Characters: Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy
Pairing: Harry/Ginny; Harry/Draco if you squint.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 1K words
Summary: Three turns through time tell three stories, but the real story is only beginning.
Note: Written for a "reverse chronology" challenge at hogsmeade_elite (each scene had to have happened before the previous one, so really this can be read backwards).
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Ginny had always thought she would cry on this day, like she had cried on the day that news of Harry's death had come. She couldn't quite bring herself to cry, though, not when sunbeams danced across the yellowed grass of the graveyard like this. They folded into the surrounding trees and shrubbery and bounced cheerfully back into everyone's eyes, blindingly happy, shining with life and warmth despite the cool October air.
Nineteen years ago today, Lord Voldemort had tried to kill a little boy and failed. Today, they were burying that boy after he had given his life to destroy Lord Voldemort. Hermione and Ron had tried to move the funeral up one day, just to avoid the tasteless Prophet headlines that pontificated on life and death always being in flux, those mindless scribbles from cretins who had no understanding of grief or loss or mourning.
Bread and circuses were what the public wanted, and so bread and circuses they would get. Rita Skeeter was already hurrying up the gravelled path towards the freshly-dug grave, her photographer trailing behind her with a bland, disinterested look on his face. They hadn't cared about Harry, yet here they were at his funeral, to make entertainment out of the death of a better person than any of them would ever know.
Deep inside, Ginny almost physically felt her denial give way to anger. She felt angry at the world for no longer having Harry in it, at the reporters for not really caring, at Ron and Hermione for not having been quick or lucky enough to save him, at herself for not having spent more time with him -- for having accepted their break-up over three years ago. Ginny wanted to scream loud enough for Harry to hear her on the other side of every mirror, for him to come back and tell her that it was all a dream.
Then Lupin began to speak, and Ginny's anger found its way out through her eyes, through hot and bitter streams of tears down her cold-kissed cheeks. No dream, no. Not a dream.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
The graveyard was silent and still, as though anticipating the solemn ceremony that would begin in less than twenty minutes. The sun had fully risen not too long ago, but traces of the pink dawn light still seemed to lurk at the edges of vision, like shy creatures of the woods that hid when humans were about. A pale glow of mist seemed to hover around a hole in the ground, a six-foot-deep permanent dwelling for a silent stranger. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
A sharp cracking sound shattered the quiet morning and a tall, gaunt young man appeared next to the grave. His cheeks were hollow and his eyes held a feverish sheen, but he seemed calm, grounded as he walked towards the wood. A breeze ruffled his blond hair playfully and he ran an impatient hand through it, pulling his cloak's hood up over his head.
He reached a tall oak and leant back against its dark trunk. "It's done," he said. "I sincerely hope you aren't going to regret this and then try to blame me for helping."
"You know I won't."
"Oh, I don't know that you wouldn't. It would be just like you."
"Sod off, Malfoy."
"Are you going to watch?"
"I was going to, but now that I'm here, I don't think I want to."
"Better if you don't, probably. You'll hate my speech."
"You wrote a speech?"
"You saved my life. It would be a bit rude of me not to thank your corpse for that."
There was muffled laughter, and Harry emerged from underneath his Invisibility Cloak. He had wanted to attend the funeral. Just to see who would come, just to hear the words that would be spoken uselessly into the chill northern wind. He reckoned it would help him move on if he saw his friends, still and resigned, watching clumps of earth cover a coffin that -- unbeknownst to them -- held a sack of potatoes.
"They won't reopen it, will they?" he asked.
"If they try, I'll have a tantrum."
"Then I've got nothing to worry about," said Harry.
Malfoy arched a pale eyebrow. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, nothing. I have to go." There were voices somewhere in the distance, and Harry pulled his Cloak back over himself. There were so many things he wanted to say, but there was no time now.
Harry paused as his stomach did a hopeful flip-flop. "Yeah?"
"I'll find you. Later."
Harry's stomach did a somersault this time. He reached out to squeeze Malfoy's shoulder briefly, whispered, "Okay" and walked into the woods without looking back.
Nineteen years ago today, Lord Voldemort had tried to kill a little boy and failed. Today, that boy was honouring a promise.
Snape's eyes were menacing, dark. "I will let you go," he whispered through the bars of the gloomy cell. "I will give you back your wand and tell you where to find the Dark Lord. But you must promise me something in return."
"After it's over, you will abandon all your friends."
A humourless chuckle. "Your word, Mr Potter."
If he refused, he would be killed in the morning. The war would be lost sooner or later, and most of his friends would only suffer for it. If he made the promise, he would at least have a chance at saving them. The choice was between spending his life alone, knowing that he'd saved his friends, and dying in the knowledge that he'd failed them. There was no doubt in Harry's mind which was the better option.
"You have my word," he said, glaring at the hateful, sallow face behind he bars.
As the cell door sprang open, Harry smiled to himself in the shadows. Snape had said nothing about abandoning a certain former enemy who wasn't quite a friend.