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Messing With Time

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Prelude

June 22, 2003.

It was six o'clock in the godforsaken morning, thought Harry Potter, as he trudged wearily through the front door of his little house in Godric's Hollow. At least he didn't have to deal with people trying to talk to him; Hermione had put such powerful protective charms on his house that even people who had license to visit and could see the building if they stood near it usually couldn't actually remember where he lived. But seriously, it was way too late. Ron was still in the office yelling at people, because when the Chief Auror and his Deputy got into a fight like that with no warning whatsoever it meant that someone somewhere had royally fucked up, but someone had hit Harry with some kind of exhaustion hex, and he wanted to be asleep eight hours ago. He didn't even bother turning on any lights, just stumbled groggily into the bedroom, tripped over Arnold the Pygmy Puff, and swore slightly too loudly.

Ginny jumped as if electrocuted, and three seconds later Harry was flat on his back on the floor with her foot on his ribcage and her wand at his throat, feeling suddenly much more awake.

He held very, very still. "Ginny. It's me. It's Harry. The war's over. You won. It's okay."

Sometimes people at Quidditch games gave him these ridiculously hateful looks, like getting the Harpies' star Chaser to marry him by being Harry Potter was somehow cheating. As if they thought if only they were rich and famous enough, they could get famous successful Ginny Weasley to cook them dinner and be their decorative social event date, or whatever it was they expected. The vast majority of people, Harry found, did not even consider the fact that famous successful Ginny Weasley had been possessed by Voldemort when she was eleven, had co-led a violent resistance movement when she was barely sixteen, that she had spent her sixth year of school being assaulted at random moments and fighting for her life against, in some cases, her adult professors. There was a darkness in her, a sharp poisonous bite of vengefulness that didn't quite go away with the end of the war. She slept with her wand and had a faster draw time from a cold start than most Aurors. She flinched at sudden noises and cried in her sleep.

She sat awake with him when he had nightmares, too, and sang him gentle lullabyes. She tutted at him about the state of his poor broomstick which had seen entirely too many firefights, and fixed it for him when he wasn't looking. Ginny was terrifying and a little broken, but so was he, and he loved her like nothing else in the world. He cooked for her, usually, and the way she smiled - sudden and bright, like fire catching - was one of his favorite things in life, somewhere up there with unassisted flight. Still. He suspected the strangers who gave him hateful looks when she jumped into his arms straight off her broomstick did not actually realize how frightening Ginny was if you woke her up unexpectedly.

Harry didn't move. Ginny was shaking all over, but her wand hand was very steady. "I love you," he added, in the same even, soothing voice. It was still mostly dark and she couldn't actually see him very well, he knew, but the look on his face right now was probably unbearably sappy anyway. Sometimes Ron made affectionate fun of him for it, because he wasn't actually doing it on purpose, but generally only after it had sufficiently done its job of convincing Ginny that he was, in fact, Harry and he did, in fact, love her and he was not, in fact, going to try to murder her in her sleep. "I love you and you're safe and please breathe, okay?"

Seven AM found him lying in bed petting Ginny's hair, and no one had been injured and everything was okay. It was fine, he'd skip work tomorrow, Ron had things under control, Ron was great like that. Right now he had important things to do. He drifted off to sleep to the sound of Ginny murmuring, "Love you."