Author's Note: This sequence of scenes was inspired by the Wallace Steven's poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. He wrote haiku-type stanzas for that particular poem, but I chose to write fourteen little scenes centered on flowers because I had lots of ideas for how flowers were used in the HP universe, and I couldn't decide on just one.
I was further inspired by how fan fiction in general is a lot like this we all have different ways of looking at the same characters and situations. So this seemed an appropriate way to celebrate the fifth anniversary of hpgw_otp, a community that has looked at H/G in many different ways over the years.
Ginny grips the broom handle with slippery hands. The white and pink blossoms of the apple trees below create a soft spray of color on this gloomy day. If she flies into them, will those flowers feel as soft as they look?
She doesn't know how to land.
Ginny gulps back a sob and aims the handle downward. Twigs tear at her face and arms, wet petals and pollen go up her nose.
She lands with a thump on the muddy ground, now carpeted with apple blossoms. Her knees and shoulder hurt, the scratches on her arms sting, but she has done it. She has flown.
"You're going to the Yule Ball with Neville?" Felicia asks as they pollinatePhaeton Pumpkins in Herbology class. "I'm so jealous. I want to go."
Ginny nods and tries not to remember that she could have gone to the ball with Harry. It's the right thing to do keeping her word.
Davin, the most obnoxious boy in Ravenclaw, overhears their conversation. "Going with Longbottom?" He snickers. "I hear he's good in Herbology. Knows how to pollinate."
The Ravenclaw boys laugh at Davin's joke, but they laugh even harder when Ginny shoves the tray of potted plants across the table at Davin, who doubles over in pain.
"Good one, Ginny," Felicia says. "Got him right in the stamen."
After practice, their dormitory smells like wet wool and sweaty leather and sour socks. Seamus wrinkles his nose when the team enters the tower. "You lot should leave your gear in the locker room. It stinks."
"No way," Dean throws a gauntlet at him. "Slytherin uses the pitch after us. They'd take our stuff if we left it there."
Ron opens a window with his wand. Damp, chilly air fills the room.
Harry barely notices the change in temperature. As they walked back to the castle after practice, Ginny had laughed and nudged him with her shoulder. He still feels the impact of her weight against his arm; he still smells her hair.
Her hair smells like flowers.
"Oh, look." Ginny lets go of his hand and bends down to examine a clump of tiny blue flowers. "Forget-me-nots."
The breeze ruffles the blue water of the lake and tosses her bright red hair around. Harry kneels next to her. He has to kiss her again. It's all so new.
The flowers abandoned, she kisses him back with her arms around his neck.
It's still the same sun-lit day. Impossible. So much has happened and so much more will happen.
It's spring and Ginny is kissing him and everything is possible.
"It is 'arry's birthday," Fleur says as she arranges tiger lilies in a jug. "I 'ope you got him something."
Ginny stares in amazement. "We broke up."
"It is still 'is birthday." Fleur shrugs. "And you are in the same 'ouse together."
Not for long.
"I don't know what he wants what he needs." Ginny is thinking of self-defence sprays and flame-throwing wands and Sneakoscopes anything to keep him safe.
Fleur raises an eyebrow. "You do not know what 'e wants?"
"I know what 'e needs," Fleur says. "A reason."
"To come back to you."
The flowers are colourful, tall and stiff. Gladioli? Ginny isn't sure. They're funeral flowers and she hates them.
They don't smell. They don't move in the breeze. Maybe they did once before they were cut when they were growing in the garden gaudier and taller than all of the other flowers.
But not now now they're dead.
It's the last thing they have to do, and Harry is glad.
Ginny fingers the satiny petals of the white lilies in her wedding bouquet before she turns so that her back is to the crowd. Harry wonders whom Ginny has chosen. This will not be a random toss over the shoulder. The best Harpies' Chaser in a generation can aim flowers as well as Quaffles.
The bouquet sails through the air with white ribbons flying, and lands in the arms of a startled Hannah Abbott. Ginny's eyes glow in triumph as everyone cheers and Ron thumps Neville on the back.
The bouquet is now Hannah's and Ginny is now his. Harry takes Ginny's hand; the scent of flowers lingers.
Elation fills his chest. Mine. She's all mine.
Ron sits at his desk in the busy Aurors' office, heedless of the activity around him. He is leafing through a book and jotting down notes on a piece of parchment.
"New case?" Harry asks.
"No." Ron doesn't look up. "Hermione and I rowed last night and I have to get the right combination of flowers to smooth it over."
"Er. Combination of flowers?"
A flush goes up Ron's neck. "Flowers have a language. For instance, a red rose means passionate love. A white rose means 'drop dead' but if you combine white and red roses it means unity."
Harry stares at him. "How do you know this?"
"Book." Ron holds up The Language of Flowers by Ima Gardner. "But I think witches are born knowing this stuff." He frowns at Harry. "What kinds of flowers do you send Ginny after a row?"
"Uh." He's never sent Ginny flowers after a row. They usually don't let their disagreements go on too long and afterwards they wind up in bed and the thought of flowers is the farthest from their minds.
"Never mind." Ron sighs. "I think I have the right combination. Rue for regret, blue violets for faithfulness and heliotrope for devotion."
Harry frowns. "That should smell uh interesting."
Ron shrugs and finishes scribbling his order for the owl to take to the florist. On the way home, Harry stops at the flower shop and buys a dozen red roses. Even if they didn't stand for passionate love, he would still pick them for Ginny. He likes red and they smell good.
"For me?" Ginny says with wide eyes when she sees them. Then she gently settles James in his high chair.
"For you." His heart is beating a little faster. Would she understand this extravagant gesture or would she think it was stupid?
"They reminded me of you."
She laughs and touches her untidy ponytail. There's an orange strained carrots? stain on her shirt. "We haven't rowed, Harry."
"Is there anything you want to tell me?" She meets his eyes.
"Well, uh. I dunno. Ron was ordering flowers for Hermione today and"
She kisses him with one hand on his cheek, then she pulls away. "I love you, too."
He smiles. She does understand.
Ginny shreds the vivid scarlet poppies and throws them into the boiling cauldron.
"Mama, Ma Ma Ma." Albus is moaning softly. He's not shrieking like he did when he snapped the bones in his wrist after falling off his broom. He's too tired. The break was so bad that the Healers removed the bones and now the Skele-Gro is working its insidious magic.
"It happened to me, too," Harry is telling Albus. "When I was a little older than you."
So much pain.
The petals dissolve and the potion shimmers. It's ready. Take the pain away, Ginny thinks.
They've been appearing at murder scenes all over Britain a single white rose is left as a calling card.
A white rose has been placed on the wet front step of their house. Raindrops glisten on the perfect folded petals.
Ginny's heart is in her mouth. She had only stepped out for a minute to see Luna's new baby yak. She grabs her wand and bursts through the door. The house is in shambles. There's been a struggle. Scorch marks from spell blasts are all over the walls.
She runs upstairs, trying to ignore the hole in the ceiling and the streak of red staining the wallpaper.
The bedroom is crowded. A man, surrounded by Aurors, lies facedown on the floor; his hands are bound by glowing gold ropes.
Harry is kneeling in front of Lily, who has a cut on her face.
"The white rose! I thought " Ginny can't say anymore it's too much to take in.
"He leaves the flower before he murders," James says with withering scorn.
"Idiot." Albus's eyes flash green fire.
"They did it. The children." Harry is very pale. "They subdued him before we got here."
"We knew you would come because of the Trace." James shrugs. "Fighting seemed to be the best message we could send."
"But how?" Ginny can't believe her children her babies just took down a serial killer.
"They do teach us something at Hogwarts," Albus says.
He looks so much like Harry that Ginny's heart contracts painfully. She wants to hug them all and cry over them and then maybe kick the man on the ground right where it hurts the most, but she's trembling and doesn't have the strength. "Thank God."
"They're Potters regular little army of them," says one of the Aurors.
The other Auror turns the killer over. The man is unrecognizable with the bat wings flapping all over his face. "Never saw this hex before," the Auror says admiringly. "Your little girl sure knows how to defend herself."
Harry's laugh ends in a strangled sob. After he shakes his head, he manages to control his voice. "Lily takes after her mother."
"Dad, I want to talk to you about something," Lily says with a glance over her shoulder. Ginny is in the kitchen, cooking dinner.
"What is it?" he asks, dread settling in his stomach.
Lily sits next to him on the sofa, takes a deep breath, sets her jaw, and looks him in the eye. "I don't like my name," she finally blurts. "I know Mum named me and you named the boys, so that's why I'm telling you this first and not Mum."
Harry frowns. "You don't like your name?"
"It's so innocent, and babyish and and immaculate," Lily says. "It's not cool at all."
"Er so what do you want to do?"
"I want everyone to call me Lila."
"Right!" Lily bounces in her enthusiasm. "It's a combination of Lily and Luna, but it sounds so much cooler."
"Lila," Harry says, trying it out. It sounds made up and not at all like Lily, which suits her because in his eyes she's the most beautiful girl in the world. "Er okay, but maybe I should talk to your mother first."
"Lila?" Ginny says, giving the cauldron an extra vigorous turn with her wand. "And what's wrong with her name, I might ask? She's named after your mother who died to protect you. Without the first Lily there wouldn't be this Lily. Of all the ungrateful"
"I think it's just a phase," Harry interrupts before Ginny can stoke her anger with more reasons why she gave Lily that name. "It's one of those identity things. Lily is just trying to find hers. Like when Albus tried being a vegetarian. It lasted a whole day." By the thrust of her chin, Harry doubts he can placate Ginny, but he tries anyway. "You know what all of those parenting books say pick your battles. It's not like she asked to go out with a Malfoy or anything."
Ginny's eyes glitter and her lips are pressed tightly together. She's thinking and Harry wonders how Lily Lila is going to fare.
"Fine. Lila it is." Then she puts her wand down and takes a deep breath. "Lila! Come and help in the kitchen."
"Who is Lila?" James pokes his head in the door. Albus giggles behind him.
"I'm Lila." Lily shoves him out of the way.
"Lila," James trills. Albus echoes him.
"Shut up! I like it." There are two red patches on Lily's cheeks. She looks sheepishly at her mother. "Are you okay with it?"
"Frankly, I like Lily better," Ginny says. "You're named after your grandmother, who was very brave. And lilies are beautiful flowers."
"Boring white flowers," Lily interrupts.
"Not all lilies are white," Ginny says in a surprisingly calm manner. "Day lilies are yellow. Tiger lilies are bright orange. And star gazer lilies have pink hearts in the middle."
Lily is frowning. "Okay. Maybe the flowers are pretty. But I still want to be my own person."
"Nothing stopping you, Lils," James says. "We're all stuck with our names."
"Oh, I see, Jimmy."
Harry is tired of the whinging. "Let's eat, Potter children."
Ginny laughs and catches his eye. Battle is over for now.
His head feels like it has been split open. He puts his hand on his forehead and feels the lump.
Right. Damn Dark Magic booby trap.
He smells flowers. It must be his imagination. He and his team of Aurors are in the north far from Ginny.
"Harry? Are you awake?"
He struggles to open his eyes. "Ginny?"
"You're going to be okay." There's a sob in her voice. "The Healers didn't think so at first, but you're going to be okay."
"Of course I'm going to be okay. You're going to kiss me and I'll be fine."
He feels her lips on his and he's no longer disoriented. "You always smell like flowers," he says drowsily. "I like that."
"And you always manage to come back to me," she says with a shaky laugh. "I like that, too."
"So what kind of flowers should we have for the tables?" Lily asks her brothers. They're outside, walking to the orchard.
"Do we need flowers?" James says. "It's an anniversary party, not a wedding."
"It's a twenty-fifth anniversary. And Mum and Dad deserve something special." She stops and stares at the pink and white apple blossoms. By August, when the anniversary party is held, they'll be hard green apples not very festive. "Mum likes lilies."
"Dad always gives Mum red roses," Albus says.
"Think of the expense!" James says in a perfect imitation of Mum. "Red roses for all of the tables!"
Lily laughs. She's missed her brothers since she's moved to London and James travels all of the time for Quidditch and Albus is in Scotland.
"I don't know." Albus absently runs his foot over a tuft of blue wildflowers. "Doesn't Uncle Ron have a book about flowers? Maybe there's something there about anniversaries."
James laughs. "I believe Aunt Hermione has all the books."
"Wait. Let's ask Neville," Albus says. "He knows all about flowers."
James nods. "And he can get them from Hogwarts that was Dad's favourite place when he was young."
Lily isn't so sure Neville can help. Somehow she thinks there's something more about flowers and Mum and Dad, but she doesn't know what it is. "Well." She sighs. "No one notices the flowers at parties anyway. The food is the most important thing."
James grins. "Uncle Ron no all of our uncles would agree."
As always, they take a walk after their Sunday dinner. It's the first sunny day after a week of cold rain. Harry is eager to be outside.
Ginny drops his hand and bends down. "Look, snow drops." Her smile lights up her face.
He smiles back.
It's a beautiful sun-lit day. Spring is coming.
The name "Hogwarts" is actually the name of a flower. JKR said: "Ideas come from all sorts of places and sometimes I don't realise where I got them from. A friend from London recently asked me if I remembered the first time we saw Hogwarts. I had no idea what she was talking about until she recalled the day we went to Kew Gardens and saw those lilies that were called hogworts. I'd seen them seven years before and they'd bubbled around in my memory. When Hogwarts occurred to me as the name for the school, I had no idea where it came from."