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
(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
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
“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
“I did. It was nice to be home
“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?”
“Do you want to tell me about
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
“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
“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
“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?”
“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.”
“I can’t help but wonder…” She
stopped again and took another sip of her hot chocolate.
“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.
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