- The Dark Arts
- Angst Romance
- Multiple Eras
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 12/27/2004Updated: 12/27/2004Words: 4,895Chapters: 1Hits: 1,204
- Story Summary:
- After the last battle has been won, Harry is locked in the gloom of Grimmauld Place and his own grief. Ginny convinces Luna that they should go and cheer the boy up... Easier said than done.
- Author's Note:
- Thanks to the Hog's Head Barmaid for the beta.
It had seemed like a good idea at the time: Apparate down from Hogsmeade for the afternoon with Luna, and cheer Harry up.
Harry's last letter had been so terse, so devoid of Harry, that it had taken Ginny's breath away. When it had concluded, It's lovely that you're feeling happier, she had thought, right, you bugger, we've got to do something about you, too.
So she had decided to pop down to London on the first Hogsmeade Saturday. Nobody would miss them, and they could be back in time to clear the new Caretaker Mrs. Crotchett's basilisk glare before curfew.
She had raided the last of the great Weasley store of alcohol behind the clock in the common room--one bottle of Finnegans Firewhiskey ("You'll drop more than your apostrophes!") and another of some rum that Bill's pen-pal in Brazil had sent him a decade or so earlier that was supposed to turn your hair purple. That should be entertaining, she thought.
When Luna met up with her in the entry hall, it occurred to Ginny for the first time to wonder what had possessed her to ask her friend along. True, Luna had never made Harry as furious as she had Hermione or as nervous as she had made Ron....
Thinking of Hermione and Ron suddenly left Ginny feeling as if a bucket of ice water had been poured over her, and, unbidden, images of the two of them, crumpled together on the floor of the Death Room, had led to images of her mother, dead in the Burrow, of Percy, dead in the lobby of the Ministry, of Dumbledore and Hagrid on the steps she was about to walk down, of Dean at Christmas, and Cho Chang, and Susan Bones, and the Patils and...
The touch of Luna's hand on her shoulder broke the spell. Ginny realized that everyone in the line behind her was staring at her, as were Mrs. Crotchett and the headmistress. Professor McGonagall placed a dry hand on Ginny's other shoulder. "Are you all right, Miss Weasley?"
Almost in spite of herself, Ginny nodded. "Flashback," she murmured, and saw those behind her nod too. Everyone knew. Everyone thought they understood.
The headmistress gave her the thinnest of smiles, and waved Ginny and Luna through the huge doors.
The two of them were the last members of the original DA left at the school. The Creeveys, of course, were also dead. Everyone knew what Ginny and Luna had done and what they had seen. And, of course, everyone in school had suffered their own losses.
As they walked down the road to the school gates, breaths barely ghosting the crisp October air, Ginny considered her friend, who seemed to be reciting "The Walrus and the Carpenter" under her breath. Her bulging eyes scanned the world with an equanimity that Ginny could only envy and wonder at.
In front of them, a group of Hufflepuff and Gryffindor third years were laughing, bursting with excitement at making their first trek down to the village, talking about which shop they would go to first and whether they'd really be able to buy butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks. It stunned Ginny to see them acting so normally, when all she could think of as they walked through the gate was Hagrid riding Norbert against a squad of his own Giant kin. The top of the gate was still scorched black.
As the younger students sprinted down towards Hogsmeade, Ginny lead Luna off in the other direction, down towards the railroad tracks. "Come on," she said, trying desperately to keep the sense of fun and adventure with which she had meant to infect Grimmauld Place. "Let's Apparate from over here. We're outside of the grounds."
Without showing much concern one way or another, Luna nodded and the two of them Disapparated with a pop.
* * *
Of course, they still had to enter the house by the battered front door. Luna reached out and rapped with the knocker before Ginny could stop her, but instead of the harangue from Mrs. Black that she had instinctively expected, Ginny was greeted by a quiet squeak as the door opened.
An enormous pair of green eyes looked up from waist level. "Miss Ginny, Miss Luna! Dobby is glad to see you two!" The house elf was dressed in what would seem to be an entire wardrobe of socks--argyle, neon, woven, knitted. They were festooned about his body like fetishes.
He led them into the front hall.
Sirius's mother was finally gone. In her place was a painting of Harry's parents that Dean had painted, just before he died. They waved down at Ginny. She had watched her boyfriend painting this as a Christmas gift for their friend. Ginny had filched the photo from Harry's album, so they knew her well. Dean hadn't even been able to sign it. But at least he had cast the charms that brought the figures to life.
That painting was flanked by paintings of Remus Lupin, and, of course, Sirius Black. They too gazed down at the girls familiarly and fondly.
In Sirius's lap lay a tattered shape. A rat missing one claw on its right paw. Oh, Merlin.
"He died to save me," said a colorless voice from behind Ginny's ear. "It was the least I could think to do to honor him. I think Sirius would have approved." The Sirius in the painting raised an eyebrow, but petted Scabbers nonetheless.
Ginny spun to find Harry peering up at the paintings from the bottom of the stairs. "Harry!" she said, but the excitement that had leapt to her throat died there as she saw his palor, the dark circles under his eyes. The redness that showed that--even now--he had been crying. "Oh, Harry."
Harry's eyes bathed her in their green sea flood for a moment, then flicked to Luna. Luna, however, was looking abstractedly at Ginny.
"So," Harry said, finally, "what brings the two of you down to this house of mirth?"
"We've come to cheer you up," Ginny said, as brightly as she could manage. She felt as if she were playing the role of Ginny Weasley, bright and plucky and always cheery. Cheery wasn't what she felt at all, in that moment.
At least Luna gave a vague smile of support.
"Ah," Harry sighed, his face impassive, his black robes without a tatter, stain or ornament. "Bit of a large order, that."
"What?" Ginny said in what she hoped sounded like mock indignation. She pulled the bottles from her book bag. "A couple of school girls show up on your doorstep, in uniforms and all, bearing booze, and that doesn't even merit a little smile, Mr. Potter?"
"I've only been out of school a few months myself," Harry muttered, though the corners of his mouth did lift almost imperceptibly. The idea of a smile, but it would serve. "What did you have in mind? Truth or Dare? Spin the Wand?"
"Now you're kidding," Ginny teased, relieved that he was at least playing along. "I don't think we had any idea what we were going to do once we got here, but..." She looked to Luna again, but her friend was now staring off into the ether, that maddening Luna smile on her thin lips.
"But what?" Harry asked.
"But... It's been horrible being back at school, honestly. They've scrubbed away all of the blood, but I know where every spot was..." The two of them were staring at her now, both level-gazed, silver eyes and green. "And I would have gone mad these last two months if I hadn't had Luna there. She's kept me sane. And I thought... That is, we... I thought, and Luna agreed, that maybe we could do some of the same for you...." Her little speech petered out under Harry's empty look. Not so plucky, not so cheery. A little bleak, really, but the truth.
Harry nodded, looking from Ginny's face to Luna's. "Have the two of you had lunch?"
They both shook their heads.
"Oi, Dobby!" Harry called out.
"Yes, Harry Potter, sir? What can Dobby do, sir?"
"Would you mind bringing something to eat in to the dining room?" Harry asked.
"Would Dobby mind, sir? Oh, it would be Dobby's greatest pleasure sir!" The house elf seemed to be vibrating with excitement.
Ginny was feeling a bit alarmed. "Nothing too fancy, Dobby, please, just some sandwiches or something...."
Dobby looked up at her as if she'd slapped him. Funny, she thought--his eyes are almost the exact shade of.... Then the elf smiled broadly. "Miss Wheezey will have her little joke, miss. Dobby will have luncheon out immediately, miss!" With that, he disappeared into yet another portal full of ghosts: the door to the Grimmauld Place kitchens.
"Well," Harry said, the uncertain attempt at a smile still playing on his lips, "I can't have two lovely young ladies drinking..." He peered through his glasses at one of the bottles hanging limp in Ginny's grip. "Rum Cabelo Roxo on an empty stomach. Not terribly hospitable, to begin with, and your dads would kill me, besides."
Before Ginny's ire had a chance to peak, Harry meandered into the dining room. "When Dobby says 'immediately,'" Harry said, "he means it. Look--he's already served out the first course...."
Ginny and Luna trailed behind their friend and Ginny was stunned. The last time she had been here, in mid-August, this room had still born the traces of having served as the Order's operations center--shreds of parchment, torn maps on the wall. Dobby had just started working for Harry then, and the transformation was astonishing. The chandelier glittered, a painting of Albus Dumbledore smiling down from the wall, and the rosewood-inlaid table was polished to a blinding sheen, sporting three places laid with silver and crystal and china. Three salads that looked so fresh and crisp that Ginny almost couldn't bear the thought of disturbing the plates. Two goblets filled blood-red. One clear.
"Wow," Ginny said. "Beats the Three Broomsticks."
"Miss Wheezy is too kind to say so," Dobby's muffled voice called out from the other side of the door that led to the kitchen.
Harry stood behind the tall chair at the head of the table and indicated that his guests should sit. Slightly awed, Ginny did so, stowing her bag and the alcohol beneath the table. Luna seemed to notice the table only then; she too sat.
Again, Harry seemed to consider smiling before gravity sucked him back down. Ginny's insides twisted as she watch that happen. Damn you, Potter... He picked up his goblet, the clear one. "I hope you like the wine," Harry said. "The cellars here are still very well stocked. Now, if you don't mind, a toast: To friends, and to the joy they bring."
The twist worked its way up into Ginny's throat as she and Luna lifted their glasses to answer the toast. The wine was dark-flavored, rich and almost chocolaty. "Mmmm. Harry that's really... I mean, what do you say? It's really yummy," Ginny said, feeling it spread through her. "Thought you didn't want us drunk on an empty stomach? And what are you drinking, Harry?"
The little warmth that had shown in Harry's face drained away. "Water. I... I really can't be drinking right now. Dobby's worried that I sometimes get pretty bad..."
"Oh." Ginny wanted to take the two bottles at her feet and throw them out of the window. "I, uh... I guess that makes sense. That was stupid of me."
Harry shook his head, and began to eat, not looking up.
Ginny looked down at her own plate, at the glistening china and the perfect arrangement of bright, crisp greens. "Merlin," she muttered. "I almost don't want to mess it up. Poor Mum would have loved to be served like this. She never felt as if her meals were..." Ginny stopped before her throat seized up entirely.
Luna looked up, tilted her head to one side, and spoke her first intelligible words since leaving the school. "The meals at your parents' home were the most wonderful I've ever had."
Harry peered at Luna for a moment, then nodded solemnly to Ginny. "All those years of eating with you and your family, Ginny, I never once failed to get up from the table feeling better than when I'd sat down."
Ginny covered her face with her napkin, then took a breath and lowered it. "Even the time I dumped my oatmeal in your lap, that first summer?"
That merited something approaching a true smile, even from Harry. "Even then."
Now she began to eat, looking for any distraction from the crushing sadness that every conversation with this man, every memory of this place seemed to visit on her.
"I remember having dinner at the Burrow right after my mother died," Luna murmured. "Your mum made cheese soup, which I thought sounded rather odd. But it tasted happy. Or maybe it was all of you laughing and smiling...."
"That was the night that Fred and George..." Ginny gave a weak, snorting giggle, "tried to convince Ron that 'fork' was pronounced 'fuck.'"
And they all laughed, even as they all thought of the fact that Ron was not there.
They passed the rest of the meal in companionable, sad silence.
* * *
As Dobby brought out the cheese course, even Luna groaned, standing up to examine the sleeves on the Dumbledore portrait's robes.
"Dobby, you've outdone yourself," Harry said. Turning to the girls, he sigh, "Poor Dobby doesn't get much of a chance to dust off his skills. Haven't had many visitors..."
"Not true, Harry Potter, sir!" said the house elf, pouring out tiny glasses of port that Ginny thought tasted like sweet liquid smoke. "Last week we had Miss Abbott and Miss Turpin and Miss Midgen. The week before that it was Miss Fawcett and Miss Parkinson...."
"Pansy Parkinson?" Ginny said, even as dread settled heavy in her stomach. "You've been seeing Pansy Parkinson."
"No!" barked Harry. "It's nothing like that! It's... nothing like you two. Not one of them came here as a friend. None of them stayed for a meal, which was, Dobby, you meddling elf, the point that I was trying to make. They were all here to steal a march on the most eligible bachelor since old Gilderoy blasted his memory out on the way to the Chamber of Secrets. Pansy came intending to seduce me, I guess--which made her stomach turn as much as it did mine, I'm sure--but she was much more passionate about the idea of our 'two great family lines merging' than she ever was about me." He glowered down into his water.
Damn you, Potter, Ginny found herself thinking again. How was it that he could humiliate her and inspire her sympathy, both at the same time?
"Come on," Harry said, "Let's go up to the sitting room. I've got another painting I want to show you." He turned to Dobby. "Thanks, Dobby. That was wonderful."
The girls murmured in agreement.
The elf wrung at his belt of socks, large tears forming along his long nose. "Harry Potter, sir, misses, you is too kind to Dobby... Perhaps, Harry Potter, sir, Dobby should not take his...."
"No, Dobby, come on, we go through this every week. It's your evening off. Draw your pay and leave. If I see you before tomorrow morning--or if you spend any of your damned pay on me--I'll dock your salary."
"Harry Potter will have his little joke, sir. Dobby will try to... enjoy himself this afternoon and evening, sir. Once Dobby is finished cleaning up from this meal, sir."
Ginny moved forward. "Let us help you clear, at least, Dobby."
Suddenly the elf looked deeply insulted. "Oh, no, miss. Do not take from Dobby the honor of his service, miss."
"I, uh, wouldn't dream of it," said the nonplussed Ginny.
As they followed Harry's dark form up the stairs to the sitting room, Ginny watched the paintings in the front hall following her with their eyes, smiling.
Luna's hand tucked itself into Ginny's elbow as they walked behind Harry into the old sitting room. He led them down to the far end, where once the Black family tree had taken up most of the wall. Now there was an enormous canvas, with nearly thirty very familiar figures milling around.
"It's the DA, that first day at the Hog's Head," Ginny gasped.
Harry nodded. "It's not exactly the same, of course. Look."
Ginny and Luna walked up to the painting. They were seated around the big table. In the background lurked Aberforth Dumbledore, Mundungus Fletcher in his witch's hat and veil, Tonks in her bandages. There, around the pushed-together tables, were Michael Corner, Dean, Cho Chang and Zacharias Smith, Susan Bones, Ernie MacMillan and Justin Finch-Fletchley. In the front row were Neville, Hermione in her favorite dark blue dress, Ron in a Cannons shirt, and then Harry, Luna and Ginny themselves, all in school robes.
Ginny's emotions were bubbling again, looking at all of these people she had fought with and cared for. She touched a finger to Cho's smiling face and Cho giggled as if tickled; she was dressed in sapphire silk, which Ginny was fairly certain she hadn't been wearing that day.
"We're wearing black," Luna said, airily.
Ginny looked again, and saw what Luna meant: the dead members of Dumbledore's Army, nearly half of the total number, were dressed in bright colors. They were looking happy, grinning and sipping at butterbeer. Harry, Ginny, Luna and the other members who had survived were glummer, and they were all dressed somberly in their school robes. Even Fred and George looked as if they would really like to hear a joke.
Ginny realized she was crying only when she felt two sets of hands on her shoulders.
"I'm sorry," Harry said. "I thought you would enjoy it. I didn't mean for you to..."
Ginny shook her head and smiled, or tried to. "No, it's all right. It's just... I think this is just right. The lot of us that are left, everywhere we look is a reminder, isn't it? Even a celebration is an act of mourning..."
Harry backed away, his face in a grimace. "No, I'm so sorry. Everything I touch right now turns to ash. You came here to cheer me up, and all I can manage to do is make you cry."
Later, Ginny would realize that her response had been building all day, all month, all year--ever since the week before Christmas the previous year, when Death Eaters had killed Dean and his family, and they had all been devastated, Ginny especially, and Harry had been furious with himself, certain that Dean's family would never have been targeted if it hadn't been for the DA, for him. Nonetheless, standing there in the Grimmauld Place sitting room, the reaction caught her--and her friends--utterly by surprise.
"Don't you dare! Don't you DARE take away my right to call my grief my own, Harry Potter! You bloody, arrogant, self-obsessed, beautiful bloody wanker. We came here today because we love you, you stupid plod! We think you're the bee's bloody knees, and without you we'd all be bloody dead. But that doesn't mean that my being sad is your bloody fault. You lost some people, did you? Two best friends, a girl friend, a couple of parents, a bunch of mates? Fine, you arrogant bloody toerag, I'll see that and raise you. I lost my best friend--aside from the two of you--not to mention two brothers, a mother, two boyfriends and more friends than I think I can stand on any given day, including, as near as I can tell, you, and what did I do this morning, instead of going with Luna down to Zonko's and the Three Broomsticks and flirting with the poor dregs of the seventh-years, who are all scared of the two of us anyway because we fought in the bloody Battles of the Department of Mysteries? What did I do? I came down here to try to fucking cheer you up! I'm bloody crying because I'm bloody sad." And, annoyingly, she found that she was, indeed, crying. "I'm here because I..."
Eyes wide and face burnished with shame, Harry stepped towards her. "Ginny, I'm so sorr..."
She turned away, intending to walk out the door, but instead ran directly into Luna. Who wrapped her spindly arms around Ginny and kissed her gently on the lips.
It is not too much to say that Ginny was already in shock, her own anger singing through her nerves, and so perhaps, when she looked back on it later, Ginny thought it wise not to be too surprised that she accepted the kiss, felt its warmth stilling her, and tentatively returned it.
It was when Luna stepped back that a mixture of astonishment, desire and shame thrilled through her. She looked instinctively to Harry and saw her own feelings spelled out in his expression.
He looked as if someone had kissed and slapped him both at the same time. "I can go..."
Ginny felt the urge to howl at him some more, to tell him that he was an idiot, that if he walked out of the door that she would kill him, but Luna was quicker. "I just thought I'd show you what love looks like again," she said.
For the first time in months, something other than images of death and loss rendered Ginny speechless. The butterfly heat of Luna's kiss had stolen from her all power of thought. Again she turned to Harry and saw color coming to his cheeks for the first time since the previous spring. He was also speechless.
Luna stepped forward and kissed him too, and he gave a moan of longing as their mouths came together that melted Ginny utterly--it could have been sounded from the depths of her own soul.
Ginny stood there, dumb, blinking, until Luna stepped back from Harry, leaving him gasping. The blonde girl blinked then too, and twined her arms in front of her. "I sort of lost a boyfriend last June too," she said, very evenly. "Sort of lost two, though Neville only kissed me once and Ronald never did seem to be listening when I told him how I felt. But there are two people in this room that I love very much."
Ginny and Harry moved towards her.
* * *
Night had fallen, and they were arranged, spent, on Harry's enormous bed. A triangle: Ginny's head on Harry's stomach, Harry's on Luna's, Luna's tangled hair tickling Ginny's belly and the insides of her thighs.
Ginny gasped, "Oh, damn."
Harry reached down and stroked her forehead. "What's the matter?"
"We've missed curfew. Mrs. Crotchett'll be out for blood." In spite of her anxiety, she let her head melt under his caress, back down on to the flat plane of his stomach.
Harry gave her a smile that--even after all of these hours of shared pleasure--made her whole body blossom. It was that wicked, happy Harry smile that Ginny thought she had lost forever. "I, uh..."
"In for a sigh, in for a sickle... " Luna said.
"Well, don't be angry--I didn't plan on this happening--but when I saw the two of you on the front step, I sent Fawkes with letters to Professor McGonagall and your dads, saying that I'd invited the two of you to be my guests here tonight."
"Don't be angry?" Ginny laughed. "You bloody pervert! You lured two innocent girls here with evil intent!"
Luna hummed gently, and Ginny laughed again.
"You know it wasn't like that," Harry said, and he was smiling still. "I just... The two of you make me happy, and no one else does that. Besides," he said, running his fingers down Ginny's neck and over one breast, "I'll buy Luna as innocent, but you? Based on the working knowledge you've showed us so far..."
"You calling me a scarlet woman, Potter?" asked Ginny, teasing only a little.
"Never," he said, running his fingers lazily over the other breast and along her ribs.
"It's only sex, Harry."
"True," he said, quietly. "But it's very, very nice. And I do..." His face clouded as it had not since that early that afternoon. "Can I tell you what happened to Tom?"
"Of course you can," said Luna. "Would you like to?"
In spite of the fire roaring nearby, Ginny shivered.
He nodded. "Yeah. I would. I've never told anyone because... I don't know." He shook his head. "You know I'd tried to use the Killing Curse on him twice, once in the Death Room, after he killed your brother and Hermione, and then again in the Time Room. And both times it failed, because I just... couldn't do it. You know?"
"Yes, Harry, we remember," Luna said.
"It scared me that you'd tried, and scared me that you'd failed," murmured Ginny. She found herself holding on to Luna's head as if it were some fluffy stuffed animal, caressing it for her own comfort.
"Me too." Harry watched her fingers playing in Luna's hair. "When he tricked me into opening the locked room, I thought I had let him win, and he did too. He was laughing like a maniac when he followed me in there...."
"Yes?" Ginny asked. So far as she knew, Harry had never told anyone what had happened in that room. All anyone knew was that Voldemort and Harry had gone into the locked room together, and that Harry had emerged with the body that Ginny recognized so well: pale, black-haired Tom Riddle.
"As soon as the door shut behind us, he stopped laughing. The feeling in that room.... It wasn't happy or light. It was... awesome. That's the only word. It was as if someone had shown me the entire universe, all at once, every atom. The threads connecting every soul to every other. It was the most beautiful and most terrible feeling I'd ever experienced. And... I had a vision."
Ginny could see the flickering light of the fire reflected in his eyes. "It was like when I looked in the Mirror of Erised my first year. Then I'd seen my family--the family I didn't know I had. This time it was... It was my parents, yeah, but also Hagrid and Dumbledore, Ron and Hermione, Sirius and Remus. Neville. Your mum, Ginny. And you two. And for a bit I got scared, because most of the rest were dead, you see. But not you. I knew that. I focused on the two of you, and it was like... looking into the sun. But you were smiling. All of you. You were all..." He shook his head, his dark locks flashing across Luna's pale skin. "I looked at you. And I felt so... Merlin. I don't have the words. But I felt loved. By every one of you. And it was the most frightening thing I'd ever felt. Then I realized, yes, you did love me, lucky bastard that I am, but that what I was feeling wasn't just you, it was inside of me. It was me feeling your love. Does that make any bloody sense at all?"
"It makes perfect sense," Luna murmured softly. Ginny felt her friend's voice humming through her own pelvis.
He looked between the two of them, then sighed. "So then... I looked down. Because Voldemort was on his knees, rolled up like ball, moaning. And I knelt down and I... I kissed him. On the top of his head. Like a little boy. And he looked up at me, with those red eyes, and..." Harry's voice had thickened. He was clearly struggling to be able to talk, to finish.
Luna spoke again. "He asked you to kill him?"
Harry nodded, and Ginny gasped. "To release him. That's what he said. And I understood him them, or I thought I did. But... he was nothing more than a terrified child who had been running away from something for so long that the flight had taken him over utterly. So I took my wand, and looked him in the eye, and cast the Avada Kedavra." Tears were now streaming down onto Luna's belly, and both girls reached out to touch his face. "He... It was like watching something melt away to reveal a totally different core. It was Tom Riddle. Just Tom Riddle. I picked him up and...."
Harry wept, then, and Ginny found herself blanketing herself against his back, kissing his neck and trembling shoulders, embracing him--and Luna, who was gently comforting Harry from the other side. And when his sobs had finally subsided, Harry sighed and said. "When I saw the two of you at my door, today, I remembered that feeling, that certainty of your love, and I wanted to run to you both and hold you, and kiss you and tell you how much I loved you. But I, uh, didn't think you would understand it. Or welcome it."
"Stupid git," Ginny said--she was crying too, for a change--and she kissed Luna and Harry both.
"Oh," mused Luna, "I don't think it was stupid at all. I rather like the way things have worked out. Don't you?"
Author notes: This fic was originally conceived of as a follow-up to "Better Days"... but I don't know that they are connected now. I'm happy with both of them, though. :-)