The Sugar Quill
Author: shellebelle (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Box 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.

Box of Rain

Disclaimer:  JK Rowling owns all the characters and the world they live in.  I’m just having fun.  No money is coming to me from this.  “Box of Rain” is owned by the Grateful Dead, and was written by Robert Hunter and Phil Lesh.  Nope, no money from there, either.

 

Author’s note:  This is what happens when one listens to the “American Beauty” album while in a silly mood.  First question: “What on earth is a box of rain, anyway?”   Wicked special first-time author thanks go to my awesome beta Elanor Gamgee!  YOU ROX!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Box of Rain

 

 

 

 

 

Look out of any window

Any morning, any day…

Maybe the sun is shining

Birds are winging, no rain is falling from a heavy sky…

 

Ginny looked out the window of Gryffindor tower.  Harry had been out of the hospital wing barely twenty-four hours, but he, Ron and Hermione were walking together outside.  It was a beautiful afternoon, but there was something awful about it—a certain darkness over everything. 

 

She didn’t have to be told He was back.  She knew it.  As usual, Ron wasn’t telling her anything, and her mother certainly hadn’t said anything…but it didn’t matter.  She couldn’t quite explain it, but she knew.

 

Ron and Hermione were talking, but Harry was just listening, occasionally nodding his head vaguely.  Ginny wished she could help in some way, but she would never dream of intruding on them.  Her presence would merely put pressure on Harry to act differently than he might otherwise feel.  They weren’t close in that way, however she might wish that circumstances were different.

 

Ginny sighed.  And soon, he would be going home to…what?  His aunt, uncle, and cousin, who, by all accounts, wouldn’t care if he had been killed by Voldemort.  And he would be alone, all summer, until he would, hopefully, come to see them at the Burrow.   Who would he turn to until then?  Who would help him?  Why must he be so…alone?

 

Harry paused, his arms tight around himself, and Ginny could see his face.  No one should ever have to have that much pain inside, she thought, and she hurt for him.  There must be something she could do…anything…

 

 

What do you want me to do

To do for you to see you through?

For this is all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago…

 

There had to be something she could do…Hermione would think of something…With that in mind, Ginny tore herself away from the window and went to her dormitory.  Grabbing a quill and some parchment, she set off for the library.

 

When Ginny went to check out the books, Madam Pince frowned suspiciously.  “Only a few days left until you all go home, Miss Weasley.  Why the sudden burst of studiousness?”

 

“Ummm…it’s a personal project, Madam Pince.  I promise all the books will be back in time.”

 

Madam Pince eyed her warily.  “They’d better be, and there better not be a mark on them, young missy.”

 

Ginny let the reprimand pass, and hurried back to the Gryffindor common room.

 

 

Walk out of any doorway

Feel your way like the day before

Maybe you’ll find direction

Around some corner where it’s been waiting to meet you…

 

 

Ginny had been working late into the night, and she was quite exhausted.  But she was getting close to her solution, and only hoped she could do what she wanted before school was over.  She headed down to breakfast wearily, and almost crashed into Harry in the process, as he was coming out of the Great Hall.  She smiled, embarrassed, and said,  “I’m sorry.” 

 

He barely saw her as he muttered, “It’s all right…”

 

Ron gave her a look that made up for Harry’s lack of recognition, and Ginny smiled at him, and continued into the Great Hall.

 

The whispers she heard as she ate her breakfast nearly made her retch.  How could anyone think those things?  And the whispers weren’t just coming from Slytherin.  They were coming from Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw…even some of Harry’s fellow Gryffindors.

 

Ginny left her breakfast half-eaten and went to back to the common room.

 

She found that she couldn’t stand to be in the Great Hall for meals, with all the whispering about Harry; it hurt too much.  She would duck in just long enough for something she could carry, and then hurry back to the common room to work.  She was getting closer to her solution, but there was only one item she needed that she couldn’t figure out how to get.  And she didn’t have much more time.  Outside of Hogwarts, she couldn’t do magic yet.

 

Night was falling, and Harry, Ron and Hermione came back to the common room. Ginny had been too engrossed in her work before, but now she noticed how quiet it got when they walked in the room.  Ginny wanted to scream at the other students, but she bit her lip and tried to cool her temper.  Ron and Hermione sat down to play chess, while Harry watched, with that blank expression on his face that he always seemed to have these days, that half-smile that wasn’t quite all there.  He still hurts, Ginny thought, it’s just not agonizing at the moment.

 

Ginny felt her eyes prickling with tears, and angrily she squeezed them back, her mouth bent in a frown of concentration.

 

 

What do you want me to do

To watch for you while you are sleeping?

Then please don’t be surprised when you find me dreaming too…

 

 

Finally, Ron and Harry announced that they were tired, and went up to bed.  Hermione came over to Ginny’s table.  “Ginny, are you all right?”

 

She nodded.  “I’m just trying to figure something out…”  To Ginny’s dismay, her voice was wavering, and tears were threatening to fall from her eyes.

 

Hermione dropped her voice.  “Ginny, no one else is here but me.  And I won’t tell Ron or Harry.  I promise.”

 

The tears overflowed from Ginny’s eyes as she told Hermione what she was trying to do.  “I just need that one thing, but I just don’t see how I will ever get it all done before I leave Hogwarts, and I’m so dreadfully tired, but I won’t give up…” Her voice trailed off.  She sighed shakily.

 

“You should let us help you…I’m sure Ron would…”

 

“No,” Ginny said flatly.

 

“But why?  I mean, it’s for Harry, and we all love him…”

 

“Not like me,” she whispered, her mouth twisting to keep from crying.  Never like me.  Please, Hermione…I have to do this.  Would you ask for help with something like this for Ron?”

 

Hermione sucked in her breath suddenly, her face scarlet.  “But this is…that isn’t…it could be dangerous…

 

Ginny could tell she was getting to her, getting past the ‘rule-keeping’ Hermione, and reaching the one who would do anything for her friends.  “More dangerous than what you three have done the past four years?  Oh, don’t worry, Ron doesn’t tell me anything, but I hear the rumors, and I see the aftermath.  I love Harry, and very likely he’ll never understand, but I have to do this.  You and Ron have him, Hermione, and I don’t.  This is all I can do.”

 

 Hermione was silent a long moment, arguing with herself and appraising Ginny, who held herself still and allowed the scrutiny. Decisively, she said, “Right.  Tomorrow morning, we’ll go to Dumbledore and ask for permission for you to practice magic just long enough for you to finish this.  It’s for Harry, I think he’ll understand.”

 

“Are you sure?  I mean, he won’t even let Harry come to us…”

 

“He’s more protected at the Dursleys’, he’ll be safer there…this won’t change that.  I’ll meet you before breakfast?”

 

“All right, I will. Thanks, Hermione.”

 

 

Look into any eyes

You find by you; you can see clear to another day

Maybe been seen before

Through other eyes on other days while going home…

 

“Miss Granger, Miss Weasley…to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”

 

Ginny blushed hotly, momentarily unable to speak, but Dumbledore merely smiled, and his eyes twinkled kindly.

 

“I can only assume it has to do with Mr. Potter.  Am I right?”

 

Ginny took a deep breath, and looked at Hermione, who nodded.  Ginny told Dumbledore everything she’d been thinking of, and explained what she needed, nearly trembling in anxiety.   Hermione added, “I thought if you could give her permission to use magic over the summer just long enough to do what she needs, she could accomplish what she wants to do without worrying her family or exhausting herself too much in the process, sir.”

 

Dumbledore seemed to consider this for a moment, then said, “Miss Granger, I would like to talk to Miss Weasley alone for a moment, please.”

 

Hermione squeezed Ginny’s hand reassuringly and left the room.

 

“Miss Weasley, this is a very complicated charm you are working on.  Not many try it.  It is considered too complicated to bother with these days.  Why are you doing it?”

 

“I thought everyone knew how I felt about Harry…”

 

“Only you truly know that, Miss Weasley.  Others can only guess.”

 

Ginny collected her thoughts.  “Well…he is in so much pain…I know He’s back—You Know Who--and the fear I feel can be nothing like his fear--I just can’t stand the thought of him being so totally alone with the Dursleys.  Even for a few weeks.  I just wanted him to have something more than words from distant friends on a parchment for him to confide in.  I would love to be his confidant, but…I’m not, and I just want to do something for him.  It doesn’t make a difference how hard it is.  I want to do this.”

 

Dumbledore smiled.  “Since this charm requires the use of a day where there is a good thunderstorm, I will write you permission to use magic for this one spell.  And, I understand, you need an enchanted object.  I assume you will want to enchant it for yourself…”

 

“No, sir…that’s another reason I’m having such a hard time.  I want to key the charm to Harry’s mother…but she is no longer living, and I have nothing of hers to use…”

 

Dumbledore looked at her, seeming to reconsider her.  “You surprise me again, Miss Weasley.  Well, this is another time I can help you.  Come over here.  Have you ever heard of a Pensieve?”

 

“I-I’ve read about them…but I’ve never seen one…”

 

 He led her to the silvery bowl that was his Pensieve.    “I have many memories of Harry’s mother.  She was an excellent student, and especially good at Charms, as I believe you are, as well.  Am I right, Miss Weasley?”

 

Ginny’s throat was dry as she said, “Yes, sir.”

 

He began to pull wispy threads of memory from his mind, swirling them in the Pensieve:  Lily as a first year, putting on the Sorting Hat…Lily receiving an award for excellence in Charms…Lily dancing with James, who looked remarkably like Harry himself…Lily and James married…Lily bringing a newborn Harry for Dumbledore to see…

 

She looks so happy, Ginny thought wistfully.  I wish I could have met her.

 

 

“Lily was a very special and courageous woman, much like you, Miss Weasley.   She was very brave, until the very end.  She and James were made for one another.”  Dumbledore shook his head, shaking himself out of his reverie.  “Now, Miss Weasley, do you have an object to charm?”

 

She nodded, and reached into the pocket of her robe.  She brought out a small oval pendant, set with a green stone.  It was not immensely valuable, but it had always been one of Ginny’s favorite things.  She felt that an object she had loved would hold the charm better than some ordinary thing.  Dumbledore took the small thing, looked at her face again, and placed the object within the Pensieve.  Ginny couldn’t quite hear the incantation Dumbledore muttered, then he turned to her and instructed her to take out her wand and gave her a part of the incantation.  In a clear voice, Ginny said, “Harry James Potter audentientiam facere Lily Evans Potter.”

 

Dumbledore lifted the object out of the Pensieve, and presented it to Ginny with the letter of permission.  “You should go now, and reassure Miss Granger, who is, no doubt, a bit worried at the moment.”

 

“Yes, sir…thank you so much.”  Quickly, before her tears started, she left the room and embraced Hermione.  “Thank you, Hermione.  Thank you.”

 

Hermione hugged her back.  “I want you to write me over the summer and let me know how everything went.  And write to me anyway.  I’d like to get to know you better, Ginny.”

 

“I will, Hermione.  I suppose we should get to breakfast.”

 

What do you want me to do

To do for you to see you through?

It’s all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago…

 

 

For the rest of the term, Ginny kept to herself.  She didn’t avoid anyone, but she didn’t seek out anyone either.  To her relief, most were too preoccupied to notice.  She noticed with relief that after the Leaving Feast, Harry seemed to unwind from the knot he’d tied around himself, and began talking to Ron and Hermione again.  At least he could talk about it to them.

 

On the Hogwarts Express, Ginny found a quiet corner to herself and concentrated on the charm she had to do, making a mental checklist of all she needed.  Dumbledore had been right, it was a complicated charm that also involved some elements of both Potions and Transfiguration, but…the price was no inconvenience to pay.  Some of the girls in her year often accused Ginny of being “lost in a fantasy” and that she should wake to reality sooner rather than later.  What they didn’t understand, what nobody knew, is that she already had…

 

It had been the night of the Yule Ball.  She’d lain awake long after her dorm mates had gone to sleep, and then crept down to sit by the fire in the common room.  She’d had a miserable night, though Neville was nothing but kind and considerate to her…why could she not feel…at least appreciative?  Because he’s not Harry.  And that isn’t his fault, not at all.  Ginny sighed, then steeled herself for some hard thoughts.  He might never, ever notice you, Ginny.  You may go through all your years at Hogwarts together, and never get more than a passing thought.  You are his best friend’s sister.  And he may never see you as more than that.  Ginny felt tears in her eyes and throat, but she swallowed them with determination.  What will you do, Ginny, when that happens?

 

She’d argued with herself the rest of the night, but at the end, she was at peace.  She couldn’t be other than she was.  “To thine own self be true,” her father had often quoted to her, and she believed in that.  She couldn’t stop loving Harry; however, she also couldn’t let that be her entire reason for being.  She would look for ways to show her love without creating discomfort for either of them…but get on with her life…alone, if necessary.

 

Her resolve had made her life easier, in some ways, harder in others.  It was hard to pass by Harry, Ron and Hermione when they were at the table, and not try to sit by them.  It was hard not to spend time trying to make Harry notice her.   It was nice, however, to get to know some of the girls in her year better, and it was nice to spend hours studying Charms and Transfiguration, two of her best and favorite subjects.

 

Some things, however, didn’t change.  She couldn’t stop dreaming of him, and she couldn’t stop caring for him.  Ginny smiled to herself, and closed her eyes contentedly.  One way or another, it would turn out for the best…she clung to that hope, even in the midst of all the events of the past month.  She could not bear to face the alternative.

 

On the platform, Ginny watched as Harry said good bye to her brothers and Hermione.  It was good to see, his brief smile, but she could see as well his worry, still eating away at him, though he hid it well.  She watched him leave with his uncle, then turned and followed her brothers.

 

Walk into splintered sunlight

Inch your way through dead dreams to another land

Maybe you’re tired and broken

Your tongue is twisted with words half spoken and thoughts unclear

What do you want me to do

To do for you, to see you through?

 

A box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through

 

 

Ginny paced her room, her stomach in knots.  The sky was clouding up nicely, and all was in readiness.  Now if her parents and brothers would just go away…

 

For five days, since her return from Hogwarts, she’d prepared everything and hoped for rain.  Now the question was how to do it without being disturbed and discovered.  She needed two hours, any portion of which in pouring rain.  The sky was wonderfully dark, and she couldn’t have asked for a better day to do this…but all her brothers were here, not to mention her parents.  It was important to her that this to remain a secret, especially from Ron, who would surely flip if he knew what she was doing, and then tease her horribly later.

 

And then…a miracle happened.

 

“Ginny! Come down here, please!”

 

She came downstairs to her mother’s frantic voice.  “What is it, Mum?”

 

Molly Weasley was in a right state.  Her hands shook as she got her bag together.  “The twins have finally blown up their room and your brother Ron with it.  Right now, they’re stuck together like flies to flypaper…we’re going to St. Mungo’s emergency room…”

 

“Will they be all right, Mum?” Ginny asked worriedly.

 

“Yes, but Fred and George are going to hear about it for the rest of the summer, I can tell you that…”  Molly sighed.  “Will you be all right on your own for a few hours?  I don’t know how long this will take…”

 

“Yes, Mum, I’ll be fine.  I hope they will be all right.”

 

Molly smiled at her daughter.  “I’m sure they will be, dear.  Now don’t you worry.”  She kissed Ginny and left.

 

Ginny watched them go from the window of her room.  This was definitely not what she’d wanted to happen, but…she would be a fool to pass up this opportunity.  She gathered up her supplies and headed out to the hills.

 

The wind began to pick up as she walked to the clearing, which was hidden from the house by trees.  She took a deep breath as she set the box, her own treasure box that she’d had since she could remember, down on the tree stump.  There had been a momentary pang as she emptied it to use, but after that, she hadn’t minded giving it away.  The jewel, she had affixed to the bottom of the inside of the box.  She hadn’t noticed before, but the jewel was the same color as Harry’s eyes.  She smiled and opened the box.

 

She took out the ingredients she had collected: asphodel, chamomile, and lavender; and scrubbed them inside the box.  She had to do it very hard, so that the herbs were imbedded into the wood.  She skinned her fingertips a little, but she ignored it. 

 

Rain began to patter on her hair, and her body relaxed…it was really going to rain.  Now, she must concentrate on Harry, only on Harry, and what she had to do.  She opened the box again and left it on the stump, open to the rain.  She took out her wand and murmured, “Aquaelicium”, and tapped the box, which began to glow purple as the rain came down harder, darker purple the harder it rained.  Ginny was trembling as she raised her arms, closed her eyes and began the charm.  It was a chant, and she must sing it as long as she could, as the wind whipped her sodden robes around her legs and her hair in her face.  She didn’t think about how cold she was, or how soaked her robes were…she must think of the charm, concentrate on singing that charm, think of Harry. 

 

Ginny’s eyes snapped open as the thunder clapped, loud, in her ears, but she didn’t falter in her singing.  The box was full to overflowing with rain, and she could feel heat from the burning purple box.  She had been cold just a moment ago, but now she felt flushed with warmth.  The thunder clapped loudly three times.  Then, slowly, the box lid swung shut.  Ginny finished her chant, and the chill came back to her and she began to tremble violently.  She sank to her knees in the muddy ground and fainted.

 

Lily bent over her.  “You’ll be all right.  You are a good friend to Harry…and I want you to give this to him yourself.  I want him to know what a good friend you are.”  Her hand smoothed back Ginny’s wet hair.  Her hand was soft and cool.

 

Ginny gazed dazedly up at her.  “I will.  I promise.”

 

“Get up now, little one.  Get back to your home and get dry now…”

 

 

Just a box of rain, wind and water

Believe it if you need it, if you don’t just pass it on

Sun and shower, wind and rain

In and out the window like a moth before a flame…

 

Ginny opened her eyes and blinked in the shining sunlight.  A rainbow was crossing the sky.  She got up and went over to the stump, which had been burned black by the force of the spell.  The box was now a deep eggplant-purple color, gleaming dully in the sunlight.  It was heavier than it had been, and she hurried home as fast as she could.

 

The clock in the kitchen had Fred and George’s hands still at “In deep trouble”, Ron’s at “In a mess”, and her mother’s hand at “Madder than a Wet Hen”.  Her father’s still said “Work”.  She sighed with relief and went upstairs to take a nice warm bath.

 

She came out of the bath with her heart considerably lighter than it had been in many weeks.  She looked at the box and touched the top of it with her bruised fingers.  It was cool and smooth.  She opened it.  Inside was a silvery shimmer, like water mirrored with overcast sky, dark and sparkling.  She could still see the green jewel in the very bottom, sparkling with the movement of the shimmering waves.  And then, it was as if someone touched her cheek, very gently, a smooth, cool hand…

 

She shut the box.  Taking out her wand, she murmured the incantation that would make the box only Harry’s: “Oblatio Harry James Potter.”  She hid it in her dresser drawer and took a nap.

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, while Ron was still asleep and the twins were banished to their room, Ginny came in to speak to her mother, holding something wrapped in a cloth.  “Mum, can I talk to you?”

 

“Of course, dear.  Let’s sit and talk.  You’ve seemed quite preoccupied since you came home from Hogwarts.”

 

Ginny smiled softly.  “I have something I’d like to show you…but it’s a secret.”

 

Molly frowned.  “Then let’s go into the bedroom, dear.  Your brothers may be down any moment.”  Molly had always understood that a girl sometimes had a need for secrecy.

 

Ginny followed her mother upstairs to her parents’ room.  “Now, what is it, dear?”

 

Ginny took the box from its cloth wrappings and showed it to her mother.

 

“My goodness, Ginny…is that what I think it is?”

 

“Yes, Mum.”

 

“I haven’t seen one of these in years.  Wherever did you get it?”

 

“I-I made it, Mum…yesterday.”

 

“But, Ginny, you’re not allowed to do magic outside of school…”

 

“Dumbledore gave me permission to do just enough so that I could finish this.”  Ginny explained to her mother why and who the box was for, and what had happened.  “And now…I promised…I promised I’d give it to him myself.  So I have to go to Little Whinging, Surrey.”

 

“You saw Lily Potter?”

 

Ginny nodded quietly.  Her mother sighed and looked at her.  “I don’t want you to go alone.  You haven’t spent a lot of time in the Muggle world, and it can be quite dangerous…”

 

“I thought of that…I could ask Hermione.  She knows, and won’t tell Ron if I ask her not to.”

 

“I will write her parents,” Molly said.  “You are very kind to do this, Ginny…I just don’t want you to get your hopes up…”

 

“I know, Mum.  I haven’t.  I know Harry might not ever…but that doesn’t change the fact that the box might help.  It doesn’t matter what he thinks of me, I just hope he uses it.  He must be so lonely.”

 

Her mother’s eyes had suddenly become very soft, and she looked like she had when Percy had got his Prefect badge.  Oh please, please, don’t let her start crying…

 

Molly, however, composed herself, and settled for stroking her daughter’s hair.  “I’m very sure he is.  I will write Hermione’s parents straightaway and talk to your father about setting up the Floo to reach the Grangers’ house for a couple days.  Meantime, you should wrap that up and hide it.  You don’t want your brothers to find it.”

 

Ginny smiled broadly. Molly looked at her closely, then said, in a more normal tone, “And get some rest.  You’ve got dark circles under your eyes.”

 

 

Hermione’s parents wrote back in the affirmative.  Ginny would travel by Floo powder (which her father so graciously arranged) to Hermione’s after the boys had gone to bed, and would stay overnight.  She packed a bag and waited that night, twisting a corner of her robe nervously. 

 

A soft knock at the door:  “Ginny…come along now…”  Ginny opened the door and quietly followed her mother down the stairs.  Molly kissed her daughter on the cheek.  “You be careful among the Muggles.  And don’t get hurt at anything those wretched Dursleys say to you.  They’re just ignorant and hate what they do not understand.”

 

Ginny nodded.  “I’ll be all right, Mum.  Thank you.”  She tossed the powder into the fireplace and said, “The Grangers’ house!”

 

She fell out of the fireplace onto the hearthrug.  “Hi, Ginny!”  Hermione bent to help Ginny up. 

 

“Hi, Hermione…thanks for helping me again.”  She stood up, and turned shyly to Hermione’s parents, who were smiling bemusedly at Ginny. 

 

“Ginny, these are my parents.  Mum and Dad, this is Ginny Weasley,  Ron’s sister.”

 

“What a pleasure to meet you again, Ginny,” Mrs. Granger said pleasantly.  “Your mother and father were so kind to us when we were in Diagon Alley that time, and we are so happy to help out in any way we can. Why don’t you show Ginny to the guest room and then come down for some hot chocolate?”

 

Hermione helped Ginny with her bag as they went upstairs.  “How did it go?” she asked anxiously.

 

“Swimmingly,” said Ginny, with a trace of humor.  “And I mean that literally.  I’ll tell you all about that later.”

 

 

Later on, in Hermione’s room, Ginny told her everything, and the older girl looked at Ginny in frank admiration.  “Wow, Ginny, that charm was really difficult.  And your mother wasn’t angry or anything?”

 

“No…she seemed to understand.  And of course, she absolutely dotes on Harry--she’s practically adopted him.  If I did it for him, I think she’d excuse just about anything.”  Ginny smiled wryly. 

 

Hermione smiled back.  “Are you nervous?”

 

“Only about meeting the Dursleys.  Oddly enough, I’m not nervous at all about seeing Harry.  I just hope the box brings him some comfort.”

 

“I’m sure it will…because you put a lot of love into it.  Whether he knows it or not.”  Hermione smiled. “Oh, I nearly forgot…did you bring Muggle clothes?”

 

Ginny blanched and rolled her eyes. “It’s the one thing I forgot in all the preparations…”

 

“That’s all right.  We’re about the same size, I’ll lend you some things of mine.  There’s a top I have that would look lovely on you.”

 

“Do you think you can keep this a secret from Ron?” Ginny asked.

 

Hermione snorted.  “Of course I can. He doesn’t know all my secrets…and he never will.  Have no worries about that.”

 

Ginny grinned and yawned.  “We’d better get some sleep.  That spell really took a lot out of me…”  She was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

 

Lily Potter smiled at her.  “You have made a great sacrifice for him, Virginia…don’t be afraid of the Dursleys.  They cannot harm you in any way.  Be brave just a little longer, Ginny…”

 

The next morning, Ginny awoke, disoriented, in a large bed in a big room, in a house she didn’t know.  It took a few moments to remember where she was: the Granger’s guest room.  She got up and the house was quiet.  Looking at herself in the mirror was like looking at a stranger.  Ginny touched her face as she looked at herself.  Her face was so serious, her eyes grave.  Had the magic done that?  Was this the price she had to pay?  Or was she only nervous and tired?  She went to Hermione’s room, as she was waking up.  “Good morning,” she said softly. 

 

“Good morning, Ginny.  Did you sleep well?”

 

“Yes, thanks…When do we leave for the train?”

 

“In three hours.  I’ve got an outfit I think would look nice on you…it’s never suited me, wrong coloring and all, but it should suit you.”  Hermione took out a pastel green sleeveless shirt and a cream colored skirt printed with green flowers.

 

“It’s lovely, Hermione.  Thank you.”  Ginny showered and dressed, and sat combing through her wet hair while Hermione was in the bathroom.  Muggle clothes always felt strange to her, always binding in all the wrong places and being rather more…bare than she should be.  But these weren’t bad at all, and at least the skirt covered her knees.

 

Hermione finished getting dressed, then said, “We’d better hurry if we’re going to make our train.”

 

Ginny picked up her bag and checked nervously that the box was still there.  “All right.  I’m ready.”

 

 

Mrs. Granger dropped the two girls off at the train station, and Ginny and Hermione got on the train and found a compartment to themselves.

 

“Thank you so much for helping me, Hermione.”

 

“Well…you know I’m cheering for you, Ginny.  I’d never tell Harry that, of course.”

 

Ginny smiled.  “I appreciate that.  And I’m cheering for you, too…though you’ll probably see results faster than I will.”

 

“Thanks, Ginny.”  The older girl smiled.  “How did you know?”

 

“Oh, please.  You two are peas in a pod, as Mum would say.  The way you two fight…then of course, he sticks up for you violently even when you aren’t speaking to each other.  It’s obvious.  He’s a good sort, as you know…even if he can be a bit of a git.”

 

“Yes,” Hermione said quietly. “I know.”

 

Ginny sighed heavily.  “I kind of hope the Dursleys aren’t home.  I didn’t like the looks of them.  They look mean.  Not even ‘people’ mean.  Animal mean.”

 

“I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Ginny.”  The two girls looked at each other seriously.

 

 

They got off at the Little Whinging station, and Ginny looked around.  She wondered, irrelevantly, if Harry had ever even seen the train station, if he’d ever been to the ice cream parlor across the street…

 

“We have to take a bus, Ginny.  We should be there in about fifteen minutes.”  Hermione got them on the bus and paid the fare to Privet Drive.

 

Privet Drive was even more intimidating than Ginny had ever imagined.  Two rows of immaculately neat, manicured lawns, identical tidy houses…so much different from her house, and they were lined up like a fortress against anything…abnormal.  For the first time, Ginny’s bravery faltered, and she felt shabby and poor for the first time in her life.  Hermione grabbed her hand.  “You’re better than that, Ginny.  You took firsts in almost every class this year,” she whispered.

 

Ginny smiled and felt better.  Together, the two girls walked to Number Four.  “You ready?” Hermione asked.

 

Ginny closed her eyes, and swallowed.  Unbidden, Fred’s indignant voice echoed in her head, “They were starving him, Mum…”  Ginny’s chin came up and she squared her shoulders.  These people were nothing but bullies, just like Malfoy, and she would never let them see her afraid of them.  “Yes,” Ginny said firmly.  “Let’s go.”  She led the way to the front door and rang the bell.

 

A severely tailored woman with blonde hair answered the door.  “Yes?” she said, looking at the two girls with puzzlement, as if they were vaguely familiar.

 

Ginny put on her sweetest smile and said, “Mrs. Dursley?”

 

“Yes, I am Mrs. Dursley.  And you are…?”

 

“I’m Ginny Weasley, ma’am, and this is my friend, Hermione Granger…we would like to see Harry Potter…”

 

Mrs. Dursley shrieked and tried to shut the door, but Ginny was faster, and stuck her foot between the door and the frame.

 

“I’m so sorry to disturb you, ma’am,” Ginny continued sweetly, “and if Harry could just come down for a moment, we will be out of your way in no time…”

 

Now Mr. Dursley had come to see what his wife was shrieking over, and saw Ginny.  “Here, you…go on home!  We don’t want any funny stuff around here…”

 

“Why, sir…do you think anything strange is going on…just two girls, standing on your doorstep on a perfectly lovely Saturday morning…although I could make it sound very interesting indeed,” Ginny continued, still very sweetly, though now with a mischievous glint in her eyes.  “Yes, I could…unless I could please see Mr. Harry Potter.  We would like to talk to him for just a moment…”

 

“Ginny?”  Harry had come downstairs and was peering over Mrs. Dursley’s shoulder, looking puzzled, and stunned at the conversation he’d just heard.  Hermione likewise looked shocked and amused.  Mrs. Dursley looked panic-stricken, and screamed, “All right, but you don’t dare bring them in here!  Go out to the back garden!”  Frantically, she pushed Harry out on the front stoop and slammed the door.

 

Harry smiled, rolled his eyes, and turned to Hermione and Ginny.  “Well, you heard her.  Back garden, anyone?”

 

As they followed Harry to the back garden, Ginny said, “I do hope we haven’t gotten you in any trouble, Harry.”

 

He grinned.  “No more than usual.” He looked at Hermione.  “You should have told me you were coming…we could have met somewhere, and you wouldn’t have had to brave Privet Drive.”

 

“It was really Ginny’s idea,” Hermione said quietly.  She was obviously stunned at the way Ginny had handled Mr. and Mrs. Dursley.  She looked over at Ginny, whose chin was still up and determined.

 

“I have something for you, Harry…I wanted to help you out this summer…” Suddenly, she blushed and dropped her chin.  She really should have sent this anonymously…but she’d promised…

 

Once they reached the back garden, Hermione said, “I think Ginny needs to talk to you, Harry…I’m just going to look at the flowers over here.”  She walked about ten feet away and studied the begonias.

 

Ginny sat down on the stone bench and took out her bag, and Harry sat down next to her.  “Hi, Ginny…it must be important for you to come all this way.”

 

Ginny said nothing, just reached in and took out the box, wrapped in silver paper and tied with an emerald green ribbon.  She gave it into his hands.  “I…I made this for you, Harry.”

 

“It’s…not going to sing, is it?”  He looked over at her, grinning.

 

She looked sharply at him, then laughed.  “No, Harry…I promise, it won’t sing at you.”

 

He smiled back at her and began to open the package, untying the ribbon and laying it across his leg.  Ginny noticed his flannel shirt was at least five sizes too big, and worn at the cuffs and elbows.  His jeans were huge, and he had an immense belt to hold them up.  Ginny was angry suddenly.  Did those horrible Dursleys have any human feelings at all?  Oh, if she had permission to use magic now…

 

Harry had unwrapped the box, and his hands caressed the smooth purple lid.  “What is it?”

 

“Open it,” Ginny said.

 

Harry opened the box, and immediately heard the soft patter of rain, and saw the shimmering substance, the jewel at the bottom.  And then he gasped aloud as he heard the voice of his mother: “What is troubling you, darling?”

 

He looked at Ginny.  “How did you do this?” he whispered hoarsely.

 

“It’s called a Box of Rain,” Ginny explained softly.  “It will listen to your troubles and help ease your pain a little.  It usually is keyed to the person who creates the box, so it will be as if that person is listening to you…but I asked Dumbledore to help me…so that my box for you would be keyed to your mother.”  She bowed her head.  “I knew you would be lonely until you came to visit Ron this summer, and I couldn’t bear the thought of you having no one to talk to after…all that’s happened this year.  Words on a parchment sometimes aren’t enough.”

 

“It’s beautiful, Ginny.  But why?  It’s not like I…”

 

“I wanted to do this for you, Harry.  There is no obligation on your part.  What else could I do for the one who saved my life?”  She smiled.  “I made it that day we had all that rain.  It…wasn’t really all that hard…”

 

“That’s not true.  This is advanced magic.  I won’t forget this, Ginny.”  He gave her hand a little squeeze, then frowned when he saw her wince.  He turned her hands palm up and saw her bruised and scraped fingertips.  “What happened to your hands, Ginny?”

 

She blushed again, from her neck to her hairline.  “It’s nothing, Harry.”  She bit her lip hard.

 

Harry clearly wasn’t fooled, but he let it go.  He looked at Ginny quite intently, and she could feel herself blushing.  He took the green ribbon that had tied the package together and passed it around her neck, under her hair, and Ginny concentrated hard on not moving at all, on keeping her breathing even…  He tied her hair back in a big loopy bow, and grinned at her.  “Thanks, Ginny.  And I won’t tell Ron about this…he’d probably flip out.  If he asks, I’ll just say it was sent to me over the summer…Is Hermione sworn to secrecy?”

 

Ginny grinned back.  “Yes.  She helped me a lot.”

 

“I’ll bet.  Hey, Hermione, have you seen this?”

 

They spent a little time together, and then Harry suggested they should go before it got much later.  Ginny gave him the bag she used so he could carry the box in the house without it being seen.

 

As Ginny followed Hermione out of the garden, she turned back to Harry, who raised a hand in farewell.  Ginny returned the gesture, smiling ruefully at the state of her hand, but kept it there a few moments, saying goodbye.  She wished she could stay longer. Then she turned and walked out of the garden, and did not look back again.

 

 

And it’s just a box of rain, I don’t know who put it there

Believe it if you need it or leave it if you dare

And it’s just a box of rain, or a ribbon for your hair

Such a long, long time to be gone and a short time to be there

 

FIN

 

 

//
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