A/N: I still don't own Harry Potter. More's the pity. JKR owns him. I just own the plot.
"Harry..." "Harry, please don't leave. I can't fight with you anymore. I haven't the strength."
The familiar sound of my own voice filters through the fog of sleep once again. I've already relived this scene every night this week, I don't see why I would stop now.
"I haven't the strength either, Ginny, but I don't know how to make it stop. I don't know how to make the pain and the anger stop. So I have to leave, because there's no reason that we both should suffer this."
The pain that I can hear in Harry's voice is overwhelming me again, even though this is only an echo, a memory. Hearing it from him that first time there on the meadow nearly broke my heart. I wonder if Harry ever knew how much we all loved him.
"And that's where you're wrong. But I know that you can't see that now."
For a second there I could see the light come back into his eyes. I almost thought that I had pulled off the impossible; that I had gotten through all the walls of grief and shame that kept Harry closed off from the world. But then the shadows came back and closed the door again. That was the last I'd seen of the real Harry, the one that I loved.
"I think that I see much clearer than you imagine. Goodbye, Ginny."
I wake up in a cold sweat again this morning. That makes six in a row now. Six days since Harry left. Left me, left the family that he had here, left England for all we know. He wouldn't even tell Ron and Hermione where he was going. Every night since then I've relived those last moments in my dreams.
Maybe I'm holding on too tight to the last memory I have of him in hopes that it might never fade. That would certainly be romantic of me. Too bad it'll drive me mad if I keep it up much longer. Less than a week and already I miss him so much that it hurts. I mean really hurts, there's a dull ache in my chest that won't leave. Maybe that's just from crying myself to sleep every night, though.
Maybe, maybe. Seems that all I've got left is maybes. Maybe I could have loved him better. Maybe then he wouldn't have left. Maybe I could have begged to go with him, snuck a portkey into his luggage, done something. But maybe doesn't do either of us any good.
I look outside the window. It's still dark; the sun hasn't risen yet. Which means I'm up even earlier than usual. This is going to be a very long day since there's no way I'm going back to sleep after all that.
It's far too early for breakfast, and I don't want to risk waking the rest of the house at this unholy hour, so I put on something a bit warmer and take a walk around the meadow. It reminds me of Harry, of course. Everything reminds me of Harry these days. I find myself drifting towards the place where we had that final conversation. Right over there, at the top of a small hill. Under the shade of an ancient tree that we used to climb when we were all much smaller. So many memories. At least these memories are happy. I climb into a low branch of the tree and lose myself in the memories for awhile, to take away some of the pain I feel.
My trip down memory lane is interrupted by the flap of wings next to my head. I jump, and nearly tumble out of my perch in the tree. My wand is already in my hand from reflexes born of years of fighting. But the hex I was about to throw at the offending bird dies on my lips. It's Hedwig. Harry didn't even take her with him. He probably did something to keep her from finding him, too. He did everything he could to sever his ties completely. Harry never did do anything by halves, so I shouldn't be surprised. But the knowledge that he didn't even take his owl with him brings all the pain back in a rush.
Some minutes later, when my storm of grief has settled again, I open my eyes to find Hedwig hasn't moved. She's still sitting there, just watching me. I suppose she has a lot of practice watching humans in the midst of grief. I reach out to her, enjoying the soft feel of her feathers beneath my hand. I notice that it's starting to get lighter, too. The sun should be coming up soon. I don't think I'll go inside just yet, it would be a shame to pass up the sunrise when I have such a perfect vantage. I try not to think about watching the sunset with Harry on the night less than a week ago. But the thought rises anyway, unbidden. The grief this time is softer now, though; bittersweet where before it was only bitter.
The sunrise is quite spectacular, really. I would love to watch them more often, if only they weren't so early in the day. I am not a morning person. If it weren't for these nightmares.... Can I really call it a nightmare, even? It is the last memory I have of my beloved, even if it wasn't the most pleasant. I'd call that something to be cherished, not feared. At least, it shouldn't be a cause for fear. But to relive it every night in such detail... I can't go on this way much longer.
Hedwig hoots softly at me, jarring me back into reality again. Hedwig... It's getting on toward morning now; the sunrise is almost over. Time for her to be finding a nice place to roost for the day. I could take her inside of course, but I don't know if I could stand the sympathetic looks I know I'd get from my family. They mean well, of course, but it's better to just let things go back to normal for a while, at least until the wounds heal. Not heal though, if that's even possible it would take far too long. At least until they scab over; until they're not so raw.
Hedwig's presence here gives me an idea though. Harry's ring. My ring now, since he gave it to me. His mother's ring, actually. It was found on his 18th birthday, when the Gringotts' goblins told him about the other Potter vault. As if there wasn't enough gold in the first one to live three lifetimes on. But the second vault held something much more valuable than gold. It held memories. All those little trinkets, keepsakes, photo albums. Ten generations and more of family history. Some of it had been there forever. But there was a lot of it that had been there only a short time, relatively. Harry's parents, when they knew how much danger they were in, had almost everything valuable moved into the vault for safekeeping. So many things that would have been lost when Voldemort destroyed Godric's Hollow.
We were so happy then. Voldemort was dead, again. Harry had won, he'd saved us all. I knew he would, really. After he told us that prophecy, I refused to even admit there was any other possibility. For a couple of months after the victory, we were truly happy together, Harry and I. When the goblins opened that family vault for him, and he found his mother's ring... Not her wedding ring, that she was wearing when she died, and it wasn't recovered. Just a silly little ring that she had worn as a schoolgirl. But it was still her ring. And Harry gave it to me, and told me that I should have it. That he couldn't give me a wedding ring yet, there was too much still to do. But that I could have this ring, with a promise.
There's a spell I learned. 6th year, when the war was getting really bad and they thought about closing the school, the four of us spent every waking moment in the library, searching. Madam Pince gave us all a pass to the restricted section and Dumbledore even let us into his private library. They all knew what we were trying to find. I guess they figured we'd done so well up to now that they should just let us do whatever we thought was right. We all learned a lot of spells that spring, trying to find something that would work to defeat Voldemort. There's one I remember now. A silly little spell, really, often used by lovers who were forced to be apart. Instead of sending a sappy love letter, full of words that are never good enough to express what you feel, you can cast the spell and put an echo of your emotions into an object. Only the one you cast it for can feel them. A silly little spell, like I said, but I've always been a bit of a romantic so I loved it when I read it. And I guess part of me was still holding out for Harry to notice me, someday. Maybe I thought this spell might help. Turns out he'd been noticing plenty, he just didn't do anything.
I take the ring out from under my cloak and unclasp the chain that holds it around my neck. When Harry started to get overwhelmed by his grief he tried to take it back, said that it wasn't fair to me to be stuck with someone so broken. I told him that he couldn't take back a gift like that. I'd stop wearing it, if that's what he really wanted, but that I'd never forget his promise. So I put it in a safe place, to wait. After Harry left I took it out again. It made the pain a little easier, to have it close. But I still couldn't wear it on my hand, because I told him I wouldn't.
I put the ring, still on its chain, around Hedwig's neck. She's probably got a better chance of finding Harry than any of the rest of us do, and if she does I want her to carry a message for me. I gather up all the love I still have for Harry, every last bit, and I imagine myself pushing all of that love into this tiny circle of gold. As I whisper the incantation, the ring grows hot in my hand, so hot that I almost drop it in surprise. The description said it would get warmer depending on the strength of the spell, so I guess I must have done it right. But only Harry can receive the message, so there's nothing else I can do. I give Hedwig one last stroke and send her on her way. She should be free, at least until she finds her true master again.
A slow sigh escapes me as I wonder about that last thought. I should be free, too. That's what Harry wanted, after all, that's why he did this thing. I'll never be completely free, of course, but neither of us wants me to pine away with longing. Until he chooses to come back to me, I can only wait; I've done all that I can do.
I turn to go inside for breakfast, feeling a bit lighter. I whisper a prayer to whoever might be listening to keep Harry safe, and to bring him back to me whole. The wind carries my words away.