Nothing and Everything Good
The residents of Little Whinging were
in agreeance about two things. It had been abnormally depressing and misty for
summer – a condition that had persisted since last year – and the sound coming
from the open window of the smallest bedroom of the Dursleys was a clear
indicator of someone or something very out of the ordinary.
Harry Potter was sitting on his
bedroom’s wooden floor, dragging a fork across the grain and leaving deep
scratches in the once pristine surface. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he
knew that his aunt would be livid with him if she saw what he was doing, but so
far, she had not bothered to enter his bedroom that summer. Even if she had
seen the marks on the floor, he simply couldn’t bring himself to care.
A hollow space had been carved into
Harry’s chest since last month when he left Ginny at Dumbledore’s funeral. The
ride home from Hogwarts had done nothing to decrease the empty feeling that
threatened to suffocate him at any moment as he stared languidly at Ginny’s
reflection in the window of the carriage they shared with Ron and Hermione.
Ginny had been accepting of his decision to seek Voldemort alone – too
accepting, he now thought – and the resulting wall that had sprung up between
them seemed to act as a very personal, very stubborn Dementor. Nothing Harry
had done since his arrival in Little Whinging had lessened the emotionally
strangling sensation, and by the time July had arrived, he was certain that
death would almost be preferable to it.
It took enormous willpower to stay with
the Dursleys that summer. Whenever Dudley would catch Harry unawares and sneak
a punch in the stomach, or when he’d been given a particularly small portion at
mealtimes, the desire to leave the abusive situation was almost overwhelming.
It was only the memory of his promise to Dumbledore that kept Harry there. For
even in death, his mentor continued to hold sway on his heart.
His eyes wandered to the glowing red
numbers on his clock. It was almost time to leave.
He wrenched himself from the floor and
lazily began to pack his belongings. Trainers, trousers, socks, and books were
piled into the battered trunk. His copy of Advanced Potion Making lay on
top,; the one that had once belonged to Professor Snape – the Half-Blood
Prince. He covered it with an old, smelly shirt and searched his room for more
of his belongings before the anger surrounding that memory returned.
Prising loose one of the floorboards,
Harry cast Lumos and shone his lit wand into the hollow space to check
for anything he may have missed. A few crumbs of long-eaten cake from Mrs.
Weasley and a wrapper from a Pepper Imp reflected the light, but nothing more.
On the tiny nightstand next to his bed,
Harry gently took a framed picture of his parents, dancing amidst falling
leaves. They paused and smiled at him, waving as if they didn’t know they were
about to be murdered. He moved to the trunk and was about to place the picture
inside when he stopped. Looking more closely at the photograph, something
struck him. He had always known he’d looked very much like his father and
confirmed that fact by checking his reflection in a mirror on the wall. When he
looked back down again, his eyes lingered on his mother and his breath caught
in his chest. She looked an awful lot like Ginny with her long red hair and
freckles. The only difference was a slight variation in the cheeks and eyes. The
thought of him and Ginny dancing together carefree forced his heart to beat
rapidly. What had he been thinking? How could he leave Ginny? How could he tear
himself away from the only person he’d ever really... loved?
That’s what it was, Harry had decided
during the last few weeks of solitude. Love for Ginny was why he’d left her in
the first place and remembering why renewed his resolve. Voldemort would use
his love for her against him and when Voldemort held Ginny’s life in front of
him, he honestly didn’t know if he’d be able to choose between Ginny and the
rest of the world.
However, thinking about Ginny wasn’t
going to help him prepare for his eventual departure. With a shuddering breath
to clear his head, Harry set the picture inside his pillow to cover his parents’
mocking smiles. When Voldemort was gone, then he’d be able to have that
happiness with Ginny. When he’d removed that monster from the world, he’d be
able to live again. Until then, he’d just have to keep focused and not fall
into the trap of wanting to live someone else’s life.
After what seemed like an eternity,
Arthur Weasley appeared at the front door of Number Four Privet Drive to
“Hello, Harry,” the kindly man said as
he entered the living room. He wore a warm smile that was mingled with worry
and exhaustion. “All ready, then?”
Harry hefted his trunk, which he had packed
for the last time, and turned to survey the place he had lived but never
considered his own. The Durselys appeared quite satisfied to let Harry leave
their lives without comment. Dudley was ignoring them by sitting as close to
the telly as possible short of touching his nose to the screen, and had the
volume turned up well beyond a normal level. Uncle Vernon seemed oblivious to
both Harry’s impending departure and his son’s attempt to ignore them. It was
only when Harry’s eyes swept across Aunt Petunia did something change: she was
looking at him with a most peculiar expression, as if she knew that it was the
last time she would ever see him again, and one way or another, Harry
reflected, she was probably right.
She approached Harry, who was now a
full two inches taller than her, with wringing hands and a watery smile, and
then she did something she’d never done in his entire life. She hugged him.
“Take care of yourself,” his aunt said
hastily before pulling away as quickly as she’d come. Then, she turned her back
on him and began to reflexively wipe the kitchen counter. She didn’t look back.
Harry scarcely realised what had
happened before he was being led out of the house towards a Ministry car that
would take him to the Burrow. The only thing that interrupted his pondering his
aunt’s strange behaviour was the knowledge that, in only a few short hours,
he’d be back at the Burrow. He’d have to deal with seeing Ginny again.
Dust trailed the black sedan in great
billowing clouds as its tyres made contact with the dirt road leading to the
Burrow. With a small squeak, the brakes brought the car to a stop and the cloud
of dust continued forward, enshrouding Harry’s view out the vehicle’s window.
“Welcome home,” Mr. Weasley said
Harry saw the older wizard’s half-lit
face smiling at him as the dust swirled on the other side of the glass.
Something warm swelled in his chest and he smiled in return. “Thanks. It’s good
to be back.”
They collected Harry’s things and approached
the Burrow. “Arthur!” Mrs. Weasley exclaimed. “I’m so glad you made it safely.”
After Mr. Weasley insisted on being
asked the security question and mumbling the answer, Mrs. Weasley landed a kiss
on his cheek and turned to look at Harry.
“And Harry, dear; you look like you’ve
not eaten since June.” Didn’t those Muggles feed you at all?” She wrapped him
in a motherly hug and gave a disparaging sniff at how scrawny he must have
seemed to her. “I’m so glad you’re here. Let me get you something to eat. Put
his things in the twins’ room, will you, Arthur?”
Mrs. Weasley began to throw pots on the
stove and gather ingredients from the pantry while Mr. Weasley banished Harry’s
trunk to the twins’ room. Harry heard a noise at the garden door and turned to
see the one person he’d most hoped he would and would not see – Ginny.
“Hello, Harry,” she said as he sucked
in a breath. Her hair was pulled back with a red ribbon, exposing her neck. She
wore a simple powder blue t-shirt underneath a pair of cut-off overalls. Her
face was streaked with mud and a fine sheen of sweat graced her brow. She was more
beautiful than he remembered and seeing her again confirmed what he already knew
– his resolve wouldn’t last long in her presence.
He took a step backwards. “I – I better
go unpack my things,” he said awkwardly, gesturing vaguely towards the stairs.
He turned and took another step when his foot caught on the table leg, sending
him sprawling across the floor.
Mrs. Weasley started at the stove and
bent to help him up.
“There you are, Harry. Mind the table
next time, will you?” She returned to the now boiling pot and began to pour in
sliced vegetables, but looked suspiciously between him and Ginny, who he had
not once stopped staring at. “Is there something the matter, Harry?”
“N – No,” he stammered. “Just going to
see about my things.” He turned, careful to avoid the table and two chairs, and
then took two loping strides before he was on the stairs and climbing upward.
Before he was at the top, however, he caught Ginny’s eye once more and saw that
same blazing look on her face that had been there before he very first kissed
her. The distraction caused him to miss the last step, grazing his shin on the
missed step and fell face first onto the landing.
“Blimey, Harry,” said a familiar voice.
“No need to fall at my feet. I’m not that important.”
A pair of strong hands helped him back
onto his feet and Harry rubbed at his injured leg. “Hey, Ron.”
“You see Ginny, yet?” he asked as they
walked to Harry’s room. He pulled two thin straps of liquorice out from his
pocket and handed one to Harry, who was re-arranging his glasses.
“Yeah,” Harry confirmed, noticing the Puking
Pastille he found last year at this time was still on his bed, now perched on
the pillow, as if someone was telling him that he’d better take it this time. “I
Ron stopped and gave him a searching
look. “Better do something about that, mate,” he said, taking a great bite of
Harry sighed. “I can’t. She’s better
off here with your family, than traipsing around the country looking for
Ron didn’t say anything, but his brows
rose unbelievingly. They sat on the bed and the smell of flowers met Harry’s
nose, unencumbered by the lingering scent of gunpowder. “Hey. Where’d all the
boxes go?” For the carpet was clear, and a vase of familiar, large flowers sat
on a table where there had once been stacks of the twins’ things.
“Fred and George took them to their
flat,” Ron answered. Then crossing his arms, he said, “But you’re not going to
get out of answering me about Ginny.”
Harry grabbed the sweet from his pillow
and contemplated biting into it so he wouldn’t have to talk to Ron about his
sister – the sister that he was completely in love with, but couldn’t be
with until he killed the most evil wizard in fifty years. Instead, he took a
bite of the liquorice and chewed while Ron began to pace in front of him.
“Look,” Ron said as he sat on the bed.
“When you and Ginny first got together, I was a little worried that you’d...
well, that you’d act like I’d been with Lavender.”
Harry snorted. Ginny would tie his
tongue in knots before she’d let him use her as a snogging machine.
“But then I realised,” Ron continued,
“that you’d never do that to Ginny. I watched how you treated her, how she made
you... calmer and more... alive.” Ron bit another piece of liquorice off
and stood, chewing as he walked towards the open window.
“I know,” Harry relented. “I know I
need her in my life. I just can’t...”
“Rubbish.” Ron turned around and faced
Harry looked his friend in the eye, his
jaw set. “I can’t sit through another funeral, Ron. Not yours, not Hermione’s,
and especially not Ginny’s.”
Ron turned to face the window again and
pocketed his sweet. “Yeah,” he said after a long moment. “I know what you mean.
If anything happened to you or Ginny or Hermione... I’d...”
They fell into a companionable silence,
each lost in their own thoughts about the prospect of losing loved ones, and
then Ron turned around and walked over to Harry grabbed Harry’s shoulders,
forcing him to look him in the eye. “I’ve learned one thing this year, Harry.
When you were with Dumbledore, and those Death Eaters were shooting curses at
us, and that Greyback...” here, Ron shuddered at the memory. “Well, I realised
something that you need to understand before you do something stupid. I learned
that we need to keep the ones we love close to us, or we might lose them.
You’re worried about losing Ginny if you let her come... She wants to, you
Harry’s eyes bugged at this.
“Yeah,” Ron said with a nod. “She told
me she was going to come with us, that she didn’t give a damn about school, or Death
Eaters, and that she...”
Ron faltered and let go of Harry’s
shoulders. “What? What else did she say?” Harry asked, as if he were a hungry
dog begging for scraps from the table.
Ron smiled. “You’ll have to ask her.
Just... think about it.” His smile grew wicked and he whipped out his wand. “I’m
of age now - I can hex you if you don’t do something, you know?”
Harry relented, smiling at the threat
and holding up his hands. “Only until my birthday.”
They heard Mrs. Weasley calling for Ron
in the distance. “Damn,” he said and re-pocketed his wand. “I forgot I need to
be helping Dad with the security spells.”
“You’re setting the wards with your
Another smile, more satisfied this
time, and Ron straightened up a little. “Bill’s too busy getting fitted for
robes and stuff like that, Charlie’s not going to be in until tonight, and the
twins are working double shifts at their shop. I’m the only one left.”
“Brilliant,” complimented Harry.
There was another call from downstairs.
Ron cupped his hands to his mouth and pointed his head out the door.
“COMING!” he yelled and then, turning
to Harry, tapped on the pocket holding his wand. “Remember, I’ll be watching you.”
Harry sat back against the wall and
watched as Ron left the room. If seeing Ginny again wasn’t bad enough, smelling
her perfume, hearing how much she wanted to go with him, and knowing she was
close enough to touch if he really wanted to, was enough to make the strongest
man’s knees shake with indecision. It was going to be a long month before
school started and Harry was beginning to wonder if he’d be better off back
with the Dursleys.
With the wedding taking place at the
Burrow the next day, everyone was assigned chores. Ron, having finished with
the wards, was assigned to de-gnome the garden, set up the tables and chairs,
and visit the twins in Diagon Alley for some last-minute purchases. Charlie had
sent an owl explaining that he’d be arriving even later than expected and Percy
was far from being welcomed by anyone but his mother. It’d be a miracle if he
even showed up for the wedding itself.
“Harry?” asked Mrs. Weasley, who was
balancing several pieces of meat with her wand as they danced towards an open
oven. “Be a dear and peel some potatoes? I’m making a salad and just don’t have
time to attend to them before dinner.”
Harry nodded, grateful for something to
do, and walked into the small room off the kitchen. There were at least a
hundred of the large brown tubers piled on a table and behind them a small,
red-haired figure was already hard at work stripping them of their skins. A
large bowl sat between her and another chair, where a vegetable peeler sat opposite
on the table.
“Oh, good,” Ginny said brightly. “I
need the help.” She blew a stray strand of hair out of her eyes and began to
peel another potato.
He watched helplessly as the bit of
hair worked its way loose once more and fell inevitably back into her eyes. She
tossed the bare potato into the bowl and reached for another, again blowing the
hair out of her face.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” she
asked imperiously. “If we don’t get this lot finished in an hour, Mum’ll be
skinning us next.”
“Oh,” Harry said, red-faced and sat
down hastily in the empty seat. “Sorry,” he muttered and grabbed the peeler,
and reached for a potato. Instead of a rough, dirty spud, his hand closed
around a warm, soft hand. The heat on his face spread to his ears and neck and
he quickly moved to grab a potato from a different spot on the pile.
As he began to run the peeler along the
length of the potato, he heard Ginny release a long, weary sigh next to him.
Luckily, however, she did not try to engage him in conversation and Harry soon
found himself deeply engrossed in his work.
The pile diminished considerably and
Harry almost forgot that he wasn’t alone when Ginny began to hum softly. It was
a tune they’d heard together on the wireless one night while she studied for
O.W.L.’s. They had just come back from a walk around the lake flushed and
happy. Ginny had zapped the wireless with her wand and they danced around the
common room until Hermione scolded them for not studying. Ginny had been
instantly repentant, but when their friend looked away, poked her tongue out
and giggled until they’d reached their book bags. It had been the best bout of
studying Harry had every experienced.
A voice broke into his thoughts. “Harry?”
He shook his head clear and turned inadvertently
to see Ginny’s face a few inches from him. “Huh?”
“You’d better stop peeling that one or you’ll
be scraping skin.”
“Wha – oh!”
In his hand was half a potato with the
entire top peeled down to the centre. Harry laughed half-heartedly and put the
partial spud into the bowl.
“What were you thinking about just then?”
asked Ginny. Her hair was still up, he noticed, but the streaks of mud were
gone, revealing an adorable spray of freckles across her nose and cheeks.
“What was I thinking about? You,” he
blurted and instantly regretted it.
She didn’t speak, but finished peeling
her potato and placed it in the now full bowl. “I-I’m going to go empty this,”
she said haltingly. She bent over to grab the bowl with both hands and lifted. Struggling
with her load, she left the room, leaving a fresh scent of flowers lingering
Harry groaned into his potato-covered
The wedding itself was magnificent.
Harry had never been to a Wizarding wedding before and found himself taken in
by the magical decorations, enchanted, musical faeries, and loads and loads of
He passed a knot of guests surrounding
the large wedding cake, pointing and commenting on the blue and white dragons
on the bottom of each tier. Every so often, they would each spout a miniature
flame and the white dragon would graze its head under the chin of the blue
Bill had almost fully recovered from
his encounter with Fenrir Greyback. He still had some very deep, pink scars,
but had yet to show any werewolf tendencies. A quick scan of the entrees didn’t
show any raw meat and Harry was grateful.
Fleur was radiant in her white wedding
dress, and had almost every boy lolling his tongue out after her, including an
easily smitten Ron. Harry had overheard Ginny talking about Fleur to Hermione
when he caught them walking out of the house. Hermione had been looking daggers
at Ron as he followed after Fleur with a small group of boys. It was Ginny’s
comments that had intrigued him, however, as it seemed that Fleur’s display of
loyalty to Bill convinced Ginny to stop calling her Phlegm.
When it was time for everyone to follow
Bill and Fleur onto the conjured dance floor in the garden, Harry knew he
wouldn’t be able to avoid Ginny any longer. Everyone else was paired off – Ron
with an agitated, but somewhat mollified Hermione, Bill with Fleur, Molly and
Arthur.... Ginny’s eyes were locked onto his and he gulped. He moved into
position opposite her and resigned himself to making the best of it.
They didn’t speak at first; seeming to
know exactly what the other was thinking. Harry took her carefully around the
waist with his right hand and led with his other. He was equally careful not to
notice the way her sleeveless gold chiffon dress showed off her figure, or the
way her eyelashes sparkled in the sunlight.
Halfway through the second song, Harry
caught a glimpse of Ron dancing with Hermione. A surge of hope that perhaps Ron
would save him from the blissful agony of dancing with the most beautiful girl
on the dance floor was instantly quashed when Ron caught his eye and patted the
end of his wand protruding from his trouser pocket.
They danced for three songs before
Harry broke off. Her eyes pleaded with him, as if to say that she needed to spend
more time with him before he left, but he knew his limits. Her perfume was too
pleasant and her face too lovely to linger. Bowing slightly, Harry turned to
walk in whatever direction would take him away from his greatest source of
”Harry? Please wait,” she implored from
behind him and he felt her hand on his shoulder, causing it to burn where she
was touching him.
He swallowed and lowered his head, but
did not turn around. Harry felt the uncomfortable stares of the other guests,
most of whom were related to Ginny, on his back. Ginny must have noticed as
well, because she hooked her arm through his and gave it a gentle tug.
“Let’s get out of here,” she whispered
in his ear, sending shivers of pleasure racing down his spine.
He did not protest, but some small part
of him knew that being alone with Ginny would lead to nothing – and everything
She led him to one of the places they’d
spent countless hours together during the previous summer. Underneath a large
weeping willow sat a piece of granite that had been carved into some kind of
seat by one of her brothers several years ago. It featured large sweeping sides
and a smooth place to sit that easily fit four adults.
“Sit,” she commanded and Harry obeyed,
tucking his feet underneath his knees. She remained standing, however, and set
her jaw in a way he’d seen Mrs. Weasley do on countless occasions when the
twins or Ron had pushed their limits a little too far. She drew her arms across
her chest and glowered down at him.
“I need to know how you feel about me,”
she demanded, but Harry could detect a slight streak of fear in her eyes. “How
you really feel about me.”
Swallowing in an attempt to wet his
parched mouth, he felt a tingle in his chest. “You know how I feel,” he said with
a barely audible murmur, staring fixedly at her slim ankles.
“Do I? You never told me. I need to
Harry hesitated. If he said it out
loud, he’d be admitting too much. The tingle in his chest began to vibrate.
Before he could say anything, however, Ginny spoke.
“Because I can’t help but wonder if
you’ve been feeling just as empty and alone as I’ve been feeling.” He could
hear the uncertainty in her voice and it ate at him that he was the cause of
her pain. “Tell me that you don’t hurt when we’re apart. Tell me it doesn’t kill
you to pretend we’re not together...” She trailed off and sniffed, causing the
vibration in his chest to burn.
“No, Harry,” she interrupted and sat
cross-legged in front of him, exposing more of her long, pale legs. “You need
to look me in the eye before you say anything. I need to know.”
Unwillingly, he brought his head up and
the sight of her moist brown eyes penetrated him like nothing else. He knew
then what he had to do, but it was still extremely difficult. He could no
longer deny telling her anything she wanted to hear, even if the truth doomed
him to doing something he’d rather die than accept. “I – I have very strong
feelings for you, Ginny.” There was what seemed to be a snapping sound in his
chest and the burning instantly melted into a pleasant pool of warmth that
spread throughout his body. “You said you never gave up on me and ever since
then, I’ve not been able to figure out why someone like me would deserve...” He
trailed off because he could sense a subtle change in the air between them. His
plan wasn’t working at all.
Ginny seemed poised on edge, trying to
decide whether she was going to attack or run away. After wavering for a moment
she leaned forward. “You idiot!” she screamed as she balled her hands
into fists and began to pummel his chest. “I want to be in your life forever, but
your stupid noble intentions won’t give me a place until you’ve killed
Voldemort, but that’s just silly, Harry!” She stopped hitting him,
though he would have let her continue, feeling like he deserved every bit of
punishment. “It’s just... it’s just stupid.” She seemed to run out of anger and
her fists relaxed and wrapped around his chest, pulling him close instead.
Harry’s own hands found her exposed back, returning the embrace. He never
wanted to leave her again and knew that he wouldn’t be able to push her away any
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He repeated
that over and over in his mind, letting a stray tear drop into her hair.
Then, seeming to sense what Harry
needed, Ginny raised her head and closed the distance between their faces. If
kissing her before had been like living through several sunlit days, then
kissing her after a prolonged absence was like swimming in an ocean of her
They came up for air, Harry opening his
eyes to see the tracks made on her face by the tears she’d just shed. “I have
strong feelings for you too,” she said, smiling a crooked smile. “It’s called
being in love.”
Harry nodded and then pulled her head
to his shoulder again. He didn’t know what the future would hold, or how long
he’d be able to spend his life with Ginny, but he knew that she belonged at his
side through whatever Voldemort was determined to throw at him. Together, they
would conquer or be conquered. Together, they would meet their future.
A/N: Bonus house points to the people
that can spot the two food-related references to “The Letters of Summer”. Its
author, Kokopelli, aided and abetted this little foray into the Post-HBP
universe. Thanks also to Sherry and Ara Kane for the beta work.