since feeling is first who pays any attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool while Spring is in the world
my blood approves, and kisses are a better fate than wisdom lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry – the best gesture of my brain is less than your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other; then laugh, leaning back in my arms for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
Ginny had just placed her hand on the kitchen door when she heard the sound of an Apparition ‘pop’ coming from within and then her father’s sheepish voice.
“Sorry I missed lunch, Molly –”
“I can’t say I’m surprised.” The sarcasm in Mum’s voice carried clearly through the open windows. “It is, after all, Saturday. Why on earth would you be home?”
“Molly.” Now Dad sounded annoyed.
“You said ‘just a couple of hours.’” Mum’s voice was shaking with anger. “But it’s never a couple of hours, is it?”
“Molly!” Dad rebuked. “There’s a lot to be done. The Death Eaters did more damage to the records than –”
“You don’t need to tell me what damage the Death Eaters have done,” Mum said bitterly. Ginny heard the dull thump of a plate on the table. “Ginny and I already ate together – like a family.”
“Molly – I –”
“What?” she demanded. “What, Arthur? We still have a family even though Fred is gone.”
“I know that,” Dad answered quietly – wearily.
The sunny August afternoon faded as Ginny stood on the doorstep and listened to her parents talk about Fred for the first time since the funeral.
“I think you’re trying to forget you have a family,” Mum said in a low, deadly voice. “I think all of these extra hours at the Ministry are your way of avoiding the truth that our boy is gone.” She took an audible breath. “Furthermore, I think you’re avoiding more than the pain about Fred – I think you’re avoiding me.”
Ginny froze at this accusation. The wire handle from the pail of freshly picked string beans was digging into her palm, but she barely noticed. It was horrible to hear her parents argue.
There was a long silence.
“Yes, I have been avoiding you,” Dad finally admitted in a thick voice.
Ginny didn’t know if she had said it or if Mum had said it – but she felt the cut of those words as surely as her mother did.
“It’s because I don’t know what to do,” Dad said with pain in his voice. “I feel so helpless now that the funeral is over. I can’t make you feel better, because I –”
“I don’t want you to make me feel better,” Mum said, her voice rising. “Muriel told me the other day that I should count my blessings that I wasn’t like Andromeda – having lost a child and a husband. I couldn’t tell her…” She started to weep. “…that I felt like I had a lost a husband, too.”
Ginny heard a chair scrape across the wooden floor.
“Molly.” Ginny had never heard her father sound so desperate. “I wish I knew what to do.”
Hearing her parents fall apart was worse than hearing her parents argue. Ginny’s stomach clenched painfully.
“You don’t have to do anything,” Mum said through her tears. “I just want you to listen.” She sniffed. “And I want to listen to you. I don’t want to be alone in this.”
“I don’t want to be alone, either.”
Oh, God. That rasping hurt sound couldn’t be… Dad hadn’t cried at the funeral. Ginny set the bucket of green beans on the doorstep and fled to the orchard.
Ginny closed her eyes and let the back of her head rest on the trunk of the apple tree. She used to hide here when she was a little girl. She would watch her brothers play tag and chicken and Quidditch and all the other broom games she wasn’t allowed to play. Sometimes it made her angry that they wouldn’t include her. Other times she was glad, since she didn’t want to fall ten feet to the ground, like Ron, because Charlie was akin to brick wall in the air.
Most of the time, though, she wanted to play.
Tears pricked at her eyelids as the thought she had been trying to tamp down all day roared to life.
Stop it! she admonished herself. She was lucky compared to so many people. Harry was alive. She was alive – Mum had seen to that.
But Fred wasn’t and her family would never be the same again, said the voice that threatened to plunge her mood back into blackness.
At least the argument between her parents felt real. There had been an unnatural calm in the house that consisted of careful conversations and off-putting politeness. Perhaps she was as guilty as Dad was for avoiding her own feelings, Ginny thought. She had tried as much as possible to ignore her mother’s sad eyes and the clock that now only had eight hands.
She opened her eyes. The dappled sunlight was beautiful, she told herself fiercely, not wanting to acknowledge any more pain. The apples over her head were green and round and perfect. Soon they would be sweetly crisp and red and ready for harvesting.
Tears filled her eyes. Right now, though, they were sour, hard things.
Maybe if she had seen Harry on his birthday, or maybe if Ron had been home this summer to help carry the burden of her parents’ grief, then maybe her heart wouldn’t feel as small or as sour as those immature apples.
She stood up in agitation and immediately caught her hair in a low branch. Snapping off the twig and swearing made her feel better.
Maybe she was immature, she thought as she finally freed her hair. What were her longings for the way things used to be in light of what had happened at Hogwarts?
Her brother had died. Colin had died. Remus and Tonks. So many…
She should be stoically moving forward, her mind on the great sacrifices everyone had made so she could walk in freedom in this orchard – instead of feeling unhappy and trapped and bored. She sighed at her own thoughts. She was immature.
The sad fact was that she had barely seen Harry since all of the funerals and this longing to see him was killing her.
There, she had said it to herself. This was yet another truth she was trying to ignore. Harry was just as involved in the Ministry rebuilding as Dad.
Although she didn’t think Harry was avoiding her – why would he?
Her steps faltered. She had cried a lot at Fred’s funeral – and at Remus and Tonks’s funeral. Harry didn’t like tears – maybe he felt like Dad did? He didn’t know what to do, so he didn’t do anything?
She couldn’t fault Harry for that. He didn’t have Ron or Hermione to advise him or tell him to slow down and relax, since Hermione was still with her parents in Australia and Ron was dividing his time between helping George with the shop and working with the contractors rebuilding Hogwarts.
After what Harry had gone through, she felt she could forgive him just about anything. She swallowed a lump in her throat. Harry had almost died – or had died for a time. At least she had thought he was dead when she saw his limp body in Hagrid’s arms. She shook her head against that image and began to walk quickly through the orchard.
Harry had come back from King’s Cross, and for a brief time it looked like everything was going to be fine between them.
She smiled as she remembered that long walk they had taken together around the lake the morning after the battle. Harry had talked and talked and talked – telling her about the Horcruxes and the Hallows and Dumbledore and Dobby and King’s Cross. She had held his hand and listened. Every word was a balm – for now she knew what he had been up against that year they were apart – now she knew that he had thought of her every day – now she knew that he had thought of her before Voldemort raised his wand against him.
She had been his last thought.
She stopped as she caught sight of the chimneys of The Burrow. Had he thought of her since?
The next day it rained. Breakfast wasn’t gloomy, however, even though Dad had left early for the Ministry. Mum explained that the senior officials were doing one last sweep of the Ministry building for Dark Magic while the regular workers were away for the weekend. “Then he’s promised to spend more time at home,” Mum said cheerfully, putting a plate of toast on the table. “He thought that he might take a day off next week – maybe we can all go to Brighton if the weather is good.”
Ginny smiled. Mum and Dad seemed to have worked through something yesterday, and she was glad. Last night, they had resumed their old routine of Dad listening to The Magic of Muggles (Tonight’s episode: staplers) on the wireless and Mum sitting next to him knitting.
“Harry’s in the paper again,” Mum said, glancing at the front page of the Prophet. “Dear boy – he’s certainly showing Kingsley the support he needs.”
Ginny looked over her shoulder and stared straight into Harry’s serious eyes. He looked… trapped. He was the youngest person in the photograph that depicted the new Minister for Magic and his council of advisors. Poor Harry! Maybe she should contact Harry through the Floo, Ginny thought. Surely he wasn’t that busy that he couldn’t talk to her in the evening. But Mum believed that a witch should never Floo a wizard – that was chasing.
At the sound, Mum looked up at her. “You’re looking a bit peaky this morning,” she observed. “Are you feeling all right?”
“Just that time of month,” Ginny lied automatically. At the beginning of the summer it had been disconcerting to have Mum pay such vague attention to her – but now that Mum was studying her with that familiar eagle eye, she realized that she didn’t want to be fussed over, either.
“Do you want to go to Muriel’s with me today?” Mum asked. “You don’t have to if you’re not feeling well. She wants me to help her make jam – the raspberries are in.”