The residents of Little Whinging were in agreeance about two things. It
had been abnormally depressing and misty for summer – a condition which
had persisted since last year – and the sound coming from the open
window of the smallest bedroom of the Dursleys was a clear indicator of
someone or something very out of the ordinary.
Harry Potter was
sitting on his bedroom’s wooden floor, dragging a fork across the grain
and leaving deep scratches in the once pristine surface. Somewhere in
the back of his mind, he knew that his aunt would be livid with him
when she saw him, but so far, she had not bothered to enter his bedroom
that summer. Even if she had seen what he’d done, he simply couldn’t
bring himself to care.
A hollow space had been carved into
Harry’s chest since last month when he left Ginny at Dumbledore’s
funeral. The ride home from Hogwarts had done nothing to decrease the
empty feeling that threatened to suffocate him at any moment as he
stared languidly at Ginny’s reflection in the window of the carriage
they shared with Ron and Hermione. Ginny had been accepting of his
decision to seek Voldemort alone – too accepting, he now thought – and
the resulting wall that had sprung up between them seemed to act as a
very personal, very stubborn Dementor. Nothing Harry had done since his
arrival in Little Whinging had lessened the emotionally strangling
sensation, and by the time July had arrived, he was certain that death
would almost be preferable to it.
It took enormous willpower
to stay with the Dursleys that summer. Whenever Dudley would sneak a
punch in the stomach, or he’d been given a particularly small portion
at mealtimes, the desire to leave the abusive situation was almost
overwhelming. It was only the memory of his promise to Dumbledore that
kept him there. For even in death, his mentor continued to hold sway on
His eyes wandered to the glowing red numbers on his clock. It was almost time to leave.
wrenched himself from the floor and lazily began to pack his
belongings. Trainers, trousers, socks, and books were piled into the
battered trunk. His copy of Advanced Potion Making lay on top; the one
that once belonged to Professor Snape – the Half-Blood Prince. He
covered it with an old, smelly shirt and searched his room for more of
his belongings before the anger surrounding that memory returned.
loose one of the floorboards, Harry shone his lit wand into the hollow
space to check for anything he may have missed. A few crumbs of
long-eaten cake from Mrs. Weasley and a wrapper from a Pepper Imp
reflected the light, but nothing more.
On the tiny nightstand
next to his bed, Harry gently took a framed picture of his parents,
dancing amidst falling leaves. They paused and smiled at him, waving as
if they didn’t know they were about to be murdered. Harry moved to the
trunk and was about to place the picture inside when he stopped.
Looking more closely at the photograph, something struck him. He had
always known he’d looked very much like his father and confirmed that
fact by checking his reflection in a mirror on the wall. When he looked
back down again, his eyes lingered on his mother and his breath caught
in his chest. She looked an awful lot like Ginny with her long red hair
and freckles. The only difference was a slight variation in the cheeks
and the eyes. The thought of him and Ginny dancing carefree together
forced his heart to beat rapidly in this chest. What had he been
thinking? How could he have left her? How could he tear himself away
from the only person he’d ever really... loved?
That’s what it
was, Harry had decided during the last few weeks of solitude. It was
why he’d left her in the first place and remembering why renewed his
resolve. Voldemort would use his love for her against him and he
honestly didn’t know if he’d be able to choose between Ginny and the
rest of the world.
Mooning over Ginny didn’t help him prepare
for his eventual departure, however and with a shuddering breath to
clear his head, Harry set the picture inside his pillow to cover his
parents mocking smiles. When Voldemort was gone, then he’d be able to
have that happiness with Ginny. When he’d removed that monster from the
world, he’d be able to live again. Until then, he’d just have to keep
focused and not fall into the trap of wanting to live someone else’s
At long last, Arthur Weasley appeared at the front door of Number Four to collect Harry.
Harry,” the kindly man said as he entered the living room. He wore a
warm smile that was mingled with worry and exhaustion. “All ready,
Harry hefted his trunk, packed for the last time and
turned to survey the place he had lived but never considered his own.
The Durselys appeared quite satisfied to let Harry leave their lives
without comment. Dudley was ignoring them by sitting as close to the
telly as possible, without touching his nose to the screen and had the
volume turned up well beyond a normal level. Uncle Vernon seemed
oblivious to both Harry’s impending departure and his son’s attempt to
ignore them. It was only when his eyes swept across his aunt did
something change; she was looking at him with a most peculiar
expression, as if she knew that it was the last time she’d every see
him again, and one way or another, Harry reflected, she was probably
She approached Harry, who was now a full two inches
taller than her and with wringing hands and a watery smile; she did
something she’d never done in his entire life. She hugged him.
care of yourself,” she said hastily before pulling away as quickly as
she’d come. Then, she turned her back on him and began to reflexively
wipe the kitchen counter. She didn’t look back.
realised what had happened before he was being led away towards a
Ministry car and on to the Burrow. The only thing that interrupted his
pondering his aunt’s strange behaviour was the fact that he knew in
only a couple short hours, he’d be back at the Burrow. He’d have to
deal with seeing Ginny again.
Dust trailed the
black sedan in great billowing clouds as its tyres hit the dirt road
leading to the Burrow. With a small squeak, the brakes brought the car
to a stop and the cloud of dust continued forward, enshrouding Harry’s
view out the vehicle’s window.
“Welcome home,” Mr. Weasley said softly.
saw his half-lit face smiling at him as the dust swirled on the other
side of the glass. Something warm swelled in Harry’s chest and he
smiled in return. “Thanks. It’s good to be back.”
collected Harry’s things and entered the Burrow. “Arthur!” Mrs. Weasley
exclaimed. “I’m so glad you made it safely.” She landed a kiss on his
cheek and turned to look at Harry.
“And Harry, dear; you look
like you’ve not eaten for a month. Didn’t those Muggles feed you at
all?” She wrapped him in a motherly hug and gave a disparaging sniff.
“I’m so glad you’re here. Let me get you something to eat.”
Weasley began to throw pots on the stove and gather ingredients from
the pantry while Mr. Weasley banished his trunk to the Twins’ room.
Harry heard a noise at the garden door and turned to see the one person
he’d most hoped he would and would not see – Ginny.
Harry,” she said as he sucked in a breath. Her hair was pulled back
with a red ribbon, exposing her neck. She wore a simple powder blue
t-shirt underneath a pair of cut-off overalls. Her face was streaked
with mud and a fine sheen of sweat graced her brow. She was more
beautiful than he remembered and seeing her again confirmed what he
already knew – his resolve wouldn’t last long in her presence.
took a step backwards. “I – I better go unpack my things,” he said
awkwardly, gesturing vaguely towards the stairs. He turned and took
another step when his foot caught on the table leg, sending him
sprawling across the floor. Mrs. Weasley started at the stove and bent
to help him up.
“There you are, Harry. Mind the table next
time, will you?” She returned to the now boiling pot and began to pour
in sliced vegetables, but looked suspiciously between him and Ginny,
who he had not once stopped staring at. “Is there something the matter,
“N – No,” he stammered. “Just going to see about my
things.” He turned, careful to avoid the table and two chair, and then
took two loping strides before he was on the stairs and climbing
upward. Before he was at the top, however, he caught Ginny’s eye once
more and saw that same blazing look on her face that had been there
before he very first kissed her. The distraction caused him to miss the
last step, grazing his shin on the missed step and fell face first onto
“Blimey, Harry,” said a familiar voice. “No need to fall at my feet. I’m not that important.”
A pair of strong hands helped him back onto his feet and Harry rubbed at his injured lef. “Hey, Ron.”
see Ginny, yet?” he asked as they walked to Harry’s room. He pulled two
thin straps of liquorice out from his pocket and handed one to Harry,
who was re-arranging his glasses.
“Yeah,” Harry confirmed,
noticing the puking pastille he found last year at this time was still
on his bed, now perched on the pillow, as if someone was telling him
that he’d better take it this time. “I did, actually.”
Ron stopped and gave him a searching look. “Better do something about that, mate,” he said, taking a great bite of liquorice.
Harry sighed. “I can’t. She’s better off here with your family, than traipsing around the country looking for Horcruxes.”
didn’t say anything, but his brows rose unbelievingly. They sat on his
bed and the smell of flowers met his nose, unencumbered by the
lingering scent of gunpowder. “Hey. Where’d all the boxes go?” For the
carpet was clear, and a vase of familiar, large flowers sat on a table
where there had once been stacks of the twins’ things.
and George took them to their flat,” Ron answered. Then crossing his
arms, he said, “But you’re not going to get out of answering me about
Harry grabbed the sweet from his pillow and
contemplated biting into it so he wouldn’t have to talk to Ron about
his sister – the sister that he was completely in love with, but
couldn’t be with until he killed the most evil wizard in fifty
years. Instead, he took a bite of the liquorice and chewed while Ron
began to pace in front of him.
“Look,” Ron said as he sat on
the bed. “When you and Ginny first got together, I was a little worried
that you’d... well, that you’d act like I’d been with Lavender.”
Harry snorted. Ginny would tie his tongue in knots before she’d let him use her as a snogging machine.
then I realised,” Ron continued, “that you’d never do that to Ginny. I
watched how you treated her, how she made you... calmer and more... alive.” Ron bit another piece of liquorice off and stood, chewing as he walked towards the open window.
“I know,” Harry relented. “I know I need her in my life. I just can’t...”
“Rubbish.” Ron turned around and faced Harry.
Harry looked his friend in the eye, his jaw set. “I can’t sit through another funeral, Ron. Not yours, not Hermione’s, and especially not Ginny’s.”
turned to face the window again and pocketed his sweet. “Yeah,” he said
after a long moment. “I know what you mean. If anything happened to you
or Ginny or Hermione... I’d...”
fell into a companionable silence, each lost in their own thoughts
about the prospect of losing loved ones, when Ron turned around and
walked over to Harry and grabbed his shoulders, forcing Harry to look
him in the eye. “I’ve learned one thing this year, Harry. When you were
with Dumbledore, and those Death Eaters were shooting curses at us, and
that Greyback...” here, Ron shuddered at the memory. “Well, I realised
something that you need to understand before you do something stupid. I
learned that we need to keep the ones we love close to us, or we might
lose them. You’re worried about losing Ginny if you let her come... She
wants to, you know?”
Harry’s eyes bugged at this.
Ron said with a nod. “She told me she was going to come with us, that
she didn’t give a damn about school, or Death Eaters, and that she...”
faltered and let go of Harry’s shoulders. “What? What else did she
say?” Harry asked, as if he were a hungry dog begging for scraps from
Ron smiled. “You’ll have to ask her. Just... think
about it.” His smile grew wicked and he whipped out his wand. “I’m of
age now - I can hex you if you don’t do something, you know?”
Harry smiled at the threat and held up his hands. “Only until my birthday.”
heard Mrs. Weasley calling for Ron in the distance. “Damn,” he said and
re-pocketed his wand. “I forgot I need to be helping dad with the
“You’re setting the wards with your dad?”
smile, more satisfied this time, and Ron straightened up a little.
“Bill’s too busy getting fitted for robes and stuff like that,
Charlie’s not going to be in until tonight, and the twins are working
double shifts at their shop. I’m the only one left.”
“Brilliant,” agreed Harry.
There was another call from downstairs. Ron cupped his hands to his mouth and pointed his head out the door.
“COMING!” he yelled and tapped on the pocket holding his wand. “Remember, I’ll be watching you.”
sat back against the wall and watched Ron leave the room. If seeing
Ginny again wasn’t bad enough, smelling her perfume, hearing how much
she wanted to go with him, and knowing she was close enough to touch if
he really wanted to, was enough to make the strongest man’s knees shake
with indecision. It was going to be a long month before school started
and Harry was beginning to wonder if he’d be better off back with the
With the wedding taking place at the
Burrow the next day, everyone was assigned chores. Ron, having finished
with the wards was degnoming the garden, was to set up the tables and
chairs, and then visit the twins in Diagon Alley for some last minute
purchases. Charlie had sent an owl explaining that he’d be arriving
even later than expected and Percy was far from being welcomed by
anyone but his mother. It’d be a miracle if he even showed up for the
“Harry?” asked Mrs. Weasley, who was balancing
several pieces of meat with her wand as they danced towards an open
oven. “Be a dear and peel some potatoes? I’m making a salad and just
don’t have time to magic them before dinner.”
grateful for something to do and walked into the small room off the
kitchen. There were at least a hundred of the large brown tubers piled
on a table and behind them a small, red-haired figure was already hard
at work stripping them of their skins. A large bowl sat between her and
another chair, where a vegetable peeler sat opposite on the table.
good,” Ginny said brightly. “I need the help.” She blew a stray strand
of hair out of her eyes and began to peel another potato.
watched helpless as the bit of hair worked its way loose once more and
fell inevitably back into her eyes. She tossed the bare potato into the
bowl and reached for another, again blowing the hair out of her face.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” she asked imperiously. “If we don’t get this lot finished in an hour, Mum’ll be skinning us next.”
Harry said, red-faced and sat down hastily in the empty seat. “Sorry,”
he muttered, grabbed the peeler, and reached for a potato. Instead of a
rough, dirty spud, his hand closed around something warm and soft. The
heat on his face spread to his ears and neck and he quickly moved to
grab another one from the pile.
As he began to run the peeler
along the length of the potato, he heard Ginny release a long, weary
sigh next to him. Luckily, she did not try to engage him in
conversation and Harry soon found himself deeply engrossed in peeling
The pile diminished considerably and Harry almost
forgot that he wasn’t alone when Ginny began to softly hum. It was a
tune they’d heard together on the wireless one night while she studied
for O.W.L.’s. They had just come back from a walk around the lake
flushed and happy. Ginny had zapped the wireless with her wand and they
danced around the common room until Hermione scolded them for not
studying. Ginny had been instantly repentant, but when their friend
looked away, poked her tongue out and giggled until they’d reached
their book bags. It had been the best bout of studying Harry had every
He shook his head clear and turned automatically to see Ginny’s face a few inches from him. “Huh?”
“You’d better stop peeling that one or you’ll be scraping skin.”
“Wha – oh!”
his hand was half a potato, the entire top had been peeled down to the
centre. Harry laughed half-heartedly and put the partial spud into the
“What were you thinking about? Just then,” asked Ginny.
Her hair was still up, he noticed, but the streaks of mud were gone,
revealing an adorable spray of freckles across her nose and cheeks.
“What was I thinking about? You,” he blurted and instantly regretted it.
didn’t speak, but finished peeling her potato and placed it in the now
full bowl. “I-I’m going to go empty this,” she said haltingly. She bent
over to grab the bowl with both hands and lifted. Struggling with her
load, she left the room, leaving a fresh scent of flowers lingering
Harry groaned into his starch covered hands.
wedding itself was magnificent. Harry had never been to a Wizarding
wedding before and found himself taken in by the magical decorations,
enchanted, musical faeries, and gobs and gobs of delicious food.
passed a knot of guests surrounding the large wedding cake, pointing
and commenting on the blue and white dragons on the bottom of each
tier. Every so often, they would spout a miniature flame and the white
dragon would graze its head under the chin of the blue dragon.
had almost fully recovered from his encounter with Fenrir Greyback. He
still had some very deep, pink scars, but had yet to show any werewolf
tendencies. A quick scan of the entrees didn’t show any raw meat and
Harry was grateful.
Fleur was radiant in her white wedding
dress, and had almost every boy lolling their tongues out after her,
including an easily smitten Ron. Harry had overheard Ginny talking
about Fleur to Hermione when he caught them walking out of the house.
Hermione had been looking daggers at Ron as he followed after Fleur
with a small group of boys. It was Ginny’s comments that had intrigued
him, however, as it seemed that the Fleur’s display of loyalty to Bill
convinced Ginny to stop calling her Phlegm.
When it was time
for everyone to follow Bill and Fleur onto the conjured dance floor in
the garden, Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to avoid Ginny any longer.
Everyone else was paired off – Ron with an agitated, but somewhat
mollified Hermione, Bill with Fleur, Molly and Arthur.... Ginny’s eyes
were locked onto his and he gulped. He moved into position opposite her
and resigned himself to making the best of it.
speak at first; seeming to know exactly what the other was thinking.
Harry took her carefully around the waist with his right hand and led
with his other. He was equally careful not to notice the way her
sleeveless gold chiffon dress conformed to her figure, or the way her
eyelashes sparkled in the sunlight.
Halfway through the
second song, Harry caught a glimpse of Ron dancing with Hermione. A
surge of hope that perhaps Ron would save him from the blissful agony
of dancing with the most beautiful girl on the dance floor was
instantly quashed when Ron caught his eye and patted the end of his
wand protruding from his trouser pocket.
They danced for three
songs before Harry broke off. Her eyes pleaded with him, as if to say
that she needed to spend more time with him before he left, but he knew
his limits. Her perfume was too pleasant and her face too lovely to
linger. Bowing slightly, Harry turned to walk in whatever direction
would take him away from his greatest source of comfort.
Please wait,” she implored from behind him and he felt her hand on his
shoulder, causing it to burn where she was touching him.
swallowed and lowered his head, but did not turn around. He felt the
uncomfortable stares of the other guests – most of whom were related to
Ginny – on his back. Ginny must have noticed as well, because she
hooked her arm through his and gave it a gentle tug.
“Let’s get out of here,” she whispered in his ear, sending shivers of pleasure racing down his spine.
He did not protest, but some small part of him knew that being alone with Ginny would lead to nothing – and everything – good.
led them to one of the places they’d spent countless hours together
over the last three weeks of the previous summer. Underneath a large
weeping willow sat a piece of granite that had been carved into the
equivalent of a sofa by one of her brothers several years ago. It
featured large sweeping sides and a smooth place to sit that easily fit
“Sit,” she commanded and Harry obeyed, tucking
his feet underneath his knees. She remained standing, however, and set
her jaw in a way he’d seen her mother do on countless occasions when
the twins or Ron had pushed their limits a little too far. She drew her
arms across her chest and glowered down at him.
“I need to
know how you feel about me,” she demanded determinedly, but Harry could
detect a slight streak of fear in her eyes. “How you really feel about me.”
in an attempt to wet his parched mouth, he felt a tingle in his chest.
“You know how I feel,” he said with a barely audible murmur, staring
fixedly at her slim ankles.
“Do I? You never told me. I need to hear it.”
hesitated. If he said it out loud, he’d be admitting too much. The
tingle in his chest began to vibrate. Before he could say anything,
however, Ginny spoke.
“Because I can’t help but wonder if
you’ve been feeling just as empty and alone as I’ve been feeling.” He
could hear the uncertainty in her voice and it ate at him that he was
the cause of her pain. “Tell me that you don’t hurt when we’re apart.
Tell me it doesn’t kill you to pretend we’re not together...” She
trailed off and sniffed, causing the vibration in his chest to burn.
Harry,” she interrupted and sat cross-legged in front of him, exposing
more of her long, pale legs. “You need to look me in the eye before you
say anything. I need to know.”
Unwillingly, he brought
his head up and the sight of her moist brown eyes penetrated him like
nothing else. He knew then what he had to do, but it was still
extremely difficult. “I – I have very strong feelings for you, Ginny.”
There was what seemed to be a snapping sound in his chest and the
burning instantly melted into a pleasant pool of warmth that spread
throughout his body. “You said you never gave up on me and ever since
then, I’ve not been able to figure out why someone like me would
deserve...” He trailed off because he could sense a subtle change in
the air between them. His plan wasn’t working at all.
seemed poised on edge, trying to decide whether she was going to attack
or run away. After wavering for a moment she leaned forward. “You
idiot!” she screamed as she balled her hands into fists and began to
pummel his chest. “I want to be in your life forever, but your stupid noble intentions won’t give me a place until you’ve killed Voldemort, but that’s just silly,
Harry!” She stopped hitting him, though he would have let her continue,
feeling like he deserved every bit of punishment. “It’s just... it’s
just stupid.” She seemed to run out of anger just then. Her fists
relaxed and wrapped around his chest, pulling him close instead.
Harry’s own hands found her exposed back and returned the embrace. He
never wanted to leave her again and knew that he wouldn’t be able to
push her away any longer.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He repeated that over and over in his mind, letting a stray tear drop into her hair.
seeming to sense what Harry needed just then, Ginny raised her head and
closed the distance between their faces. If kissing Ginny before had
been like living through several sunlit days, then kissing her after a
prolonged absence was like swimming in an ocean of her love.
came up for air, Harry opening his eyes to see the tracks made on her
face by the tears she’d just shed. “I have strong feelings for you
too,” she said, smiling a crooked smile. “It’s called being in love.”
nodded and then pulled her head to his shoulder again. He didn’t know
what the future would hold, or how long he’d be able to spend his life
with Ginny, but he knew that she belonged at his side through whatever
Voldemort was determined to throw at him. Together, they would conquer
or be conquered. Together, they would meet their future.
Bonus house points to the people that can spot the two food-related
references to “The Letters of Summer”. It’s author, Kokopelli, aided
and abetted this little foray into the Post-HBP universe. This version
has been revised from the original.