The Sugar Quill
Author: Donna  Story: A Little Fall of Rain  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

The spring rains had softened the ground, so Harry, Ron, and Hermione had no trouble digging the grave. Hermione used her wand to displace a block of the soft dirt five and a half feet long, two and a half feet wide, and six feet deep, then dropped the pile on the soft grass next to the trench. Her hands shook as she worked.

 

            Next, Hermione raised her wand to set the body in the grave, but Harry stopped her by gently grabbing her forearm. “Not yet, Hermione, please,” he said, his voice cracking. “Let her have one more sunset. Ginny loved sunsets.” Hermione nodded, and stepped aside, blinking furiously to hold back her tears.

 

            Harry knelt on the ground next to Ginny’s body. She looked peaceful in repose; more so than she ever had in life, a flurry of vitality and activity. Her hands were clasped on her stomach, much in the same way that she used to nervously clutch her hands together when she had something important to tell him. “Do you have something to tell me, Gin?” he whispered, hoping that Hermione and Ron hadn’t noticed.

 

            Ginny’s skin was paler than before, so her hair seemed even more red, fiery… alive, almost; the hair of the woman he’d loved for seven years – not the hair of the woman who had defeated Voldemort, saved his life, and given her own. Her skin was so insipid that the golden locket around her neck seemed almost too bright in comparison.

 

            And then, as though he were caught up in a Pensieve, his memories began to whirl.

 

            Fifth Year. Harry hurried through the corridors of Hogwarts, rushing back to the common room. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t.

            Ron met him at the portrait hole. “Harry, did you hear?” he asked excitedly. “There’s going to be another Yule Ball this year!”

            Harry flopped down on a couch. “I heard,” he said shortly. “I don’t see why you’re so excited, Ron.”

            Ron flopped down next to him. “Well… reckon I can ask Hermione, right? I mean, you don’t think she’d say no, do you?”

Shaking his head, Harry replied,   "She’s over there in the corner studying, why don't you get it over with?”

            “Sounds good,” Ron agreed. “Anyway, mate, you’ve got to find yourself a nice girl to go with. Is there anyone who you’d like to take?”

            Harry considered telling the truth briefly, then lied. “No, Ron. There isn’t.” He hoped he wasn’t too obvious.

            Ron gave him an odd look, then shrugged and said “Well… I’ll tell you how it went!” And with that, he rushed off to ask Hermione.

            There was, in fact, someone Harry wanted to take to the ball. His eyes strayed to look at her – he loved looking at her, and not only because she was pretty, even though she was that too. It was more because she was so active… always in motion, gesturing with her hands, tossing her shiny red hair, adjusting the locket around her graceful neck, and doing perfect imitations of the professors for her friends.

Right now, though, she was curled up next to the fire in an armchair, reading a large and thick book. She looked so warm and comfortable… Harry had a strong urge to go over and speak to her, and he saw no reason not to follow it.

            “Hello, Ginny,” he said, taking a seat next to her. “How are you on this freezing cold evening?”

            “Absolutely wretched,” she answered, rolling her eyes. “November’s never been this cold before, and I have to read all of Le Mort d’Arthur for my Muggle Studies class  – we’re doing a unit on Muggle poetry, and I’m only up to Tristan and Isolde. Now you’re here, and I should probably finish my work but I’d much rather talk to you. So, how are you, Harry?”

            He chuckled. “Gin, why’d we wait so long to become friends? You always make me laugh.”

            “Probably because I was a little fool and didn’t realize that despite being the famous Harry Potter, you were actually a terrible person beneath,” she said with a perfectly straight face. He gaped at her, and she burst out laughing. “Harry, you don’t actually think I’m serious, do you?”

            Harry grinned mischievously.

“I’m going to have to get you back for that,” he told her, and grabbed her beneath her ribs and started to tickle her. Ginny squealed with mirth and indignation. “Harry, stop!”

            “You owe me,” he whispered in her ear.

            “Please, anything else!” she gasped, tears of laughter running down her face.

            He released her immediately. Ginny straightened up and tried to maintain some semblance of dignity. “So, Harry, about that debt…”

            Harry leapt aside, so that their bodies weren’t touching at all. What had he just done? He and Ginny weren’t that good friends, and here he was, practically feeling her up in the common room. She was probably terribly insulted.

            Ginny must have noticed the look of horror upon his face, because she started laughing. “Relax, Harry!” she exclaimed. “I guess I’ve wanted you to do that for a long time now.”

            Harry’s eyes widened. Ginny sighed and said to him, “Well, while I’m feeling brave, is there any chance that you’ll go to the Yule Ball with me, Harry?”

            “Yes!” he blurted out, then kissed her quickly on the cheek and ran away so that he couldn’t embarrass himself anymore, leaving Ginny sitting in the chair with a bemused and blissful expression on her face.

 

            That had been his first mistake, he supposed. Being with him had put her in danger. But Ginny had always scoffed at danger. Ever since her close brush with death in her first year, she had considered herself charmed. “There’s a reason for everything, Harry,” she had told him. “It was my fate to be rescued in the Chamber of Secrets so I could do something important. I just know it.”

 

            Well, she had done something important. Something truly spectacular. His mind wandered back to earlier that day…

 

            Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron were having a picnic in a grassy meadow. After a long week of Auror training, all of them needed a break. So they decided to spend their afternoon in the most relaxing ways they could. It had been Ginny’s idea to have a little picnic in a secluded meadow where nobody would know to look for them unless alerted. Just for safety, Hermione put a special ward on the area so that a siren would go off at the presence of an intruder.

           Hermione was reading a thick book called Atlas Shrugged about Muggle philosophy, Ron was drawing a beautiful and realistic picture of Ginny and Harry, lying in each other’s arms.  Harry was idly fiddling with the locket around Ginny’s neck, and they smiled at each other with so much tenderness they didn’t need speech, only gentle gazes and hands and soft laughter.

            But soon they’d had nothing to laugh about. Sirens went off and Death Eaters Apparated into the meadow, wands aimed at the four friends’ chests. There were far too many to handle, so Ginny had offered her hands to a Death Eater to bind, then done something very brave and strong – lifted her knee up and hit him where it would hurt the most. Harry, Ron, and Hermione took the opportunity to immobilize as many as possible.

But there was one cloaked figure that could not be harmed by any of their spells. He just paced around the meadow, watching his comrades die or be hurt. Eventually he was the only one left. The friends’ Auror training had served them very well.

When the man lifted back his hood, all four gasped in recognition. Lord Voldemort.

“I must thank you, Harry Potter, for killing off all of my most useless Death Eaters,” he croaked. “I would have killed them anyway, but it felt better to have you do my dirty work for me. Expelliarmus!”

All four wands lifted out of their hands, into Voldemort’s outstretched palm. “Our wand connection cannot save you this time, Harry Potter,” he growled. “ I will enjoy watching you die – the same way your parents did. Avada Kedavra!” Harry waited for the blast of green light to hit him.

But Ginny worked with surprising speed. She grasped up a wand from one of the dead Death Eater’s hands, flung herself in the line of fire, and activated a special shielding spell she had invented long before. The spell rebounded a curse upon its caster. Voldemort fell to the ground, completely dead, his eyes wide open in shock.

Unfortunately, though, Ginny had never had a chance to test the shield with a spell as strong as the Killing Curse. She fell to the ground, twitching slightly. Harry ran over to her. She was pale, and her pupils were dilated. He grabbed her hand and whispered her name.

“Harry,” she gasped. “Harry… love… you…” then her hand fell limp in his own.

 

Yes, she had died saving his life. Died so that he could go on and help the wizarding world recover. But he didn’t know how he could do it without her – she was his strength. How many times had the resistance movement been so close to giving up, when Ginny would stand up in front of the ever-dwindling number of wizards and make a dramatic, stirring speech that convinced everyone to stay? How many times had he been so close to wavering and she had put him back on track? How could he be Harry Potter without her here?

 

            Harry was sitting in the Great Hall of Hogwarts with some of his very best friends. Ron. Hermione. Ginny, his best friend and fiancée. Neville, Seamus and Dean. Angelina, Alicia, Katie, Parvati, Lavender and Cho. The twins, along with the rest of the Weasleys. Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Minerva McGonagall. Several others. He stared at them, open-mouthed, in disbelief. “You can’t really be serious!”

            Professor McGonagall shook her head. “I’m sorry, Potter. But we just can’t keep trying to breathe life into a corpse. People have been leaving our resistance in hordes for months now. If we don’t surrender, we’ll be captured.”

            Harry choked. “We can’t surrender. You know that. You all know what Voldemort does with people who surrender. We’d have to all go into hiding.”

            Dumbledore nodded severely. “If that’s what it takes. Hogwarts is already unplottable; I can make it fully invisible to outsiders. We can start our own wizard community here. Perhaps, in time, we’ll have enough people to fight again.”

            Harry’s supporters had found their voices by now. “Professor, you know that just isn’t an option,” said Hermione rationally. “By then Voldemort’s Ministry puppets will be so firmly entrenched we won’t have a hope.” She said this with no apparent passion, just a sad sense of defeat.

            Harry leaned forward too, warmed by Hermione’s support. “It’s like that battle in the Muggle American Revolution. They needed to win a battle so that the French would come over and help them. That’s all we need to do – win a battle like that.”

            “That’s all?” Cho parried. She rarely ever spoke, but when she did, people tended to listen. “My parents died in the last attempt to score a major victory. My seven-year-old brother died too. It’s not so easy, Harry. Voldemort has all of the old wizarding families on his side – the Malfoys, the MacNairs, the Bones, even the Figgs. We’d never thought that the Bones or the Figgs would have gone over, but once they realized that our situation was hopeless, they defected. Other families may yet do the same thing. Don’t you see? We have no chance left."

            Harry stood up abruptly. “You all want to surrender! You want to join him! I can’t believe this!” He turned and stormed out of the room.

            Hermione and Ron immediately stood up to go after them, but Ginny placed one small hand on her brother’s shoulder. “I’ll go, Ron. You two need to keep on fighting with the Professors.”  And with that, she walked swiftly out of the Great Hall.

            Harry was standing under an old willow tree near the lake. Ginny stood behind him, then gently brushed her hand against his  cheek. “Harry?”

            He was shaking his head. “I can’t give up, Ginny. I was born to defeat Voldemort. I can’t just surrender, and I can’t hide.” His words were said firmly, but belied by the tears in his eyes.

            Ginny nodded. “Sit down.” She sat cross-legged beside him, and, in her low voice, began to speak. “Harry, the reason you hurt so much right now and the reason you won’t give up is because you think it’s all your fault. Don’t even try to argue with me, Mr. Potter,” she said, her voice raising a notch. “I know. I felt it too! Remember my first year? With the Chamber of Secrets? So many people- Hermione, who is my best friend ever, Colin Creevey, Penelope, who’s now my sister-in-law, and I felt like it was all my fault.” Her voice dropped again. “Harry, you need to tell me if there’s a reason you think you’re to blame.”

            Harry got up and started to pace, then leaned his forehead against the bark of the tree. In a muffled voice, he told her, “There was a time, last year, when I confronted Voldemort and he was at a disadvantage. And I almost beat him. He was down on the ground and I was holding my wand out, and I knew that this could all end with a single Killing Curse. But I couldn’t do it. Why couldn’t I do it, Ginny? If I had, this would all be over now!”

            Ginny leaned against his back and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I keep on forgetting,” she murmured, “how young we really are.”

He turned around, arms still around her. “I’ve grown up quickly,” he said somberly. And it was true. Last year he was a small, thin boy with messy black hair and bright green eyes. Now he had grown to be relatively tall, lean but not skinny, and his hair didn’t look perpetually windswept. But his eyes were still the same. And now they were grinning at her with bright mischief.

            “You’re not the same girl you were before either, Gin,” he said with a smile. “For a start, you’re speaking to me, not to mention the fact that we’re engaged!”

            “Stop!” she squealed, turning red and trying to struggle out of his enclosing arms.

            “For another, I may have grown, but I think you shrunk!” he teased. Ginny put her hands on her hips and tried to glare at him, but the corners of her mouth turned up. She didn’t mind, after all, that she was only five feet tall in a family of giants. And she rather liked it when Harry teased her.

            Ginny rolled her eyes, and then shook her head, causing her locket to hit her in the chin. “Are you ever going to tell me what’s inside there?” Harry asked with a faint smile.

“Someday. But come on, Harry. Let’s go back in.”

            He nodded and then firmly tucked her arm under his own. “May I escort you in, Miss?” he asked formally.

      She curtsied. “Yes, you may.” So he gripped her hand firmly with his own and led her back to the Great Hall.

 

Harry almost thought that he was going insane. The feel of her hand in his… the sound of her laughter… the characteristic glint in her eye when she was going to do something mischievous. She couldn’t be dead. No, he would wake up out of his bed screaming any moment now, and she would be curled up against him, and he’d snuggle into her warmth and think to himself how glad he was that it was just a nightmare. Not real… but this was very real. There was a thin sheen of sweat left over from the fight on his face, his glasses were askew, and there were a few tears in his clothes. No, this was real, and suddenly he had a burning desire to bury her so that she would be out of his life for good. He looked up at Ron and Hermione.

 

They were locked in each other’s embrace, Hermione’s head resting on Ron’s chest because he was a full head taller than she. He was rocking her back and forth gently as she sobbed, but Harry saw tears running down his face too. Suddenly another memory came back to him – stronger than the others had been.

 

Ginny sprinted down the hall into the Charms classroom, her hair flying behind her and the locket around her neck flipping back and forth as she ran. Harry was hard-pressed to catch up with her, but he was the stronger runner, so he was right behind her by the time they reached the door. She stopped suddenly, and his reflexes didn’t serve him well – he crashed right into her back, but twisted so that he landed flat on his back and she landed on his stomach.

“We appear to be in a compromising position, Mr. Potter,” she said. “What are you going to do with me now?”

“You planned this!” he exclaimed.

“Maybe,” she teased. “Upset?”

“Not in the least,” he replied, kissing her deeply, and then searching out the hollow of her neck with his mouth. She moaned softly, and continued to kiss with such passion that it would have marred his good intentions had he had any.

Eventually, Ginny pulled away, and sighed deeply, saying, “I’m sorry we had to sneak out of Gryffindor Tower. But it’s been so hard trying to have some time alone without Ron finding out.”

“Clearly you weren’t careful enough,” came a disembodied voice from the corner. Harry and Ginny, caught in the act, froze in fear, recognizing the voice of their best friend and brother. A hand lifted off the Invisibility Cloak. “Ginny,” Ron said steadily, “I think you’d better go now. I need to talk to Harry alone.”

Ginny nodded quickly, whispered something in Ron’s ear that Harry couldn’t hear, and walked out of the classroom. Ron and Harry stood there, regarding each other, neither saying a word. Harry’s hand wavered over his wand hilt, but he didn’t go for it. Finally, discomfited by the silence, he said, “Well, I’m not going to keep any secrets from you anymore, Ron.”

That broke the ice – but not in a good way. Instead, Ron snarled, “Oh, and it was all right before I caught you sneaking around? You must think I’m pretty thick, don’t you.”

The corners of Harry’s mouth twitched, since he and Ginny had been discussing how daft Ron could be earlier that very afternoon, but he kept a straight face. “Ron, I’m sorry. But what Ginny said this afternoon was slightly misleading. I mean, it’s not as though we’ve had sex or anything…”

“Do you really think it matters?” Ron demanded gruffly, and then he reached out his long arms and pinned Harry against the wall. Harry could have got away, but he chose to be held there. “Did you ever have a thought for her safety, Harry? No, you probably didn’t. You probably thought that just because you were the good and great Harry Potter you could protect her. Well, sod it, Harry; you’re not that good. You’ve been saved from the Killing Curse once as a baby and once with Priori Incantatem, but you’ve not been able to protect anyone else. How could you?”

Harry’s mouth dropped open. “What are you talking about?”

“You never even thought about it?” Ron asked disbelievingly. “Harry, if You-Know-Who finds out about you and Ginny, he might try and kill her to get to you. You never thought of that?”

Ron let go of his vice-like grip on Harry’s shoulders. Harry, no longer having anything to support him, flopped to the ground, burying his head in between his knees. Why hadn’t he ever thought about that? Ginny was in danger because she was close to him… he couldn’t let anything happen to her. Ron was right. It would be the worst possible blow. Finally he looked up at Ron, who was now looking down on him with a strange mixture of anger and pity warring on his face. Harry found his voice.

“You’re right, Ron, but somehow I don’t think that Ginny will be too perturbed by this.”

Ron sat down next to him. “No, of course not. Ginny would go through hell and high water for you; I’ve known that for a long time. And if I demanded that you two stop seeing each other, well, there might be a few rare species of giant spider more frightening than her in a bad temper, but personally I’d rather go into Aragog’s nest again. So let’s put it this way, mate,” he said, clapping Harry’s arm. “Take good care of her. As a matter of fact, I’m rather glad about the two of you. But keep this in mind – if she ever gets hurt because of you, I will personally punch you so hard you see stars for days. And that’s a promise.”

“If anything happens to her because of me, you won’t need to,” Harry swore. “But you can anyway, if it makes you feel better.”

The two shared a comradely grin before heading back to Gryffindor Tower.

 

Now, Harry stood up so he was face to face with Ron. Ron turned to look at him. “What is it, Harry?” he asked, looking as though he thought Harry might be out of his mind.

 

“What are you waiting for, Ron? Punch me!”

 

Ron looked at him as though he had begun to speak in Parseltongue. “What the hell are you talking about, Harry?” he asked, releasing Hermione from his embrace.

 

“You told me once that if anything ever happened to Ginny because of me, you’d punch me so hard I’d see stars for days. Remember that?”

 

“Of course I do,” Ron said slowly. “I didn’t actually mean it, though. Come on, mate, it’s not your fault.”

 

“It is my fault!” Harry yelled. “It was my fault he came back in the first place, and it was my idea to have the picnic here today, and I let her sacrifice herself to save me. Her being my fiancée practically painted a target on her back! I mean, not only was she a Weasley, and knew more about Tom Riddle than anyone, but then there was her connection with me. If it weren’t for me, she’d be alive now!”

 

“Harry, stop it!” Ron screamed with exasperation, taking him by the shoulders and shaking Harry’s whole body. “D’you really think you could have stopped her ever? Ginny was the most stubborn girl ever, and if you had forbidden her to do anything, she would have told you it wasn’t your choice to make and gone on doing it anyway. Harry, being with you was the best thing that ever happened to her, and you and I both know it. Why are you beating yourself up? It was her choice to make, not yours, and I assure you she thought this situation out well in advance!”

 

“If it weren’t for me, your sister would be alive right now,” Harry whispered hoarsely.

 

Ron pulled his arm back and brought it up hard against Harry’s nose. Blood spurted everywhere, and Harry fell backward onto the grass, looking stunned. “Ron!” Hermione gasped, and she ran forward and performed a quick healing spell on Harry’s broken nose. “Is that better?” she asked anxiously. Then, “Ron, what the hell did you think you were doing?”

 

Looking mildly embarrassed, Ron shrugged and said, “Well, he was being a complete egotistical prat. I figured it might shut him up.”

 

Before Hermione could make a stinging rejoinder, Harry put in, “You’re right, I was being a bit selfish. Thanks, anyway.”

 

“For hitting you in the face?”

 

“Well, that too,” Harry grinned. “But more for making me see that you don’t think it’s my fault.”

 

Hermione snorted. “With good reason. It isn’t your fault in the least, Harry.”

 

Harry grinned lopsidedly. “Yeah, I know.”

 

Then the three friends came together into a tight hug, giving comfort, receiving it, and supporting each other. Finally, they drew back, and Hermione asked, “Are you two sure that we shouldn’t wait for the rest of your family to be here when we bury her?”

 

“No!” they answered in unison. “Hermione, you know that they chose to let the dragon riders bury Charlie, I think we can safely assume they’ll feel the same about this,” said Ron.

 

“But that was in Romania,” Hermione said rationally.

 

Harry cleared his throat. “Ginny told me once that if something happened to her she wanted us to bury her alone. She didn’t want your mum to see her like this.”

 

“Oh.” There was a long pause, and then Hermione said, “I guess it’s time to bury her now, then.”

 

Nodding, Harry whispered huskily, “I just want to say one last thing to her.”

 

“She can’t hear you, Harry,” Hermione said. “But maybe – just maybe – there’s a way that she can.”

 

With that, Hermione picked up Voldemort’s yew and phoenix feather wand. She muttered a quick incantation that Harry recognized as the one to recall the last spell the wand had done. The tip of the wand glowed red, and then a small, ghostly hand came out of the top – two hands – now two arms, and they pushed out a head and a torso. Finally, Ginny’s whole body emerged from the tip of his wand.

 

She looked as though she were made of a thin film of white smoke. “Harry,” she whispered, walking toward him. “I can’t stay for long.”

 

Harry had been struck breathless by the mere presence of her spirit, but now his heart sank. “I know,” he whispered.

 

Her face broke out into its familiar smile. “Don’t look so gloomy, Harry! You can call on my spirit whenever you want to. Remember that locket I’ve always worn?”

 

“Yes?” Harry asked, slowly.

 

“Well, shortly after our first time… together,” she began, her pale cheeks flushing a bit, “I cast a special spell on that locket. It has a connection to my spirit. So, in the event of my death, you can call on my spirit whenever you want and we can be together for a few minutes. You don’t need to wear it, if it makes you feel unmanly,” she said, trying to repress a smile, “but it has an Unbreakable charm on the lock, so I suggest you find something to do with it.”

 

Harry gingerly took the locket off of her body and opened it. Inside was a small picture of the two of them, arms around each other, looking sublimely happy and totally in love, waving at him. As he looked, Ginny kissed his cheek. “I’ll wear it,” he told her.

 

“Good. I will always be with you, Harry,” she told him. “And remember, I followed my own path. I knew this might happen – that’s why I charmed the locket in the first place. So don’t you ever think it’s your fault I died, because I will personally haunt your every waking hour if you do. It was my fault,” she smiled sadly, “my fault for loving The Boy Who Lived. And if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change one thing, except maybe to become your friend sooner.”

 

“I love you, Ginny,” he whispered, putting his palm up in the air, facing her.

 

She placed her ghostly palm against it, holding her arm carefully so that his hand didn’t go through her. “I love you too, Harry,” she whispered back. Then her body began to diffuse. “I must go… Ron, Hermione, take good care of him, will you? I love you two… and Harry, this isn’t truly goodbye.” With that, she disappeared.

 

The sun was setting. The sky was hot pink, the clouds violet, and an orange glow was cast over everything. Harry, Ron, and Hermione conjured shovels and buried Ginny’s body on the west side of the hill in the meadow, so that she would always watch the sunsets. Holding hands in a circle, they Disapparated back to the house they shared in Hogsmeade. They all knew, without speaking, that they’d go back to give Ginny a headstone the next day at sunset. Ron handed Harry the picture he’d drawn of him and Ginny earlier that day without a word and Disapparated into his room. Harry looked at the picture for a long moment – Ron had done it with magical pencils, so the drawing actually moved. The picture Ginny sighed and leaned back against Harry’s shoulder. In the picture Harry twirled a piece of her hair around his finger.

 

He pressed his lips briefly to the thin paper, and then to the locket around his neck. She would always be with him. And Ginny had committed this largest of sacrifices so that he could return the wizarding world to its former glory from the mess it had become.

 

Smiling, Harry retired to his room and quickly fell asleep.

 

Author’s Note: The first sentence belongs to George R. R. Martin as the opening line from The Hedge Knight, and the tickling is from one of my stories archived on sugarquill.net, The Sweetest Present. Thanks for reading and please review!

 

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