The Sugar Quill
Author: Keats  Story: Dark Before Dawn  Chapter: Default
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The rain drummed against the glass of the dormitory windows

Disclaimer: JK Rowling is a goddess. I would never take credit for her creations. Everything here belongs to her, I've only made use of it for a short while.


Dark Before Dawn

The rain drummed against the glass of the dormitory windows. The howling wind pushed the droplets to a near horizontal slant, driving them into the panes. Beyond the casement the night was murky black, any hope of moonlight blotted out by the thick, tumbling clouds.

It was happening.

It was happening somewhere out there in the rain.

Away from the coiling, blustering winds of the storm, sheltered inside a dormitory, a young woman sat curled on a window seat. Her chin rested on the windowsill, nose pressed softly against the glass, as she watched the rain flowing in torrents past her eyes.

Somewhere beyond the storm her future was being decided. She was here.

She lifted her arm to wipe away the circle of condensation that her breath had shaped on the window. She had spent the night watching the storm, tucked up in the thick red duvet from her bed. Blood red. Fitting for tonight. The others were sleeping, although not peacefully. She longed to join them but she couldn't. It wouldn't feel right to lie in bed when somewhere, out beyond her curtains, everyone she cared about was fighting a war that would decide her future -- all of their futures. So she chose to stay awake, eyes staring into the night, searching for something -- anything.

The soft snoring of her dorm mates was the only challenge to the howling wind. The storm was violent -- what went on beyond it even more so -- but still they found the ability to sleep. There was no thunder, only wind and rain beating against the tower, sending echoes of urgency and dread and discontent all flooding into her mind. She'd left only one candle lit, to help stave off the darkness. It flickered ominously as she let out a breath, sending shadows against her blanket.

It was happening. The accumulation of decades worth of effort.

And she was here.

It was too unlike her, to sit back and not rise to take a stand. It wasn't natural; it didn't feel right. Given the choice she'd be gone by now, out in the rain with the others. She would have never chosen to stay here -- just sitting, not knowing whether any of them would ever come back. But it wasn't her choice. He'd made her promise.

It was what he wanted of course. He had never liked putting anyone else in danger.

She took a breath, running her hands over her crimson hair and down to grip the back of her neck.

She was safe, alright. Safe and alone. They'd gone and left her here to think. Did they not realise that time to think meant time to worry?

It would be easier for her out there. Out there time to think was time to plan. Everyone she loved was out there tonight; risking their lives, fighting for what was right, working for peace.

They were saving the world. That phrase had always sounded silly to her, but that was exactly what they were doing. They were risking their lives to assure that tomorrow would dawn the same way as today.

Was it so wrong to want to help!?

She pulled the blanket up to her face and screamed, the sound muffled to near extinction by the thick, plush material. The girl in the next bed sighed softly and turned over.

They had been here yesterday, all of them. It had been a surprise to see four redheaded boys tumble through the portrait hole, laughing and teasing each other playfully. A fifth brought up the rear, a bit more withdrawn but as cheerful as the others, glasses slightly askew. Bill had spun her around like he had when she was little and rubbed his unshaven chin across her cheek. George had tackled Ron and hugged him, taking time to give him the predictable two pats on the back before binding him to a chair and force-feeding him a new concoction. Percy hung back and waited until the others were done to move in and give her one of his soft, distinctive hugs, whispering in her ear that Harry had been sitting a bit too close when they'd come in.

Harry and Hermione had joined them. The nine had all crowded together around one of the small tables, laughing and cheering as all sorts of card games and bets were won and lost. They had sat there for hours, snacking on sweets the twins had brought up from the kitchen and talking about little things, unimportant ones, soaking up as much of everyone else as possible. Inside a tiny voice was telling them that this could be their last chance. They'd groaned but complied when at half past three Hermione had finally risen from the table and used her shiny silver badge to send them all home.

They'd gone through hugs again, holding on just a bit longer and tighter than usual. There was a moment of silence before someone laughed. Then they had smiled softly and left, leaving the four students alone in the Common Room.

She'd gone up to bed that night and stared up at the ceiling for hours, knowing where her family had gone. It was an hour before dawn when she finally closed her eyes.

The next morning it was Ron who put out the alarm. He'd torn up the girls' stairs at seven in the morning, using the railing to haul himself up, yelling to Hermione to get up because he'd gone. He'd woken up to find Harry's bed curtains open, his covers hardly rumpled. He had followed them in the night.

She'd gone through the day pale and remote, her mind unable to concentrate on the buzz of rumours that surrounded her. She hadn't noticed much of anything that day, not even Ron and Hermione's feverish whispering in the back of the room. They felt betrayed that he left them behind; he never had before.

They left later that evening, just after dark. She'd watched them fly into the forest, Hermione on a borrowed broom, not long before the storm started. They hadn't asked her to go with them, but she couldn't have anyway. Harry'd made her promise to stay here.

She was still here.

Harry. Harry could make her do anything he wanted, any time at all. If Harry asked her to jump starkers in the lake she'd do it. Especially if the question was accompanied by one of the sweet lingering kisses he liked to use to catch her off guard.

That was why it hadn't seemed so strange when he'd asked her to stay here until school was over. They'd sat on the balcony of the West tower, wrapped in a blanket, watching the stars. She'd been so caught up with the feeling of his lips on hers that she hadn't realised the full implications of her muffled, "Yes." Even later when she thought about it, it hadn't really mattered. It wasn't as though Harry was going anywhere. He was here, with her.

But the trouble was that she had agreed.

Harry had looked at her moment. Then he smiled and leaned down again to catch her lips in his.

Why keep her promise? He would understand. How could anyone expect her to keep a promise like that? It wouldn't be such a big deal.

It would be a big deal to her.

She'd made her promise; she'd keep it. For him.

She nestled down lower into the window seat, pulling her pillow off the floor and tucking it behind her head.

She wasn't childish anymore. Her relationship with Harry wasn't anything like the fumbling, silent crush of her first few Hogwarts years. It was real now. She had been through so many stages in the last ten years that she could tell what was real and what wasn't.

This was real.

Bill had been the first to tell her the story of the Boy-Who-Lived. She had been six at the time, and didn't know much of anything beyond her dolls and her brothers. She'd sat on his lap as he made up long drawn out conversations between the baby and the Dark Lord. She remembered loving the voices he'd created for the different characters and how he'd held her just a little bit tighter whenever a scary part was coming up. It had been months before she'd learned that babies couldn't do any of the things Bill said they could.

She'd gone through the next four years without much thought towards the Boy-Who-Lived, periodically taking time to listen to Bill as he thought up a new scenario. Then, four years later, she realized that the Boy-Who-Lived wasn't just a creation of Bill's overactive mind. She was shocked to think that not only was Harry Potter real, he had grown up, just like everyone else.

That year there had been many stories sent home by owl from her brother Ron, drifting through the kitchen window on gilded wings. They were still exaggerated, she was sure (who could trust Ron to tell an unbiased story?), but just that fact that Harry Potter was real kept her from finding another source.

At eleven, her feelings changed. She loved her saviour, her Knight-in-Shining-Armour, the hero who had rescued her from a demon. But her love was tainted now - the stain of her own actions ruined the fabric.

At fourteen what she had thought of as love had been exposed for merely admiration. She found someone new and gave up on the Valiant Gryffindor Seeker. She realized his opinion of her didn't matter as much as she had originally thought it did. She stopped pretending. She focused on herself and grew up a bit. She got to know him as a friend and so when the feeling, the real feeling, crept up on her it was much easier to make him see it and much easier when it turned out to have crept up on him too.

It crept up on her. That was the magic of Harry. He made people love him.

Everyone loved him.

He had few relatives, but an infinity of family members. Somehow over the years he'd become a friend, a brother, even a son, all without sharing a single drop of blood.

Lupin thought of Harry as a son. He'd told her so one day at the Burrow. It was strange to have a grown man confide in her his fears about Harry, to tell her although he could never consider himself a father, Harry would always be his son. Harry was Moody's protégé, Tonks' cousin, Fletcher's ear when he was bored of silent guard work and needed somebody to talk to. And to her family? He was everything to them. Everything to her.

He wasn't perfect, but he didn't have to be. They loved him just the same. He was good at Defence, lousy at Divination. He had old friends and new friends and schoolboy nemeses. He'd been through everything but you could still find him laughing when the right joke came along. He was terrible at chess but he played anyway because his best friend liked it. He hated to study and loved to fly. If you put him on a broomstick he would find some way to make you gasp in fear or awe. He was sweet and funny, brooding and moody and completely, deliriously breathtaking.

And tonight, in a situation where a Knight-in-Shining-Armour would rust in the rain and the Valiant Seeker would have nothing to catch, Harry would prevail.

How could she not have realised he planned to go? Had he just decided that night, laughing in the common room? Or had he planned, always knowing he would go, never resolving when? He'd made her promise. He must have known.

But how could she not know? The girl who knew him more intimately than anyone else? His defences were thicker than the first day they met. He was able to keep most people from realizing what he was really feeling. He must have been better than she thought.

He had been different back then. He had walls but they weren't quite the same. Behind the emotionless shield you could still see something else. You could tell when he was nervous, or happy, or scared. It wasn't until later that he started to close off completely.

He'd seen too much for his lifetime. For anyone's lifetime. People had been tortured and killed right in front of him. He'd lost friends and family and strangers -- every death weighed on him the same. He refused to share responsibility for the people who had given their lives. He never seemed to consider the older, better trained, more experienced wizards on the case. He never stopped to think that if they couldn't fix these things, he could not be expected to.

There were hundreds of people willing to fight with him, to die with him, yet when he'd gone yesterday, he'd gone alone.

Ron and Hermione had gone after him, but they wouldn't find him. He'd do it alone.

She would have gone too, but she'd keep her promise. She'd stay here and wait. She'd wait for them all.

Ginny sat up again, leaning forward to rest her forehead against the windowpane.

Dawn was seeping over the forest, casting long shadows over the lawn. The wind had slowed and then stopped sometime during the night and the few clouds left spat soft drops of rain across the grass. The orange glow of light enveloped the gray night, leaking colour into every corner of the landscape. The light always conquered the dark, in the end.

She blew out the remains of her lone candle and stood.

One sleepless night. More sure to come.

She would wait.


‘Thank you's go out to Lucy for looking this over originally (and sharing your opinion) and Kaitie, who I'm going to love working with.

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