Ginny moaned, rolled over, and pressed her face deep into her pillow.
"Ginny! Are you awake?"
Of course she was awake. How could she be otherwise with her mother shouting her name loud enough to awaken the dead? Or loud enough to wake up Mrs Black, anyway. Ginny was surprised she couldn’t hear the portrait's screams mingling with her mother's voice. Being insulted by a batty old picture would have been a lovely way to start her birthday.
"Ginevra Molly Weasley!"
The voice pounded in her ears. In fact, it was right by her right ear. Her mother’s voice was emanating from the small clock that stood on her bedside table. She picked it up and threw it across the room, where it hit the solid oak wardrobe with a dull thud.
Ginny shifted position, this time pressing the pillow down over her ears. She did not want to get up. She was not going to get up, today of all days.
Today of all days. Today, her birthday. Her fourteenth birthday. Fourteen years ago, she was being born. Fourteen years ago, Voldemort was in full force. Fourteen years ago, he had not been defeated. Fourteen years ago, Harry still had his parents.
The mere thought of Harry sent a lead weight to her stomach. It was tomorrow; his hearing was tomorrow. Tomorrow, they'd know for good whether he would come back or not. Ginny could feel her chest rising and falling in shuddering jerks. What if he didn't come back? What would happen? He'd be so miserable away from Hogwarts. He wouldn't be safe if they took his wand away.
In the back of her mind, though, she knew she was not thinking solely of Harry. What about Ron? And Hermione? They'd be distraught. And what about her? Ginny felt hot tears form in her eyes. School without Harry. She wouldn't see him. She wouldn't be able to sit there and just watch him in the common room. Not that she was going to do that this year, she reminded herself crossly. She was not going to blush, she was not going to stare longingly, she was not going to mope. She was pleased with her progress so far these holidays. Hermione had noticed. Ginny smiled; Hermione was good at noticing.
Hermione was too good at noticing. She'd noticed that Ginny wasn't blushing or staring or moping, yet Ginny thought that Hermione was well aware that Ginny hadn't 'got over' Harry. Ginny huffed into her pillow. No, she'd just plain old given up.
Glancing over, Ginny saw that Hermione's bed was empty. She probably ought to get up...but getting up would mean facing things.
Two ostentatious pops left her no choice.
"C'mon, Ginny," George said from his position on Ginny's feet. "Mum's about to blow her fuse."
"You really need to come downstairs," Fred said. "Mind you, you'll have to walk."
"Unlike those of us who can Apparate."
"Gits," Ginny muttered, pulling herself up and hoping that her face was dry. The twins' predictable reaction was oddly comforting.
"Now, that wasn't very nice of her, was it, George?" said Fred.
"No, Fred, it wasn't."
"I'm tempted not to give her our present," Fred said.
"I'm not sure if she deserves it," George finished.
Ginny swung her legs out of bed and reached for her wand.
"That's our girl," Fred said, beaming at her.
"Wait a sec," George said. Two pops later, he was back, holding a messily and colourfully wrapped parcel.
Ginny felt a small choke in her throat. She hadn't expected anyone to remember, really, let alone get her a present. She felt a rush of love for Fred and George as she took her present.
"Open it here," Fred said.
Ginny's gratitude was checked by their looks of expectation. "What have you done to it?"
"What?" spluttered Fred.
"I'm wounded that you don't trust us," George gasped.
"She's actually quite sensible," Fred said.
"But there's nothing wrong with this one - we promise," George said quickly.
Ginny examined the present. It seemed harmless, but so did a Canary Cream. "So you won't mind me opening it in front of Mum, then?
"Look, Ginny," George said, "You've got to open it here, and you can't tell Mum. But there really is nothing wrong with this present."
"Then why..." Ginny stopped. She might as well just open it. She wasn't in the mood to argue today, and being a canary might be fun. She slid her fingers under the folds of the wrapping paper and tugged.
An Extendable Ear that had escaped their mother's purge. A bag of Ton-Tongue Toffees, and...
"Oh, my goodness," Ginny yelped, as she held up dress robes made of a soft, shimmery material.
"You can't tell Mum," George said.
"But where did you get them from? How could you afford them? I can't accept this." Beautiful though the robes were, she just couldn't let the twins spend that much on her.
"It's all right; we...earned more than we expected to and thought you might need a new outfit," Fred said.
"No buts," George said with a grin. "I'd go down, if I were you. Mum's probably cursed your breakfast by now.
Two pops, and Ginny was left alone with her dress robes and her confusion.
When Ginny got downstairs, Ron and Hermione were sitting at the breakfast table with the twins. Hermione leapt up and gave Ginny a fierce hug.
“Happy Birthday!” she said.
Ginny patted Hermione on the back and felt awkward. It was only a birthday, and it wasn’t even an important age. She supposed that birthdays for Hermione would be more special, coming from such a small family.
“Yeah, ‘appy Burrday,” Ron said through a mouthful of food.
“Don’t speak with your mouth full, Ron,” her mother said as she brought the second batch of bacon over to the table. She turned to Ginny, slapping Ron’s hand from the bacon as she did so. “Don’t grab, Ron. Happy Birthday, dear.”
Ginny smiled weakly. She sat down next to Hermione, who brought out a heavy, square gift.
“Thanks, Hermione,” Ginny said, trying to look enthusiastic at the thought of another book. She tore the paper and looked up at Hermione, who was smiling knowingly.
“Thank you,” Ginny said again, running her fingers along the wooden box, stroking the Celtic knotwork along the lid. “It’s lovely.”
“I thought you could keep your jewellery and hair bands in it, to stop you losing them,” Hermione said.
Ginny grinned. She’d ‘borrowed’ Hermione’s hair bands quite a lot over the years.
“Ron has something for you, too, don’t you, Ron?” Hermione said.
Ginny laughed at Ron’s grimace.
“All right, all right! Ginny, I – er – made you a card.”
Under their mother’s eye, Fred and George kept eating their breakfast quietly, although Ginny could see that their shoulders were shaking. She had trouble not giggling as Ron slid a piece of parchment over the table, his ears red.
Ginny examined her ‘card’. There was a rudely drawn picture of a Quidditch player upon it, a CC scrawled on his robes. Inside, Ron had written ‘I’ll buy you a butterbeer on the first Hogsmeade weekend.’ She looked up and caught Ron’s eye. He looked back at her guiltily. He’d obviously forgotten, and she couldn’t really blame him; she had been preoccupied by Harry, too. It still hurt a bit, though.
“Bill left a card,” her mum was saying. “Nothing from Charlie yet or P... but the post from Romania’s always late. This is from your father and me.” With that, her mother gave Ginny a present, which Ginny opened to reveal a hairbrush with ‘Ginevra’ engraved on the handle and a pair of silver earrings. As Ginny hugged her mum, her mother squeezed her shoulder and whispered, “I’m sorry we can’t have a party or anything. But the timing’s so bad.”
“I don’t want a fuss, Mum; this is great. Thanks.”
After her breakfast, Ginny returned to her room to find two owls waiting for her. The first, she recognised as Hermes, Percy’s owl, that he’d been given when he became a prefect. She scowled at it and then stopped herself. It wasn’t the owl’s fault that his owner was a first class git.
“Dear Ginny, Many happy returns of the day.
Your brother, Percy”
Well, Ginny thought, scrumpling up the paper and stuffing it into her pocket. That was worse than nothing at all. She didn’t want to hear from bloody Percy, and if he was working with Fudge, who was trying to get Harry expelled, why then, he wasn’t a brother at all. He was just some ... arse who had the same colour hair.
The second owl was also familiar, although she’d warned Michael when she’d come to Grimmauld Place that he wasn’t to write very often. Ginny read the letter, smiled a little, and unwrapped a leather bracelet. She put it on, although it was purple and clashed with her hair, and felt a bit more special than she had done when she’d woken up.
Then she heard the door to Harry and Ron’s room open. Rushing to the door, she peered through a crack and saw Harry emerge and head downstairs. She slipped out and followed him down. Standing at the threshold of the kitchen, she watched as Hermione and Ron’s attention snapped from their bickering to Harry. Hermione put on a smile of forced cheer and looked at Harry with large, worried eyes. The twins began to joke and mess about, while Ron’s face was an agony of indecision.
“Harry, dear, did you sleep well? You look tired still. Are you hungry? Here, sit down; I’ve just cooked some sausages. Would you like a drink? Ron, get Harry some orange juice.”
Her mother went into mothering overdrive, and Ginny pressed herself into the door to watch, just for a few seconds more, as Harry began to eat his breakfast.
“Ginny, can you hear me?”
Ginny stirred and woke up, feeling miserable. It took her a few seconds to shake off the memory of that birthday, ten years ago now.
Ten years to the day.
“Ginny? You awake?”
“No,” Ginny mumbled, rolling over and hitting a warm mound beside her.
“Are you sure? Because that sounded like an answer to me.”
Blearily, she opened her eyes, to see Harry Potter staring down at her, a big grin on his face.
How many times had this happened? How many times had she dreamed of him and forgotten, upon awaking, how much life had changed since then? She smiled. As a girl, she had dreamed of him and woken up to the grief that it was nothing but a dream. And now ... now she dreamed of when she was a girl, and woke up to the joy of having him, there, next to her, his face on the pillow beside hers and his hands stroking her cheek, her arm, her back.