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Summary
:

After the war, the survivors try to find a way to cope with the losses they have incurred and move into a future they have yet to create. As they try to find ways to save themselves, they realize that perhaps the best way is to save each other.

This story will eventually be Harry Draco Slash. It will probably take a while to get there from here. This chapter is rated for general audiences.

Posted so far: 12 Chapters / 54,688 words.

Thanks:

Again and still: thanks to my betas [livejournal.com profile] ivyingardenand [livejournal.com profile] rosskpr.  Their help makes this a better fic, between brainstorming, catching errors in grammar and canon, reviewing plot flow, and supplying encourangement to "write write write".  Any errors after the two of them have combed through the work are from the author not paying attention!

Disclaimer:

Harry Potter, his friends, his enemies, and the lovely world they live in all belong to JK Rowling. I play here.

Other Notes:

NEXT CHAPTER: BACK TO DRACO!

I posted TWO chapters today.  Make sure you read chapter 11 also!

As always, reviews and critiques keep the creativity flowing! Let me know what you think!


Ginny and Harry
May 5, 2008


The trip back to Hogwarts was uneventful. Harry could not believe how much the day had encompassed. It had felt like days of activity, but it had all happened in just over five hours: visiting Mrs Tonks, going to Grimmauld Place, returning to Hogwarts to talk with Dumbledore’s portrait and get the will, then going to the Black estate and somehow being accepted as head of the Black family, which Harry still had trouble coming to terms with, despite the thrum of connection that rooted him. Harry had returned way too late for lunch and too early for dinner. He changed out of his borrowed “visiting robes” and back into jeans and a t-shirt he had brought from the Weasley hand-me-down closet, then begged some food from the house elves in the Hogwarts kitchen.

He needed to think, and was too restless just to sit. The energy that had coursed through him at the Black family Heartroom had receded somewhat, but still made him too restless to do nothing. He returned to his work crew, asking for some work to keep his hands, or his wand, busy. They set him to sorting rock.

Two hours later, he was sweaty from the sun shining through the west-facing break in the wall, his back was sore from holding his arm just so for the wand movements necessary to shift the large stone blocks, and he thought he might be just a bit sunburnt, despite the fact he was working inside. He was no closer to sorting through his thoughts, but halfway through the pile of rock.

“Harry!”

Harry looked up to see Ginny standing in the doorway, her bright coppery hair glinting in the late afternoon sun.

“Gin! What are you doing here?”

“McGonagall told me how to find you. I had to ask Filch! Erm... can you take a break?”

Harry nodded. He flicked his wand several times, moving the fragments of stone blocks out of the path that had been cleared through the room.

“Can we go somewhere? Down by the lake?”

“Sure, Ginny.”

After he let the witch in charge of his crew know he was taking a break, he and Ginny walked in silence down to the lake. The afternoon had warmed, especially for spring, but the breezes felt nice after being inside four walls, even if one of the four had been open to the outside.

They reached a bit of grass that was not torn up from the battle, near the lake. Looking out toward the lake, if he was careful not to see the Quidditch pitch, the shattered-glass greenhouses, or the castle itself, or anywhere with torn turf, fallen stone, curse scars on the walls, ground, and trees… if he just looked out toward the lake, he could imagine that it had all never happened. He sat quietly, letting Hogwarts soak into him as he waited for Ginny to say something.

Ginny took a deep breath. Harry could hear the air of it as it moved.

“I need to talk with you about last year.”

Harry tensed. He had hoped this argument was over. It was moot. He had gone, he had left her behind, for her own safety. For his own peace of mind.

“Ginny, I—” he started, but she interrupted.

“When you left, and we kind of broke up, we were both thinking it would only be until it was safe again.”

A strange wriggle started in the pit of his stomach. He couldn’t tell if it was excitement, fear, or something else entirely. It was safe now. They could get back together. Harry found himself wishing they were having this conversation in a few weeks. He wasn’t ready. He wanted her back. He had thought of her while on their search, watching her dot on the Marauder’s Map, imagining her playing Quidditch, studying, having a normal life at Hogwarts.

When the battle had come, his head was just too full to deal with anything else. Now the battle was over. But nothing felt the same. He had died, willingly, and he still hadn’t come to any conclusions about that. He did not know where he fit. Especially now, with the remnants of the Black family connections hovering just out of sight in his mind.

There were Family Magics that belonged to the Blacks, that now belonged to him. That thought was beyond comprehension. Sorting rock had let it fade into the background, along with all the others that kept plaguing him. He had died! How could he become part of the world again? How could he hope to experience something as real as the grief he knew he should feel for those who had fallen? How could he be what Andromeda Tonks seemed to expect him to be?

His head was still too full. He was not ready to think about Ginny, or leaving her, or coming back. He wanted her back… just… not yet.

“Last year was hard,” Ginny interrupted his thoughts. “You don’t know how bad it was here. The Carrows were casting curses on us. In classes, in detention, sometimes other times as well. They had students learn dark curses by casting them on each other. The Slytherins would cast curses on other students as punishment for wrong thinking. Dark curses. Unforgivables.”

Harry couldn’t think of what to say.

“You left on your adventures, left me behind to be safe. Did you think we were safe here? The Carrion Bitch cast the Cruciatus eighteen times one morning in the great hall! I counted, wondering when she’d aim one at me. She did target Neville. Three times.”

Suddenly, Harry was completely present. “What? Didn’t anyone stop her?”

“I saw Sprout holding tightly to McGonagall’s wand hand. McGonagall looked fit to kill someone. Finally Snape came in. The bastard asked if she was done, as the screams were disturbing his appetite.”

Harry swallowed. He still didn’t know what to think about Snape. That was too complicated to deal with right now.

“Between the Carrows, Snape, and the junior Death Eaters, we were surrounded. And you weren’t here to fix it, like you always had been.”

“Ginny, there were things we had to do! If we hadn’t, Voldemort would still be alive!”

“I know that Harry! I need to tell you what it was like here.”

“Why? So I can feel worse that I wasn’t here to protect you?”

“Harry, stop. This isn’t about you. No one could have fixed it. We just needed to get through it. We had no hero, we just had each other. So we got to be the heroes ourselves. That’s what I was trying to say. I need you to understand what was going on, because there is something I have to tell you. But it won’t make sense unless you understand.”

“I understand bad times. There were bad times for us, too, Ginny.”

“I’m sure there were, Harry. But I don’t know, because I wasn’t there. You wouldn’t let me be there. And so I was here. When things got really bad, Neville got Dumbledore’s Army back together. We fought back.”

“Ginny, that was dangerous!”

“Of course it was dangerous. But it would have been even more dangerous to sit back and do nothing. Not physically, perhaps, although I doubt they would have been satisfied with mere compliance. They called my family Blood Traitors, Harry. Half-bloods, known Blood Traitors, we were targeted. Our only way to survive was to fight back. To reclaim our own truths. Like you did, with Umbridge.”

“Umbridge wasn’t a Death Eater!”

“Are you sure about that? The way she acted, she might as well have been working for You-Know-Who. The Carrows were like her, only unrestrained. And crazy. And the other teachers… Voldemort had the Ministry. He had the Hogwarts Board of Governors. We had all seen what happened to those who fought back. I could tell how frustrated McGonagall was, and Professor Sprout. Flitwick seemed even smaller than usual, like he wanted to be invisible. It’s surprising they let him continue to teach, what with the rumours of his non-human blood. Other of mixed-race were being killed, or sent away.

“It was horrible, Harry. We were always looking over our shoulders, not knowing who would report us for some infraction, real or not. Detentions weren’t writing lines, or cleaning cauldrons. If you got detention with one of the Carrows, you got cursed. Or whipped. Or whatever they felt like that day. The other teachers were supposed to send their detentions to the Carrows, not that they always did. McGonagall got caught once giving her own detention, and the Carrows … gave a demonstration. In the Great Hall. Five students ended up in the hospital wing. There’s a flagellation curse, you see. Madame Pomfrey had to use up an entire year’s supply of Skin Regrowth Potion. They made McGonagall watch. Instructing her, they said, on the proper method of discipline to be used. They offered her the chance to use the curse on a student, see, and she refused. So they got five students instead, and bound them, and cursed them, over and over. We all knew it wasn’t the students they were really punishing.

“So we figured, if we were getting detentions anyway, simply for our last names or our families, we’d do something worthy of detention. We got together in the Room of Requirement and practiced Defence, just in case you’d need us. We had to hide what we were doing, so we pranked the teachers to distract them.”

“You what?”

“Neville had us writing graffiti: ‘Dumbledore’s Army, Still Recruiting’ and ‘We will outlast you.’ Luna had this habit of saying the most outlandish things, and getting away with it, because she sounded so … so Luna. She could insult the professors in that distant way of hers, and make it sound like she was saying the sky was green. But then her father published one thing too many in the Quibbler and she disappeared at Christmas.

“It was awful. But the thing was, Harry, we were there for each other. Luna’s dad sent her potions ingredients tucked in between treats when he sent care packages, and Padma and I brewed healing potions. Whatever we could learn. bruise balm, nerve restorative potion, Skele-Grow. Sometimes students were forbidden from going to see Madame Pomfrey. The pain was supposed to be part of the lesson. She’d ‘accidentally’ leave her satchel full of potions in a common room, after seeing to a student. She’d talk about what she would do for a student with a particular ailment. And then a few of the students had to go into hiding, so we used the Room of Requirement for that too, and snuck in food for them.”

“Sounds pretty bad.” Harry thought about all they had been through. He remembered what Neville had looked like and tried to imagine Ginny like that, then decided he didn’t want to see her like that, even in his imagination.

“The thing is, Harry, when things get that bad, you kind of have to rely on each other. Looking after each other, we all got really close. Luna, Neville, and I, we were kind of the leaders... and...” Ginny took a deep breath, looking out over the lake instead of at Harry. “Neville and I got close, Harry.”

It took a moment for that to make sense.

“We relied on each other. We healed each other. We were strong for each other.”

“You could rely on me, Ginny. You could always rely on me.”

“But Neville relied on me, too. He let me be there for him. I got to be the hero sometimes. We helped each other. Like you, and Ron, and Hermione help each other. Maybe even more so.

He couldn’t think of anything to say. Harry just looked at her, her bright shining, coppery hair, the light freckles on her face. The way her lips curved when she smiled. Or, as now, the intense look in her eyes, as she willed him to understand. Oh, he understood. He just wished he didn’t.

He had started to dare to hope for the future. Now that he had one. He could imagine a family with her. Not right away. He was too mixed up to do anything right away. But Ginny had said she’d wait. The Weasleys had always felt a bit like family, and ... Ron would have been his brother for real.

Ginny broke the silence. “Harry, you will always be a hero to me. You saved me. I will always love you for that, and for all that you are. But Neville let me save him. I didn’t realise how much I needed that until it happened.”

She stared at the horizon, where the sun was nearing the tops of the trees. “Are you okay, Harry? I mean... are you okay?”

“I dunno.”

“I just wanted to tell you before tomorrow. At the funeral. Neville’ll be there, and... I didn’t want to hide it from you. I love you, and I never want to lie to you.”

“Then why did you?” Harry knew his voice was harsh, and he didn’t know why he was asking it that way. There was a stabbing pain in his stomach, and it felt like he was going to throw up. “Why did you say you’d wait? And why didn’t you tell me when I was at the Burrow?”

“I tried to. But you looked so tired. And with George there, looking so empty... I just couldn’t. Harry, I’m so sorry.”

Harry stared at the water. It reflected the sky, only darker. The oranges building on the horizon looked like fire, turning the western edge of the water red and gold. Ginny sniffed. He turned to see her crying. He wanted to hold her, to make it better. Only it wouldn’t be better. “I—I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He got up and walked toward the Quidditch pitch. The deep furrows damaging the grass made him feel like he belonged. He didn’t turn to see what Ginny was doing. He couldn’t stand to see the face he had come to love crying because she didn’t love him enough.


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Chapter 1 (If you've not read the story yet, start Here...)
Chapter 11 (if you missed the previous chapter, click here) 

Chapter 13A (go on to the next chapter)
 

 
 

 



Date: 2009-08-14 05:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lina-kun.livejournal.com
Ah! When I saw that you had updated I was so excited, I nearly peed myself! xDD I have to be at work for 8am tomorrow, but I just had to stay up and finish reading. Great job, as usual. Loved Harry's integration into the Black family and I can't wait to get back to Draco next chapter.

Anyway, hope to see another update real soon! ^__^

Date: 2009-08-14 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imuptonogood.livejournal.com
I am always wickedly thrilled when my writing causes (or almost causes) emission of bodily fluids! (grin)

Glad you are liking the story. I can't wait to get back to Draco either. Harry is so emo at the moment (what am I talking about... at the moment?) but Draco's thought processes are such fun to write. And I think he might get out of the c/e/l/l/ room... (sly grin)

K

Date: 2009-11-18 02:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] louhq.livejournal.com
Good story! I like how you are showing other people's POV besides Harry and Draco.

Date: 2009-11-23 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rlestina.livejournal.com
Very nice story -- looking forward to more!

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