|SIYE Time:20:10 on 17th November 2017|
Willpower 3: Understanding
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Genres: Angst, Drama, Fluff, Romance
Warnings: Sexual Situations
Story is Complete
Summary: The night of Dumbledore’s death is a difficult one for Ginny. All she wants is to be with Harry. HBP missing moment.
Hitcount: Story Total: 8773
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
For all of you who have enjoyed the excessive fluff in the first two installments (if you haven’t read them, please do), we take a serious turn here which should be obvious considering the “when” of the story. Here comes the flangst! You’ve been warned. I hope it clarifies a few things about how I see Ginny’s strong (yes, strong) stance at the impending break-up. More to follow on that in a massive A/N at the end. Me? Verbose? Never.
HBP missing moment that takes place a few hours after Dumbledore’s death.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
~ W. Shakespeare
Willpower 3: Understanding
Ginny lay curled up in her bed, staring blankly at the scarlet curtain isolating her from the rest of her dormitory. She was irritated by how itchy her now-dry eyes were from the tears she had shed over the last hour.
During the worst moments in her life, she had always sought comfort from her mother, who did more than just hold her and dry her tears. When she had cried herself out, her mum restored her eyes with a spell that removed the redness, the itchiness, and the puffiness, and the charm somehow helped renew her after a good cry. Unfortunately, her mum had always performed it nonverbally. Ginny wished she knew the incantation but acknowledged that it was probably unwise to point her wand at her eyes and attempt an unknown spell.
Ginny gave a final sniff and placed her hand on her sodden pillow to push herself upright. She crossed to the bathroom. Without Mum, cold water will have to do.
She approached a basin and turned on a tap, letting the water run as she regarded her moonlit reflection in the mirror. She looked a bit drawn. Her eyes and nose were red, while the rest of her skin looked blotchy.
Could be worse, she acknowledged, knowing she always looked rather unattractive when she had been crying. Ginny watched the cold liquid flow through her fingers. She cupped her hands to fill them and brought the water to her face.
Dumbledore is dead.
The water cascaded over her face, cooling her flushed skin instantly. She could not fully accept what that meant at that moment, for the shock was too great. The Wizarding world had lost a great leader and advocate for all that was good and decent in their society. Hogwarts had lost its eccentric and magnetic headmaster. The Order had lost its leader. She had lost a man who had always shown her great care and kindness, a man she knew had loved and protected Harry.
She forced her eyelids open as she gently splashed water directly into her eyes to soothe the discomfort.
She was no longer sure if she had cried for his grief or for her own.
After dousing her eyes and face several times, Ginny scrubbed her face vigorously with a towel. A cursory glance at her reflection confirmed that, just as her eyes and skin felt better, her appearance had improved. Though still blotchy, she did not look so horrific. She crossed her room quickly and crawled back into bed, turning the sodden pillow over so her skin touched cool, dry fabric.
She needed Harry. She had been waiting for him in the common room when he had returned from his meeting with McGonagall, but, glancing at the wrong side of the room, he had missed Hermione and Ginny completely. He had seemed focused on reaching the stairs, clearly intent on being alone or, perhaps, getting to Ron. Hermione must have understood Ginny’s disappointment that he had not been looking for her, because the older girl had told her not to take it personally and that Harry probably did not want to be gawked at or questioned. Soon after, Ginny had returned to her own dormitory, deciding that she, too, required privacy.
Even after releasing some of her grief, she wanted Harry desperately. She did not wish to disturb him if he had managed to fall asleep because she knew he would benefit from rest. She had seen his unguarded pain when he knelt next to Dumbledore’s body and then his anger when he spoke of Snape in the hospital wing. Not only did she want to console him, but she herself needed comfort and to be close to him.
Ginny was resigned to not seeing Harry until morning. Exhausted from the night’s events and her long cry, she finally was beginning to relax in her bed when she heard a quiet tap at the window and saw something white outside. Her fatigue forgotten, she quietly rushed to the window and felt relief wash over her when she saw a snowy owl perched on the sill, a small bundle clutched in her left talon. Ginny opened the window and allowed Hedwig to hop onto her arm, and she gently nuzzled the owl’s neck, grateful for her arrival.
“What do you have for me, girl? Is he okay?” Hedwig offered her leg in reply, and Ginny recognised Harry’s Invisibility Cloak and saw a note attached. “Thank you, Hedwig,” Ginny whispered and released the owl out the window.
Ginny read the note, which simply said:
I need you. Please come.
Dropping the note on her bed and closing the curtains to disguise her absence, Ginny unfurled the Invisibility Cloak and whipped the silvery material over her body as she walked out the door. She felt the silky coolness of the cloak settle on her skin, a familiar sensation she associated with Harry from a few late night excursions when they had snuck through the castle, stifling their giggles and enjoying their nearness. That light-heartedness seemed to have belonged to two different people.
He needs me. He’s in pain. Ginny was grateful that she was going to see him. She knew his presence would act like a balm, soothing her mind, but she hated that her solace would come because he was seeking her due to his own distress. Of course, after what he saw tonight, he’d be hurting whether I was there or not.
Ginny reached the bottom of her staircase and looked around quickly to verify that he was not waiting for her in the now-empty common room. She was certain he intended for her to come to his room. Otherwise, there would have been no need to send her the cloak. She quietly crept up the boys’ stairs and stole towards Harry’s dormitory. She eased the door open.
Harry was standing by an open window, stroking the snowy owl perched on his arm. He turned at the quiet creak of the door. She knew that, even without his glasses, he could see it opening by itself. He turned back to Hedwig and whispered to her, but the only word Ginny discerned was “thanks” before Harry’s faithful owl soared back into the night.
Ginny glanced around the room. The sound of soft snores and sight of closed curtains reassured her that Harry had waited until everyone else was asleep before asking her to come. She slowly removed the cloak, dragging the fluid material against her exposed shoulders, making her realise that in her haste she had forgotten her dressing gown. Even before they had started dating, Harry had seen her in more revealing things than her white, calf-length summer nightdress, but somehow, standing across from him in the moonlight with his dorm-mates and her brother unaware of her presence, Ginny felt exposed and almost vulnerable under the weight of Harry’s intense gaze. She had never experienced anything so intimate in her entire life.
He began walking towards her and stopped a few feet away. He did not touch her, but his striking eyes continued their examination. Finally, Ginny could not take it any longer. “Why are you staring at me?” Her voice was barely a whisper.
“I thought you liked it when I stared at you?” Harry softly countered with the smallest trace of a smile.
“Harry,” Ginny chided in a faint voice.
“You’re glowing,” Harry murmured.
Now it was Ginny’s turn to quietly joke. “Well, that’s sadly inevitable with my complexion. I’m so pale that I practically glow in the dark.”
Harry shook his head. He took the final step to close the distance between them and spoke in a low voice. “You’re breathtaking. I know this will sound stupid, but standing in the moonlight, you look like an angel.”
Ginny shivered and did not think it sounded stupid at all. Harry reached up to touch her hair, letting the strands slide through his fingers before brushing it away from her shoulder and behind her back. His fingertips gently trailed down the side of her neck and across her collarbone. He fingered the strap of her nightdress and traced the skin of her shoulder before pulling his hand down the length of her arm and gently taking her hand. Wordlessly, he pulled her to his bed, holding open the curtains for her to clamber inside. Harry crawled in behind her.
Feeling unsettled by the evening’s events and the possibility of getting caught, she found herself half-kneeling, sitting high on her heels while she balanced on her flexed toes on the springy surface. Darkness enclosed them as he pulled the curtains shut. He cast Imperturbable and Sticking Charms on the curtains, assuring them privacy, and then muttered “Lumos” to provide them with dim light. He faced her and mimicked her pose, their knees almost touching.
Harry reached out, grasped her hand again, and began playing with her fingers. Watching their entwined hands, he finally spoke. “How’d you get here so fast? Hedwig barely beat you back.”
“I move quickly with proper motivation.” Ginny smiled at Harry as a barely audible chuckle escaped his lips. She continued. “I was still awake. I’d been debating whether I should come to see you, but I didn’t want to risk waking you up if you had managed to fall asleep. I needed to be here but didn’t know if you wanted me here.”
Even in the dim light, she could see the intensity return to his eyes as he looked at her. “Ginny, if you ever need me, then you come to me. You’ll always be wanted.” Ginny’s heart fluttered as she realised she had thought the same thing about him.
He will always want me.
She could not hold back any longer, and apparently neither could Harry. They clutched each other in a tight embrace, kneeling on his rumpled sheets in the magicked silence of his bed. Ginny took comfort in being held in his arms and close to his body. After a minute, Harry sat down, pulling her with him, and she resettled in his lap. He studied her face closely.
“You’ve been crying.” It was not a question. He gently kissed her eyelids, and Ginny trembled.
“Of course I have. Bill… Dumbledore… ” You. “I can’t imagine how horrible it was for you to see that.”
Harry sighed and buried his head in her neck. He changed the subject. “I’m so sorry about Bill. Did you learn anything new after I left?”
Ginny felt tears prick her eyes again, and she blinked them back. She did not want to cry any more tonight. “No, we were sent out a few minutes after you left, so nothing had changed. I hate it that this has happened to him. I know I should be relieved that he’s alive, but he no longer looks like my brother. I’ll love him no matter what, but I’ll miss the face that I’ve always adored.” Harry began to stroke her hair, and she swallowed hard, fighting to maintain her self-control. “I just — I don’t know what I’m thinking. I’m confused about whether I should be grateful he’s alive or be angry and sad about his injury. I guess I feel both so strongly right now that the anger makes it hard to appreciate my relief. I need some time to wrap my head around it.”
Harry kissed her temple and rocked her gently.
Ginny was not sure she was ready to think about this, but Harry of all people would understand, considering what he had seen. “I saw it happen.”
Harry pulled back sharply to look at her. “You saw what happen?” His voice sounded slightly alarmed. “Not Bill?”
Ginny did not trust her voice at the moment, so she merely nodded.
“Oh, Ginny. I’m so sorry.” Harry held her even tighter. She had gone almost foetal in his arms. After a long silence, he asked cautiously, “Do you want to talk about it?”
She could not help but smile grimly. “Is this how you feel when people want you to recount the horrors you’ve witnessed? Wishing to be left alone with your ghastly thoughts?” Ginny sighed. “No, I don’t want to talk about it. Not really. It was gruesome. Greyback latched on to his face, and I watched them go down. The blood —” She shuddered, and Harry rubbed her back. “The worst part is that I couldn’t help him. I had my own fight, and I knew I had to focus on what I was doing if I didn’t want to be killed. I wanted to help him, but I couldn’t — not then, at least. I kept fighting my Death Eater while I could hear Bill’s screams, and I will never forget that sound. It felt as if I was being selfish, choosing myself over Bill.”
She had been pushing away that thought since the fighting ended, and this was the first time she had admitted it to herself. Despite her desire to the contrary, tears began to slowly leak from her eyes again. Harry wiped them away with his thumb as he refused to allow her to blame herself. “Ginny, you know you did the right thing. Running to Bill and leaving yourself exposed only would’ve meant you both got hurt. It’s hard fighting next to people you love, even if it’s reassuring to know that they have your back, because you’re terrified for their safety. It means you might have to ignore their distress when fighting. One false move… one crucial distraction, and you’re dead. War is ugly, and it puts people in impossible situations.”
Harry looked into her eyes, and she could see his sincerity. “What happened was not your fault. Don’t blame yourself for keeping your head during a fight. It wasn’t selfish. You did what you had to do.” He leaned over and kissed her tenderly.
She hugged him fiercely. He’s been through this more times than I care to count. No wonder he knew just what to say. “Thank you, Harry,” she whispered in his ear. She did feel better. The guilt had eased.
Harry pulled her down onto the bed. They lay on their sides, facing each other so that they could see each other in the shadowy wandlight. She tangled her lower legs and feet with his, and Harry’s hand remained possessively on Ginny’s waist.
“I know a bit about guilt after a fight. And anger. And fear.” His hand clutched at her waist. “While I was gone with Dumbledore, things got a bit dangerous, and I thought about how I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye to you.” Tears sprang into Ginny’s eyes again at this implication. Harry exhaled loudly.
“Then, when we made it back to Hogsmeade and saw the Dark Mark, all I could think is that if one of you had been killed when I’d asked you to leave the tower and patrol the castle, then I would be to blame again for the death of someone I cared about. It was my fault you were in the fight at all.”
Ginny wondered at how quickly their positions had shifted. She was thankful she was with him. She had been right. They did need to be together — more than even she had realised.
“I’m glad we were in the fight. If we hadn’t been, the Order would have been really outnumbered. Maybe things would’ve been even worse. Tonks, Lupin, or McGonagall might have been killed.” Harry looked thoughtful, so she pressed on. “Dearest, this is not your war. I know you’re very involved, but you aren’t the only one. Until he’s gone, we’re all at risk, and we’ll all fight when necessary. It’s not my fault Greyback attacked Bill, and you’re not responsible for everyone Voldemort or his Death Eaters kill.”
“I know. I know all of it, but I can’t help feeling responsible.”
“Why, Harry? Why should you feel responsible any more than me or anyone in the Order?”
Harry’s face crumpled a bit, and Ginny watched, confused, as he opened his mouth to speak several times before he finally managed a pitiful, “I just do.”
Ginny felt as if an icy knife had just been plunged into her heart.
Oh, Great Godric, no! He really is the ‘Chosen One.’
Ginny’s mind reeled. “Harry?” she asked in a timid voice that sounded foreign to her ears.
To her surprise, his face hardened with resolve, and his voice was stronger but not unkind. “No, Ginny. I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about it. Not won’t, but can’t. You understand?” His face softened again as his vivid eyes searched hers.
His apparent determination gave her strength, and she did not hesitate to answer truthfully. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
She kissed him, letting him know that she understood what remained unspoken, but her mind continued to race. His hand, which had not left her waist, wrapped behind her and pulled her to him. She enjoyed having her body flush to his. She wanted to focus on that sensation rather than her turbulent thoughts. Harry kissed the top of her head, squeezed her tightly, and whispered into her hair. “I can’t tell you how relieved I am that you’re all right. I don’t know what I would’ve done if anything had happened to you.”
“I’m fine, Harry,” she said, and she hugged him back so he could feel that she was really there, alive and whole and lying next to him. After a minute, she could not help but add, “What a rubbish night.”
They both tittered a bit before the melancholy seemed to settle heavily on Harry again. She knew he was thinking of Dumbledore, but he remained silent. Ginny ran her fingers through his hair and waited for a response that did not come.
Now it was her turn to make the offer. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No. Yes. I don’t know.” He buried his face in the crook of her neck. “I don’t know what I want except you. I just want to stay here with you forever.”
Harry’s pained, plaintive tone startled her, and she pulled back to look at him. His beautiful eyes were pleading with her. Suddenly, she was completely certain what he, as the Chosen One, would have to do, and she realised that he would be doing it soon. Harry would not wait, not when others were being hurt. He’s going to leave. He’s going to leave me.
“Dearest, you know that no matter what happens, I will be here for you. Whatever you need. I know you hear me saying those words, but do you understand them? Whatever is ahead, we will be okay. Do you believe that?”
The guilt in his eyes told her that he did not. That look confirmed his imminent departure.
She dismissed his guilt aloud. “What’s happening in the world affects us but doesn’t define us.” She gestured between the two of them to indicate that she meant them as a couple, not them as individuals. “What we choose to do, where we go, no matter what we have to do by ourselves — it’s just what life might have to be for a while, but it doesn’t change you and me — how we feel, what we want...” She trailed off when she saw something she could not place flicker in his eyes.
Until he was ready to say it aloud and make it painfully real, she would not directly let on that she suspected he was planning on leaving, but she wanted to plant the seed that she was aware of the possibility. The idea of him being away from her was simply devastating, but she would not let it break her. She was too strong for that. She meant what she had said. If they were apart, that did not change what was true about them at the core. She loved him too much to even consider not waiting for him.
And what would it do to him if he thought I was so fickle? With the horrors he was facing, Ginny knew that, for his own peace of mind, he needed to know that wherever she was — fighting or not — she was loving him, waiting for him, supporting him. There was no other choice to make, because her love for him was unwavering.
Unbidden, an old Muggle poem that her mum had often read to her when she was a child resonated in Ginny’s head, buoying her spirits.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark.
It was essential that he comprehend her, but she was not sure if he was ready to truly hear her yet. She hoped he would understand her in time after the opportunity to reflect on her assertions. The words had helped a bit, though. He looked a little more relaxed. She wanted to calm him further and alleviate his grief, even if only for a little while. She kissed him gently but insistently.
Ginny felt his entire body tense when she kissed him, but she quickly realised that it was a favourable reaction as he immediately rolled her onto her back. When he looked at her, she could see evident desire and longing, so she was surprised when he did not give her the heated kiss she expected. It was the softest kiss that had ever graced her lips. He proceeded to kiss her face in the same way — cheeks, forehead, eyelids, nose, and chin. Every kiss held a reverence she had never experienced from him. She felt cherished, and she knew he was saying a sort of good-bye, just in case. A lone tear leaked from the corner of her eye and disappeared into her hairline.
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
He moved to her neck. Once again fingering the thin strap of her nightdress, he kissed her collar bone and shoulder. He moved his hand to the top button at the front of her nightdress and idly fiddled with it, kissing the skin just above it. He lifted his eyes to hers, wordlessly questioning her. She nodded, and he carefully unfastened the top few buttons. He began to kiss down the slope of her chest, and Ginny’s body ignited as Harry’s mouth and hands explored her in new and glorious ways. She could feel his passion building as the soft reverence was replaced by a gentle intensity. She pulled on the hem of his T-shirt, lifting it up to his shoulders before Harry quickly helped her remove it the rest of the way. She pulled him to her so that she could feel his lips on hers again, and she revelled in the warmth and feel of their skin pressed together as she gripped his back. She would provide and take whatever comfort she could for as long as she could.
Make him forget. Make me forget.
Some time later, Ginny lay comfortably on Harry’s chest, one of her legs thrown over both of his so that her nightdress fanned over him. Amazed that she could feel even more closely tied to him than she had mere hours ago, she hoped that they would have time in the future to achieve even further intimacy. Her exhaustion from this most difficult day was finally overtaking her, and she was grateful that she was at least ending the day with Harry. As she drifted in that surreal realm halfway between dreaming and consciousness, she heard his beloved voice whisper, “I love you, Ginny.” Her befuddled mind was not sure if it was a dream or not, but she did not care. She knew, spoken or not, that it was true.
Ginny woke a few hours later to the sensation of her hair being brushed back from her face. For a moment, she thought that she had fallen asleep in the common room again and that Harry, per usual, was waking her to go to bed. She opened her eyes to grin at him when she remembered where she was and why she was there. The wide smile she intended faltered as she gazed at his drawn face, and she offered him a small, commiserating one instead. They were lying on their sides facing each other in his bed. He leaned closer to kiss her tenderly, and she was, not for the first time, overwhelmed by the love she felt for him. She inched closer so that she could wrap herself around him.
They lay entwined for a few minutes while Harry traced his fingers along her back and neck and she trailed hers along his arm. Even behind the curtains, Ginny could tell that the room was lightening. Sighing, she finally pushed herself up, and Harry, following her, removed the charms on his bed. He cautiously pulled back the curtain, and sure enough, Ginny saw that dawn was creeping into the room. It was well past time for her to leave.
Harry extracted his Invisibility Cloak from the tangle of bedcovers and offered it to her. Ginny took it from him and set it aside. Her reluctance to go was mirrored on his face. They both wanted her to stay, but they had already taken a massive risk. She was afraid that these kinds of private, intimate moments would be few and far between for them now, if they ever had another one at all.
She reached over and stroked his face. He smiled weakly and gazed intently at her before turning to kiss her palm and removing her hand from his cheek. He held her hand in both of his, rubbing his thumb along its back before he gently squeezed it and let go. He picked up the cloak again and wrapped it around her shoulders, brushing his fingers along her shoulders and arms in the process. Using the cloak, he gently pulled her forward for one last kiss. Ginny gave him a final soft smile and pulled the cloak over her head, and he visibly sagged when she disappeared from sight. His despondent gesture was almost enough to make her stay, but she forced herself to leave his bed.
Ginny looked back at Harry’s unadorned face, now in profile, a dejected set to his shoulders as he looked down at his now-empty hands, and she steeled herself.
Once more, that old Muggle poem echoed in her head.
That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
Yes, the storm was now upon them, but she would be damned if she would be deterred in any way. Even if they were apart, she knew where their hearts lay, and that would not change regardless of time, distance, or trials.
Whatever it takes. Whatever he needs, she reasserted as she turned away from him and crept from his room.
A/N: OK, so this time willpower involved them keeping on some of their clothing (see A/N for Willpower 2).
Seriously, I think Ginny’s will is quite evident this time around, and it’s part of why I admire what JKR did with Ginny and her reaction to the break-up. For those of you who know me or who have read enough of my reviews, none of this will be a surprise, but I wanted to share this with everyone. While I wish the break-up hadn’t happened, the fact that Harry knew that Ginny understood him and would trust him and that Ginny did just that spoke of a strength and maturity of their brief relationship that I think some people might have missed. Ginny realizes that her “status” as Harry’s girlfriend is not what’s important. Supporting him in whatever manner while he faces a daunting, perhaps deadly, task, is. The break-up doesn’t change how either of them feel (I think we as H/G shippers certainly agree to that), but Ginny can be a powerful help to Harry even if she’s not with him. Harry is not stronger because she is standing beside him physically. He is stronger because she loves him period, regardless of where she is. Talk to anyone who has gone to Iraq (or older Veterans about earlier wars or “conflicts”) and ask them about the importance of “keeping the home fires burning.” They are striving to get back to that — home, normalcy, comfort, and love. That’s what, I believe, Ginny will represent for Harry, a future to fight for. Sure, I hope we get lots of page time with Ginny in DH, duelling with Death Eaters and showing off what a powerful witch she is, but her letting Harry go is not a sign of her being weak. It’s a sign of her faith in him and a sign of her grit as she faces a painful separation, one that she knows might not be temporary even though she will live her life as if it will be. They’ll be together in the end (unless JKR does the unthinkable), and that is what will matter.
The Muggle poem is Sonnet 116 by the incomparable William Shakespeare. I think if there were any Muggle writer a Wizarding family would be familiar with (even without Arthur’s Muggle obsession) it would be Shakespeare. It is a powerful view of love (even if modern scholars sometime take a more cynical analysis) and describes my view of Ginny’s love for Harry very well.
As for Willpower 4, it is still planned, but I worry it might feel too off after I read DH. I do have to resolve some issues in my arc, so it will get written eventually in some form. I apologize for not writing faster.
Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to leave me a review in my last two stories and for those who nominated or voted for WP2 in the Trinkets. I’d love to hear your thoughts this time as well. Last, but not least, huge thanks to cwarbeck, Sovran, and fake a smile for their help making this much more readable. Hugs to all three of you.
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