Disclaimer –All of the characters belong to the great J. K. Rowling. I’ve just borrowed them for a bit and promise to return them as good as new (fingers crossed). This story and others can also be found at http://www.buffenbarger.net/felixfelicis
Ginny stood on the front porch of the Burrow letting the warm night air press in on her. She was thankful for the slight breeze that ruffled her hair and tickled her feet; it would have been unbearable outside otherwise. Even with the breeze her face still glistened slightly from the warmth of a summer’s night in Ottery St. Catchpole. She was warm, but she would still rather be out there and away from probing looks than inside with her family.
The faded wooden railing was rough on her hands as she held it tightly, stepping carefully onto the lowest rail and leaning out to see the last bit of a deep red sunset. In a faraway corner of her mind it reminded her of times she’d spent with Harry, but that didn’t matter now. None of it did. She had to block him from her thoughts or she wouldn’t survive this… slow death. She had felt like she was dying one day at a time ever since she’d been apart from him.
She sighed and stepped down, crossing her arms and leaning on the railing. The breeze twirled its fingers through her hair.
In many ways she had already conquered some of her unruly feelings. At first she had cried, tucked away in her room and all alone, and then she had just gotten angry. Her mother had unfortunately borne the brunt of her attacks, though with the heart of a saint Ginny later realized. Sometimes, on her worst days, she had even volunteered to help rid the overgrown garden of gnomes. It gave her time to release her anger in a way that didn’t risk damage to the house or the feelings of those in it.
Now, though, she had managed to move past most of those days and into the next phase of her plan – beginning to forget parts of him. She had started with his hands. She tried to forget the way they held her so tightly and how they moved over her body when he was kissing her. She tried to forget how rough they felt after Quidditch practices and hours of time on a broom. She spent a week trying to forget his hands before deciding to move on to something easier. She hadn’t come up with what that was yet, which was why she was outside by herself this evening. She watched vacantly as the red light of dusk turned to the deep blue of night.
Sitting down in one of the rickety old rocking chairs, she closed her eyes to find some part of Harry to forget.
In the cramped hallway outside Ginny’s bedroom, Ron reached out his hand to knock quietly on her door. The warmth of the hallway wasn’t any better than the air outside and he hoped he could keep this talk quick. He really wanted to get back upstairs to his own somewhat-cooler room.
At the first quiet thump of his knuckles on the hollow wood the door squeaked open a few inches. He felt the soft movement of air from within carrying the faint scent of flowers. Never being quite the type for knocking anyway, he pushed the door all the way open and peered into the darkened room.
“Ginny?” he said hesitantly into the empty room.
A few minutes later Ron looked out through the battered screen door. In some small way he wished she wasn’t actually out there so he wouldn’t have to go through with this. Taking a deep breath, he pushed open the door, cringing as it announced his presence.
Without so much as a movement, she spoke.
“Hi, Ron,” she said quietly.
There wasn’t a single feeling in those two words and it hurt his heart to hear her so numb. He stepped out from the door to lean against a rail-post. Facing out into the wildness of the overgrown lawn, he wondered sadly when they might have time to care for it again. Shifting his big feet slightly he turned nervously toward his little sister. He watched as she sat with her legs pulled up in the chair in front of her and her hands picked idly at a hole in her pajamas. He moved to sit on the old wood rail, looking out at what was left of the sunset and glancing back at her occasionally.
She continued to look away, alternating her eyes from the idle work of her fingers to the stone wall of the garden. Ron knew she wasn’t really looking at anything, just trying to avoid his gaze. He thought of times past when they had been such close friends, before school, before Harry.
“I’m sorry,” he said softly.
She lifted her head to look at him and he was saddened by the look in her eyes. They used to shine so brightly.
She continued to look at him for several moments before turning away again.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because I haven’t been… Well, I haven’t been a good brother to you.” He glanced out across the deep weeds again and then slid off the railing, turning to put his hands on it. He was thoughtful for a while, not surprised that she hadn’t said any more. He knew he hadn’t been the brother or the friend that he should have been. There were so many times, countless times, over the years at school when he had brushed her aside unaware of how his disinterest had hurt her.
It had finally hit home with him this summer. He watched her more carefully than she knew. His sense of her feelings was sharper than ever, though certain female friends of his might disagree. She was hurting. It was the deep hurt of being cast aside by someone she thought she could trust. He finally made the connection to his own actions, past and present, and decided he had to talk to her. He had to try to apologize. That was why he was here now.
“C’mon,” he said, turning to her and offering his hand with a boyish grin.
There was a flash of something in her eyes that reminded him of when she was a little girl. They had truly been the best of friends then. Her trust in him had been absolute. As she reached out and took his hand he thought he saw that trust again, but the next moment it was gone. It was replaced by the shroud of emptiness that she cast over herself just after Dumbledore’s funeral.
He led her carefully across the porch, pointing out a loose nail so she wouldn’t step on it, and down the steps. Hand-in-hand they walked into the garden. He couldn’t help but notice how different she was now compared to the little girl in his memories. She had grown up so much. He sadly realized that her face no longer held the innocence of childhood. It was now the face of someone with intimate knowledge of the uncertainty of the world and the pain of evil. He also couldn’t help but acknowledge her as beautiful, even though it agonized him to do so.
He stopped for a moment, taking both her hands and holding her out at arm’s length. It was as if he was trying to capture a picture of this moment in his memory. They never knew how many more moments like this they might have. He also made a mental note to tell his mum how proud he was of the girl she had raised.
She looked up at him questioningly as he stood gazing at her, deep in thought. Then, without warning, she hugged him. She hugged as if she knew he would be gone soon. He saw a tear run down her face as she buried herself in his shoulder.
Ron closed his eyes trying to keep his own emotions under control. When she finally pulled away he touched the wet spot on his shirt gently as if it were still a part of her.
“You might consider taking a shower now and then, Ron,” she laughed quietly behind her tears. They stood for a moment before she turned, taking his hand in hers and swinging it slightly as they started to walk again.
“I’m perfectly clean,” he said in mock offense, pulling his hand out of hers and turning his face away.
It wasn’t for naught that she had learned how to handle six older brothers. She pouted her bottom lip slightly and made her eyes pathetically wide and sad.
He glanced askew at her and turned away again to hide his grin. He knew he could only last so long against her impressive defenses and soon he turned back to her with all pretense of hurt gone.
They sat down on a cool stone bench in the thickest of the wild weeds. This secluded part of the garden had always been a favorite of Ginny’s and he was well aware of it. He was happy that she wanted to come here.
“Ginny, about what I meant earlier,” he began, but she interrupted.
“It’s okay, I know what you meant. You want to try to protect me from the world, but I’m not a little girl anymore. You, of all people, should know that, Ron.”
“I do know that.” He kicked at the ground with the tip of his shoe, sending up small clouds of dust. “I wasn’t trying to say… What I mean is that I should have tried harder. I should have included you in what we were doing. I shouldn’t have pushed you aside all these years. I’m sorry. All along I thought you were too young to handle it, but now…”
He turned to look at her. “Now I know that’s not true. If I’d just paid closer attention in your first year, we could have avoided so much trouble. And there were so many other times since then. I’m so sorry, Ginny.”
They sat in silence for a while. Ron was seemingly lost in his thoughts and Ginny was trying to rid something unknown from hers. It clawed at the corner of her mind, itching to get in, and she just couldn’t let it. It was a monster of hope, fear and pain; if it got out it could destroy her. If she could just learn to not feel then everything would be okay.
After a few minutes she felt his gaze on her again. Now there was something in his posture that put her on edge. She immediately brought all of her excuses to the tip of her tongue, readying them like tensed arrows.
“Er, listen, Ginny,” he began awkwardly. “I know it’s not my place really, but I see what you’re going through and –”
She cut him off with a jerk of her hand and a fierce glare.
“Don’t, Ron,” she growled. “Don’t even say you know what I’m going through because you don’t.” She crossed her arms and turned away from him.
“Ginny! I wasn’t… I didn’t…” He stopped and closed his mouth, turning away in anger.
The only sounds in the garden now were the swish of the wind through grass and the rustling of leaves touched by the invisible hand of Mother Nature. Ginny closed her eyes and felt her hair brush gently against her face. Ron sat running his hand compulsively up and down the rough edge of the seat.
“That’s not true,” he said finally, his voice breaking with his words. “I do know how you feel.”
Ginny unconsciously relaxed a little and turned to face him again putting one hand on his shoulder.
“Hermione?” she asked gently.
He shrugged her hand off. Though he hadn’t turned his face to her the slump of his shoulders told her she was right.
“How is she?” she asked. She hoped the innocent question might open the door for him to share more of his feelings – something he did almost as rarely as Harry.
“How should I know?” he said crossly. “After Harry got to his uncle’s house he wrote to say we shouldn’t come and that he would see us before the wedding. Hermione sent me a letter saying she thought we should still go. I sent one back saying we shouldn’t and that it might just make things worse for Harry. Then… then I didn’t hear back from her again.”
Ginny was suddenly wild with questions about why they were supposed to go visit Harry in the first place. With great determination she held herself back.
“How did you say it, Ron? Were you nice or were you… you?”
He turned to glare at her. “It’s not my fault if she gets upset because Harry doesn’t want us to come. I’m just trying to do what’s right for him and if she can’t –”
“I know, Ron, I know,” she said, trying to keep him calm. At least they weren’t talking about Harry anymore. Still, she couldn’t help herself from asking, “Did he say when he was coming?”
He turned to look at her, scrutinizing her features and searching for her feelings. She turned back to stone and for a moment thought she was successful, but then he smiled a little.
“He said he was coming two days before the wedding. So, tomorrow.”
“Oh,” she answered, looking away and biting her lower lip.
The darkness began to close in on them and when Ginny looked around she found it was getting difficult to see properly. She bent down and fiddled with something on the ground for a moment. When she sat back up a small fire was burning between them in the dirt, much to Ron’s surprise. He couldn’t help but be impressed.
“Where’d you learn to do that?” he asked in awe.
She grinned at him. “Hermione taught me.”
The look on his face was priceless. Such a range of emotions in such a short time she’d never seen on him. It took a great deal of control to hold back her laughter.
“You should talk to her about things. You two are meant to be together, you know.”
“And you two aren’t?” he asked softly but pointedly.
“That’s different,” she said simply. “He’s got things to do and if he doesn’t want me around then I won’t be.”
The compassion was evident in his eyes. She watched as he stood from their shared seat and moved to stand in front of her. He took her hands in his and pulled her down to sit in front of him.
“Harry’s a four-star arse for doing this to you,” he said rather strongly. She looked up surprised. It was a rare occurrence when Ron was angry enough with Harry to say it out loud. Not since his fourth year could she truly remember him saying anything bad about his friend.
“Well,” she began, “I know he’s got important things to do. The whole saving-the-world thing may be a bit melodramatic, but it’s real. I don’t know exactly what happened this year, but I know he’s never been so determined.” She swiped a wet spot from her eye and continued. “I know his part in this is important, but I can’t bear the thought of losing -” Ginny sighed and tried to herself back under control. “It’s just that… I feel so strongly for him. I –”
“You love him,” Ron interrupted.
She nodded and broke down in tears again.
Ron looked down at her, his heart welling up with emotion at her broken form. Then and there he vowed to have a few words with Harry. His sister might be strong, but Harry had crossed the line this time.
“Hey, Sis,” he said, wishing to help. “I know it’s not much, but you’ve always got me. I promise I’ll start being your big brother again. I’ll take care of you even if Harry is acting like a big prat.”
She looked up and the corners of her mouth twitched.
“Thanks,” she mouthed.
They sat quietly for some time enjoying their renewed sibling friendship. Mostly they just sat with their arms around each other leaning against the bench. There wasn’t anything more to be said tonight. When they finally got up to walk back through the garden, Ginny turned to her brother, smiling a little wider.
“I guess you don’t quite have the emotional range of a teaspoon anymore,” she grinned.
“Yeah,” he laughed, “but don’t tell Hermione. I’d like to surprise her!”
“Ron,” she said, stopping. “Promise me you’ll at least try to talk to her. If Harry’s coming tomorrow then she won’t be far behind, right?”
“Well then, when she gets here find some time to be alone and tell her how you feel. Just be honest. Everyone except you knows she feels the same way about you. Don’t you think you’ve waited long enough?”
He sighed deeply. “Okay, I’ll talk to her. I think I’m going to have a little chat with Harry, too.”
His last words were muttered under his breath, but Ginny heard anyway. She closed her eyes for a moment and put her stone face on once more. It just wasn’t worth getting her hopes up again, was it?
A/N – I wrote all four chapters in about three days while on a business trip (hey, I had to do something). This is mostly Harry/Ginny, but when we get to Ron/Hermione I’d like to know what you think of them since I don’t write them very often.