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Harry & Ginny
"THE SILVER LINING"
"A Proper Place": A Prequel to Wednesday Dates 
2nd-Oct-2008 08:25 pm
h/g-touch
Title: "A Proper Place": A Prequel to Wednesday Dates (Part One)
Pen Name: fizzmonkeys aka belladonna_tb
Characters/Pairing: H/G
Word Count: appx 12,200 for both parts combined
Rating: PG
Genre: Angst, Romance, Minor Fluff
Summary: Harry doesn't know what to do when his world is turned upside down.
A/N: It's highly recommended (but not necessary) that you read the companion story, "Wednesday Dates", first so that nothing is spoiled. Also...there will be a story-based fanmix to follow. Many, MANY thanks to my lovely betas, kellsta and queenb23more.


"A Proper Place": A Prequel to “Wednesday Dates”

Prologue


“Will you love me for the rest of my life?” Ginny whispered.

“No,” Harry said to her surprise. “I’ll love you for the rest of mine.”

************************


“Where’s Dad?” Lily asked as Albus’s arms engulfed her shaking body.

“He’s still upstairs,” Albus answered, breathing into the tresses of her long red hair. To this day, she was the picture image of their mother, just as Albus resembled their father. “Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione have been trying to get him to come downstairs for the past half hour or so.”

She slowly pulled away from her brother and looked up at his worn expression. “No luck?” Lily asked him, even though she knew the answer. Her father would always do as he wished when it came to her mother. Of course he wouldn’t be convinced. He would stay by her side every moment of his life if he could.

Albus shook his head and whispered, “No.” It was hard to miss the pain in his voice as he spoke. “I’m worried about him, Lil. We don’t hear a single word from him when…” he paused when he heard her sharp intake of breath mimicking his. “We don’t even realise that there is anything wrong until Aunt Hermione Floos us.”

“Al,” Lily said with concern as she placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure he’ll be fine. You know Dad, always trying to protect us.” She tried to smile as her shoulders lifted in a small shrug, but the warmth that was usually there didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“It doesn’t make it any easier to handle,” he muttered, unable to read the expression on her face.

“I know. He just needs some time, that’s all.”

They both stood in silence for a few moments when Al’s blank stare suddenly disappeared and his gaze drifted up to the landing of the second floor as if willing their father to appear there.

Realizing that he might suggest that they try to coerce their father, once more, to come downstairs, Lily cleared her throat to distract him.

“Where’s James?” she asked looking around.

It took a minute for Albus to focus his thoughts again before answering her question. “Erm…he’s Flooing a few others that we hadn’t managed to reach yet.”

“Of course,” she nodded and then her expression fell in apology. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t get here sooner. I was watching little Charlie while Sarah, and Colin went out to dinner, and David, h-he wasn’t home from work yet, and I couldn’t…but I tried…” Lily’s incoherent ramblings were becoming worse with each breath. “I-I could’ve helped.”

Her eyes, swimming with tears, shone like glass when they met his again and he pulled her into a fierce hug. His arms were strong around her as he held her tight to him. It made it so much easier for her to lose control when Albus and James were trying to hold onto the world for her. Nothing would fall apart as long as they were there with her.

“Don’t worry, Lil.” His hands rubbed slow circles across her back and somehow it helped to relax her a bit. “We’ve had some help taking care of most of it. There are only a few more things to settle.”

Albus could tell by the hurt look that consumed her face that she was still blaming herself. “But I should’ve been here to… And you and James shouldn’t have been left alone to do…”

He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her lightly before she gave up. “It’s all right, I promise. You’re here now. That’s all that matters to us.”

She exhaled slowly in defeat as her brother leaned forward and pressed his lips to her forehead in a gentle kiss.

“Where’s everyone else? Did Colleen come with you? What about Anna and the children, did James bring them? Has anyone even Flooed Teddy yet?”

Albus couldn’t help but chuckle lightly at the steady string of questions that was pouring from her mouth now. “Calm down, love. One question at a time.”

“Anna took the kids up to James’s old room. She wanted to keep them busy while we took care of things down here. Colleen’s at Hogwarts picking up Olivia. I told her to go on and pick up Evan and Lucas too. One less thing for you and James to worry about.”

“Oh, Al, she didn’t have to. I was going to fetch Evan myself first thing in the morning.”

“It’s all right. She was on her way there to pick up the others anyway. Matter of fact, they should probably be here shortly,” he added, eyeing his faded gold watch momentarily. Colleen had left a quarter hour ago to pick up their daughter and two nephews who were the only ones in attendance at the time. He wondered how she might explain to them why they were coming home when they didn’t have a holiday for another month.

“And Teddy?” Lily reminded her brother.

Albus blinked, realizing that he hadn’t answered all of her questions. “He and Victorie are on their way.”

“What about—?”

“Lil,” he interrupted her. “They know. It’s all taken care of.”

Lily nodded absentmindedly, lost in quiet thought for a moment as she looked down at the baby bag that she’d picked up by mistake. Albus’s eyes followed.

“David will need this.”

“David will be here soon enough,” he said, taking the small tote from her hand and hanging it on the cloak rack by the door.

“I want to see her,” Lily spoke softly, her voice barely above a whisper. She was looking towards the stairs when Albus turned back to face her.

His expression was solemn. “I know; I do, too. But with Dad in the state he’s in…”

“I have to see Mum, Al.” The warm light of the sitting room flickered brightly in her tear-filled eyes as she moved her gaze back to him. Her heart called out, pleading from the very depths of her.

“You will,” he said soothingly. Albus wished that there was some way to ease the pain that he could feel radiating from her. “I promise. But for now, we need to wait.”

Taking her by the hand, he tried to distract her. “Come on, then, love. Let’s get you some tea.”

Despite the desperate longing within her, she feared her desire equally, knowing that it would be far more difficult to face.

“That might be nice,” she muttered finally, following her brother without argument.

As they entered the kitchen, Lily noticed Hermione sitting quietly at the table while Ron paced anxiously behind his wife. She caught her aunt’s eye and returned her smile despite the heaving sob that threatened to break free from her chest at the sight of them. They were both tired and weak, and it reminded her all too well of the last time she’d seen her mother. She could only imagine that her father’s state fared far worse than her aunt and uncle’s did. But she would have to stay strong. She couldn’t break down now.

However, as her gaze found her oldest brother pushing himself up from the floor on the opposite end of the room, she felt her resolve falter.

Albus gave her hand a quick squeeze when she hesitated in the kitchen doorway before walking over to the stove to prepare a cup of tea for her. Lily’s eyes stayed fixed on James, watching him brush the dust and soot from his trousers as he stood. She was waiting for him to turn around and catch sight of her because once he did, her control would be lost.

“I finally managed to get in touch with Luna. Apparently she’s still out and about travel—“ James said until his words came to a halt mid-sentence. His eyes fell upon his sister as she sighed unevenly. She was pale and unmoving as a statue, yet her body was visibly weary with emotion. He had never seen her so frail and it frightened him more than he ever thought possible.

“Lil’bit,” he whispered and crossed the room in three long strides. His arms wrapped around her before her mind could comprehend what was happening.

Lily had never been one of those girls who was considered overly sensitive or dependent. She had always been able to take care of herself. But what she wanted more than anything now was to cry into her brother’s chest as he pulled her tense frame close to him. She wanted to forget about everyone else around her and everything that had happened in the last few hours, yet she remained determined to hold back the tears for as long as she could.

“How many times have I told you to stop calling me that?” Lily’s muffled voice reprimanded him. But even as she scolded him, she didn’t really care what he called her now. Just as long as he was near, she’d let him call her every name in the book.

His hot breath flowed through the loose strands of her hair as James gave a short husky laugh and laid his cheek on the top of her head. Lily would be content staying there all night, buried in the warmth of his hug, if he didn’t mind.

“How are you holding up, Lils?” James asked quietly, trying to make their moment together as private as possible. He knew that she wouldn’t want everyone listening to their conversation.

Lily remained silent for a moment, desperately trying to stop the tears that had begun falling as soon as the words had left his mouth.

“Not so well,” she said with a broken voice, sniffling.

She was thankful when James’s arms tightened around her once more because she knew that he understood. He knew that she needed to let her walls fall, to let her guard down and cry, even if it was only for a few moments.

*********


“Well, I think we’ve done as much as we can for the time being. There should only be a few other matters to address, but we’ll need to discuss those with Harry,” Hermione said, quickly scribbling something on the parchment in front of her.

“Once Dad comes downstairs, James and I will go up and…” Al paused as his words caught in his throat.

“We’ll take care of Mum,” James finished, patting his brother on the shoulder.

Ron’s ragged voice startled them slightly when he broke his silence. “There won’t be much you’ll need to tend to.” His statement was simple and quiet but full of raw emotion that they weren’t used to hearing.

“I don’t understand.” Albus looked at his uncle with a furrowed brow.

“Your dad has taken care of most of it already, sweetheart.” Hermione reached across the table and gave Al’s hand a small pat. He waited for her eyes to meet his, wanting her to explain her answer further, but she never looked up at him.

“What do you—?” he began to ask her when Lily’s soft voice stopped him.

“You saw her, didn’t you?” The question was only for her aunt, and all Hermione could manage in response was a nod.

Three pairs of eyes looked up at Ron as his frantic pacing came to an abrupt halt and he took the seat next to his wife, interlacing his fingers with hers. Lily knew, then, that there was something else that she and her brothers didn’t know.

Tears were shining in both their eyes and she knew at that moment that what she was about to hear would tear at the open wound within her. Lily wasn’t quite sure if she could bear much more of it.

She reached over and took James by the hand, causing him to flinch slightly at her unexpected touch.

“What are you not telling us?” James frowned, fuelled by Lily’s sudden panic. He squeezed her hand with gentle reassurance now.

“This isn’t necessarily the best time,” Ron said, concerned for Hermione’s state of mind. He didn’t want her to be the one who had to tell them everything. But he knew that his own heart would only be able to take so much more pain.

“Now is as good a time as any.” Albus’s voice sounded strange even to his own ears.

“We didn’t know that there was anything wrong when we Apparated,” Hermione began. Ron pulled her close. “I’m all right,” she whispered to him and he loosened his hold an infinitesimal amount.

“You already know that we have been coming by every day now.” James, Albus, and Lily all gave a nod in unison. “Today wasn’t any different; at least, we didn’t think so.

“Your dad didn’t answer the door, which wasn’t completely out of the ordinary, so we came in. After Ron called across the house for him and didn’t find any sign of him down here, we immediately headed upstairs to their bedroom.” Her expression fell with such sadness as she turned and met Ron’s intent gaze. “That’s where we found both of them…”

“Was…” the tears had already begun to roll down Lily’s pale cheeks. “Was she already…?”

Hermione nodded.

It took Lily a long moment before she could swallow the lump in her throat. “And Dad?”

This time, Hermione closed her eyes, shutting out the world around her. She wished desperately that she wasn’t sitting here in her friends’ home, telling her friends’ children, her family, how lifeless their mother was when she and Ron had found her. She couldn’t tell them that she watched their father, bent low over his wife’s body, clutch her hand and cry as if his soul had been torn from his chest. The image of that moment was burned so vividly into her mind that she would never be able to forget it. And she knew that she didn’t have the strength to ever tell them that news.

“He was sitting by the bed, next to her. I called his name…’Harry’,” Hermione whispered, her eyes still shut tight, as if she could see herself there. “But he didn’t seem to hear me. He just kept sitting there, holding onto her hand as if she might try to leave. I heard Ron behind me…’Harry, Ginny…’” Her eyes opened and she looked at her husband with an unfocused stare. “We didn’t want to believe it.”

Ron’s head slumped forward and hung in silence as Hermione’s small hand reached up and began combing her fingers through his soft, grey hair.

“It wasn’t long after that when we Flooed you lot. James took over for us when he got here while we kept trying to convince Harry to come downstairs. He looked so weak; I don’t think he’s had much to eat or drink all day. But he wouldn’t move…” Her voice softened now as she remembered something that she hadn’t realised before. “I think he’s too afraid to leave her.”

Hermione blinked several times before turning to look at her niece and nephews sitting across the table from her. Albus was quiet, resting his head in his hands while James had one arm wrapped around Lily’s shoulders, rubbing his hand up and down her left arm in attempt to warm her slightly. None of them could speak after what they had just gleaned.

Hermione sighed with regret. She had said too much.

Several long minutes passed without a word from any of them. It was an awkward silence as they all held their emotions within, waiting until they were alone to grieve fully.

Clearing his throat, James broke the tension in the atmosphere. “I’d better go see what Anna and the kids are up to.” He let go of his sister and began pushing away from the table when the sound of a door closing upstairs caught everyone’s attention.

“That must be them now,” James muttered and stood from his seat. Despite her brother’s certainty, Lily paused and listened intently to the footsteps above. They were slow and careful and seemed to belong to one person, not three.

“James…” she said, grabbing hold of his arm. “I don’t think that’s them.”

He looked down at her concerned expression and his brow creased. Lily gave a quick nod before he had the opportunity to ask.

All of their heads turned as Hermione’s chair scraped across the floor and she stood, making her way towards the kitchen door.

Everyone stared after her as she stopped in the doorway and peered down the dimly lit hall. The tension in her body was visible as she called into the shadows where she couldn’t see properly.

“Harry?”

*********


His legs were heavy, his body weary; it took all of the strength that he had in him to move across the room without reaching out for something to hold onto.

The door was so close as he crept forward step by step, yet he wanted it to be so very far away.

He could feel his heart pounding in his chest, threatening to crack his ribs as it flowed with such pain that he had never known. Yes, he’d endured the pain that had come with others before now, but this was different.

The closer he got to the door, the longer the room seemed. The strong magnetic pull that he’d felt since he began to leave wrenched at him now, and a sob broke from his throat when his hand finally reached for the doorknob.

He wasn’t going to look back. If he did, his resolve would fade and he wouldn’t leave. He would lock himself inside that bedroom until his life withered away. It wouldn’t matter that he had family and friends that were worried about him. He knew that time would heal all their wounds, but it wouldn’t heal his. There was no magic powerful enough to give him back the piece of his soul that was now gone.

But he wouldn't leave without looking back. Not really. It would be blasphemous not to see his heart's desire once again before the chance disappeared. His opportunities were so few now that he could feel her absence burning a hole inside him.

He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the door as a battle waged inside him. His heart was telling him that he needed to see her once more; his mind was saying that it would only make the pain worse if he turned back now.

Despite the arguments of his conscience, he knew that his heart would win, and knowing that, the voices in his head settled into a quiet murmur.

He tried to slow his ragged breathing but the more he tried, the more anxious he became. With one last deep breath, he turned around to see what he both longed for and feared equally.

A sharp gasp escaped his lips as the pain and agony washed over him. The sight of her lying there, motionless, caused his eyes to swell with tears again. He’d been hoping that he would be able to hold on to some amount of strength, but it eluded him as he collapsed back against the door.

It was like this every time his gaze found her now. He felt as if his heart stopped beating. How had he ever lived without her before they met? How had he not realised that very first day that he saw her on Platform 9 ¾ that she was already irreplaceable to him? Why did it take him six years to understand that there would never be anyone for him but her?

Memories of her flooded his mind and a cry racked his body at the thought of another minute without her presence. How would he exist now? His life meant nothing if she wasn’t with him.

Heartache burned inside him, overwhelming his senses. Why had he not stayed awake? What if she had called out to him and he hadn’t heard her? He was consumed with so many unanswered questions. What if they’d changed one moment, one decision in their lives? Just one. Would she still be here now if they had?

He couldn’t take it anymore. If he stayed here much longer, his uncontrollable emotions would only drive him mad.

Reaching back with a trembling hand, he clutched the doorknob and turned it. Without another thought, he slipped out of the room quickly before his heart could hold him there any longer.

The loud thud of the door rang in his ears as it closed behind him, making him flinch slightly. Seconds passed before he looked up at the dim hallway around him. What would he do now? What was it that happened next in life? Everything around him, everything in him felt unmistakably empty.

He felt as if he could weep for days, and yet, he knew that even though the tears would cease momentarily, they would never truly come to an end.

He closed his eyes briefly as he rested against the wall outside their bedroom. His erratic breathing was beginning to slow and he could hear the steadying rhythm of his heart as it relaxed. There was no denying how tired he was, but he also knew that there was still so much to be done.

Sighing, he pushed himself away from the wall. The busier he stayed, the better. It meant that he wouldn’t have time to stop and think. His mind wouldn’t be able to drift off and remind him of the hollow center in his heart or why it was there now. He would keep busy. That was the only thing that he knew to do.

“Harry,” came a short, breathy whisper from somewhere in the shadows. His head snapped up in the direction of the sound. He peered into the dark corners of the corridor, but the longer he stood there, the more he questioned if he had really heard anything at all.

He took a few measured steps to the right, knowing that the voice hadn’t come from downstairs. No, it had been very close to him. Still, he found nothing, and his heart sank in disappointment. He shook his head and tried to clear the confusing thoughts. What made him think that it might have been her voice that called to him? There was no possibility that he would ever hear her voice again, was there?

His shoulders dropped in defeat. His body was worn and exhausted, but he wouldn’t sleep tonight. If he did, there would be dreams filled with visions of her. He couldn’t stand to feel the pang of loss again, when morning came.

“Harry?” This time he knew he heard her voice. It was tiny, hesitant…nearly the way he’d heard her call his name several times before. He spun around, praying this time that his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him. What he found when he turned back was not what he expected and he froze, confused by what now laid in front of him.

“Harry?” Ginny asked again, concern lacing her voice.

Harry stared with a dumbfounded expression as if he’d never seen her before. He blinked rapidly, noticing the furrow in her brow as she looked up at him from the bed.

“Gin?” Her name fell so easily from his lips. Tears began to blur his vision and he swore under his breath. He had promised himself that he would never let her see how much the impending circumstances weighed on his heart.

She could see it now; he knew that. How long had she known?

“What’s the matter?” she asked softly, patting the empty space on the bed beside her.

“Nothing,” he replied too quickly, giving himself away.

Ginny chuckled weakly and flashed him a small smile as Harry crossed the room. She waited for him to pull his chair closer to the bed and sit down while she tried to decipher his thoughts.

The long expression that he wore saddened her because she knew that there was nothing she could do to mend him. His heart was already broken; she’d known this for some time now despite the fact that he tried to hide it from her every day.

He fussed over her, fluffing her pillow and securing the blankets more tightly around her. It was needless to worry and she’d insisted many times before that he not cause such a commotion over her.

Leaning over the edge of their bed now, Harry carefully took her fragile hand in his. She watched him as his fingers danced across her palm. His eyes roamed over every inch of her aged skin as if to memorize the look of her hand in his.

Ginny could feel her lips trembling at the thought of this being their last night together. There was still so much to say. There hadn’t been enough time; she needed more. She was greedy for more. But nothing that she wanted would change the circumstances.

“Harry…” she began hesitantly. He wouldn’t want to talk about this but they had to discuss things before it was too late. “We need to talk.”

“We talk all the time, Gin.” He was avoiding her.

She sighed. “This is different.”

“I don’t see how,” he said nitpicking over anything that was out of place. His eyes wouldn’t meet hers.

“It is,” Ginny insisted, still gazing at him even if he wouldn’t look at her. “Please, Harry, just stop putting this off and listen to me.” She squeezed his hand lightly when his jaw tightened. This would be difficult for both of them to endure.

“There’s so much, I hardly know where to begin…” her voice was thoughtful as it trailed off. A silent moment passed before she continued. “Open the top drawer of my bedside table would you, please?”

Harry hesitated briefly then reached to his right and slid the drawer open.

Inside was a stack of letters bound together with a small ribbon. He frowned as he took them out and closed the drawer again. Glancing down at the thick pile of letters, he noticed his son’s name, Albus, was scrawled on the top envelope.

“What’s all this?” Harry’s voice was raw as he swallowed the lump in his throat. He knew what her answer would be, but he wouldn’t acknowledge the reality of it until she spoke the words.

“There’s one for all of you: James, Albus, Lily, Ron and Hermione, Luna, and a few others. There is one for you too, of course. Just there,” she said, pointing at a letter near the bottom that was thicker than the others.

“Gin…” he tried to interrupt but she wouldn’t let him.

“There are a few other things in the table drawer for all the grandchildren as well. You can give those to them later. But I want everyone to have their letters first. You’ll make sure they get to the right ones, won’t you?”

He sighed after a moment and finally looked up into her bright brown eyes. Harry didn’t answer at first. He just steadily held her gaze. Would he always remember the beauty in her eyes? Would he remember the depth of emotion and meaning that they held? He shook the thoughts from his mind. His subconscious kept distracting him with questions that he didn’t want to think about.

But he would not tell her that he would do her bidding. If he gave in, he would be admitting that she was right about… No, he wouldn’t agree.

“Why don’t you give these out yourself? It would mean so much more coming from you. Besides,” he continued casually; as long as he didn’t acknowledge her preposterous notions, he wouldn’t have to accept it as truth, “Ron and Hermione will be ‘round later today and I can have the kids stop by sometime in the next couple of days—“

No!” she said with finality, cutting off his words. Ginny was adamant in her decision and her tone surprised him. Neither one of them said anything for a considerable amount of time.

It wasn’t until she relaxed slightly that Ginny finished her statement. “You have to do this.”

Fear and anger boiled inside Harry at her certainty. He would not let her force this twisted reality on him.

“Bloody hell, Ginny. Stop talking like this!” His chest heaved slightly, unaware of just how upset he was. “You’re going to be all right. You’ll still be here tomorrow and the next day and the next day—“

“But I
won’t, Harry!” she insisted somehow louder than him. “I won’t.” He could see the tears swimming in her eyes and hear the desperation in her voice. “This is what I’ve been trying to tell you. I don’t have much more time here with any of you.”

“You’re wrong,” he whispered. Even as he said it, he knew that he was only lying to himself.

She huffed audibly and turned her head away from him, visibly worn from their argument. “What’s the point in discussing this with you? You’re never going to believe me.”

Harry sat silent. She was right; he wasn’t going to believe her until he had to. And right now, he didn’t have to.

Ginny was staring out their bedroom window when she spoke again. “I just needed you to do this for us.” Her voice was weak, and Harry swore under his breath for the way he was acting. He should never have gotten upset at her.

“Alright.”

She frowned as she turned back to see him sitting there, his eyes waiting to meet hers. “What?”

“I said ‘alright’. I’ll take care of the letters and anything else you want me to.” Harry watched her as she studied him carefully as if trying to make sure that he wasn’t just saying what she wanted to hear.

“Do you promise?” Ginny asked one last time, though she knew his answer.

“I promise,” he assured her and she sighed with relief.

“Please, tell the children,” she started saying when Harry suddenly looked like he was about to argue again. “No, I know that you don’t want to hear this but it’s a part of our deal.” She paused, making sure that he wouldn’t attempt to interrupt her. “Tell James, Al, and Lily that I love them very much. Give all the grandchildren two hugs every time you see them – one for me, one for you. Tell Ron that I said to stop aggravating Hermione so much. I know he does it on purpose. And Harry…” he held his breath, wondering what she might say to him, “make sure to settle Luna down once in a while long enough for a cuppa tea and a nice chat.” His shoulders fell with slight disappointment when her words weren’t for him.

“Oh,” she muttered, remembering something. “And tell Fred to lay off all the ear jokes. They’re getting a bit old after all these years and I know that George is getting tired of them, even though he won’t admit it.”

“Erm, Gin…” Harry was hesitant and worried by the sudden lapse in memory. How could he tell her this? “Fred is…well, he’s…”

“What?”

“He, er…nevermind,” he shook his head, dismissing his thoughts. He wouldn’t say anything. “Nothing. I’ll make sure that he gets the message.”

Ginny smiled at him with so much love in her eyes. They didn’t say anything for a while and as he sat in the comfortable silence, he realised that he was glad that she hadn’t said anything to him earlier. It would’ve been too difficult for both of them. It was better this way, to just know how they felt about one another, what they meant to each other.

“I’ll miss you most of all,” she said softly without warning. Harry could feel the burning tears in his eyes instantly.

He couldn’t look at her now. It hurt far too much. “Nonsense. You won’t have time to miss me because I’ll always be with you.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but Harry’s words stopped her before she could start. “Do you know what tomorrow is?” His eyes found hers again.

“Of course I do. It’s my favorite day of the week.”

“You’d better get some rest then. I want you fit to go tomorrow.” Harry’s voice was endearing. “I can’t have my date without you,” he winked.

“I’ll be there. I promise.”

He smiled happily, thankful that she had finally moved on to a new topic of conversation.

Ginny felt a burden lift from her heart when she saw his smile. They always looked forward to their Wednesdays together. Especially now, after all these years.

She gave a small grin back at him, knowing that this moment probably meant so much more to her than he understood.

Harry leaned down and kissed her hand, letting his lips linger on her soft skin. After a moment, he laid his head down against her hip and sighed when he felt Ginny’s fingers comb slowly through his hair.

“I love you,” he said, his eyes drooping slightly.

Ginny remained quiet for a moment as her tears threatened to give her away.

“I love you, too,” she whispered in return, just before falling asleep.

*********


Harry didn’t know how long it was that he’d been sitting there, each moment fighting the sleep that tried to wash over him. Even after Ginny’s breathing finally eased into a steady, hypnotic rhythm as she slept, he refused to give in. He wouldn’t let a single moment that he had with her be stolen from him.

Without thinking, his gaze drifted over to the stack of letters again, just as it had several times in those quiet minutes with her. His patience had lasted longer than he’d expected by far but as he stared at them now, his will faltered.

Picking up the bundled stack of envelopes, Harry found the letter addressed to him and carefully placed the others back on the bedside table. His fingers fumbled slightly with the parchment as he pulled it from the envelope.

When the letter unfolded in front of him, Harry noticed something fall to the bed and a sharp pain shot straight through him. He hesitated briefly, uncertain of how much he would be able to withstand, before reaching over to pick up an old photograph with worn edges.

Ginny was twirling around in a circle, smiling happily. Leaves were falling all around her as she danced and laughed. He watched the younger image of his wife move about with ease until she suddenly came to a stop, blowing a kiss in his direction.

A sad smile filled his expression as the memory of that day flooded his mind. It almost felt as if he’d forgotten about that moment completely, as if he’d lived without it his entire life, yet he remembered every second of it without flaw.

Despite Harry’s happiness at the sudden flood of memories, his brow furrowed in confusion. How could he have forgotten about this picture? He had carried it with him for so many years. It was unusual for him to have simply forgotten that the picture had even gone missing. Yet suddenly, here it was, staring him in the face again with no explanation as to how or when she had found it. It was as if it had been here, in plain sight, all along.

Wondering if he might find some bit of explanation in her letter, he picked up the parchment again and began reading.

Harry,

If I know you, you’re probably reading this letter before I wanted you to. Actually, if you decided to wait and read this when I asked, then I’d be surprised. But I find that highly doubtful. You never were the patient one when it came to these things.

I’ve put off writing this letter for as long as I could. I thought that maybe, if I didn’t put the words on paper, it wouldn’t make things so final, but I guess I can’t really hold off anymore. There’s so much to say and now…so little time.

But where do I begin?

I suppose you’re curious about the picture; I know it’s been missing for a while now. Well, maybe not ‘missing’ necessarily, just ‘misplaced’ so to speak.

I know that I joked about that picture with you a lot. I never really was concerned about your unhealthy obsession with it. But in the last few months, I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous.

How could I be jealous of a picture of myself, right? I know, I know. Seems impossible, but I was jealous…sometimes. The way you watched me in that picture made me wonder, on occasion, if you loved me as much now in my old age as you did then, when I was so many years younger.

It was silly of me to think such a thing. I realise that now. That’s one of the reasons I’m giving it back to you after all this time. It was wrong of me to have taken something from you that you cherished. I guess I just needed a little reassurance to ease my mind.

But I do have another motive behind giving the picture back to you now.

I want you to keep this with you, as you did before. And whenever you think of me, I want you to remember me as this Ginny. Remember me as the young, lighthearted girl that you fell in love with. Remember me as the woman you married and had a family with. Maybe then I’ll be able to live on with you. After all, you are the only man who has ever owned my heart. Perhaps these pieces of me will be able to withstand the test of time.

I love you so much more than I can ever express, Harry. I’ve loved you for so long that I can’t count the years. And saying goodbye to you now is the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do.

Thank you for being the man I always dreamed of. Thank you for giving us a family of our own. Thank you for everything. For giving me the world when the only thing I ever really wanted was you.

Keep me in your heart, Harry. Carry me with you. As long as you do, I’ll always be here.

Yours Forever,
Gin

One tear fell slowly after another, littering the parchment with scattered drops. Harry looked up at his wife, afraid to see what he feared the most, that she might already be gone. To his relief, he watched her chest rise and fall as she continued sleeping. He let out a long, slow breath, ever grateful that her words weren’t true, yet. He could not imagine a second passing without her.

Leaning down, Harry grasped her hand lightly between his and kissed it with repeated reverence. “I’m not letting you go anywhere, Gin,” he whispered.

He laid his head against her once more and closed his eyes tightly. His face was tense, focusing every ounce of his energy on the woman that was lying in front of him.

He would stop at nothing to keep his vow.


...click to continue...
Comments 
3rd-Oct-2008 10:24 am (UTC)
I am already a blubbering mess and I am just in the middle of the story! I had to stop and tell you, how beautiful this one is.
3rd-Oct-2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!! I now have a stuffed nose, because I am trying my best not to cry, but, can't so I am bawling now!!!!

This is as lovely and touching as Wednesday Dates is!! So I'm off to part 2...
3rd-Oct-2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
Aww. *snuggles*

Were you ever able to make it through the rest?
3rd-Oct-2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, but barely!!! I cannot see anymore the part deux, my eyes are full of tears already!!!

I think I was not able to leave a comment on the second part.. You know why? Because I can't concentrate on what words/praises to say to you. I'm still so attuned to the story.. And yeah, I'm also a sap like Harry, so that would really explain the bawling. (Hehe!) I really felt his anguish and hurt and feeling of "what would happen to me now?".

My 8 year old daughter even asked me why was crying for so long? She was bothered for a while that something is happening to me. LOL!!

Its really a great story. The raw emotions, Harry's in-ability to let go, his denial. I think you all captured it realistically. And thanks for sharing this gem!! You did a really great job!! Mwah!
4th-Oct-2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
Aww. *wibbles*

I don't even know what to say. *hugs*

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the fic. I was really anxious about putting it out there because it's been such a big part of me for months now. But I'm glad to see that it's being read as it should be. Believe me, I cried while writing it. So much so that I had to just stop and bawl until I was able to write again.

*loves*
3rd-Oct-2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
D: *hugs* I'm so glad that you like it so far.

Sorry that I made you a blubbering mess though.
3rd-Oct-2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
I know what will happen when I read this ... angst, pain in my heart, tears. Harry/Ginny are fictional characters and in the hands of a great author, we read a great love story.

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