attend his parents' boarding school, Hogarth Academy in Scotland (Britain's oldest co-educational establishment). Harry found he had inherited his father's reflexes (James was a legendary "quick draw") and put them to use by becoming the youngest goalkeeper in school history. For the first time, he was popular, admired, and had friends in Ron and Hermione, who were in the same year and house. Ginny, one year behind, read Ron's letters describing his new friend and – having just finished reading WutheringHeights – transferred her romantic affections from Heathcliff to this other mistreated orphan. Harry had no idea what to do in the face of this kind of crush, and Ron took to teasing and condescending as only a superior twelve-year-old can when faced with an annoying eleven-year-old sister. Feeling lonely and misunderstood, Ginny made the horrible mistake of entering into an IM correspondence with a seemingly sympathetic stranger, pouring out her heart to him, and finally agreeing to an in-person, off-campus meeting. By gruesome coincidence the kindly young man turned out to be Tom Riddle Jr., the ganglord's equally psychopathic son, and he would have made Ginny the latest in his string of victims if Hermione hadn't desperately resorted to hacking Ginny's computer when she went missing. Ignoring all cautionary advice Harry instantly rushed to where Riddle had lured her, and there the unarmed twelve-year-old struggled with the sixteen-year-old sadist and finally killed him with his own knife.
Ginny was traumatized, naturally, but with her family's support she eventually recovered. It was a long time before she could face Harry again, but by her fourth year she found herself capable of holding a reasonable conversation with him, and by her fifth year she finally found herself on the receiving end of some tender glances. Harry and Ginny began dating, quickly became serious (much to the delight of her parents, who quite adored Harry) and seemed on the way to marriage when Tom Riddle Senior came out of prison seeking revenge for his son. Harry tried to break up with Ginny, telling her it was too dangerous to be around him with a deranged gangster on the loose looking for him, but she wouldn't hear of it. Finally one day Riddle's men caught up with them on the street and gunned Harry down right in front of her. Riddle himself died soon after, killed resisting arrest, but of course that scarcely provided any consolation to Ginny.
Still, whatever psychological baggage Ginny was carrying from these events seemed scarcely visible to Alan. To him she was simply a fascinating woman: passionate, temperamental, generous, mischievous. He found it particularly admirable that Ginny wanted to use her own terrible experiences for positive ends by studying to become a therapist. Unfortunately that left her with a schedule as brutal as Alan's own, but they both rose eagerly to the challenge of squeezing something interesting into any small time-block which popped open at the last moment. It was at one such spur-of-the-moment meeting that Alan's life was turned upside-down.
Alan had suggested the restaurant, recommended by a friend, where the two were having a late dinner. Suddenly Ginny broke off in the middle of a sentence, her face clouded over, and she spoke in a tone Alan had never heard from her, a voice of crisp command like an army officer accustomed to instant obedience. "Alan, listen carefully" she said. "As soon as we leave this place, we're going to be surrounded by some funny-looking people asking some strange-sounding questions. You have to trust me to handle it." Alan turned back to look for the source of Ginny's alarm, and saw two men in odd sorts of cloaks staring at the two of them and whispering furiously to one another. One of them dashed out of the restaurant with a few backward glances as if to make sure he had really seen what he thought he saw. Ginny swore, and said "I forgot this place was so close to the Prophet building."
"The what building?"
"I'll explain later."
"Alright, but are those people – are you in any sort of trouble, Ginny?" Alan reached over to take Ginny's hand, and felt something of a thrill to recognize the swelling of an instinct he was not accustomed to invoking: the drive to protect his mate.
"No, no trouble, no danger," Ginny quickly replied (Alan curbed a momentary flash of disappointment). "It'll just be very – there's something I've been -- Damn, this is not the right way for it to come out… Look, maybe we have a chance to avoid them if we leave now."
They hastily paid the bill and started speedwalking away from the scene, but Alan could see cloaks approaching from all sides, seeming to come out of nowhere. In a few moments they were surrounded and beset with rapid-fire questions.
"Miss Weasley, can we have a statement, what have you been…
"Is this the neighborhood…"
"Have you really left to join…"
"…doing with yourself, do you have…"
"…you live in now? Does your family know…"
"…the Muggle world?"
"…a job now? Any comment on the no-confidence…"
"…who you're going out with?"
"…Miss Weasley, is your date here a Muggle?"
"…What's your name sir?"
Alan suddenly recognized he was being addressed. "Who the hell wants to know?" he shouted back. "Who are you people?" The racket continued, most of it making no sense to Alan. He and Ginny kept trying to walk through the gauntlet until one question brought Ginny up short: "Miss Weasley, do you feel you're betraying Harry Potter?"
Ginny turned towards the questioner, and Alan saw her sweep her right arm up and out and cry something in Latin, at least one word of which he recognized from his old Taxonomy class as Chiropteros, "bat." The next thing Alan knew, a flock of minuscule bats was swarming out from the general vicinity where the "betrayal" question had originated, where a woman (the one who had asked the question?) was now lying on the ground screaming. Had Ginny seen the microbats attacking the woman, and shouted to warn her? But why give the warning in Latin? And why would the obviously furious Ginny be doing any favors for the one asking the offensive question? Before he could postulate any answers, Alan heard Ginny say "here, hang on to this," as she put one end of a scarf in his hand. He felt a sudden sickening pull, as he was reeled in by some invisible fishing line with the hook through his navel. When he recovered his senses, he was no longer on a London street but standing with Ginny in the middle of a strange living room, still holding the end of the scarf.
Now Ginny was leading Alan to a seat on the couch and starting to say something to him which didn't quite register through the fog in his skull. Alan was also vaguely aware of the sound of feet tramping down a staircase leading into the room, and of the voices and then the persons of Fred and George Weasley appearing in the wake of those footsteps and barking a duet of questions and comments in his and Ginny's direction. One of them said something in an encouraging voice to Alan about getting used to "porky travel"(?) and the other said something to Ginny which effectively cut through the fog. "So, Gin," the brother inquired, "does Alan get the explanation, or does he get the…" He made a hand gesture which looked to Alan rather ominously like a mime of rubbing something or somebody out.
"Explanation, please," Alan responded with a vigor that surprised the redheads. "I love explanations. You might say, in my vocation, I live for explanations. Explanations are among my very favorite things in the world…" He was saved from further elaborations on this theme when Ginny smiled and kissed him. "Explanations, of course," she said to her brothers, who began glad-handing Alan and welcoming him to the "borough." Then they pleaded an engagement, said their goodbyes to him and Ginny, and vanished into thin air.
There was a moment of silence, after which Alan turned to Ginny. "So," he asked. "Which borough are we in, and how has the borough council managed to enact these particular… variations in natural law?"
Three hours or so later, Ginny was finally finished walking Alan through the short course in basic wizardry and the true story of Harry Potter, Tom Riddle, and her own (and her family's) role in that dreadful saga. Alan was shaking his head and murmuring "Good God."
"I know, it's a lot to take in."
"Alan, you're allowed to be a little more, expressive. What are you thinking? To start with, what are you thinking about us?"
"I'm thinking…. Good God…." Alan tried to suppress the half-hysterical snorts and giggles threatening to rise up. "I mean, Good God, I'm in a relationship with a woman who… who got on a broomstick and… and did battle against dragons in an apocalyptic war between the forces of good and evil."
"Yes, you could say that," Ginny agreed. "And I could also say that your grandfather, the one who was in the RAF, got into a huge metal bird, sent into the clouds through thousands of controlled explosions, to fight in an apocalyptic war against the forces of evil. And you're planning to go down miles under the sea, inside a giant plastic Quaffle --"
"A giant plastic what ?"
"…to look at creatures that are a lot stranger than dragons, if you think about it. You've shown me pictures, Alan, and they creep me out. What about that fish which casts a lure for its prey, and the way they reproduce is that the male attaches itself to the female and then dissolves itself until it becomes just an appendage of her? We don't have anything as bizarre as that in the Forbidden Forest."
"I'm feeling a little like that male angler now," Alan muttered.
"Alan, just because I can do some things you can't, you can't let that make you feel, like --"
"Come on," Alan insisted, "This isn't like you can play the piano and I can't, it's more like you all are some, I don't know, higher beings."
"For God's sake, Alan," Ginny shouted, "you've met my brothers! Do they strike you as some kind of higher form of life?"
Alan thought of Fred and George. It was true, he could not really associate them with any great leap forward into evolutionary space.
"Well," Alan conceded, "if you put it that way, no. In fact I used to wonder if they weren't, well, developmentally challenged. I sometimes thought, actually, when they got to talking about their business success, that the rest of you were all just, you know, humoring them in this harmless fantasy."
There were some smiles from both of them now, and the tension seemed to be broken at least a little. Alan still had plenty of questions, naturally.
"So let me get things straight: Ron and Hermione are also magical? They were in that horrible war? And Ron is really…?"
"An Auror. That's magical law enforcement, which is basically like a policeman."
"And you; what does 'therapist' translate to?"
"It doesn't. I am a therapist. In residence now at the University of London. Dealing with non-magical people's non-magical cases."
Alan felt a little relieved to hear this. It also reminded him of the questions he had heard shouted at Ginny hours before.
"So that's what the reporters were asking about, about your leaving the magical world and joining the norm-- the Muggle world? That's true?"
"Partly. I didn't really leave, I mean it isn't as if I don't see my family and friends any longer. I'm never going to do that, you realize?"
"No, of course not. I wouldn't dream of asking…"
"No, I didn't think you would, it's just that, well, sometimes in these situations Muggles get it into their head that it's going to be like 'The Little Mermaid'. I'm not Ariel," Ginny said, her eyes flashing as if to challenge the faintest suspicion of resemblance between the two redheads.
"I never really cared for that movie," Alan agreed. "Quite a distorted view of marine ecology, you know. Only the awful humans eat the cute fish, while under the sea they're all friends and live forever."
"The merpeople weren't very realistic either. I did like Sebastian, though."
"But anyway, you are basically living and working outside the wizarding world, while the rest of your family is living and working within it." Alan paused, wondering how much to pry about the subject that had been mostly been left unspoken throughout their relationship. "You all went through the war, so it's not just that. Was it because of Harry?"
"Not directly," she said. "That was very hard, but thousands of people lost somebody they loved. It was more what happened after the end of the war."
Ginny seemed to be gathering herself for the crucial part of the story. Alan nodded his encouragement to continue.
"You have to understood first just how big it was, still is, to us. You know how every year on June the 7th there are reports of strange light shows around Britain?"
"I remember one of my instructors insisting it had something to do with some bioluminescent species' mating cycle. I did wonder why it would have only started seven years ago or so."
"Well, that's us. Those are Finals Day celebrations and they always--"
"Finals Day?" Alan had to ask.
"Victory day, defeat of Voldemort – Tom Riddle – the official name is actually 'Triumph of the Light Day' but nobody calls it that. June 7, when the last battle took place at Hogwarts, originally that was the day we were scheduled to take our final exams. So when we talked about it afterwards, we would hang onto that as our, euphemism, I guess. 'Have you seen Anthony?'--'No, he's kept to himself since Finals Day' or 'How's Susan doing?'--'Oh, she got out of hospital about three weeks after Finals Day.' So that's the name that's stuck."
Alan apologized for the interruption, and Ginny picked up the thread of the story once more.
"It was the most enormous event, and basically it's – Harry, who was the one who did it. And I was the Girl of the Boy Who Lived. I even had the T-shirt. As well as being one of the half dozen or so people who were closest to the heart of events, next to Harry himself. So I don't know what to compare it to… think of Jacqueline Kennedy, only if John F. Kennedy had died while personally preventing the world from being destroyed by nuclear terrorists, and Jackie wasn't just the widow but – I'm not bragging here – a hard-fighting partner." Alan had a momentary mental flash of Ginny in a Jackie O beret, fighting back to back with a JFK who was dealing out James Bond-like karate chops against a wand-wielding Voldfinger.
"After it was over," Ginny continued, "when we were still… adjusting… Hermione said to me -- I'll never forget the words: 'Ginny, things are going to be insane for you now, you have to prepare for it. Ron and I are going to be treated like war heroes, and that's going to have its trials, but you, you realize what you are now: you are the de facto widow of our martyred savior.'"
Alan shuddered. Secularist though he was, he felt a sudden urge to cross himself, or tear his garments, or something.
"I didn't believe her at first," Ginny continued. "I mean, who could possibly think of themselves in those terms? But she was right. It was unbelievable. Like she said, this gave me manaand people would do anything to get it. In the worst way. Especially men." Ginny grimaced. "For the next two years, I was chased after by every neurotic and every Don Juan in wizarding England. The neurotics thought that if they touched my garments then some of Harry's power would pass into them. They weren't too bad, because I would just hex them if they got too close and that was just as good from their point of view, getting a scalping curse from me was as almost like receiving the stigmata. But it got to be tiring. I threw more curses in the years after the war than in the last two years of it."
"And the Don Juans?" Alan asked.
"Oh yeah, I was the ultimate prize. You could tell what they were thinking a mile away: 'Boy, if I can get Ginny Weasley into bed, then next day I walk into the bar wearing her knickers on my sleeve, and all of my fellow sleazebags will have to fall on their knees and confess that I am the one and only Big King Swinging Dick.' A couple of them tried making the claim, even though they had never gotten within ten feet of me. My brothers and I set them straight, and that discouraged most of the braggers. But it wasn't just the individual idiots, there was the Ministry; they wanted to use me in international politics, because I was suddenly this huge catch. They once asked me to visit a vampire clan they were negotiating some peace treaty with, and started dropping hints – I didn't get it at first -- that if I played my cards right, I could end up, being…"
Alan's eyes were almost popping out by this point. "The Bride of Dracula? The Queen of the Undead?"
"Basically, yes. Well, it all got to be too much."
Alan had no difficulty agreeing that he imagined it would.
"It's not that I've completely left it behind," Ginny noted. "When there are tributes or memorials, for example, I really want to be there. Because we were all part of that together. And I went to the unveiling of the memorial to Harry, but that was just another bloody farce. The Ministry put together the most ridiculous statue of him, striding heroically forward, holding his wand heroically aloft, gazing with heroically set jaw… There was a tremendous scandal at the ceremony, though. You remember I told you about Dolores Umbridge?"
"The woman who put you through hell in your fourth year?"
"Right. She still works in the Ministry, and she actually had the gall to invite herself to the memorial. Well, beneath Harry's statue, the original inscription was Provocabat Umbram Tenebrarum which means 'He defied the shadow of darkness.' But when the statue was unveiled, everybody saw the inscription had somehow been changed to Provocabat Umbridgam Tenebrarum: 'He defied the Umbridge of darkness.' Took them weeks to put the original wording back."
Alan caught something in the blandly innocent look Ginny was offering as she told the story, a look he had come to recognize in their time together. "What an awful, tasteless thing to do," he suggested with equal innocence.
"Wasn't it just!" Ginny agreed. "Everybody was so sure Fred and George had done it, it didn't matter how much they protested, everybody was howling to string them up on the spot for this blasphemous act. But of course when they inspected their wands, it turned out Fred and George had nothing to do with it."
"And I suppose nobody was presumptuous enough to dare ask Ginny Weasley for a look at her wand."
"No, of course not," Ginny replied, trying to seem sternly indignant. That lasted a couple of seconds before she and Alan both burst out laughing. Ginny finally shook her head.
"The statue was just so… it wasn't Harry. It wasn't him."
On one level Alan was not at all eager to hear more about what Harry Potter was or was not really like. On another level, he felt a sincere obligation to assure the woman he was in love with. "You know, you can talk about him to me."
"It's good to know that Alan, it really is. You know it's hard to talk with wizards, even friends. Nobody wants to hear about his faults."
"Oh you can feel free to talk to me about that," Alan hastily replied. "In fact… I realize this is just abysmally petty of me, but I feel this great eagerness right now to know what his worst faults were, in as much detail as you can provide."
"Alright," Ginny laughed. "Let me just check to make sure no wizards are around… OK. He could be very sulky and bad-tempered. And don't say it."
"I wasn't going to say it."
"No, but you were thinking it. Yes, yes, we could be quite the pair that way. What else… He could be sneaky and dishonest in major and minor ways, like when he was supposed to do something and hadn't, and he swore he had, then when you caught him he would just sort of shrug it off like 'OK, you caught me, I'll try better next time.' Though that just made him more of an honorary Weasley, when you think about it. The worst, I think, is that he could be just oblivious to other people sometimes, even his best friends, or me. It's strange to say this of somebody who was ready to give up his life for his friends, but in some ways he was very self-centered. Sometimes he refused to listen, assumed he knew best, or just seemed to forget that other people had their own problems."
The two sat quietly for awhile after that. Ginny spoke next: "I think the main reason I haven't talked to you about him is that I would have had to stick to that story we gave you…"
"About his father the undercover policeman, and all that?"
"Right. I just never felt right starting off with that, starting with a lie. We settled on that story because when I applied for school or a job in the Muggle world, I wanted something that could get across something of what had happened, that could still be accepted. It's what Hermione calls a 'legend.'"
"A legend?" Alan checked.
"It's from spy talk, meaning basically a cover story, like when an intelligence agent needs to pose as a traveling researcher, he might have to talk about where he went to school, which professors he studied under, how he got that interesting scar, that sort of thing. So they put together a story that includes enough of the truth to make it easy for him to remember, but not enough to give him away. That's his 'legend'."
"And Hermione knows about this sort of thing because…"
"Oh, she reads a lot."
Alan felt disinclined to press the point, though he did wonder whether an "Independent Consultant" had anything in common with a "Traveling Researcher."
The pair held hands, and Alan took a moment to consider the different versions of Harry Potter's life he had heard. "It's funny," he said, "the cover story, the Muggle version, really isn't all that dissimilar in basic human terms from the magical story. I mean, the essential facts in both are that there was a boy who was amazingly brave and resilient, who was killed by an utterly loathsome excuse for a human being, and took his killer down with him. And when you referred to the non-magical version as a 'legend,' it made me remember the lecture where we met. They were talking then about the older meaning of the word 'legend,' how originally it meant something which 'needed to be read' because it was inspiring, that it was originally the title for the lives of the saints. And the magical story, the way you just told it to me; that was inspiring, which is what the 'legend' was supposed to be. But the 'legend,' the cover story… That was basically just depressing."
"I suppose so," Ginny agreed. "It makes a big difference, the way you tell the story. But 'life of a saint'? Believe me, Harry wasn't a saint."
Alan definitely did not want to follow up too closely on the implications of that, and settled for saying "No, but he was a hero, wasn't he?"
"Yes, he was a hero," Ginny sighed. "He was also the class clown of Divination along with my brother Ron. And he was the boy who snuck treats out of the kitchens for us when we were up late studying. And he was this skinny, woebegone kid rattling around in his buffalo cousin's hand-me-downs, asking my mother if she could please help him get to his train…"
And that was when the tears started. Alan quickly put his arms around the crying woman and let her weep on his chest for a minute. When it was over, she blew her nose and wiped her eyes.
"I haven't finished crying for him," Ginny said. "Obviously."
"That's – don't worry about that," Alan tried to assure her. "It's not as if I'm trying to, to press you to, erase the old chapter. I just want us to have our own. Well, you know what I mean." He felt well rewarded for this less-than-eloquent declaration by a smile and a hug. "And even before I knew the whole story," Alan said, "I thought you came through all this really amazingly well. I guess the psychology training must have helped."
"That helped some," Ginny conceded, "But I think what helped most was when my mother gave me some advice she says she got from her mother: 'You cry as much as you have to when you feel like crying, and you laugh as much as you want to when you feel like laughing, and you remember that you don't have a bloody thing to be ashamed about for crying or to be guilty about for laughing'."
"And having you around has helped too."
They enjoyed some quiet time, before Ginny finally asked Alan what he was thinking.
"I was thinking of what you said about Jackie Kennedy," he replied. "You know, she ended up marrying again. And the fellow – Onassis – he was also involved in marine matters. Do you think there's some magical omen in that?"
Ginny smiled. "I never did well in Divination, but I'll keep that in mind. And you know, Alan, whether it comes to that or not, as long as we stay together, you're going to become famous yourself; we won't be able to dodge the photographers forever."
"I imagine there's some hate mail which would come with the territory; for trying to replace Harry."
"I'll have to show you what a Howler is."
"Well, whatever it is," Alan declared, "I'm ready for it."
"You're a brave man, Alan," Ginny said, and hearing that made him feel he really was ready to face anything.
"legend" does come from the Latin "legenda", "to be read" and was used in the Middle Ages as the title for a collection of saints' lives.
The scalping hex and the title "Girl of the Boy Who Lived" suggested by Kokopelli's The Letters of Summer.