In five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes How do you measure A year in the life?
The window pane was cool to the touch as Ginny traced the raindrops cascading down the glass. The summer had been unusually cool, and July was no exception. Although she knew this was the work of Dementors, Ginny did not dwell on this. Instead, she wallowed.
Although she understood what Harry had to do, it had hurt letting him go, and went against her every instinct to let him walk away from Dumbledore’s funeral alone. She’d wanted to shake him and tell him he was being silly and noble until he came to his senses. But she’d let him go. Despite her continuous second guessing and rationalization, she still wasn’t sure if it was the right course to take.
When she’d seen him at Bill and Fleur’s wedding, it had taken everything in her to treat him as she always had. She’d even dragged him out for a dance, happy to see the ghost of a smile on his face. If her smile felt tight and forced that day, Ginny hoped it hadn’t been too noticeable.
After that, things had trickled by. The house emptied, Harry stealing out with Ron and Hermione before her mum could protest. And then, with all the attacks, Mum had been too busy to even worry.
It had been Fleur who’d put her foot down and the Fidelius up. Despite her mum and dad’s protests, she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Being part-Veela did afford her some extra protection against men trying to break the Fidelius, and Ginny had to admire her tenacity.
Though once the Fidelius had gone up, she sat at home. Her parents spent much of their time Apparating from place to place, organizing, fighting, and pulling together after Dumbledore’s death. There was no homework, for there would be no Hogwarts in September. For Ginny, there was nothing.
With a sigh, Ginny looked down the slope of the paddock and out towards the Lovegoods'. She hadn’t seen Luna, hadn’t heard anything since the Fidelius had gone up. Mum was guarding her like a Horntail with an egg, and she was lucky to even go to Headquarters to get books from the library.
She removed her hand from the glass, resting it on the book in her lap. With nothing else to do, she had picked up all the Defense and Charms texts she could carry from Grimmauld Place. Mum had been too distracted to even check what she was reading.
Ginny knew it was only a matter of time until she’d need to fight.
Ginny felt that the days moved slower than molasses. Time was viscous; if you stopped moving you would be trapped in the heaviness. The days before September first used to be a blur, the days before everything went horribly wrong.
Now, time was another nuisance. She had taken up writing a diary again, though this time it was a simple Muggle notebook that she kept hidden in between the pages of her Potions text from third year. Mum hadn’t even been around long enough to notice that she’d been writing again. Ginny didn’t want to know what she’d think if she saw what her daughter had been writing.
She’d been writing theory. It seemed like something Hermione would do, but there was little for Ginny to pass the time. She’d always had a knack for spells, ever since her Bat Bogey Hex had somehow grown from the normal curse into something much more powerful than everyone else’s.
So, even though she didn’t know enough Arithmancy or Advanced Spell Theory to really create anything, she’d been trying. Under the Fidelius, the Ministry couldn’t detect underage magic use, not that they cared any longer. Her days were spent waving her wand, seeing just how much power she could put into a spell before it changed into something wholly different.
What would happen if you moved your wrist differently? Or changed pronunciation?
It was fascinating, really, her inner voice that sounded far too much like Hermione, would say. With just the smallest change, she could alter a Lumos to emit heat, and even flame. Wingardium Leviosa could “stick” items in the air with nothing to support them but magic.
She was reading darker books now, trying to determine what, exactly, made a spell “dark.” Was it intent, or something intrinsic to the spell?
The days passed slowly for Ginny, but somehow, she didn’t seem to mind as much as she used to.
It didn’t take her long to ask Fleur to have a look at Bill’s old curse-breaking texts. Fleur had faced Mum, the war, and learning English with the same stubbornness, and Ginny knew it would be an easy job to get the books.
Fleur had simply looked at her, her eyes lacking the lightness that Ginny used to mock, and nodded briskly. The next week before the Order met at Grimmauld, she had slipped them to her while Mum was in the kitchen. She’d even included her own textbooks from Beauxbatons with a slip of parchment inside detailing a translation charm.
It might not have been conventional, but Ginny tackled Curses backwards. Learning how to break them taught her how to lay them, even though some were no longer included in textbooks.
She practiced on Percy’s old trunk in the attic, hoping that some of the more vicious ones worked when she didn’t dare test them. Sometimes she dreamed about them, waking in a cold sweat after seeing the pages detailing Disembowling Curse.
Whenever Mum or Dad caught her making tea those nights, they’d shoo her back upstairs and worry about the war and the effect it was having on their precious daughter. Ginny knew they only wanted to keep her safe. She also knew it was pointless.
She kept studying as September cooled and snow fell early. If she thought about Harry, Ron, and Hermione, she ignored it. Their notes had almost been perfunctory, a hassle. We’re still alive.
It was funny, Ginny thought, as falling snow mixed with falling leaves. I almost feel like I’m dead.
As autumn passed the same as summer, Ginny saw her freckles fade. Three months without sun had dulled her skin and personality. She wondered if Mum had even noticed.
The attacks had increased, including the assassination of Scrimgeour. The Ministry was in chaos, and her dad never home. The Order continued to meet with all regularity, though Ginny didn’t know what they were doing. It all looked like chaos to her.
Mum had caught her trying to make Potions early on in October, and confiscated the cauldrons, telling her that she would burn the Burrow down. Ginny returned to her books with a vengeance, taking out the darkest books she could find from Grimmauld Place in rebellion.
In her heart, she knew Moody had already taken the worst away, though her stomach still roiled at some of the pictures.
She expanded into Transfiguration texts simply because she could go no further in Defence and Charms. After the Potions incident, she was much more careful not to get caught attempting to be an Animagus.
Sheer boredom and lack of contact helped her work through the material faster than the Marauders had. Theory was mastered in record time, and she was sure McGonagal would be impressed under all her disapproval.
Ginny saw the world through tiger’s eyes before the end of the month.
She returned to Spell Theory and Curse Breaking when she began learning Arithmancy. Boredom had become her best teacher. She unearthed the notebook after her length of inactivity, once again fascinated by control and risk.
This time, when she dreamed of the Disembowling Curse, she dreamed she was doing it to Tom.
Sometimes she wondered if she was simply wasting her time “discovering” things that had already been recorded for the ages. She wouldn’t know. Her tenuous connection to the outside world was the library at Grimmauld Place and the snatches of conversation she heard before they Imperturbed the door.
They didn’t tell her the Lovegoods had been attacked until almost two weeks later.
Ginny had been furious with her mum and the rest of the world. Luna’s father was dead, and Luna herself at St. Mungo’s. When Ginny suggested that Luna come to the Burrow, her mum had pursed her lips and told her there were other places for Luna to go.
Sometimes she didn’t know whether to scream or cry.
Another attack happened, and Ginny found herself watching the clock hands cycle between ‘Mortal Peril’ and ‘Unknown’ more times than she could count.
When her mum had come home safe two days later, bearing news that everyone was fine, Ginny didn’t even have the energy to cry.
It wasn’t a war; it was a seige.
Christmas was a charade. Ginny’s brothers had sent gifts for her to open, and she had made do with the knitting needles and yarn Mum had given her to make gifts.
No one was home, though.
There were places to be, people to guard, and things to plan. Mum and Dad had had a quick breakfast, and it was almost like the days before she went to Hogwarts, that year of impatience after Ron left.
After that, she was alone to wait. Mum had said they would be back before supper, and to leave the gifts for then.
She’d taken to mumbling to herself while she was alone, but Ginny was still surprised at the force of her voice as she cursed the Death Eaters and Voldemort himself.
When she swore that she would do everything she could to make them regret their every action, the familiar tingle of a Wizard’s Oath made her blood run cold. She sat at the window for the rest of the day, watching the snow fall, and wondering what she had just done.
When Mum had returned early, bearing news of men at Diagon Alley falling to the ground in agony, clutching their dark mark, and leading to their arrest, Ginny stared.
When Dad had returned for supper bearing news of the prisoners babbling apologies and reliving their misdeeds from the victim’s perspective, she still had nothing to say.
Was it simply a coincidence? Ginny did not know. But as she opened her Christmas presents, she couldn’t stop her hands from shaking in pleasure and terror.
Still unnerved, Ginny didn’t touch her wand for weeks after Christmas. Instead, she read the books that were her presents, and avoided the library at Grimmauld Place.
There had been a note from Ron, a week late for Christmas, saying that he, Hermione, and Harry were fine. Ginny just shook her head and tried to teach herself to knit when she wasn’t reading. If a little part of her was hurt that she never received any notes, she shrugged it off.
Somehow, despite being isolated from everything, she managed to catch the flu only two weeks after Christmas. She spent the rest of January achy and miserable, wishing for Madam Pomfrey’s purple potion, rather than her Mum’s chamomile tea.
Madam Pomfrey was dead, though, and had been since the summer.
Ginny resigned herself to weak tea and a running nose, not willing to think about the few deaths she knew and the others she didn’t.
Ginny threw herself back into books at the end of her convalescence, wondering just what else she could do with spells.
By accident, she’d discovered how to make a Focus while she was attempting to knit and read at the same time. When she undid the knot she had made, the book she was levitating fell to the ground. Inspiration had struck.
It started small, making knots to light a candle or move a chair, but as she began to add knots and layer spells, it became more complex. She knit a pair of mittens impervious to heat, and a scarf that would always stay warm.
Her mum had been happy to see her knitting a sweater and then bustled back over to Grimmauld Place with some biscuts.
She didn’t even notice Ginny muttering as she knit each stitch, casting all sorts of protection spells into the garment.
This was definitely an idea to share with Fred and George, Ginny decided.
March was brisk, and Ginny couldn’t help but shiver as she practiced spells in the attic. She had borrowed more books from the library, now grasping for any subject but Potions for something to do. After her knitting projects, she’d run out of yarn for more experiments, and Mum had been too busy to bring her more.
Currently, she was engrossed in wards, once again using Percy’s trunk. It was worse for wear than the last time she had practiced on it, but there was very little else that would do.
Tiptoeing up to the perimeter she had set, she shivered again as icy water cascaded over her. The ward had worked. Quickly casting a drying spell, Ginny shook off the cold as she went back to her book.
Waterfalls and alarms were all well and good, but Ginny wanted to study the important stuff. If there was some way to convert wards from a building to the items she was knitting, she just might convince Mum to let her leave the house.
Ginny knew, however, that this was doubtful.
Ginny sometimes thought that being under the Fidelius was like being the princess in the tower. For, though she could understand the reasons for her imprisonment, she couldn’t live like this for much longer.
The sun had finally emerged from the clouds of winter, and she could see the flowers begin to bloom on the trees. They had let the garden grow over, hiding the evidence of the Burrow, but Ginny could still see the roses creeping towards the sun.
Unable to resist temptation, she opened the kitchen door, letting the breeze and sun warm her face. Though she had only intended for the door to be open, she couldn’t help but step outside – just for a moment, just to feel the grass.
Mum had chosen that moment to come home, screaming at Ginny like there was a Grim over her shoulder, and to get back inside. They’d had a row more vicious than anything Ginny thought she was capable of. No matter how many times she told herself that Mum was trying to protect her, it didn’t stop her from screaming that she’d rather be dead than locked away at the Burrow any more.
They’d both ended up weeping bitterly, her mum in the kitchen, and Ginny in her room.
She felt like the princess locked in the tower without any prince to rescue her.
Ginny and her mum didn’t speak for a month, though it wasn’t like she saw her much to begin with, Ginny would think bitterly.
She’d taken up conjuring to keep herself from going spare. She’d filled her room with flowers that would fade and grass that had no scent.
Each day she would redo the work that had vanished each night, mirroring in her room the garden, the trees in the paddock, and even a gnome or two when she felt the need to abuse something.
Dad had tried to talk to her after her fight with Mum, but all Ginny could force herself to say over and over was, Let me out.
He’d grown frustrated, too, telling her she was being unreasonable, and then had to leave abruptly for a problem at the Ministry. No one spoke about the fight after that.
Ginny felt that she should be more bitter, but she’d long since stopped feeling as she should. All she wanted was out, and free, and sun.
For no matter how many times she could duplicate the garden or fling a gnome, there was no replacing the spring.
Ginny wondered sometimes if her mum noticed that she no longer spoke.
It was Fleur who had rescued her once again, and Ginny regretted every moment of calling her Phlegm.
She’d come with Mum for something, and had come upstairs to say hello, shocked as a gnome had gone flying over her head. Her astonishment grew as she took in the tiger pacing through the shrubs of Ginny’s bedroom garden.
Ginny’s guilty look had said it all, as she sat there where the tiger once was. She didn’t understand much French, but she knew merde and knew Fleur wasn’t happy.
When she told the blonde that, except for her small visits to Grimmauld Place, she hadn’t left the Burrow in almost a year, Ginny winced at the look on her face.
The fight between Fleur and Mum had been spectacular in an awful sort of way, and much worse than the fight between Ginny and her mum. It ended with a dissatisfied Fleur and a furious Mum, but Ginny was now allowed to spend more time at Grimmauld Place. She would help out with any tasks she could, and actually socialize with people, if only to preserve her sanity, Fleur had said.
Surprisingly, Dad had agreed, despite her Mum’s raving about Fleur, and Ginny couldn’t help but be excited at the possibility of getting out. Even if it was Grimmauld Place, it was still people and different, and Ginny was desperate for a change.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes How do you measure A year in the life?