Harry opened his eyes, disoriented and uncomfortable from lying on a floor. He felt for his glasses, which were still on his face, and as he sat up, he realized that they had cut an imprint into the side of his head from where he had lain on them. He groaned, pulled off his glasses, and rubbed at the spot. His neck felt strained and, looking down, he realized he was still in his vest and pyjama bottoms.
Then he realized what had pulled him awake. Moonlight was peeking through the thin white curtains behind Ginny, who was leaning over the side of her bed, gazing at him with a bemused look on her face. She met his eyes with a look of confusion he was sure had come from finding him fast asleep at the foot of her bed.
“What in Godric’s good name are you doing sleeping in my room?” she whispered.
Harry sat up quickly, rubbing sleep from his eyes before replacing his glasses. As he did so, a small piece of parchment fluttered to the floor and he wondered why it was there.
What was he doing sleeping in her room? Damn it to bloody hell. He had fuzzy visions of leaving the camp bed in Ron’s room and running downstairs to talk to Ginny, and pausing at her bedside, realizing that she was fast asleep and he couldn’t wake her because she had looked so… incredibly sweet and comfortable. Not wanting to disturb her, he wrote down the most important part of what he meant to say to her on a sheet of parchment, which he was going to leave on her pillow. Except that obviously hadn’t happened. He was just watching her sleep and thinking of whether or not he had the guts to wake her, and then he must have fallen asleep worrying about leaving the parchment and… Harry quickly grabbed the parchment off the floor.
“Err — I’m— I’m… sorry.”
“Catching up on your sleep, are you? What are you doing here?” She was sitting up in bed, her arms crossed over her night dress. She didn’t seem angry, but she was waiting for an answer. The problem was, he was rendered speechless by the situation he had landed himself in. His heart raced and his mouth felt dry. He swallowed as he nervously scratched the back of his head. How was he supposed to explain why he had come in here, when she was tired and waiting for an explanation?
“Are you all right? You look like you’re about to pass out. Don’t. Stop panicking, Harry. Just tell me why you’re here.”
Harry took a deep breath, but for some reason he was unable to speak.
“Not surprising,” she muttered and then grinned. “Well, if your mouth isn’t working at this early hour, then I’m going to go back to sleep until it does.” She lay back in her bed, turned toward the wall, and curled herself up into a ball.
He gathered himself and stood. “I’m sorry. I’ll leave.”
She turned toward him, still lying on her side, and took a deep breath. Harry could hardly look at her, as he stood over her. She was as beautiful to him as ever, and he felt so embarrassed. He never should have come in here. He had probably just ruined all the progress he had made in the last two days with Ginny.
“I’m not upset at you.” Her voice was soft and warmer than he expected, and Harry looked at her hopefully. “Not really.” She smiled. “I hate to puff up your ego, but if I had to find a boy asleep in my room, I would rather it be you then anyone else in the entire world. So you know, I’m just… I’m tired, okay? You should go, if there’s nothing else to say. Because I like you so much, in the morning, I’ll pretend you weren’t even here. Why you were here or what it means is too much for me to comprehend right now, so I understand why it’s that way for you.”
“Are you angry?” he managed.
“Not at all. I’m fine.”
“Err… you’re sure you’re fine?”
“I am, I swear.”
He thought momentarily. “Dr. B. told me something interesting.” He rubbed the stubble that had gathered on his cheek since he had shaved Saturday morning. “That when someone answers that they’re fine, it means they’re not. It means something is bothering them and they’re bottling it up inside. You know me. I tend to tell people I’m fine, even when I’m not. Remember,” he paused, “a long time ago we promised to tell each other when something was bothering us. It’s one of our rules that… have pretty much long since been forgotten since we weren’t… well, since we weren’t we anymore…”
Ginny looked slightly guilty and she studied her hands. “Our rules? I remember those. You’re right, except… do those rules still apply when it’s precisely half four in the morning, and you show up in my bedroom — of all places — to tell me about said rules, and we’ve been broken up for four months?”
“To me, they do. Or they should apply, at least.”
Ginny looked at him sadly, “Harry, please. I think I know why you’re here, and — can I be honest? I think it’s wonderful. I want to be with you, too. But, as much as I want to just jump into your arms and go back to the way things were, and pretend like nothing ever happened with you and me, I’m having… reservations.”
“Err… what type of reservations?”
She took a deep breath and sat up against her bed board, gathering the duvet against her chest. “Only the type that made me behave like a prat towards you until tonight. I’ve been horrible. I’m sorry. I don’t want to behave that way anymore. And I’ve decided something. Something I resolved to tell you this week at some point.”
“Okay.” Harry waited patiently until she spoke again.
“I’ve decided that if you want to be with me as much as you seem to want to, I want to try and put the pieces of our relationship back together, too. Except, understand that I can only open my heart to you a little bit at a time. I hope you’ll wait and be patient, and understand why I can’t do it all at once.”
“There’s a start. You want to be with me.” He grinned.
“I’ve… always wanted to be with you. Despite what happened between us, that feeling never went away. In fact, I’m still devastated about what happened to us. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way…”
Harry hung his head. “You’re right. It wasn’t. And I’m sorry I was so… lost in my mind, Ginny. I’ve realized in these past four months how important you are to me, and how I feel.” He looked into her expectant face. “And I know that we can make our story happen… the way it’s supposed to happen, if we can move on from this mess together.”
Ginny looked up at him and sighed. “I’m not sure it will be that easy, but I’m going to try my hardest to… try.”
He dropped down on his knees next to the bed so he could see her at eye level. “I’m not asking you for easy. If you’re not ready, or you need time, I’m planning on being as patient as you need me to be. For now… I just… I know why you’ve been trying to act distant. You’re afraid of being hurt again and I know that. I know you want me to focus on myself and my life, too, and I know it seems like a short period of time, but I’ve done what you asked of me. I’m improving myself and my life. My mind is much clearer than perhaps it’s ever been, even if I have a long way to go to become normal or what normal is for me. But I also know how you feel for me is the same as how I feel for you… you told me last December, and then again in a letter you wrote to me when I was stuck wasting time in Spain: that you loved me and always would. And that letter made me think of losing you completely for the very first time.” He paused, and searched Ginny’s face. Her expression was still uncertain. “When I was there, I met a bloke…”
”A bloke?” She raised an eyebrow at him.
“Yes, I met a bloke in Spain who was a sailor in the British Navy back in the eighties. Ginny, he was a university professor, a Muggle, and he told me about his own struggles with post-war stress. He had a girl he loved too… Noreen. But they could never reconcile. I came home for you because I knew I could never live with myself watching you go on and marry some bloody tosser or… Dean or Neville or someone else. I came back to try and fix myself, to make sure that what happened to Louis and Noreen didn’t happen to us because I don’t want to lose you ever again.” He said this all in one breath.
Ginny reached for his hand, and the first touch they had shared in four months sent warmth through his entire body. “You’ll never lose me.” She squeezed his hand and let go.
“I came close,” he said quickly, instantly missing her touch.
Ginny fell back on her bed, her head hitting her pillow with a thump and her fiery hair fanning out in all directions. “Perhaps,” she said as she stared at the ceiling. “I think we did come close, and I also think it could have gone either way. In many ways, it was all up to you, and what you wanted from life. I’m thrilled that you… feel this way, Harry. It’s getting back to what we had together that will be the challenge. I wonder if you and I need more time to work on our separate lives and figure out what we want out of life, now that living it freely is an option. An option you made possible. We’re very young, you know. We have our whole lives ahead of us. You used to tell me that and now, well, now I believe it!”
“Err… I know I used to feel that way, but I haven’t felt that way in a while. In fact, I think more about all the time I wasted with you while I was too messed up to realize how I feel.”
“Well, then, the tables really have turned,” she sighed, looking away from him and out the window. She reached out and moved the wispy curtain just enough that moonlight spilled into the room, making her skin glow beautifully. Harry’s heart raced because he knew that this morning’s talk could mean the difference between a happy reunion with the girl he loved or another endless string of lonely months without her.
“You know, Ginny, they have. There’s this piece… missing from inside of me, there’s this happy spot that’s just gone all black, and I’ve realized since you’ve been gone that… it’s you. You’re what’s missing from my life because you… make everything better for me. You make me happy, happier than I could ever be without you. I’m not… I can’t see myself as happy, without you in my life.”
He couldn’t read the expression on her face, and he couldn’t understand why. Wasn’t all this supposed to make her happy? Instead, she looked sad as she turned on her side to face him. “Do you really feel that way?” she asked quietly.
“Yes. I do.”
She stared at her quilt for a few moments, “You’ll think I’m mad, but I knew for ages. Since before we even began going out—since I even knew you well—that I could never be completely happy without you either. It took me a long time and a lot of years of you not knowing that I even existed, to realize that I could try to be happy. And I feel like that fell apart as soon as we started going out. I’m not sure it’s such a good thing that I was always so miserable without you next to me. Being apart from you these past few months… Harry, I’ve realized that I can be happy without you…”
“I can be happy without you, too, Ginny. Of course I can, but never as much as I am when I’m with you. It must mean something that we both feel that way.” Harry was relieved when she finally smiled, although it faded too quickly. He sank back onto his heels.
“I know. Despite that, I think I need time before we begin another serious relationship. I would like to… spend more time with you, and change how I’ve been behaving recently, which I’m deeply sorry about. I think you have a good idea, and a good start. We should go back to our rules, and see what happens…” she stated.
Harry rubbed his eyes under his glasses, “I would like your letters to go back to the way they used to be. I want you to tell me about what’s going on with you, the real you. Tell me what you think of my thoughts and what I’m telling you in my letters.”
“Okay. I’m going to change the way I’ve been treating you, Harry. I will definitely make sure I go back to normal, especially when it comes to sharing with you.”
“Thanks. I… I know I used to have problems telling you what was going on inside my head. It’s weird, but… I’ve suddenly found that it’s the most natural thing to share with you. When I think of someday being close to you again, as close as we were, I want to share as much as I can of myself.”
“That’s… Harry, that’s good to hear. I want you to share with me. I’m glad you find it easier now. I enjoy reading your letters, sometimes they’re the only thing that makes me smile all day.”
He and Ginny shared a look of intensity, then she looked away and back at the wood beams of the ceiling and then out the window.
“Listen. I’m not ever going to be the best at telling you how I feel, I’m just not,” he added quietly. “But I need to tell you now that I want to move forward from the past. I want things to go back to the way they were, but it will be better next time because I know for certain how I feel.” He took her hand gently. “I hope that one day I can tell you and it will be natural and… I don’t know why I can’t bring myself to say it at this moment, when I know it’s what I’m feeling. It’s what I know…” He handed her the folded parchment he had been concealing in his palm.
Ginny sat up, and backed up against her bed board again. She unfolded the parchment slowly, as he tried to explain, “If I could take back everything that happened with us and just go back to normal, I would, but I can’t, and I—I hate that. But I know how I feel,” he said in a rush. “Ginny, if you’ll allow me back into your life… whenever that is…”
Ginny looked at him as if she didn’t even know him, and then stared at the parchment in her hands. He knew what it read because his hand had been shaking when he wrote it by wandlight last night.
I love you, Ginny.
She looked at him. “I… don’t know what to say.”
“Tell me the same,” he murmured.
She folded the note again, and held it tightly in her hand, before looking up at him, “I feel the same. You know I do. I’m… I’m so happy that you’re finally feeling something for me, or between us. With everything that’s happened, I’m not sure how to react, but you’ve… managed to make me feel happier than I’ve felt in a long while.”
“I’m glad that… makes you happy.”
“Except… it doesn’t mean that I’m ready to pick up where we left off, Potter,” she warned. “I trust that you’re sincere.” She leaned forward and touched his hand. “I want to be with you as much as you want to be with me, but I want to make sure we’re on steady footing this time. I’m ready to start moving forward in that direction with you, but I’m not ready to jump in all at once.” She paused, and looked him in the eye. “Will you be patient with me?”
“Thank you.” She looked away quickly. “Harry, can I share something with you? Some insight into why I’ve behaved the way I have since you came home?”
“In a way, I’ve been so hesitant because I’m afraid to go back to the way things were. These months apart haven’t been easy on either of us, but they’ve allowed me time and space to myself. My life… feels more manageable right now than it did in autumn term. You’re not taking up every thought in my mind. I’m not up all night worried about you or about you and me, the way I used to be. I’m not failing my classes or being threatened by McGonagall with Quidditch. I’m not feeling overwhelmed and I feel better, too. And then there’s you. Despite the fact that I love you too, and despite how much I miss you, I’m also concerned about Harry the person in a way I know I overlooked him back in autumn. Do you really want to worry about me? You’re just putting your life back together. You’re beginning the academy again. The last thing you need is a girlfriend to worry for, or to be concerned about.”
“You’re the only thing I need, I think,” he cut her off.
“Harry,” she grinned, “do you need to be so damn sweet right now? I just… listen to me. I wouldn’t know how to recover from another go round like last time…”
“I can promise you that it won’t be like last time.”
She looked out the window, and when she spoke again it was in a softer tone. She took a deep breath. “If you really do feel this way,” she held up the folded parchment, “maybe… maybe instead of jumping headfirst into the same relationship that didn’t work well, we’ll get our feet wet first this time. We’ll both agree when it’s the right time to start a new relationship, a better and stronger one that’s made to last, and in the meantime, we’ll have fun together and enjoy the moments we have…”
He hesitantly understood. “We need to begin somewhere, and that’s all right,” he added quietly. He was pleased that Ginny seemed to want to be with him more than not and had even adopted a ‘let’s take it slow’ policywhich he thought was progress. In the meantime, he assumed he would still need to show her more and more of how he felt and continue sharing with her. He would also continue to attempt to improve his own outlook on life and the past, and work hard in therapy to manage his feelings.
She was right, too, in a way. In their short time apart, he had managed to begin to clean himself up, seek help and accomplish a great deal on the path to recovery from his post-war stress, even though he still had a ways to go. Perhaps their time apart had done him good, even if he didn’t particularly like it. He knew, coming in here tonight, that he would need to accept her choices, good or bad. This one was much more good than bad. In fact, he thought it was the best he could have hoped for considering that only three days ago she hadn’t wanted to look at him.
“We will,” she said. “One day it will be all right. With time. I do want it to be and I know you do, too, so there’s enough hope for you for one night, isn’t there?”
Harry grinned. “I suppose. Perhaps even for a few nights. Until I see you on Friday. You may need to give me more hope then.”
“Har—ry,” she groaned with a grin. “Would you come up from the floor?” She sat up and patted the mattress in front of her, and he obliged. Then she hugged her knees to her chest, and rested her chin on her knee. Her toes peeked from under her nightdress. They looked to have been painted pink, but the paint was missing in some places, “Can I tell you the truth? I’m relieved that it’s me that you’re thinking of, and not one of the girls you’ve been seen with in the Lifestyles cover of the Daily Prophet for the month of March. It’s stupid really. You know, if I didn’t know you for you, I wouldn’t be the least bit interested in your personal life. I find it positively wretched that people obsess over who the Chosen One has chosen.”
“Did you see that? I was standing next to her in the post office. Honestly, she asked me what time it was and someone snapped a photo. That really isn’t much of a personal life…”
“That’s unfortunate. Not one of those girls in the Lifestyles papers this month was willing to snog you? What is it? Dragon breath?” Harry laughed briefly, knowing he did probably have dragon breath right now considering he had been sleeping a few minutes ago. Leave it to Ginny to lighten a mood.
“Err… no. The last time I kissed a girl was right before New Year’s. And, as you remember, that night was a complete and utter failure.” He watched her face react to his answer before he added, “And it ended up that way because I’m such an idiot.”
“Harry James Potter, do not call yourself an idiot! You just have a diagnosed condition that… makes you act like an idiot,” she said, seriously as serious can be.
Harry let out a bark of laughter, appreciating the humour, as Ginny began to giggle. He noticed that the bit of parchment proclaiming his love was still tightly gripped in her hand.
“Just so you know,” she giggled, “the fact that I’m allowing you anywhere near my bed is a momentary lapse of sanity on my part, Harry.”
“Then I wish you were the one who’s completely insane, instead of me.” He mussed up his hair in the front, wishing he could do more than just sit in the bed with Ginny. Just to hold her would feel good. He was beginning to not remember how holding her in his arms felt, but there was some kind of magnetic force that was attracting his arms to doing so at the moment. The monster in his chest growled loudly and Harry wondered whether or not he should just throw his arms around her and hope for the best…
“I might be,” she quipped. “Luckily, I was sleeping when you came in. Otherwise, I may have hexed you. Was I snoring?”
“Only lightly,” he reported jokingly. “You were drooling a bit actually. You used to — erm — drool on my jumpers in the common room those few times we fell asleep on the sofa. Do you remember?”
He knew she hated when he embarrassed her on purpose and made her turn pink, but he spoke the truth. Ginny growled, slapped his arm lightly, and then turned to her pillow. “Goodness there is a wet spot there. You’re right.”
The two of them giggled for a moment until Ginny pushed his arm gently.
“Tell me about London, Harry. What do you do there in your amazing flat, living the bachelor lifestyle of rich and famous wizards?”
“Do you like the flat?”
“Like? I love it. It’s so you and I think it’s perfect for you. I can see you listened to my advice. Lots of light.”
“I thought you would like that. I —err— I hoped you liked it as I hoped we could spend some time there together in summer…”
“I would like that very much. The flat suits you, Harry. I’m so proud of the progress you’ve made. It seems like you’re putting your life back together… slowly.” She picked at the threads on her quilt. For a while, they didn’t speak, “Harry?”
“Yeah?” He looked up.
“I owe you something.”
He looked at her curiously; his heart began to beat more quickly and the monster in his chest sat patiently waiting, wondering what that could be. “What?”
“In February, when you came to Hogwarts, you asked for a hug and I said no. I… just couldn’t back then, but now, after our talk… I want to.”
He hesitated. “Do… you want to hug me or me to hug you?”
There was no answer because Ginny hugged him, nearly bowling him over.
Harry wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her closer as he breathed in and realized how he craved the feel of her body and the softness of her hair against his skin. Ginny had her arms around his chest and she held him just as tightly. Her head rested on his shoulder. Harry thought he would need self control not to kiss her, but he didn’t. Having her there, close to him, was all he wanted and he was glad she seemed to feel the same. The hug ended well after most hugs usually do, but it felt so good that he knew neither of them could bear to let go. And she wasn’t relaxing her tight grip on him, any more than he wanted to release his arms from around her body.
“You give good hugs,” he muttered as she finally pulled back, feeling drowsy from the smell of flowers and already missing her warm cheek pressed against his shoulder.
“Thanks. So do you.” She blushed prettily. “Hey, do you want to go for another fly with me?” she asked. “The air probably feels great this early. Everyone is still sleeping so we’ll need to be quiet, but I think the fresh air would be good for us both.”
“Sure.” He smiled. “Absolutely.”
In the late afternoon, Ginny went out to feed the chickens, her mind full. It had been an incredibly strange weekend. She hadn’t necessarily expected to go from barely being able to be near Harry at all to agreeing to work towards regaining the relationship they had lost. However, she hadn’t really expected to be confronted with a suddenly changed Harry who had decided he loved her and wouldn’t quit until she admitted the same.
Their second early morning fly had been great fun, and then he had lingered nearly all morning. At breakfast, he sat next to her, and when their hands brushed when he passed her the eggs, she swore she felt a heat and spark that she couldn’t ignore. An hour past breakfast when Ron and Hermione had already left, Ginny and Harry sat on the sofa in the sitting room, looking at Quidditch magazines and talking about broomsticks. She wasn’t sure when he was going to leave, but was enjoying his company and a part of her didn’t really want him to. When he mentioned he had a Healer appointment and needed to leave, to her surprise, her heart sank to the bottom of her stomach. She hadn’t expected to feel so sad about it, but she had cheerfully walked with him to the garden gate, where they shared another hug. This time it was at his suggestion, much quicker than the one in her bedroom had been, and slightly more awkward.
Ginny sprinkled the feed and watched the hens peck at their meal. She glanced over at the place where her family and Harry had eaten dinner last night, remembering how little she had spoken to him at that point last evening and how torn she had felt after her conversation with her mum. Ginny was glad that she and Harry had the talk they did, and glad that he had come into her room. It had forced her to finally let go of her hesitations and try to move forward. Although it was hard to wipe the slate completely clean between them, she would need to focus on improving their trust… and everything else they had spoken about this morning. Harry had indeed done all she had asked of him. He was working on himself and his own life. And even though he was probably always going be impacted by his past, he was making progress on the road to more clarity and normalcy than he had ever experienced and it was time to recognize that he meant to make a change.
She counted the days of the week and found that Monday morning made Friday evening feel very far away. She was looking forward to Friday’s dinner very much and was glad she had asked him to come, especially now that they had talked. She still had his love note in the back pocket of her jeans, and she held onto it like a rare piece of treasure. She wondered if she would always keep it, but for now, holding it in her pocket felt nice. The fact that Harry had expressed his feelings on parchment was not disappointing at all. In fact, she thought he had some kind of true fear of saying the word, because saying the words themselves meant that he was handing over to her that deep, lonely part of himself, the part that feared rejection and only knew pain because nobody had loved him as a child, and everyone he had ever dared to love had died.
She leaned against the shed and reached into her pocket to view the parchment again. Even for him to write the words to her in his scratchy print, he had written it smaller than normal. Ginny explored the letters carefully, staring at the way he formed the I and the L. Was it strange that she felt his wounded soul through his words?
Ginny sat on the grass and leaned her back against the shed with a sudden feeling of regret. What had she expected of him regarding love, when he didn’t associate the emotion with anything but fear and pain? She wondered, even now, if it was her fault that he had gone into such a tailspin. Maybe her need to know how he felt last December wasn’t fair to him because he was struggling with his own issues, and because he was Harry. He had a past that impeded his ability to feel love.
Nevertheless, she had learned in the past four months that it also wasn’t constructive to pour the blame on herself for her decisions. With the way they had been headed, it had been the right decision to break up. She knew she couldn’t go out with Harry the way things had been back then. She couldn’t be just ‘a great comfort’ to him when he felt like it and reap nothing in return but aloof distance. Back then, what was between them had been all wrong, and Ginny knew that even though Harry had reacted to her decision by jumping ship to Spain, it was the right decision to break up with him. To think that if she hadn’t stood back and taken a break from his life, forcing him to think about what losing her would mean, she would probably be in the same position she had been in December, feeling worse than ever and no closer to breaking through to him. Being away from her had made him see what he had nearly lost and had made him see that she was the one he needed, the one who could give him comfort, a home, and a lifetime of love.
She simply hoped that he loved her for the right reasons. Not because she wanted him to, or because some bloke in Spain had lost the love of his life and Harry figured he had done the same. Stop making yourself crazy and trust him, she thought. She knew that Harry would never say what he did—or write it—unless he meant it and he must have been feeling it if he had come into her room to watch her sleep. Some girls would find waking up with their ex-boyfriend in their room a bit scary, but being as it was Harry she found it not strange in the least and, surprisingly, quirkily romantic. He had been here, in Devon, sleeping in her brother’s room to be close to her and writing her love notes.
Ginny stretched in the grass in the early April sun, glad that her love was finally being returned after so long, but still feeling a strange sense of apprehension underneath it all which she tried her best to ignore. Despite everything, she trusted that now he was certainly doing his best to change himself and all of his intentions were sincere and in the right place. It wouldn’t be easy to develop a new relationship, but no matter how long it took, she was hopeful that all the pieces would fall back into place.
Harry Apparated away, with a warm spot on his chest where Ginny’s face had been pressed. If he could always have her there against him, or at least the knowledge that she’d be there to hold him at the end of each and every day, he’d be a happy man. He had never realized just how much he needed her.
He made it to his flat, gathered his journal and Pensieve—which he shrunk and put in his cardigan pocket—and left again to Apparate at two points to Dr. Branstone’s office.
When he entered the office, the receptionist let him through. Dr. B. was sitting at his desk doing paperwork.
“Harry!” He jumped up. “My favourite Monday afternoon patient. Except you’re usually stumbling in here with a coffee and a soggy newspaper, looking like you just woke up. What’s the spring in your step and the smile for?”
“Ginny. Erm…” He enlarged the items he had brought and then set the heavy stone Pensieve down on the coffee table. “I told her I loved her this morning.”
Dr Branstone looked gobsmacked until his expression morphed into a grin. “By the look of you, I would say it went well. How do you think it went?”
Harry sat on the sofa and as he removed his boots, he began to tell the doctor how his weekend had gone, from the tea on Saturday to the resolution this morning, and how Ginny had reacted to his love note.
“How do you feel, Mr. Potter?” was Dr. B.’s response at the end of Harry’s monologue.
He thought about that for a moment. “Excellent.” He nodded. “Like it’s progress for us.”
“It seems to be very good progress indeed, and I have to say that you should be proud of how you handled yourself. I knew you would know when the time was right to try to apologize and move on…”
“I’m not sure how well I apologized, but I did try. That’s the thing; I told her how I felt and we decided to try to move forward, even if the going will be slow.”
“Harry, the communication is what matters. I’m proud you were able to open up to her, when it was so difficult for you to do that in the past. The fact that you recognized your feelings and felt able to approach her shows that you have much better mastery of your emotions than you used to. You should feel very accomplished right now. Look at how you’ve managed to change your situation with Ginny in just a few short days!”
“I couldn’t have done it without you Dr. B. I feel like… almost like a different person now than I was when I first came in to meet you.”
“You’re the one who’s doing all the hard work, Mr. Potter. Not me. In talking to me about all your experiences, and working hard to use the tools I’ve given you to cope, you’ve managed to gain control of many aspects of your life, one of which is why you were so clouded emotionally regarding Ginny.” Harry nodded, accepting that he was the one who had changed his situation. Still, he owed a lot of it to Dr. B. “Now, let’s open up that Pensieve and get ready for today’s visit. I’m not sure if you’re still feeling up for it, or if you want to focus on this today, but I know you wanted to view a certain memory the last time we spoke.”
“I did,” Harry said, feeling much more serious about today’s session than he had coming into the consultation room. They had been viewing memories from different parts of the final battle, and had three sessions so far in the Pensieve and one where Dr. B. had actually been present with him. Today he had been planning to visit his most terrifying memory yet.
“Now, last time I was able to join you and you reported that it was helpful to you. Your choice is to have me come in with you or to view the memory yourself, and we’ll complete a series of questions afterwards. You decide.”
“I… I think it is more helpful for you to actually see what I’m seeing, Dr. B. If you want to come in with me, please do. It did help to have you there last time…”
Harry pointed his wand at his temple, thought of his memory and then dropped the thread into the Pensieve. He swirled it with the tip of his wand before looking at Dr. B. “Remember how we did it last time?” He asked Dr. B., who nodded certainly. “On the count of three, you go and I’ll follow. One, two, three.”
Harry watched Dr. B. fall into the Pensieve and he followed behind not a second later. He landed on his feet with a thud on the stone floor, and helped Dr. B. up. They were standing in a corridor inside the castle, which Harry immediately knew as the corridor just outside the Room of Requirement. He was watching himself, Ron, Hermione, Malfoy and Goyle panting on the floor. Harry explained quickly what had happened in the fiery moments right before the scene they were now watching.
He walked a step ahead of Dr. B. “That’s Draco Malfoy. He’s an old enemy of mine. And Goyle, his mate. They just lost Crabbe, one of their best mates, in the Room of Hidden Things. It was hard to care at that moment, because Crabbe had almost killed us all.” Harry watched himself stand, and then both of them looked up and watched the Headless Hunt run by. Screams penetrated the castle and Harry felt a shiver course through him.
Suddenly, he heard himself in the Pensieve ask sharply about Ginny.
“I see you’re worried about Ginny, but you look angry,” Dr. B. prompted.
Harry stood there, viewing himself. He hadn’t remembered asking for her. “I was angry at Ginny for coming to the castle. I found out later that the… group of students who I used to teach Defence to, which she took over when I left seventh year, had summoned her back, but she wasn’t supposed to be here. She was supposed to be safe somewhere, far from the castle.”
“You look quite angry, even relaying that to me now.”
“I’m worried for her is all. I could hear screaming in the castle and I thought it must be her, my mind was playing games with me.” He and Dr. B. watched as the Diadem in Pensieve Harry’s hands began vibrating and then fragmented in his fingers. “The Diadem… it was a Horcrux, and the fire in the Room of Hidden Things had just destroyed it.”
Then his heart nearly stopped as he realized what was happening. Death Eaters had penetrated Hogwarts. Harry watched himself react in the Pensieve. Even though he knew what he was seeing had happened in the past and was not real in the present moment, Harry still felt like falling to his knees. He glanced at Dr. B., and then at the ceiling for a moment. Even though he was there in his memory, it was hard to face. The floor was shaking underneath them. He looked over at Fred and Percy duelling Death Eaters. He had never realized that Percy was duelling Thicknesse.
“Brace yourself,” he told Dr. B. And then the world was rent apart. The blast did not affect him and Dr. B., but it caused them to both duck and cover all the same. Then, through the dust and smoke, he watched himself, bleeding and broken, emerge from the rubble and hold onto Hermione, as they both walked over to where Fred lay with his two brothers weeping over his body. Then he pulled away from the memory and he and Dr. B. were sitting on the floor of the consultation room.
Dr. B. stood up, and went to fetch two bottles of water. He tossed one to Harry, drank a pull from his and then sat on the sofa. “I must say, I won’t ever get used to that, but honestly, it makes me understand you so much better. A tool like this… could have incredible implications in the Muggle world.”
Harry tried to catch his breath, “Are you… all right after seeing that?”
“I’m just fine, thanks for asking. Take a moment to relax, Harry. No need to speak right away.” Harry was grateful. He sipped his water and looked out the window. Fred’s eyes, staring without seeing, the smile on his face, even in death.
“So, I want to take us back to the very end of that memory. What was going through your mind at the time?”
Harry knew, but didn’t want to say aloud. He breathed evenly, the feeling fresh in his mind. Even though Ginny was quite alive and he had held her close to him this very morning, he had feared for her life in that moment he had just seen in the Pensieve in such a way that it tore him open inside. After spending time with her last night, and this morning, viewing parts of the memory he had just seen had brought even more strong emotions for Ginny that he would not share with Dr. B. He had never been more scared to lose her than in those few moments after Fred’s death. He had felt small and helpless because he couldn’t do anything to keep her safe.
“I felt helpless and scared at that moment. More so than I’d ever felt before that point. I should have been fighting with them, but instead I was destroying Horcruxes and I felt that it was all my fault that Fred had to die.”
“You had to destroy the Horcruxes, though. Harry, it was like taking an order in the war from a higher ranking official. Except this time the official was… your inner voice and knowing exactly what you had to do. When a soldier takes an order he is acting on official military business. As you were acting on official…”
”Official, destroy Voldemort business?”
“It was hard to make all the hard decisions. I couldn’t blame anyone else but myself for the consequences of my actions.”
“If you hadn’t gone into the room and destroyed the Diadem, would you have been able to finish the war?”
“So you needed to let others fight while you did what you needed to do.”
“I know… I just couldn’t believe Fred had died. At that point, I felt like everything was my fault. Later on in the night when I saw Ginny and her family in the Great Hall, I couldn’t even face her or them.”
“Your fault? Were you the Death Eater who blew that corridor to pieces?”
“No.” He shook his head.
”Harry, why do you think Fred was there?”
”For the same reasons that I was there. To fight.”
“Exactly. Fred chose to be there. He knew the risks. The fact that Voldemort was after you had nothing to do with his choice to swarm Hogwarts with his minions, killing everything in their path. That was Voldemort’s decision, not yours.” Harry knew that, and even though it still hurt, he was closer to accepting that than he had been in a long time. He stood up from the floor and sat on the sofa opposite Dr. B. He then grabbed a red squishy ladybug out of the bowl on the table and jammed it into his palm as Dr. B. went on, “In a battle such as the one you went through, men are lost. Friends, brothers. It’s a sacrifice for peace and it’s not easy to accept,” he added quietly.
Harry leaned forward. “I understand that Fred was there to fight, to end the war and not for me, but maybe if I had gone sooner or more willingly, more lives would have been saved. That’s what I kept telling myself over and over this year and last.”
“If you had gone willingly and quietly, no lives would have been saved because you were swiftly and efficiently destroying him piece by piece during that battle. If you hadn’t had the chance to do what you needed to do, what would the outcome have been?”
“Everyone I care about would probably be dead.”
The pieces were all coming together slowly. Harry knew now that in his heart, that every step, every piece of his, Ron and Hermione’s journey last year had been necessary and it could not have played out any differently. “I see what you’re saying. It’s just been hard to focus on the bigger picture. I see that there is one now, but I’m still not completely reassured by it.”
”You know, it may take a few years to make sense of everything you went through. In the grand scheme of life, it’s only been a few short months since that night last May. You’ve sought out help and managed to cope as well as could be expected after the type of experiences you went through. Many people don’t receive the help they need after an unfortunate experience until it’s too late.”
“Thanks for helping me feel better, Dr. B. I still feel shaky and a bit anxious after seeing the memory, though. I haven’t been brave enough up until now to do so. That was the most scared I had ever felt in my life. Until that point anyhow.” Harry swallowed and then added, “Is it… is it strange to fear that he’ll come back and… it will be worse than before?”
“No. Not at all. It’s a very logical fear that you’ll be sent back into battle.” It wasn’t about being sent back into battle; he knew, as an Auror, there may very well be times he would be locked in a duel. It was about being hunted down by Voldemort. He knew it wasn’t going to happen, but he wondered how long it would take him to let go of the fear completely or if he ever would.
Dr. B. walked over to his desk and took a paper from it, which he handed to Harry. He recognized it as the rated questionnaire with which he was supposed to measure his feelings after an immersion experience, like the one they’d had just now in the Pensieve.
“You need some sugar. The immersion process takes some time, but eventually you’ll realize that, in facing your worst moments, you can make sense of them and come to terms with them. Do you feel as if you have made any progress by using this memory?” Dr. B. handed him a pouch of biscuits from his fridge. Harry opened the biscuits and bit into one, feeling reminded of Lupin giving him chocolate in his third year. Harry did feel a bit like he had seen a Dementor.
“I think so. I suppose I can put it into perspective now.”
Dr. B procured a pen and started asking him the questions. After he was through and they discussed his feelings after the session, and at Dr. B.’s suggestion, he took his own journal out and wrote about the experience.
A/N: Thank you to the readers for your patience in waiting for my chapters! I am sure that it is difficult to hang on when I am only writing and posting one chapter a month, and I’m glad that those who are still reading are looking forward to reading more. I hope that you enjoyed seeing Harry and Ginny talk in this chapter. I wrote the scene with Dr. B., going into the Pensieve with Harry because a reviewer here at PS has asked to see more of this story line and I couldn’t help but write this. I hope it met expectations! Thanks in advance to anyone who leaves me a review here at PS. I will answer each and every one of you in time! As always thanks to Justin and Arnel for being the best pre-beta and beta an author could have. Cheers, R.