A/N: I know I should probably not be starting something new instead of updating the four stories (how did they become that many?) I already have and am neglecting horribly. But I got inspired, and well… I'm not sure how long this will go on for. Might not be more than two chapters (I've already gotten started on the second, so expect a quick update for that at least)… Might be more. Depends on time, inspiration – and, of course, if anyone's interested in reading more of this. So, as the title implies, this is a New Year's story. Set during DH. If you've got any other requests for whose New Year's Eve you'd like to read about that year (except the trio, because I don't think they even knew it was New Year's and I therefore am not sure when to place it during their timeline), just let me know, okay?
The Burrow: Ginny Weasley
Ginny hadn't cried during Christmas. Not while her mother had been constantly wiping her eyes at her apron, believing that nobody would notice, while they all pointedly looked away – as much for their own sakes as hers. Not while Ron's, Bill's, Charlie's – hell, even Percy's – absence was screaming at them from every bloody corner of every bloody room, mocking their feeble attempts at smiles and normalcy.
Ginny didn't shed one single tear at Christmas. For her mum's sake, who needed them to put up a Christmas Tree and eat a Christmas meal and give each other presents, just because - well, Ginny wasn't exactly sure what was the point when none of them could forget the wrongness of it all for even a second, but she knew that her mum wasn't to argue with these days. So she did it. For the twins' sakes too, actually. Because they were trying a lot harder than her to keep the spirit in the house up, and she was convinced only she perceived how much strength it took for them to do it. And she was definitely sure that she was the only one who knew that one sign of wavering façade from her, and they would break too, harder than anyone who'd seen their seemingly light grins could have imagined.
But Christmas was over now, and before she could even take a breath, it was time to celebrate New Year's Eve.
Her parents were off to Diagon Alley, to collect the fireworks they were to use at midnight from Fred and George's shop. Despite the twins' protests, they had not been allowed to go themselves.
"But it's our shop!" Fred had protested indignantly.
"And we know where to find the best ones, so it'd be much quicker if we went, really. Honestly, Mum! It'd even be safer!" George tried.
"Well, if you know where they are, then you might as well tell your father and me, won't you? No, Fred, don't look at me like that. You two are staying put. End of discussion."
With that, she had gone, taking her husband with her after he had cast an apologizing glance at his sons, leaving them to mutter angrily about a hysterical mother who treated them as four-year-olds.
Ginny, however, knew what her mother was thinking. The twins had been itching to get out of the house all Christmas break, and she was afraid they'd do something radical. Like not coming back for a few more hours than they said to do. Perhaps meeting up with Lee, going for a drink. Causing their mother to completely freak out, imagining all the horrific scenes of battles and ambushes that could have played out.
But Ginny also knew that had their mother confessed this concern to her sons, they were old enough to listen and then take care to not do as she feared.
She also suspected strongly that the twins would not have stayed away longer than what could be plausible for the actual trip anyway. They knew their mother, and they would not have done anything to increase her worries.
However, Ginny suspected they would have liked a few moments of privacy with only each other, to allow themselves a break from their constant stream of joking and laughing. She supposed her mother didn't see how much energy it was draining from them as well as she did.
But, if her mother wouldn't give them that opportunity, Ginny would do her best to keep out of their way. Hence, she left the still scolding Fred and muttering George to the kitchen and crept out into the snow-covered garden. Frankly, she wouldn't mind a few moments of letting the façade slip herself.
She made sure that she was out of sight from every window by settling herself behind the broom shed. Not that she thought her brothers would be looking out at her at this very moment, but still, it was necessary to take precautions. She would not have them worrying about her now, interrupting their moment of peace. No way. She was a much better sister than that.
Leaning her head against the icy wood, she felt her knees slowly buckling. She almost laughed to herself as she heard her mother's voice in her head, reprimanding her for sitting down in the snow, telling her she'd get sick. Like before the time came when no one worried about catching a little insignificant cold anymore. Ginny didn't care. Hell, it might even be nice to get a valid excuse for not participating in every damn Weasley holiday tradition where each task that was supposed to have been performed by someone who was absent caused a hard pang in her heart. Those would be quite nice to live without, really.
Plus, maybe a nice fever would fog up her brain significantly enough to make it stop rolling little films of death and destruction and way too happy memories in front of her eyes, every second she got to herself.
Harry's eyes lighting up when she told him it ought to be possible for him to talk to Sirius, that tiny glimmer of hope and satisfaction; he had told her, and no one else... Ron pointedly hinting that she should get together with someone better next time… Ron warning her not to snog Harry in public, being a big brother… Ron's hesitant hand on her arm the night Dumbledore and Bill… But no, not that, not now. The feeling of Harry's eyes at her across the common room, in the air, the Great Hall, everywhere. The feeling of his strong arms finally around her, his lips, finally against hers. His lips, his lips, his hands, and it was night and they had sneaked out and she was on top of the whole world, like nothing could ever hurt them again, and then the sun was glistening in his hair and she ran her fingers through it and he closed his eyes and her lips softly pecked his and they were in her room and her bed was so close and he was so close and she couldn't breathe and she knew she shouldn't, but not one inch of her body cared about that because he was there and his breath was hot in her mouth and his hand was sliding down her back and she melted, she was nothingness, she was him, she was lips and hands and him…
The owl pecked its beak to get her attention, causing a literally frosty return to reality. Barely taking notice of the warm saltiness on her cheeks, she automatically relieved the owl of its note. It had flown away before her stiff fingers had gotten it open to read.
Everything's fine here. Gran's cooking for about 20 for tonight, even though it's just the two of us. Hope you're having a nice New Year's. See you soon!Neville
P.S. No news about her yet, is there?
She knew that they weren't supposed to tell each other anything real through owl post, since everything they said that meant anything could be used against them. Still, by now she almost didn't see the point in writing small talk, when the obvious only gist was: I'm still alive, how about you?
Well, at least he was still alive. The confirmation was always nice. Bill had sent a letter this morning. Charlie hadn't yet, and she had to close her eyes against more warmth as she attempted to convince herself that she knew he'd be busy and that Romania was safer than England, and he should be just fine (and not start to imagining dragons, remembering Horntails and blood and…).
Her other two brothers didn't send any letters. Obviously. And she truly wanted to hate the both of them for it. She had, for a while, hated at least one of them. She would now too, if she had had hate to spare for anyone but Death Eaters and You-Know-Who. And the other one (her favourite, he always had been, but she had never told him) – well, the less she thought about him this way and not by remembering blissful times with him and the other man (the man that she loved), the better.
With a hard jolt, she read Neville's P.S. again. No news about her yet, is there? His tone was casual, but she knew him better than that. Luna's capture had destroyed him. He was reading every inch of every paper to find any news of her. Ginny probably should be doing that too, but she couldn't bear it. She knew that the important news would get to her anyway. (Neither her mother or father had missed to read a single Prophet at least twice this year.)
Somehow, Luna's capture had broken Ginny too. She had thought, during the whole semester, that nothing except the actual confirmed death of someone she loved could bring her down further. That another disappearance wouldn't really matter that much, because she already had so many people to worry about and miss, that one more wouldn't really make a difference. Of course, she had never really believed that, but she had after a while almost managed to convince herself.
Obviously, she had now been proved thoroughly wrong. She had counted on Luna to be there, always. Luna, who was always close to a smile, despite any circumstances, but whose small hand was always there to pat Ginny's shoulder when she needed it.
Luna was supposed to be there. Luna wasn't supposed to be gone, kidnapped, perhaps even… But no. Luna was not the kind of person who died. She was too – innocent, maybe? Kind? Odd? Alive?
It didn't matter. Luna was just not the kind of person who died.
Ginny swallowed hard, wiping frustratingly at her chin where the wetness was starting to freeze. Rummaging through her pockets, she realized that she hadn't a quill on her, and would have to get inside to answer Neville's letter with a few cheery lines, telling him nothing else than that she was alive too. If she didn't do it soon, he'd worry. She hated the thought of Neville worrying about her too, on top of everything else.
And there it was, Neville's widened eyes as she told him with high-pitched panic that Luna was gone, Neville's half-sob as he asked her if she was sure, Neville's closed eyes as she nodded, Neville's silence for the rest of the journey, Neville's tight, distracted hug as they parted, the gleam in his eyes as he let go, the tug in his lip, as though…
"Gin? Hey, Gin? Ginny!"
Shit. Ginny quickly stuffed her fist in her mouth, cursing herself for not even having noticed the loudness of her sobs (well, really, she hadn't even registered that she was crying, even if it didn't come as a surprise either). It was too late, though. Seconds later, two identical faces popped up around the corner of the broom shed, looking highly concerned.
"There you are," Fred panted with a reproaching tone. "You could've answered, you know."
George, however, looked even more frightened as he stared at her, taking in her wet face and body. "Godric, Gin, you're soaked. How long have you been sitting here?"
She shrugged. She honestly had no idea. She hadn't even noticed before now that her legs were barely movable, and aching with cold.
"Hey, you okay?" Fred asked now, his voice a lot softer as he too took in her continued stream of tears (and that unusual fact that she didn't even bother to wipe them away).
"Something happen?" George asked, suddenly sharp.
She hurried to shake her head. She didn't miss the exchanged glance of relief, before her brothers simultaneously reached down, grabbed one of her arms each and pulled her to her feet, holding on when they felt her stiff legs collapsing beneath her.
Half-lifting, half-leading her, they got her into the house, ignoring her feeble protests.
Once they had put her down in front of the fire, she mumbled, "You d-didn't h-have t-to do th-that. I'm fine. You – I was trying to give you a-a b-break."
Fred almost smiled. "Gin, for once, even you honestly can't pretend that you're fine. You were bawling your eyes out and freezing half to death."
George didn't smile. "And, plus, we're your big brothers. We're supposed to do this."
Fred nodded. "Don't worry 'bout us, okay?"
"Godric knows you've – well, helped us, a few times," George added, his gaze intent in hers, and she knew the events he was referring to. Lost ears and poisoned brothers were in the faded eyes of all three of them for a moment before Fred continued, with an attempt at cheeriness.
"And you're just our little sis'. We're supposed to take care of you, you know. Which I'm going to do right now by getting you a nice, huge cup of hot chocolate, okay?"
She nodded, biting her teeth together to keep them from trembling visibly. George probably saw this anyway, and while Fred bustled about in the kitchen, his hand was put on her shoulder, a few tears escaping her closed eyes at the touch. "Hey," he said, even closer and softer than before. "It's okay, you know. Even if you don't want Mum seeing you like this – you can always come to us, all right? Promise?"
Because his eyes were so sincere in her swollen ones, she nodded, while knowing fully well that this was a promise she did not plan to keep.