AYNIL: Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Passage Of Time

Ginny checked her watch and rolled her eyes impatiently. There were many places that she could be tonight; sitting amongst a crowd of witches and wizards in the atrium at the Ministry of Magic was not one of them.

“It’ll all be over soon,” Hermione said from her right, as she patted Ginny’s hand in a reassuring manner. “It’s good that you came.”

“I don’t know if it is,” Ginny replied. She really was regretting the decision to come at all. It wasn’t as if the Ministry had the best track record when it came to Harry. But if they tried anything she was ready for them.

A sudden upsurge of noise made everyone, including Ginny, turn around. The Minister for Magic was making his way down the aisle between the rows of chairs. A broad, triumphant grin was playing across his face, distorting his lion-like features. This was not an expression that endeared him to Ginny, she glared at him as he passed her, and knew that he had seen her expression. His smile faltered for a minute before he affixed it firmly once more, and continued to the podium.

“I shouldn’t have come here. I feel like hexing him,” Ginny hissed to Ron and Hermione, who were sitting either side of her in the second row. “The nerve he has, taking the credit for something he had nothing to do with.”

“That’s not what tonight is about at all,” Hermione replied in a calm voice that was doing nothing for Ginny’s temper. “It’s about celebrating. It’s been a year since Voldemort’s downfall. Surely even Harry would —“

“Harry’s not here though, is he?” Ginny snapped and felt a pang as she said these words.

Ron and Hermione exchanged looks over Ginny’s head.

“Ginny, if you’re thinking of doing something tonight —“ Ron started, but Ginny interrupted. “I’m not going to do anything that’s going to make getting out of here any harder. I want out of this damned place as soon as possible.”

“Ginny, don’t talk like that,” Mrs. Weasley scolded from the row behind.

A retort from Ginny was averted when Rufus Scrimgeour took to the podium, another wide smile in place as photographers from the Daily Prophet and other publications swarmed around, snapping photos.

The soft murmurs that could be heard across the atrium died away and all attention was on the man standing before the still broken fountain of magical brethren.

Scrimgeour cleared his throat as he brought his wand to it and muttered “sonorous,” The excitement was palpable.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming on this joyous occasion. We are here on this evening to celebrate the downfall of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. As we all know it was one year ago on this evening that we were given back our world. It was in Godric’s Hollow that the Dark Lord met his match in young Harry Potter, who regrettably cannot be with us this evening to join in the celebrations.”

Scrimgeour, sounding more irritated than remorseful, cast a look at Ginny. It was quite unreadable. Could it be pity?

“Yeah, you just regret it because you can’t use him again,” Ginny snapped in a carrying whisper. Several people turned to look at her, definitely wearing pitying expressions.

“Sssh,” Hermione said sympathetically.

Glaring at her, Ginny turned her attention back to Scrimgeour.

“ . . . not all good that evening. We lost several great men that night too. Let us all take a moment to remember them. If you would all please raise your wands for Severus Snape, Draco Malfoy and Peter Pettigrew.”

“What?” Ginny hissed, absolutely refusing to raise her wand as the several hundred other people were doing.

“Snape, Malfoy and Wormtail great men?” Ginny mouthed to Ron and Hermione. “How could Scrimgeour overlook the parts they played in everything that happened a year ago?”

Snape had been responsible for Ginny ‘s abduction in the first place. It had been his uncontrolled insecurity over being called a coward that had made him turn on Harry when he had initially helped protect him. Snape, until the end, was a self-serving git.

Malfoy’s role was questionable. True, in the end he had helped Harry out by leading him to Ginny, and had died for his efforts (Voldemort having caught up with him before going to Godric’s Hollow). This didn’t change the fact that he had aided Voldemort in getting the information he needed in the first place. He wasn’t worthy of remembrance in Ginny’s opinion.

But if there was anyone that absolutely should not have been included here it was Wormtail. Ginny knew that he had killed the snake, and saved Harry’s life, but he owed Harry in the first place for his own life. Not to mention the fact that he deceived the entire Ministry in allowing Sirius to go to prison for his faked death. Pettigrew was a weak little rat who cared only for himself, and died as a result of it, rightly so.

Recalling the account of how traitorous Peter Pettigrew had died caused Ginny to snort, earning her another glance from those around her, who looked like they were wondering if the events of the last year had unhinged her. She ignored them as she remembered learning of the rat’s death.

It had been Lupin who brought news of Pettigrew’s demise, ten days after Voldemort’s fall.

The full moon had waned the night before, enabling Lupin to return to his human form. Having wanted to avoid people, he had sequestered himself in a forest away from his home. Lying among a large pile of leaves that morning, he looked up, and was surprised to see Wormtail standing over him, wand drawn.

As Lupin explained it, he was much quicker and disarmed the rat. He was livid over everything the traitor had done and would have killed him. However, fate intervened and a noise provided Wormtail the opportunity to transform. In a fury, Lupin would have given chase, but that was deemed unnecessary.

Unnoticed by both wizards, a great snake was hiding in another pile of leaves quite close by. The rat ran right into its path, and was swallowed in one. The animagus form that had aided him in his deceitful ways had become Peter Pettigrew’s downfall.

Ginny, still smiling triumphantly, turned her attention back to Scrimgeour’s speech, which seemed to be dragging on.

“ . . . without the valiant efforts of Mr. Potter and those closest to him we would not be . . . “

She lost the thread of his speech again, feeling a little angrier now. Valiant efforts? What did Scrimgeour know? He hadn’t been there. He didn’t suffer two days worth of torment by Voldemort as Harry had done, having to watch through that mirror while Voldemort tried to drive him crazy. Scrimgeour hadn’t had to watch as yet another innocent man was murdered because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time; hadn’t dodged more than a dozen Killing Curses, through fire . . . hadn’t had to do something so against his nature.

Blood . . . so much blood . . .

“Don’t think about that,” Ginny told herself firmly. She shook her head to clear it and attempted once again to focus on Scrimgeour’s dry, boring, and untruthful speech.

She looked at Ron and Hermione, who were both glaring at the Minister of Magic now. Sure this did not bode well for her mood, Ginny forced her attention back to the speech.

“ . . . working in conjunction with the ministry, Mr. Potter was able to bring about You-Know-Who’s downfall. Sadly it was at a great cost to Mr. Potter -”

“LIES!”

Ginny was on her feet without realizing she had stood up. She ignored the faces that were all turned to her again. She focused all her attention on Scrimgeour.

“Harry wasn’t working alongside you. He wanted nothing to do with the tactics you people were using to fight Voldemort. He never wanted this —“ she waved her hand around the Atrium, “ — at all. He just wanted to be left alone, which you couldn’t do. Even now you won’t. You insist on spreading lies,” she paused for a minute and then added, “we shouldn’t have come here tonight. It might have given the idea that we condone what you have and are still doing to him.”

Without waiting for anyone else to move, Ginny pushed out of the row, and walked quickly down the aisle. She was at the visitor’s entrance when Fred and George caught up with her and climbed into the phone booth with her. The three of them left the Ministry.

Once out on the shabby street, Fred spoke.

“Blimey, Ginny, you sure kept your cool. You shouldn’t hold in your anger, it’s unhealthy.”

Ginny was still fuming at the Ministry for trying to bolster themselves by using Harry, and at herself for agreeing to come to this stupid thing in the first place. She glared at Fred, causing him to recoil.

“Well, look on the bright side, though. At least we’ll be first at the party,” George quipped.

All the anger drained out of her as she grimaced at the mere thought. The very last thing that she felt like doing was celebrating tonight. George seemed to realize his mistake.

“Oh, of course, you’re not going. Sorry —“

The twins each put a comforting arm around their baby sister. The three siblings stood there in the growing darkness. Finally, in a moment of seriousness most uncharacteristic of him, Fred spoke again.

“You know, Gin, not a day goes by I don’t regret telling him I blamed him for your kidnapping. And Sirius . . . I don’t think he was responsible but —“

“I know,” Ginny answered quietly. This was not the first time Fred had said this. She didn’t much feel like telling her brother again that she was sure Harry would have realized Fred said it out of the emotional turmoil of the situation. She had told him before as well, that Harry knew Fred didn’t really think he had caused Sirius’s death. Now was not the time for repeating those sentiments.

“Did you want us to come with you?” George asked.

“No. This is something I can do on my own. Thanks, George,” she answered, again in a quiet voice.

Ginny closed her eyes and thought about her new destination. With a small sigh she twisted, and felt the unpleasant constricting sensation of Apparition.

It was twilight when Ginny opened her eyes and found herself in a group of trees. The ground here was covered in dried leaves, which crunched under her feet as she made her way to the bridge that would take her into Godric’s Hollow.

Though it was unseasonably warm for the end of October, Ginny shivered as she looked over into the once so welcoming home of the Potters. Standing here, it was as though a year had not passed. It felt almost as though she and Harry had just arrived and were running . . . running from Voldemort.

Blood . . . so much blood . . .

Harry had fallen when his scar gave a painful throb. He might have thought she didn’t know, but she did. His hand and knee were bleeding as he helped her up.

They were at the house and heard a noise. Mr. Clark was there, Ginny saw him through the window . . . A flash of green light and he fell. Another flash of green light . . . the front door was on fire . . . Harry had disappeared. Where was he? Now there was fire consuming the yard. Where was Harry?

Ginny felt that same sickening feeling as she had done that night. He couldn’t be dead!

Harry was back on the garden path, more blood on his face. He needed help.

Ginny abandoned her post by the window, looking for something that would enable her to help him. What she really needed was a wand.

Then she saw it. A wand – lying under the sofa, just visible, where had it come from?

Not daring to think any more about this wand’s origin, she snatched it up as the fire caused the front window to shatter.

Harry, surely having heard the window break, was trying to get to the house, but was barred by a burning tree that stood in his path. He couldn’t put it out, for fear of exposing himself to Voldemort.

There was nothing for it.

“Aguamenti,” Ginny yelled, putting out the fire that had now made its way into the entrance thanks to the flaming door. When that was out, she aimed the jet of water towards the fallen tree that was blocking Harry’s way.

Ginny ran to Harry, ready to help in any way that she could. But Harry shunted her behind him. In what seemed no longer than the blink of an eye he had shouted the Killing Curse, and Voldemort had crashed to the ground. But so had Harry.

“NO!” Ginny screamed. She sank down to her knees and, with difficulty, turned Harry over. He was pale, so pale . . . His face was covered in blood, most of it oozing from his scar. It wasn’t normal blood. The usually vivid scarlet was tinged with a sickly green . . . the same colour of the smoke that had come out of the Horcrux.

“Harry . . . Harry, open your eyes,” Ginny called through unacknowledged tears. “He’s gone — Voldemort’s gone. You did it. C’mon Harry . . . “

But he didn’t stir. His face, beneath all the blood, was pale, pale as death . . . there was no life left in him . . .

Snapping back to present Ginny felt the tears streaming down her cheeks again. That night had been the worst of her life. But she wasn’t here to think about what had happened a year ago.

Shaking her head to try and clear it again, Ginny walked down into the village.

Nothing had changed on the High Street in the last year. Yet, and perhaps she was projecting, the place seemed less friendly.

She turned at the inn and walked inside.

There were only two people sitting there. One was the elderly Thelma Clark. She looked older than ever, and far less chipper. Ginny was certain this change had more to do with the death of her husband than the passage of time. She seemed as welcoming as before however, smiling warmly at Ginny when she entered.

The other face, Ginny would have recognized anywhere. Though much progress had been made, it was still clear, even through his smile, that Harry was suffering for the actions of a year ago. He looked much older than his eighteen years. Yet, he was smiling, so he had healed a little over time. Though, of course, the passage of time heals some, but not all, wounds. That was where she came in, Ginny guessed.

Ginny had no idea how long she sat there on the ground, clutching Harry’s limp form to her before people started swarming around. There were screams of horror when Voldemort’s body was discovered, and screams of shock when they saw Ginny holding Harry, who looked as though he were dead too.

The first clear memory she had was of her father’s voice. “Ginny, let go. There’s nothing you —“

“He’s fine. He needs me,” she had sobbed, clinging ever tighter to Harry.

“Sweetie, we need to —“

“No, we don’t need to do anything. He’ll be fine. He just needs to be left alone,” Ginny had said, bending low so her long hair shielded her and Harry’s faces from the photographers that had appeared.

“Ginny, let go. Harry’s —“

“He’s not!”

“ — going to be fine. We need to get him to St. Mungo’s,” Arthur Weasley said gently. Ginny remembered hearing a hint of doubt in her father’s words. He coaxed her into letting go of Harry, waited until Lupin and Moody had Disapparated with him, and then did the same with his daughter.

The healers were able to tell them straightaway that Harry was unconscious. He would wake in due course, they said. However, they were flummoxed as to why he was unconscious at all. The theory being bandied about was that it was the shock of committing the murder.

Ginny thought differently.

When they finally allowed her in to see Harry, after healing the wounds that she had sustained in that dungeon, the blood was gone from his face. He looked peaceful lying there. The only time he ever looked like that on those nights that they had spent together. She was glad to know he was getting the rest he needed.

Ginny didn’t immediately notice that Harry’s most distinguishing feature was drastically changed. His scar, usually a vivid red, had faded to white, and was almost unnoticeable.

Harry woke three days after vanquishing the Dark Lord. Ginny, refusing to leave his side, was there when his eyes flickered open.

“Hi,” she said, managing a weak smile through her tears of relief. “Have a good sleep?”

She had been perched on the edge of his bed, looking down at Harry. He had stared at her in bewilderment for a time before a haunted expression filled his eyes and he turned away, thereafter refusing to look at her, or any of the others that came into the room.

This behaviour lasted two days, until Ginny became frustrated and blew up at Harry.

“Why are you being like this to all of us?” she demanded, pestering him until he replied, in a barely audible voice.

“I killed him. I murdered someone. I’m no better than Voldemort. I know that’s why the others have been avoiding me. I see your revolted expression when you look at me now.”

“Your behaviour revolts me, not your actions Harry. You had no choice. It was you or him. If you hadn’t killed Voldemort he would’ve done you in.”

There was something akin to a hopeful expression on Harry’s face as she said these words. Ginny could do naught but stare at him for a few minutes before she remembered how to work her tongue.

“Are you saying you would have preferred to die?” Ginny asked in a meek voice.

Harry did not acknowledge her question for a few seconds. Then, as their eyes met, he slowly shook his head.

“No, I . . . it just . . . hurts so much,” Harry had told her, his voice thick with emotion. “To know I’m capable of that. I don’t know how Voldemort could have done it so much.”

“It’s not the killing, it’s the healing,” Ginny explained, feeling both relieved that he was finally looking at her again, and a little heartbroken at his words.

“What -”

“You feel remorse for what you’ve done. That’s the only thing that heals the damage to your soul causing by murdering someone.”

“Where did you —“

“Hermione,” Ginny said, smiling at the look of surprise on Harry’s face. “She said it was one of the only things they learned at Durmstrang.”

“Oh . . . “

“It’s going to take a long time, I know that. I just want you to know that you’re not to go all noble and try to do this on your own. I might have to hex you.” She pulled out the borrowed wand, and waved it half-heartedly in Harry’s face.

Harry attempted a smile, but couldn’t quite manage it. Taking a closer look at the wand though, there was something like recognition on his face. Ginny could see that he had seen this wand before.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Harry asked, coming up to Ginny and startling her out of yet another trip down memory lane.

“Just thinking about how much better you are,” Ginny stated, gratefully cuddling into Harry as he wrapped his arm around her. “I mean — since …after the Voldemort thing.”

Harry laughed.

“Succinct that was. ‘The Voldemort thing’. I like it.”

“I’m glad.”

“So, are we ready to go?” Harry was still smiling down at her.

“Yeah. Did you want to stop by the house and put this back?” Ginny pulled out the borrowed wand she had been carrying around for a year.

“I’m not going back there,” Harry stated firmly. Ginny knew not to pursue the topic. She understood all to well why Harry didn’t want to go there, least of all tonight, when there might be others milling about.

“Besides,” he added as they exited the pub, “ it was my mum’s. I think I’d like to keep it.”

“That would be nice,” Ginny stated, handing it to Harry. They stopped for a brief time, so he could contemplate the wand. Then he pocketed it, and they continued.

“How was Scrimgeour?”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “As predicted. Honoring idiots and taking credit for other people’s work.”

“Figures,” Harry stated as their steps causing the crunching noise of dry, fallen leaves to break the otherwise silent evening air.

“Did Dumbledore give you your answers?” Ginny questioned.

“He said the death of Voldemort broke the connection he and I shared. That off-colour blood was his power draining from me.”

“D’you believe that?”

Harry shrugged noncommittally. “I suppose . . . I can’t speak Parseltongue anymore, can I?”

They walked along at their leisure, in silence for several minutes. They reveled in the great late autumn weather, the fabulous Halloween decorations adorning the quaint cottages, and in being here without having to worry about Dark Magic or Death Eaters.

“Oh, wait,” Harry stopped just outside the gate to the graveyard. He pulled out his wand and conjured some sad looking lilies.

“Been practicing?” Ginny asked, suppressing a smile.

“A bit,” Harry muttered, a sheepish smile on his own face. “I just — I didn’t bring anything last time so . . . I know they’re not the best, but I figured . . . “

“They’re from you. That’s all that matters,” Ginny said, putting a comforting hand on his arm.

Harry looked at her for a few moments without saying a word. Ginny thought she understood that he was trying to find the words to tell her that he was grateful she stuck by him through his rehabilitation. As if she would have it any other way!

“Come on, let’s go.” Ginny squeezed his hand reassuringly.

“Gin, I —“

“I know, Harry.”

“No, I love you.”

“I love you too, Harry.”

One hand clasped in Harry’s, Ginny pushed open the gate so they could pay another visit to his parents’ graves. This visit would be different. The shock of seeing them here was gone. Harry just wanted to visit his parents on the seventeenth anniversary of their death.

Some might have thought it an odd way to spend Halloween, visiting the graveyard of your boyfriend’s dead parents, but Ginny didn’t. She and Harry both understood better. It had been here in Godric’s Hollow that he and his parents had been happy. It had been here that Harry had survived the killing curse twice. It was here, in the place where he had been most loved, that he was able to tap into that which was his greatest power.

Both Harry and Ginny understood that defeating Dark Magic didn’t always require prodigious magical skill. Sometimes, Ginny thought to herself, watching Harry lay the flowers down in front of his parents graves, all you need is love.

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