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Ginny Potter - A Harry Potter Fanfiction Archive and Community -- Fictioneer
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GP Contest Stories >> The Ten-Month Summer by PrEtTy_In_pInK

Simple Text - To view MORE chapters use the chapter jump box to the right.
Somehow, she couldn’t help but think about the war as a rock thrown carelessly onto the surface of the water. It would bounce a few times, it would disturb the calmness and would suddenly fall into the water with a soft plopping sound. It would create ripples, vast irregular circles reverberating over the stillness of the water and they would never stop rippling through the surface; sometimes they could even reach the far end of the shore.


Before, Hogwarts Castle was the safest place in the world. And then the war disturbed the stillness and everybody knew that home was the safest place now. Even her mother knew that, and somehow the wheels had turned, the ripples reached her mother, and the next thing she knew she was being sent back to school that September.


Everything changed. Her mother was once again a shore that was too far to reach. The calmness was disturbed. Even her cycle changed.


It was funny that while riding the train to school, she didn’t feel like going back to Hogwarts, to the place where new adventures awaits. It felt like being on the train last June, to the summer break that was in between the conquests.


She knew she would be a prisoner in the Castle, but surprisingly, she did not bother to complain. She knew that her place was in the war with them all, but there was the lingering truth that they belonged outside, while she belonged in the security of captivity. They had to do that for their own peace of mind—he had to do it for his own peace of mind.


She created her own limbo. And in a way, it was better than wallowing in captivity.


*


Pain, like most mysteries of life, is ever consumable, infinite—and returns with a vengeance. It is like being cut on the hand and a simple ointment and bandage will be the solution to alleviate the pain. But there will come a time when the bandage gets too old and is showing strong signs of gangrene; you know that stripping off the bandage is as painful as the initial cut.


Quick and painless, they used to say. Yes, it is always quick. But most of the time, it is never painless.


It almost feels like it’s become as deep as the first cut.


*


Quidditch season in the Burrow would always start two weeks after the day the train had stopped at King’s Cross. Teams were drawn; profanities were screamed in the air; and her mother would be screaming at them for being so rowdy. Every game was different but it would all end up in the shed with Bill mopping on their bruises with weak healing spells helped by ointments and bandages.


Wash, heal, ointment, bandage.


The only drawback with Bill’s healing was the changing of bandages. Her mother didn’t use bandages, but with Bill, there was always one to strip off. He said it would be quick and painless but somehow it would still tear the skin. And crying didn’t help with the pain.


She had never experienced visiting Madam Pomfrey after Quidditch games. They had always ended up with celebrations or commiserations in the common room, but when she saw the Headmistress’s quick strides on the Quidditch field, she knew it would be like one of Bill’s poor healing skills.


Wash, heal, ointment, bandage.


Quick and painless. But somehow she had a feeling that it would be nowhere near painless.


“Miss Weasley, your mother requested that you be informed of all news regarding your brother, Miss Granger, and Mr. Potter,” Professor McGonagall said in careful words. “This might be a bit of a shock to you but you have to be informed.”


“I would appreciate it if you could just be blunt about it, Professor.”


Quick and painless. She still hoped it would be. At the back of her mind, she wished Bill were right.


The Headmistress looked at her and sighed. “The Order found your brother in Yorkshire. He’s bruised, but Miss Granger and Mr. Potter were nowhere to be found. He’s conscious and they’re fixing him up but he wouldn’t tell us where the other two are.”


It was quick. It was never painless.


She knew in her heart that on the end of her long summer, they’d be at the platform waiting for her. It was a part of the grand finale that she imagined, but in some way, the bandage won. It tore, not just a bit of skin, but the hope she had in her heart.


Luna was waiting for her outside the Headmistress’s office. It was raining when they left the office, and they walked in companionable silence. Luna stopped when they reached the front doors while she allowed herself to be drenched in cold rainwater.


“It’s okay if you don’t want to cry. The heavens are doing the crying for you.”


It was the middle of her summer and it was pouring hard. The heavens really must be mourning. Or maybe Luna just could not tell the difference between the hot tears and the rain on her face.


*


Hope. It burns for a long time. It sparks dormant feelings and it lights the darkening recesses of humanity. The most immediate simile that comes into mind is a candle. It burns for some time; it floods a room with a curtain of orange and battles the shadows that permeate the space. Yet somehow, hope deceives the innocent.


Hanging onto hope is like keeping the candle burning amidst a stormy wind. It flickers shut. It crashes. Darkness engulfs the very senses.


The burning candle is forgotten and the dusk breathes like a hungry beast. Hope is replaced by despair, and with despair, there’s no turning back. It’s the end.


Igniting the candle once again can be done.


The mystery lies on how to keep it burning.


*


Summer homework had always been the worst part of break. Leaving them rotting in her room until August had been the perfect solution for the perfect summer, but the minute Hermione had arrived at the Burrow, the perfect solution had always become the perfect reason for fighting.


“I’m hopeless in Transfiguration and you know that, Hermione. There’s no point in bullying me into doing the bleeding essay if I’ll only end up wrecking it.”


Hermione was an expert in exasperated sighs, and this was a moment she wouldn’t miss showing her talents off. “Here and take this book. This will be your only hope.”


Hope would always come in various shapes and sizes, but for Hermione Granger, hope came from the spines of dusty volumes.


Funnily enough, when hope flickered shut in the Burrow that Christmas, she remembered Hermione’s version of hope in books. Ron did not spend Christmas at home, and just when the last bandage was removed, he bid farewell to their mother. Tears and screams that were reminiscent of the night before he, Harry, and Hermione left the previous summer were heard from the kitchen, but she remained inside her room, studying her Herbology book.


She knew she could not save them. Hell, she could not even save herself.


Her Ancanthus plant had frozen roots. The least she could do was save her plant.


She heard her brother’s footsteps entering her room but she kept her eyes into her friend’s version of hope. The memories of Hermione nagging her to do her summer homework kept her company.


“Hey,” he said, crossing the room to her table. “I’m meeting Harry in an hour. I just came to say goodbye.”


“Mum didn’t let you get away without a fight, eh?”


Ron chuckled. “She said I took away her only source of hope. Apparently, being attacked by a hoard of Death Eaters was hope for her.”


“You might be bleeding but you were alive. That was her hope.”


“It’s useless hanging onto it,” he mumbled.


“It’s frail but at least she has something to hang on.”


It scared her to see the hope flicker shut in her brother’s eyes. They were out there in the wild, and despair had no space in a load as big as the ones on their shoulders.


“Here, take this.” She handed her Herbology book to her brother. “Remind Hermione what a bookworm she is.”


Ron took it and smiled. Somehow, his smile placated her. His hope came from Harry and Hermione. Bringing the tiniest bit of normalcy to the girl he loved might spark a decent amount of hope into her brother’s heart. She dared not hang onto wishes, but that was the last desire she wanted to believe in despite the fact that the darkness successfully swallowed her whole.


“I almost forgot. He wants me to give this to you.”


She picked up the dirty bag and looked inside. It was the stolen Snitch from her fifth year’s last Quidditch game. It flew out and hovered, the gold in complete contrast to the stark white of her palm.


She closed her hand around it, and somewhere inside, something sparked and burned anew.


The wind blew on the curtains and a sliver of the afternoon sun came in.


*


Depression shoots up during the holidays especially on Valentine’s Day. Memories of lost lovers are remembered: stolen kisses, Quidditch games, and moments by the lake. It’s ironic that while those memories keep someone from falling apart, these same things push others to the edge.


Memories are once cherished. It’s funny that in the blink of an eye, they are the first things people want to forget.


Memories spark depression. And depression sparks selective amnesia.


Sometimes, it’s better to forget than to remember and experience those drowning feelings of twisted insides and dumbfounded hurt. It’s better than experiencing getting gnawed into misery.


Blessed are the forgetful: for they get the better even of their blunders.


Lucky bastards.


*


Neville was sweet. To others, he might be the round-faced, forgetful boy who always lost his toad, but he was always Sweet Neville to her. He brought normalcy to her abnormally long summer, while Luna offered her very own version of normalcy. He never missed a day to cheer her up; he even saved her Ancanthus plant. It was a small gesture, but to her it was like being saved from drowning.


In return, she never missed telling him how grateful she was.


“Thanks, Neville. I don’t know what I would do without your help,” she said, while examining the frozen roots of her plant.


He would flush in that way that made him look like a bruised peach, and bruised peaches always made her feel uncomfortable.


“Oh stop, blushing. You know you’re sweet.”


“I don’t know about sweet, but I know I’m forgetful. They always say that.”


“Well, you might be Forgetful Neville to them, but you’re still Sweet Neville to me.”


Simple words. And the expected aftereffects could be as small as a smile or as weird as the shuffling of one’s feet.


“If you’re going to say something, just say it Nev,” she said, eyeing his feet.


“Would you like to accompany me to Hogsmeade on Saturday?”


“Sure, let’s go with Luna. She’d be thrilled.”


“I was thinking if maybe.” He sighed heavily. “If maybe we could go together alone.”


Or sometimes, the aftereffects could be as deliriously shocking as a being asked out by a dear, old friend. Suddenly she felt like she was drenched in ice-cold water.


“Wha-what?”


Neville turned beet red. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed it. But ever since fifth year, I have this feeling. You know that feeling?”


Oh yes. She knew that feeling. She discovered that thing when she was eleven in a dark, slimy chamber, the rush of fleeting butterflies overwhelmed her as his small bleeding form rushed towards her flaccid body. Panic and fear coursed through her that time, but it’s nothing to what she’s feeling right now, dreading Neville’s next words.


“Neville—”


“I like you,” he blurted quickly in a loud voice. His blue eyes were ablaze, almost electric and he would not stop even if she asked him to. She knew his eyes were as beautiful as his words but all she wanted to see was green. “I—I—don’t know why, but I know that I just do. Like you, I mean. And—and I would really love it if you would go to Hogsmeade with me.”


Silence followed and the only sounds that could be heard were the flapping branches inside the greenhouse. She felt sick. Her tongue just wouldn’t work. She knew it wouldn’t do any good.


The effect was instantaneous. One moment his eyes were charged with energy and the next, they were gone. She saw it with her own eyes. His face contorted into an uncomfortable grimace and his skin turned green.


She wanted to stop time and rewind it back to when her Ancanthus was dying. She was not prepared for anything like this.


“I’m so sorry.” His voice was pained, almost groggy. “I thought that—it’s just that with Harry gone—Oh God, I’m so sorry.”


It was one of those moments when she got so tongue-tied. His words, though simple, were filled with meaning, and they slapped her full force with the facts she fought hard to forget. But it was not as intense as the repressed memories and thoughts falling on her. She did not expect them to fall down on her this hard.


“Neville, I don’t know.”


She had to hold onto her pot to regain her balance.


Maybe she was not that good in hiding her feelings after all.


Her throat tightened. Her eyes burned. Her heart searched.


“I’m so sorry.”


The pained smile he gave her was unbearable. “It’s okay. I’ll forget about it, you know I’m forgetful.”


And that was when bile started to rise to her throat.


She knew he wouldn’t forget. He was Sweet Neville after all. Suddenly, she wished he were always Forgetful Neville to her.


*


Creating a world of our own is better than facing the facts of life. It’s a refuge from reality, that evil, cosmic state that stings and leaves people scarred and broken for life.


Escaping it is like a breath of fresh air on the verge of drowning, but once the water pulls you down again, it’s more unpleasant than the previous struggle.


Sometimes, it’s not as bad as it looks. Sometimes, it’s not what you’re expecting. There’s really no way finding out. But usually, gritting your teeth and facing it is as early as possible is better than waiting for it to bite you hard in the throat.


*


There weren’t news about the others but somewhere inside her carriage on the train back home, there was the lingering air of finality. Somehow, she felt what it would be like to escape from Azkaban. The air was lighter, it was easier to breathe, and the fog wasn’t as heavy than before.


It saddened her that her long summer was coming to an end. She would have to face the next phase. She was in a dead end, and there’s no turning back.


She could almost see a glimpse of the end. She wanted to stay, but it was pushing her forward.


The next few days weren’t different from the ride home. Her mother’s sighs were still filled with anxiety, but sometimes there was a smile accompanying it. The fog was still there, but it was easier to see the surroundings.


But one morning, the fog was gone. She could almost see the little details of the old oak’s perforations and the glistening dew on the blades of the grass.


A young man with dark hair was walking down the path. Her heart soared. Her feet worked her way on the moist grass.


He looked worse, but when they made eye contact, she knew that the look he always had in his eyes were the same.


“Hi.”


“Hullo, Ginny,” he said in a raspy voice.


“You look bad.”


“I’ve had worse.”


“You’re really here.”


“Yes.” He nodded, smiling that boyish grin that always made her heart burst with love. “Finally.”


The sun seemed brighter. The air seemed sweeter. The smiles seemed truer. The love seemed stronger.


Alas, her summer had ended.


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