The final chapter, is now a healthy 3,200 words and growing. I'm about halfway through with an epilogue to finish the whole thing (or not as the case may be). I'm in a good place for writing having made good progress on an original work and fully recovered from the most recent bout of illness that put me out of action for 6 weeks.
What a joy to receive a letter from you so soon after your arrival at Hogwarts. I wish Ron would write, but he — like his brothers — doesn't. What's a mum to do, eh? Boys!
I'm sorry to hear that you have been ill, but hopefully it's now passed. Your father has not been well either, even taking some time off work, something that he never does. He's still a bit peaky, but he began to get a bit restless so I let him go back in. Better he bothers his people rather than me — he's such a nuisance when he's not in that shed.
Bill and Charlie have been in the wars recently. And Percy was burgled the other day, too. It’s been a bit of a week for us Weasleys, even the twins had to shut the shop after it flooded one night.
Bill's been seeing a new girl who is very pretty but I'm not sure is the right girl for him…
She let the letter drop to the floor, too ill to concentrate, wanting only for the nausea and the perpetual aching in her limbs to stop. It had been a week now; a week since she'd collapsed during Charms, a week since her stomach had roiled every time she'd moved, and a week since Harry had left.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the spasms in her stomach and she leaned over the side of her bed and grimaced as her weary stomach tried to empty itself. It was a pointless exercise as it had been empty for a long time, but it didn't mean that she could avoid the dry heaves that wracked through her weakened body for the next few minutes.
I wonder if I'm dying?
It certainly felt like she was and if she had to endure much more of this she then she would ask Madam Pomfrey to sedate her.
“Here, drink this.”
She felt a firm but gentle hand on her shoulder and the cool metal rim of a medicinal goblet pressed to her dried and cracked lips. She sipped the bitter liquid and allowed it to trickle down her sour and sore throat. She felt rather than heard Madam Pomfrey cast a familiar spell as she swallowed, preventing her from bringing the potion back up. The spell worked, but her stomach still fought against the unwelcome intrusion and she fell onto the bed wishing for oblivion and an escape from the pain.
Sirius was thankful that he'd been by Harry’s side when he had collapsed. The fact that he had been there to help stabilise him in those vital minutes as he lay dying had gone some way to assuage the guilt that had dogged him ever since Harry had gone to Hogwarts.
Later, when darkness had fallen, when he had lain with Edith, it had not, as had typified their nights together since the end of August, been one of passion, but one of comfort and reassurance. And, when they had made love, it had been not been a mad race to achieve climax after climax, but instead he had, for the first time in his life, realised that he was in love.
To the outside world, a succession of women still found their way into his bed, but this was a fiction, maintained by copious quantities of Polyjuice and the sleight of hand that had made him such a dangerous opponents to his enemies.
The boy was sleeping naturally now. Once his coma ended so had his godfather's bedside vigil. His place had been taken by his cousin, the reserved pureblood dowager who had been bereft at the sight of her adopted nephew fighting for his life once again. He had doubted her real commitment to the boy, but now he was happy to leave him to her care.
Bellatrix lounged in the armchair next to Harry's bed, unable to keep the smile off her face. The young man she wished to possessed lay sleeping in his bed, unable to resist what she had planned for him. She longed for the day that they would share a bed as partners and equals, but for now she would take what was offered, after all, she knew how to play the long game.
Her spies at Hogwarts told her that the Weasley girl was dangerously ill and so she could afford to wait before deciding whether she needed to move against her or not. Her niece was another consideration, as the young woman had shown more than a passing interest in her Harry. Again, she would wait and see if Tonks had the gumption to take advantage of her position as Harry's one true friend and try to worm her way into his proper affections and under his robes.
Still, all that could wait, because tonight he was hers. The wine her cousin and his latest trollop had consumed was laced with enough sedative to ensure that they did not stir until the sun was up and if they did, by some miracle, rise from their stupor, then the charms that she had set around the house would give her ample warning of anyone planning on interfering.
In the morning, she would return to Hogwarts to visit Snape and endure his loathsome attentions. She despised the man but he was a useful decoy and, besides, it was easier for her informants to receive new instructions in person than by owl.
She turned her attention back to Harry. The potion she had given him should now be working and so she stood, letting her robe fall to the floor, leaving her naked. She pulled back the covers and was pleased to find that his potion-induced dreams were already bearing fruit and that the harvest was ready to be gathered. She took a few moments to admire his body, pleased at the role she had played in ensuring he had fully developed in areas where her husband had been sorely lacking.
Kneeling down, she began to kiss his body, enjoying the sounds of contentment that tumbled from his lips. Her fingers moved across his stomach and then followed the trail of course hair downwards and she smiled as he jerked with pleasure when she finally took him in her hand. She muttered the spell her mother had taught her for her wedding night, to ensure that his youthful enthusiasm didn't bring matters to a premature end, and continued with her kisses.
“Harry,” she groaned, her own fingers giving herself the release she was denying him.
“I love you, Ginevra,” he said as they broke apart, “more than I can express.”
“Perhaps a letter, then?” She laughed and it was such a warm, inviting laugh that Harry was sure that the desire that was building would overwhelm him. She took a step towards him and, placing her hand on his cheek, kissed him softly.
“Lie down, my love,” she whispered, applying gentle pressure to his shoulder. She didn't wait for him respond, but untied the belt of her silk robe, exposing her nakedness to him.
“Ginny,” he managed to mumble as he took in her beauty. She smiled and took a few steps towards him, his eyes transfixed by her breasts and a smile that promised so much more.
By the time she reached the bed, he was lying down, fighting the temptation to release his building desire with his own hands. At that moment, he wanted nothing more than to feel her soft, delicate fingers wrap themselves around him and bring him to that place of exquisite pain.
She was kissing his body, her own moans echoing his, whilst her hand pushed his now raised pelvis back down onto the bed. As she finally touched him, he thought he had finally lost all control, but something kept that final release just out of reach. He could feel the tightness within his groin deepening and, in his frustration, he jerked his hips upwards.
“Harry,” she groaned, her voice stuttering as she was overwhelmed with pleasure.
Ginny awoke suddenly, the pain and nausea gone. She had been dreaming. She and Harry had… she blushed as she remembered just what they had been doing. She had been… and then she had…
She blushed again. The dream had been so vivid and the feeling between her thighs reminded her of just how real it had been. She allowed her fingers to touch herself, more out of curiosity than desire, but once she had felt the dampness, she pulled them away quickly as if burned.
“Harry,” she groaned as she rolled onto her side, trying to fight back the wave of grief that threatened to overwhelm her. She shed no tears that night; instead, a steely determination grew within her that she would live the life that weak and foolish men had denied her.
In the morning she rose and, after passing Madam Pomfrey's checks, returned to her quarters and burned all the clothes she had bought in anticipation of their joining. She had then poured the perfumed oils that she had anointed herself with down the plughole in the showers before scrubbing herself clean in the coldest water that Hogwarts’ ancient plumbing could provide.