The Dissolution Swing
On the swing. Alone in the garden, caught in the deep shadows under the branches of the tree from which the old rope swing had hung for almost thirteen years. The swing that Harry Potter had put up for his firstborn child. The swing upon which their second child had, possibly, been conceived.
She's twisted it round and round, until she could not force it any more. Lifted her foot from the ground. Let go. It's like flying, a dizzy whirl. Fast, fast, then slower and slower until her feet drag the dirt and she stops. She's on her third wind-up, just coming to a stop, when she looks out into the darkness of the garden.
“Hello, Harry,” she says quietly.
He comes out of the shadows and seats himself on the other swing. It hangs from a different branch, a little lower than the other. The kids always battle for the taller one. Well, not anymore. But they used to.
“It's a good party,” he tells her, pushing with one leg to put his swing in motion. They're remembering, the two of them on one seat, arms wrapped around each other, back and forth.
Shouts of laughter from the from the back of the house, where the Quidditch game has finally ended and the teams are teasing each other, calling insults back and forth. The swing is in the side garden, where actual flowers have managed to survive the horde of Weasley cousins that stampede through on a regular basis. The three trees each support swings. A fort takes up most of the upper branches.
Harry goes on quietly. “All Lily's friends came. They're sitting on the front porch, trying to guess which houses they'll be in.”
“I'm glad they came. She was so worried.”
“James and Albus have stopped teasing about Hufflepuff, as least.”
“Brothers,” Ginny scoffed. Hers had been the same. Like Lily, she had had a year alone with her parents, her brothers already off to Hogwarts. She's both missed them and not. It had been both wonderful and lonely. “I don't know why she let it bother her.” Lily would be Gryffindor with a side of Slytherin, just like all her children. Maybe Lily would be the one who couldn't talk the hat out of Slytherin.
Harry didn't answer. They slowly drifted back and forth as one tiny movement or the other caused the swings to react.
“We should talk about it,” Harry said, eventually.
“Now?” Her voice was a little high, a little harsh.
“Better now. You've been putting it off, Gin.”
“It's not like you haven't known.”
Yes. Since seventh year. When he had told her his secret and she told him she wanted to marry him anyway. He'd gone to Ron, who had stumbled through the explanation of law and custom with his face red and his eyes darting sideways at his best friend. Harry asked Hermione next, of course.
Gay wizards married. They produced two or three children to honor the culture and preserve the magical bloodline and when the youngest of their children went off to Hogwarts or another school they were free of the blood obligation and society didn't care at all what they did after that, as long as they didn't totally abandon their wife and children. They cared a great deal if the tradition was not followed. It had been death, at one point, to defy the customs. Better, now. So they said.
As long as there was an agreement witnessed at time of marriage, it didn't even take much paperwork to end the marriage. Just two simple sentences and a filing of the documents of division and it was done. Essentially simple. The wife got the house in which the children had been raised and a stipend for the rest of the man's life. Ginny would be getting a generous amount. And losing what she held dear.
She said, “I should have tried for the Quidditch career I wanted. But I was afraid some one else would make you an offer.”
Harry nodded. They had talked about this before. A hundred times.
“Harry. Are you absolutely sure you don't want fourth child?” And twelve more years with Ginny. Why did she even bother. She knew the answer.
“You know. I can't.” He took a deep breath. “Draco says they're almost ready.”
“Harry,” she said again, this time with deep pity, “You know he's just going to die, at last.” She knew it was cruel to say so, but it seemed like she couldn't get through to him. Twice, Draco Malfoy and his teams of medi-wizards and potioners had taken Snape from under the stasis spell which had kept him alive these last fifteen years. They had tried hard to save his life, only to have to thrust him back into the stasis in order to keep him from dying. Each time, he was left closer to death. Each time the team had gone on to research new techniques, consult new experts. This would be the last attempt. He had less than 60 seconds left. Snape was going to die.
She'd said to him, over and over, if Snape dies, you'll need the comfort, the support of your family. Stay with me. Until you know for sure.
“Ginny,” he had said. “I am so grateful that you shared your life with me, and gave me three wonderful children. Your support has gotten me through some very tough times. But I'm a gay wizard. I'm going to...be...a gay wizard.”
At last. He hadn't said the words, but they both had heard them.
Harry, she knew, had hardly even kissed a man, much less done anything else. Harry, always in the spotlight. Harry, always carefully true to her, as far as she knew. She had always hoped that as time went on his interest in It would fade. She had also hoped that he would give It a try, and decide It wasn't what he wanted. So she had never complained about the long hours he spent with Draco Malfoy. Had Harry kissed Draco? She didn't really want to know. She didn't.
But Draco had ended his marriage to Astoria just a few weeks ago, when their youngest had received her Hogwarts letter. Draco had moved back into his parents manor. Harry had been over there a lot lately.
“So, if you do revive Snape. Are you just going to...share him?” She paused, “or fight over who gets to court him?” She'd never dare ask before exactly what relationships Harry planned to have after he left.
Harry said carefully, “First, Draco and I will do all we can to save his life and bring him back to health. There will be a lot of conversations. It will be whatever Professor Snape decides.”
She wondered how kinky old Snape actually was. Would he want them both? She wondered if Snape would be same after...everything. Mentally? Physically? Sometimes she hoped he turned on them and stormed off, angry at what they had done.
“I think it was wrong. What you and Draco did.”
“We consulted experts. We followed their advice.” Legal experts, and cultural and traditional and even his father-in-law. She still could not believe her father had gone along with it.
“So you paid three Slytherin women to each bear a child for him.” Women who were related to Death Eaters but not actually one themselves, women without many choices, women who had been brought down to poverty by the war. Women who had volunteered so that they would each have a small cottage for life. Women who had born children so that Severus Snape, too, could be a gay wizard. If he survived. And if he did not, his line survived. Draco had been adamant that Snape survive, one way or another.
At least it had all been done with Malfoy money. Ginny had balked at Potter funds supporting three other households. The plan had rather boomeranged on Malfoy at the time, and Ginny had laughed herself sick when all three women had fallen pregnant within weeks of each other. Severus Snape's three black-haired daughters, practically triplets. One in Hufflepuff, one in Ravenclaw, one in Griffindor. Not a Slytherin in the lot. So funny, at the time.
Draco had named them all and visited them all and given Harry reports on them all. Excuses just to suck up to the hero, she'd thought. To worm his way into Harry's life and redeem his name and whatever else his scheming Syltherin mind was planning. And Draco's oldest was best friends with Albus Severus. It bothered her more than she had ever let anyone know.
Maybe she and Astoria could start a club. Ex-wives of Gay Wizards. EGW or EWGW? Either way it sounded like something Hermione would think up.
She had let her mind wander. Anything to avoid thinking about what was happening. She looked at her husband. A scruffy, not quite handsome man with green eyes bordered by the beginnings of wrinkles and lines. He stood up.
It was coming. It was now. She should be planning on how to react. How to keep her temper. How to...be.
She knew him. Knew what he would do, after he said these words. Go back, join the party. He's stay up all night, unable to sleep or unwilling to join her in their bed. He'd pack and look in on the sleeping children and perhaps write them each a note. He was a good father. He'd be there at breakfast, and take them to the station and not leave until they were all off on the Hogwarts Express. He'd leave from there, not ever coming home. She was sure of it. She'd come back to the empty house and sit down at the large table in the dining room and...make lists, perhaps of everyone who would need to know and everything she should be doing and anything that she wanted to do.
She could cry. She wondered if she would. She could go home to her mother and cry, and those warm arms would cradle her and ease away the pain just a little, but it wouldn't really go away. Maybe she wouldn't. Cry. Or go to the Burrow. Her mother would remind her that she had gone into this with a clear head, knowing exactly what was to come. You're only 34, she'll say. You could even have another husband and more children. Or a job! A career.
She didn't stand up. Didn't want to make this easy for him. With a touch of rebellion she gave a shove with her foot, putting the swing into motion again. He was looking at her, but she would not meet his eyes, and so he didn't wait for that.
“Ginevra Weasley, our contract has been honorably concluded.” He waited. She was allowed to contradict him at this point, to say so if there was some impediment. She swallowed, hard. He took from his pocket the contract that had been appended to their wedding certificate and tapped it once with his wand. “Our Time has Ended.” He took a deep breath and added his own words. “I thank you so, so much.”
She pulled her own wand from her pocket. “Harry Potter, our contract has ended.” She didn't add the usual word. Honorably. Or add her own thank you. The shortest form. To show her reluctance. She tapped the paper with her own wand. The paper rolled up and vanished in a puff of gold smoke.
She looked him in the eye. “You'll be sorry.” It wasn't a threat, just a prediction.
“I know. A hundred times, I'm sure. You couldn't have been better, Ginny.”
Not a comfort.
“I hope you....” Harry Potter didn't finish the sentence. Have a nice life? Find happiness? Forgive me?
Right now, all she wanted was to be somewhere else. “Good luck with your corpse and your Death Eater,” she said, rather proud that her last words weren't hysterical or curses or profanity. With a crack, she was gone.
The force of her exit sent the swing high into the air, twisting left and right, back and down again and again, each arc a little less high, a little slower. Until it was swinging gently.
Harry put his hand on the wooden seat, stopping it completely. The warmth of her body lingered. “Be well, Ginny,” he whispered.
He knew some wizards gave magnificent parting gifts at their marriage dissolution. But a fancy broom, or jewels? It was like he was as if he were trying to purchase her forgiveness or her good opinion. Not possible. She'd hate it. Why try?
She'd be courted, soon. The moment everyone knew she was free.
As he was free. Not that he was exactly free, in the way she was. Good luck with your corpse and your Death Eater. That was Ginny for you. Always had the last word at the end of an argument.
He hoped she meant the good luck part. Tucking his wand away, he left the swings behind, heading out to his daughter's Hogwarts party. He really should have waited one more day. But no. It was time. They both had known.
Your corpse and your Death Eater. He shook his head again and was smiling just a little as he turned the corner.