A/N: Sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I could go on. I know I promised a faster update. I know I've failed to achieve that. In my defence, I have been writing. Just not this story. I've been busy with a new, huge project – I'm writing out Padma Patil's story, from first year through all of her school years and beyond. I'd love for you to check that out: Hogwarts According To Padma Patil. That story has then inspired me writing out Ginny and Michael's romance: Falling In Love, Falling Apart. It will also, in time, inspire some Moments, Battle of Hogwarts: Postscript and Life chapters. In time. For now, though, here's Ginny. And, as said – if you want more info on her relationship with Michael – I have a whole story dedicated to that.
Okay, so this chapter. Every old part is slightly developed or changed, some more than others. Only 5 and 6 are brand new, but 3 and 4 have been very much lengthened.
Her first year at Hogwarts will always be her worst. Because then she had no one to turn to. She didn't even have control over herself. Even in her fourth year, with Umbridge, they were many who stood together in being against her, and Ginny doubted herself less than ever before.
Even in her sixth year, when everything was wrong with Hogwarts because the three most important people weren't present, and because the Carrows were torturing them and they knew that the outside world was falling apart – even then she had others. She always had Neville, she had Luna at least for a while, and she had Michael and Padma and Hannah and everyone else who was there and went through it all with her. Even if they almost never mentioned Harry or Ron around her, they knew, and that helped. No one knew about Tom. She has never again felt so lonely. Not even on Fred's funeral when she didn't touch anyone.
If someone had asked her who her favourite brother was while she was in school, she'd have answered that it'd have to be Fred and George. Because they made her laugh more than anyone else and they had always trusted her in on their secrets a bit more than any other siblings. And they were insanely overprotective, which she pretended to hate, but wouldn't have been able to live without.
Yet, saying that they were her favourites would have been a lie. The truth is that Ron will always be the brother she's closest to. Even though they drive each other crazy, he always was the one to really take the time and be with her when they were kids when the others thought she was just a baby. He was the one who brought Harry and went to the Chamber of Secrets to save her, and he was the one she'd considered telling about Tom, all year. Because she knew he'd never judge her, not when it mattered.
He was the one she missed the most when he left for Hogwarts, and not just because he was the last one, but because he was Ron, and he had always been there. He's simply always going to be the brother that she both hates and loves the most. It's not just because of her infatuation with Harry and her friendship with Hermione that she always dreamed desperately of being the fourth member of their trio. And during the year at Hogwarts without the three of them, everyone assumed she was only falling apart because Harry was gone, but that wasn't the whole truth. Ron had always been there. When he wasn't, she didn't work. It wasn't the same when Fred and George left school, or Percy. She missed them, yes, but it wasn't the same.
She was five when she decided that she was going to marry Harry Potter, the hero of her fairytales. When she was 10 and saw him at the station, she realized for the first time that he was close to her age and actually a real boy (even if he was a hero). From then on she denied being in love with him when her family teased her – she preferred to label it as a healthy fascination. She started Hogwarts and hated herself a little, because she had wanted to get to know him so badly and yet she wasn't even able to form words in front of him. He didn't pay her any attention, and the worst part was that she couldn't even blame him for it – who would, to a silly little girl who turned scarlet and knocked things over whenever he was around?
In her fourth year, she and Hermione had grown closer, and she gave Ginny the advice to start loosening up around Harry, so that he'd be able to get to know the real her. She trusted Hermione, because she was her friend, and Harry's. So she did. She tried. She dated Michael Corner, because he was kind of cute and he looked at her and didn't see his best friend's sister. He saw a girl. She did hesitate before entering into a relationship with him, though, keeping it to harmless flirting for six months after their first banter and dancing session at the Yule Ball. Then he asked her out, and she said yes. They had fun, and she found herself kissing him because she wanted to, and not because she thought she should be doing it to get over Harry. And she found herself leaning on him unexpectedly hard after the shock of Cedric's death. She found that he was more than a cute guy to play around with for fun, as a distraction from her heartache. That summer, she missed him, for real. She thought that meant it was love.
Now, though, she has realized that it didn't. She was never in love with him. She fancied him, for a while. She was flattered by his attention, and she appreciated his kind support, and they had fun together. She loves him, still, as a friend, but that was all they were ever meant to be. (Even if it took a while after the months of fights and jealousy and denial for their prides to let them find their way back to that. But during her sixth year, he was still the one person she could break down with and not feel like she shouldn't be even the slightest. After the war was over, she had a talk with him, and Dean, and apologized for the hurt she'd caused them, however unintentionally. While she and Dean will never be close after all that happened, she and Michael actually are.)
After it was over with Michael, it was only natural to move on to Dean. He'd been eyeing her all year, and she'd noticed, despite telling Michael that he was a possessive prat for suggesting it. She'd noticed, and she'd realized that he was a really funny guy as they'd hung out more and more. At first, he was. He was passionate kisses and the flirty banter she and Michael had lost along the way.
Then they lost it too, over Harry. It was always over Harry. The irony is that if it hadn't been for Hermione constantly dropping hints about how Harry seemed to be finally looking at her, she never would have stayed with Dean as long as she did. Because even if she always laughed, telling Hermione she was losing her marbles, and that hell would freeze over before Harry Potter noticed she was a girl, she couldn't help glancing at him every now and then, wondering if he hadn't just been eyeing her in a very similar way to Dean the previous year… But she hurriedly convinced herself that she shouldn't be thinking like that. She had moved on. She was with Dean. And, plus, it was probably just her imagination. It had to be. Just because Hermione was saying it, she thought she started seeing it. It was silly. And she had stopped being a pining, silly girl years ago. So she stayed with Dean, convincing herself that she couldn't break up with him for a boy who probably had never even thought of her as anything but a little sister.
This is why she and Dean can never be friends again. She hurt him, even worse than she hurt Michael, by hanging on too long and making him fight when the battle was long ago lost. By finally dumping him when Harry's looks were starting to get so obvious that even she couldn't deny them, and then getting together with him so soon afterwards. (While that kiss for a long time would be the happiest moment of her life, she'd never be able to forget the image of pure pain in Dean's expression when she first came up for air and met his eyes over Harry's shoulder.)
When she told Harry that she was a virgin, he was surprised, spluttering something about Michael and Dean. She couldn't be offended, really. She knew that most of the school had assumed she'd lost her virginity already in her fourth year, with Michael, and possibly even before that. She knew that everyone had been sure she was doing it with Dean. She never had, though, despite her two almost year-long relationships. She's not entirely sure why, but she has a suspicion it had something to do with Harry. It always had, no matter how much she tried to deny it at the time.
At the time, she thought she was too young with Michael, and told herself that she'd wait until they'd been together a bit longer. But when they had, they were already falling apart, and she was starting to get frustrated with how imperfect he was, and she definitely wouldn't have done it then. Even if she wanted a distraction from Harry, and from the looks Dean was giving her, she wouldn't do that for such a reason.
With Dean, it was closer. They had fun, and he was really charming in the beginning. They were near enough, a couple of times. But she always stopped him, telling herself she was just waiting for the right moment. Before that had arrived, he was starting to annoy her out of her skin with both giving Michael a run for his money in the jealousy field, and being overprotective in a way that made her feel like he didn't respect her (Michael always had had a way with succeeding to not make her feel that way, despite being a very protective guy, and she would always wonder how he had managed that.)
As it turns out, she wasn't as much waiting for the right moment as she was waiting for the right guy. If Harry had wanted to do it the first week they were together, that would have been fine by her. If Ron hadn't interrupted them in her room on his birthday, when they were broken up and the right moment was ludicrously far away, she wouldn't have cared. Even if she now is glad that he did interrupt them, so that she could have her perfect moment, with her perfect guy, during a Hogsmeade weekend of her last year at Hogwarts. (Well, as perfect as it could be with two people who had no idea what they were doing, really…)
When she got together with Harry, somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew it. She knew that it couldn't last, that he'd have to go off to save the world and be a bloody hero. Like he always was. She'd known, but she'd hoped it'd be a bit longer before it happened. He wasn't even 17, and yet, he was dumping her, shouldering the fate of the whole wizarding world. It wasn't fair. Neither to him, nor to her. She wanted to beg, to plead with him not to do it. But she couldn't.
She spent the next year hating herself for that, because she had seen it in his eyes – if she had tried to stop him, he wouldn't have been able to go. That was why she hadn't been able to say it. She also spent the next year trying to make herself hate him, for having to be the hero, for not screwing it all and choosing to be with her instead, without being asked (she shouldn't have to ask, really, should she?). She never succeeded. This was frustrating, because she was supposed to be the kind of girl who couldn't bear overprotection (case in point; Dean Thomas!). Yet, when it was Harry who was treating her like a helpless little girl – well, he was still Harry.
After the battle, he explained everything he hadn't told her before. She wanted to hate him again for never telling her anything and for being prepared to go and kill himself and leave her all alone without even saying goodbye, but instead she found herself weeping into his chest. Because her brother was dead. And he was there and Godric, she had missed him.
The days went by, and she was in a daze of grief and lack of sleep. She didn't touch him at her brother's funeral, even if she probably should have, both for his sake and her own. But she didn't. Afterwards, though, he found her throwing up behind a bush. He held her hair, even if she could feel his hands shaking. After this, she slowly began letting him in again. Let him hold her hand as they walked back to the reception. Let him hold her as she fell asleep in his arms that night. It was a few weeks later when she took the initiative to kiss him again, but it felt right. Even if they had both changed, and were still impossibly broken, she knew then that they'd somehow find their way back to each other.
The summer that followed was difficult. There was so much to do, with rounding up the Death Eaters, witnessing at their trials and re-building the school. Harry, obviously, was involved in most of it. Most days (that is, those when she wasn't bitter at everything about the world without her brother), she didn't mind much. He was there when she needed him. Whenever she asked him, or he just saw it in her eyes, he took the day off. He was there for her whole family, and the rest of the world. But when the decision about the fall was nearing, her heart broke a little when he told her he'd been offered a place in the Auror office. She would be going back to school, and she had assumed (or hoped) that he would be too, since at least Hermione was.
So when Harry hesitantly asked her if she thought that maybe he shouldn't be an Auror, she was again really tempted to stop him, to say that it wasn't fair to put her and everyone else who loved him through more worrying about him. That she needed him, alive, with her. But she looked into his eyes and saw guilt. And she knew that this was something he wanted, and that he was just trying to make sure it wouldn't hurt her. As always, he was thinking of anyone but himself. So she let him make the decision, knowing fully well what that would mean. When he told her, she just kissed him good luck and hugged him a bit extra tightly. She didn't stop him, even though her heart was crying out for her to do just that. Because she knows how much he has done for everyone but himself. If this was something he needed to do, wanted to do, she would not be the one to stop him. If she had, she wouldn't have loved him. But she fell in love with Harry Potter, and all that comes with that package.
If Fred hadn't died, she doesn't think she would have ever forgiven Percy. She still hates what he did. She hates that he broke her family apart during a time when that was all they worried about – the difference was, he did it by choice.
The night her dad was attacked and Percy still didn't show up, she swore to herself that she'd never talk to him again and that he simply wasn't her brother anymore. But he came back. And when all the others welcomed him like the family member he was, she didn't have much of a choice. When she lost Fred, she lost all energy to fight. So she finally forgave him, after eight days of trying to pretend he didn't exist and that she didn't notice nor care that his voice shook more often than it didn't and how much pain was shining in his eyes when he they were fixed on her.
She's still not sure whether he deserved it. But he's her brother. It never was a choice.
The first years of his life, she spent a lot of time with Teddy Lupin, desperately seeking every opportunity to baby-sit. It was the only way she felt she was doing something, something good and useful. He was the only person she knew how to help, because even though she would never stop trying, she knew her family would never be completely whole again. It was easier to sometimes take a break and instead fight so that this little boy would never have to feel alone. But in the beginning, she didn't think she actually cared about him. He was just a kid she needed to help to distract herself from her losses. Slowly, of course, her affections for him grew, but not until he was eleven and he was leaving for Hogwarts did she realize that she had actually come to consider him, not almost as her own son, but as good as.
When the time then came for the first of her own children to attend, she actually considered home schooling just so she wouldn't have to lose them. If Harry hadn't convinced her that they really weren't good enough teachers, she wouldn't have caved. Instead she just wept in his arms all night, while he tried to assure her that James wouldn't be gone forever. She still knew that it'd never be the same. That he'd come back every summer changed and more grown up and that by the time he graduated, he wouldn't need them anymore. That hurt worse than anything else.
When Harry finally broke after Lily left, he was way too upset for her to say "I told you so". She considered it for a moment though– before she made out the wetness in his eyes.
She's always been afraid of favouring one child over another. Albus would have been easily overlooked, since he's the middle child. He doesn't lack the ability to breathe without forming words, as James does. He's not the only girl, like Lily, who gets attention by that fact. Not that she needs it – at school she's been getting into even more trouble than James.
Albus is the quiet one; the one who thinks carefully before he speaks. The one who always questions his own ability. The one who is very much bothered by the fact that his parents are so well-remembered by his teachers, because he doesn't think he'll be enough to live up to all of their brilliance. The one with an almost constant wrinkle on his forehead, mirroring his young father's. She always was very good at making him feel better, but even if she's tried hard with Al, Harry always seems to know him a bit better than she does. So she tries even harder. Sometimes she's worried that she overlooks her other children in this frantic need to reach him. Harry always tells her she's the best mother there ever was. Sometimes she's not so sure about that. Especially not that time when Lily refused to tell her what was wrong and she had to find out from Ron of all people that she and Hugo had fallen out, and he was the one who fixed it.