It was a day that she had hated for the last five years and a day
that the rest of Wizardkind looked forward to more than
Christmas. There were visible reminders everywhere she looked; in
the shops in Hogsmeade, in Diagon Alley, even in Gringotts they
displayed his image. If a more loathsome twenty-four hours existed then
she was unaware of it. Ironically some small part of her welcomed it.
Because, although for the other three hundred and sixty-four days of
the year everyone else forgot, on this one day they remembered. At
least whilst they were sober. Perhaps she was being harsh; perhaps they
didn't really forget, perhaps they just had less morbid things to think
She fingered the distorted gold band that
adorned her left hand and allowed herself a few more tears. During the
past year, she'd managed to convince herself that she had cried enough.
She'd told herself that she should take her place alongside the others
in remembering. But the burnt outline that his body had left in the
lush summer grass had haunted her dreams again and again. So, for
another year, the bunting and the butterbeer would wait, and her seat
would once more remain conspicuously empty.
Her doorbell rang,
disturbing her brooding. "It's open," she called, knowing who it would
be. The door opened slowly inwards and the heart-shaped face of
Nymphadora Lupin looked carefully into the front room of Ginny's two
up, two down.
"Don't worry, Tonks," she said wearily. "I'm not
going to hex you." She stuffed her hanky up the sleeve of her pyjama
top and tried to blink away her tears.
"You did last time I was here," Tonks joked. Ginny managed a weak smile despite her grief.
"That was because you were foolish enough to arrive just after Hermione had left."
opened the door fully and the room was invaded by the sounds of the
morning school run in the busy London street outside. The chatter of
mothers and their children mocked her loneliness and for a moment made
her wish she hadn't let Tonks in.
"She means well," replied Tonks, her tone adding a necessary 'but' to her statement.
"They all mean well."
She wanted to say, 'You all mean well,' but she couldn't be that cruel, not to Tonks.
The other witch sighed and closed the door, shutting out the reminders of all that Ginny had told herself she could never have.
"They do, we all do. Truth is, Ginny, no one knows what to say to you any more."
"So why are you here?"
"Because you are the only person who knows how I feel today."
two witches embraced and for a few moments they were content with the
silence and the comfort that their friendship brought to one another.
Neither would judge, neither would tell the other they needed to move
on. Each of them knew the pain of a life that could never be whole
Remus had married Tonks at Easter in Harry's seventh
year. The wedding was one of the few bright spots in a very troubled
springtime, when even the weather was dark and dismal. However, the
summer had been glorious and June brought the news that Tonks was
expecting. But by the end of July, though, Voldemort had been defeated,
Harry and Remus were dead, and the lives of the witches they loved had
been shattered. John James Lupin had been born the following January,
and Tonks had named Ginny the boy's godmother.
"I've left John
with my mum," said Tonks, breaking their embrace. "I think he's
beginning to understand what it's all about, and I'm not sure I could
cope with his questions today."
Ginny nodded her agreement,
but she envied Tonks. Remus Lupin lived on in the face and mannerisms
of his son. He was a daily reminder to his mother as to what had been
lost, but also a challenge to her to live her life to the full. Ginny
absentmindedly stroked her stomach, wondering what it would have been
like to feel Harry's child quickening inside her.
the tea then, shall I?" Tonks was already opening the kitchen cupboards
in search of the tea bags. "Did Dean come round again?"
Ginny let out a derisive laugh.
"I take it that he did. Give him short shrift, did you?"
"Something like that."
"Well, I hope you didn't hex him too hard. It's not his fault. He just shouldn't listen to your idiot brother and his wife."
dwindling group of friends, in particular her peremptory sister-in-law,
had tried to get her to 'move on'. Harry would have wanted it, she'd
"And how would you know?" Ginny had demanded. "Was
it the hot topic of conversation when you were holed up somewhere
hiding from Tom? No! You either had your nose stuck in a book or your
tongue wrapped round my brother's tonsils."
harsh, she knew. But to her credit, Hermione had known better than to
try and push the point, at least for a while. But Hermione didn't know,
could never know, the loss Ginny had suffered. When the grief became
too much for her, Hermione could lose herself in her husband. He could
stroke her hair gently, whisper softly in her ear, all while his tears
mingled with hers.
But Ginny had no one to hold her when her
body yearned with regret. And when she ached with the desire to feel
his hands on her bare flesh, the other side of the bed remained as cold
and as empty as her heart.
There had been others who had
thought that she could love again. Oh, they'd waited until they'd
thought it proper, of course. They were very polite, very persistent,
and almost profane in their desire to see her forget the young man to
whom they all owed their freedom.
The kettle boiled and they
sat at her small table sipping tea, each alone with her thoughts.
Tonks played with the two rings on her finger, twisting them as she
stared out of the window. Ginny looked at the misshapen band on her
finger and remembered.
She had been numb with pain and grief
when they had handed her the charred black box they had found. A letter
held at Gringotts had informed her that she was his sole heir and that
the accumulated wealth of generations of Blacks and Potters was hers,
but the box was the only part of his estate that she truly wanted.
Distorted by the magic that had ripped him from her life, it had taken
a year to make it fit to wear. The inscription was all but obliterated
in the process, but that didn't matter. He had said it to her enough
times for it to be engraved on her heart. No longer something out of someone else's life.
you eaten?" Ginny asked. For once, she didn't actually want Tonks to
stay for the day. She had plans – plans that had been three years in
the making, plans that she was going to put into effect today.
don't think so, Ginny. John was a bit crabby when I left. I think he's
coming down with something. You don't mind, do you? I mean, I know we
normally spend the day together, but…."
Ginny smiled. Unlike the smiles she gave to her family when they came to call, it was a genuine smile.
"No, Tonks. I have a bit of a headache, I was up all night."
gave her a sympathetic smile. The bags under the older witch's eyes
suggested that she had slept little in recent days. They chatted for
another half an hour before Tonks rose to leave.
"Don't be too harsh on Hermione," she cautioned. "She…"
"She means well, I know."
Tonks departed, Ginny tidied up the kitchen before retreating to her
bedroom. Her double bed was pushed up against the wall and on the floor
was drawn the Crann Bethadh, The Tree of Life. The rest
of the floor was littered with scraps of parchment, each of which was
covered by her neat looping script.
She picked up a large
tome that lay on her bedside table next to a photo of her and Harry and
began to flick through its pages. As she searched its thick vellum, she
glanced at the picture and stopped. It was the only photograph of them
on display in the house. It had been taken at Christmas and two
laughing figures darted back and forth, throwing snowballs at each
other. She put the book down and picked up the photograph.
long now, Harry," she whispered. The figures in the picture stopped and
looked at her, exchanging puzzled glances before the lure of the snow
became too much and they resumed their antics.
It had taken a
while for them to be reconciled. She was stubborn and he was often
away, but they had managed it despite the difficulties. He would visit
her at Hogwarts, sometimes in secret when only she would know of their
trysts, other times in public when he needed the wizarding community to
know he was still alive.
She opened her wardrobe and
took out a small wooden chest that she placed next to the intricate
Celtic symbol. Opening it, she took out five small stones and began to
place them around the tree. The first five done, she took out some more
He was often tired when he arrived at Hogwarts,
frequently injured, and always in need of a good meal and a hot bath,
but when they kissed, he was a man reborn. It wasn't long before their
initial fumblings became more serious, something that she was glad
about now. They had lived and loved, despite the war and all that Tom
Riddle could throw at them. Their last night together had been
overshadowed by the knowledge that the hunt was at an end and all that
remained was the final confrontation.
When she'd finished with the rune stones, she took out five crystals and began to add them to the pattern she was creating.
had expected him to be a bundle of nerves, ready to race off and end it
one way or another. But he had been strangely calm about it, so much so
that she'd started to think he'd resigned himself to his fate. Fearing
for the worst, she'd begged him to be careful but he had dismissed her
"I will be safe, Ginny. And I will come back to you," he'd reassured her, and then added, "as soon as I can."
He'd taken her in his arms, kissed her softly on the lips, then made love to her.
stood and placed the box on the bed. Studying the pattern in front of
her and satisfied that it was now complete, she took a knife out of her
pocket and drew the blade across the palm of her left hand. She lifted
it up and held it over her handiwork, letting the vital fluid drip over
the crystals. She moved it around the pattern, speaking the
incantation, her tongue rolling over the ancient words with a growing
It had taken a lot of research and a good deal of
Harry's fortune to obtain the secrets that had brought her to this. The
magic she was about to perform was both illegal and highly dangerous.
The chances of success were slim, but she had decided that she'd rather
die trying to be reunited with him than endure the empty shell her life
had become. If all went well, she would be back inside her ten-year-old
body just before their first meeting at King's Cross. And if it didn't,
then they would be reunited in death.
She put the knife back into one pocket and pulled a note out of the other. It was addressed to Ron and contained only one word, Sorry.
She placed it on her bedside table and pulled out her wand. Standing
back in the centre, she pointed it at herself. She took a deep breath
"Ginny," the voice implored, "don't do that."
She pushed the wand into her chest, her heart hammering as she did so.
"Go away! I'm going to do this."
"There's no need, Ginny. I came back to you… as soon as I could."
She whirled around and pointed the wand at the gaunt figure she found facing her.
She breathed rather than spoke his name, her voice quivering with the
pain of their separation. Her arm shook as she fought to control her
emotions but her aim remained steady. It was him, there could be no
doubt. The way his lips curled in a half smile, the way his spirit
called to hers; Deep calls to deep. Without thinking, she took
a few steps towards him before stopping an arm's length from him. She
stared down at her feet as if they had betrayed her and fought the
rising impulse to collapse into his embrace. Even with her wand in his
face, the half smile remained. Slowly, her longing was replaced by
anger. Anger at her pain, at the knowing, pitying looks, at him for
leaving her so alone.
"Aren't you going to say something, Ginny?" As his smile broadened, her anger rose.
"You bastard," she spat.
"That's not a nice way to greet your husband," he laughed.
are not married," she snarled, angry at how he could take this so
calmly. Where were his tears, his red-rimmed eyes? For someone who was
supposed to be dead, he looked remarkably healthy.
He extended his right arm and gestured at her hand.
"You're wearing the ring," he offered, by way of explanation.
She dropped her wand and, with all the force she could muster, she slapped him hard across the face.
"Not the greeting I expected," he said, rubbing his hand over his stubble-strewn jaw and eyeing her warily.
disappear for five years," she shouted, "leaving everyone to think you
were dead, and then expect me to jump into your arms as soon as you
come waltzing through the door?"
She was glad that she had
cried so much in recent days, because it meant that she didn't make a
fool of herself by breaking down into tears when she was trying to be
"I came as soon as I could," he said softly, his smile gone and his eyes glistening.
"So you cheated death?"
"Not cheated; the price had to be paid."
"So how did you do it? You didn't …"
"No, Ginny, I didn't make any Horcruxes. In fact, I didn't do anything."
"Who then? Hermione?" She hoped desperately that her sister-in-law hadn't kept her in the dark for all these years.
"Albus, the old bugger. Keeping secrets right up to the end."
"Maiorem hac dilectionem nemo habet ut animam suam quis ponat pro amicis suis."
"Greater love has no one than this? When did Dumbledore lay down his life for anyone?"
the tower. When Snape killed him. He sacrificed himself for all three
of us. He kept Snape from breaking his Unbreakable Vow, Malfoy from
becoming a murderer, and me from being killed before I could even begin
the Horcrux hunt. The sacrifice triggered the magic he'd been casting
on me during our meetings all through that term, meaning that death had
lost its sting. It had no claim on me."
"So what took you so long?"
"Death didn't want to let me go. She's a very jealous mistress, and she doesn't like to lose."
"Yeah, she. Good looking, too, if you like the Gothic look."
Ginny was surprised by the stirrings of jealousy that she felt and it must have shown in eyes because he quickly added:
"I'm back here because you didn't give up and as long as you still mourned for me, she could never claim me."
"Harry, other people they… well… Dean – he…"
know. Every time someone tried to force you to give up or go out with
someone else, it reinforced the charm. By the time Dean showed up, it
only needed you to send him packing and I was free."
"So you're back. To stay, that is?"
stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, taking in every detail.
She wanted to kiss him, but she was scared that this was all a dream
and she would awake and find that nothing had changed. She let
the fingers of her wand hand rest upon his face. Their tips caught
against the dark stubble as she caressed him, pangs of guilt for
slapping him fighting with desire.
He had aged, but no more
than the five years he had been gone. His hair was still the messy mop
that demanded to be tamed; his eyes had lost that haunted look and
gained a maturity beyond his years. But most of all it was his smile.
That quirking of the corner of his mouth and the twinkle in his eye
that accompanied it. It was this that told her that it was real and
that this was Harry. She placed her other hand on his chest, enjoying
its steady rise and fall and the reassuring beat of his heart. As she
looked, she noticed that her ring was no longer battered and misshapen,
but shining brightly. She looked up and found him smiling at her.
"We need to go and tell someone."
"No, Harry, not yet. I want you – no, I need you to myself, for one night at least."
took his hand and led him over to her bed. As they lowered themselves
onto the mattress, she kissed him softly on the same spot where she'd
slapped him before.
"Welcome home, Harry."
you to: Margaret, who was a great help to me in the sorting out my
thoughts on this; Michelle, for the helpful suggestions and corrections
she made and to my site beta, Sherry, who got me into this and has had
to listen to my whinging throughout the competition.
And thank you, too, to everyone who voted for me or who left a review during the competition.