The Sugar Quill
Author: Fitzette  Story: Well, They'll Have a Bed Anyways  Chapter: Well, They'll Have a Bed Anyways
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Well, They’ll Have a Bed Anyway

Well, They’ll Have a Bed Anyway

 

“Then, as Charlie isn’t coming home, that just leaves Harry and Ron in the attic, and if Fleur shares with Ginny --”

 

“--that’ll make Ginny’s Christmas --”muttered Fred.

 

“—everyone should be comfortable. Well, they’ll have a bed anyway,” said Mrs. Weasley, sounding slightly harassed.

 

(Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, American Edition, page 327.)

 

 

Even the way she slept was infuriating, Ginny thought as yet another breathy sigh floated up and around the room. She rolled over and propped herself up on one elbow, glancing down at the camp bed, the camp bed meant for Hermione, and instead being put to use by her sister-in-law to be.

 

Fleur. Fleur with her throaty laugh and her affected English and her swooping down on Harry and kissing both his cheeks whenever he happened into a room. Fleur, in her pristine white night gown with its blue satin ribbon, and her flawless skin and her silver blond hair, fanned out around her head, looking for all the world like a painting in want of an artist.

 

Ginny rolled over onto her back, the soft worn sheets coming to rest easily around her. It should have been Hermione in that bed, Hermione keeping her awake with her giggles, the ones she only relinquished around Ginny. Hermione with her calm words and her probing questions. It should have been Hermione spending Christmas at the Burrow.

 

Ginny moved the pillow from under her head, pressing it against her chest. Her heart was aching fit to burst and she desperately wanted to talk to Hermione.  But  since Ron’s…relationship with Lavender, there had been an invisible, unspoken, immovable boundary between them. Sometimes, Ginny imagined she caught Hermione giving her penetrating stares but she always looked away when Ginny caught her. It caused Ginny no small amount of irritation that when Hermione looked away, it was almost always to glance at Harry.

 

Another breathy sigh escaped Fleur’s lips and her sheets rustled. Ginny glanced down at her again.  She had lifted one hand and laid the back of it against her smooth forehead. She looked posed, arranged. She began to murmur and before Ginny could decipher things that would forever haunt her memory, she pulled her bedclothes back and put her bare feet on the floor. Her dressing gown lay across the foot of the bed and Ginny tugged it on, more out of habit than necessity. She left it open and untied at the waist.

 

The fourth step from the bottom creaked, so Ginny stepped lightly over it. There was a dim light emanating from the kitchen and Ginny was unsurprised to find her mother standing in the center of the room, folding linens and several sets of black school robes. Ginny immediately recognized them as Harry’s. They were still black; hers were faded and grayed from washings.

 

“It’s the middle of the night, sweetheart, what are you doing up?”

 

“Couldn’t sleep,” she answered, settling into one of the chairs, drawing her bare feet up in front of her and draping her arms around her knees.

 

“Would you like some warm milk or hot chocolate?”

 

“Chocolate,” she answered, taking the pair of warm woolen socks her mother handed her without comment and pulling them on. A moment later, a steaming mug sat in front of Ginny, exactly seven tiny marshmallows floating atop the thick rich liquid. She lowered her spoon into the mug and swirled it twice before lifting it to her lips and testing the temperature. Perfect, of course. One day, Ginny silently vowed, she’d properly learn to heat milk.

 

“Why are you up?” she asked her mother, licking her lips and cradling the mug in her hands. 

 

“Oh, just catching up on some laundry,” she answered lightly. Ginny knew her mother hadn’t been sleeping well. It was clear from her shadowed eyes and flattened hair and they fact that the linens were changed every morning, no small feat in a house with eight beds. Ginny sighed and took another sip of her hot chocolate.

 

“Did you have a happy Christmas, dear?” her mother asked and Ginny arranged her face in what she hoped was a convincing smile.

 

“I did. It was nice to be home this year.”

 

“I imagine you’re looking forward to getting back to school though. You’ll be wanting to see that boyfriend of yours, I expect?”

 

Ginny looked up. The question sounded practiced, rehearsed, as if the phrasing and tone had been worked out in front of a mirror.

 

“Dean?” she asked, disliking the way his name sounded on her lips. It was pedestrian somehow. Casual, like the name of one of her classes.

 

“Do you have another boyfriend?”

 

“No, just Dean.”

 

“Do you want to tell me about him?”

 

Ginny shrugged. “Not much to tell. He’s all right. He’s a nice guy.”

 

The laundry was folded now and Mrs. Weasley took the seat opposite Ginny.

 

“Is something wrong, dear?” she asked, sliding the laundry basket a bit with her foot. Ginny glanced at the clock nestled in among the sheets and Harry’s robes.

 

“Why do you say that?” Ginny asked, lowering her gaze to the rapidly melting marshmallows. She took another sip.

 

“You’re worried about Harry.”

 

Ginny’s head snapped up. Her mum’s eyebrows were raised slightly. It was a question. It hadn’t sounded like one.

 

“Everyone’s worried about Harry,” she said, and in spite of herself, in spite of every promise she had made to the contrary, in spite of years convincing herself and everyone else otherwise, tonight she couldn’t help it. She didn’t want to be everyone to Harry.

 

“Hmm,” said her mum. Her eyebrows moved almost imperceptibly.

 

“All right,” she conceded. “I’m worried about Harry.”

 

In a gesture she hadn’t willingly exhibited since the first time she saw Harry Potter on Platform 9 ¾, she reached out and took her mum’s hand. It was soft and warm and covered with freckles, so like her own.

 

“Harry’s stronger than anyone knows,” she said comfortingly, stroking her daughter’s hand with gentle fingers.

 

“I know,” she answered. “I just wish he didn’t have to be.”

 

“We all wish that, sweetheart.”

 

“He looks older than he used to,” Ginny said. Everything was tumbling out tonight, even though Hermione wasn’t there to catch it.

 

“He is older, sweetheart.”

 

“No, I mean, he looks older.”

 

“Harry’s grown up a great deal.”

 

Ginny pulled her hand from her mother’s grasp and propped her chin in her palms.

 

“Can I ask you a question?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Do you think, I mean, I know I’m just fifteen, but do you think that I’m at all…” she trailed off, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks and cursing her inability to swallow the thoughts assaulting her. “Let me ask you a question.”

 

“All right.”

 

“I can’t help but wonder…” She stopped again and took another sip of her hot chocolate.

 

“Ginny?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You didn’t ask me a question.”

 

“It’ll keep,” she said finally, throwing a smile across the table. Her mum was looking at her with something like a cross between amusement and sympathy.

 

“You should try to get some sleep.”

 

“All right,” Ginny said, draining her cup and setting it on the table. She stood up and walked around the table and let her mum press a rather forceful kiss on her cheek. “Good night mum.”

 

“Ginny,” she said abruptly when Ginny had reached the bottom step. She turned and faced her mother.

 

“I think you are beautiful. And smart, and far too much for one boy who is simply ‘all right’.”

 

Swallowing against the ache in her chest she refused to identify, to call by name, she smiled back at her mum.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“And Ginny?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

She smiled. “It’ll keep.”

 

“Good night, mum.” Ginny walked back to her room and pushed the door open. Fleur was still asleep, moonlight filtering through the curtains onto her pale face and lighting up her porcelain features. Ginny climbed into bed and pulled the covers over her shoulders. She flipped over and punched the pillow, trying to get it into a more comfortable shape. It was lumpier than she was used to and smelled faintly of…something. Pine. Or something else outdoorsy. Whatever it was, it smelled heavenly and Ginny pressed it against her face and filled her lungs. 

 

In the room directly above hers, Harry rolled over and buried his face in his pillow, which was somehow softer than he was used to. In his sleep, he inhaled deeply that sweet flowery smell he was so fond of, but couldn’t quite place.

//
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