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A Piece of Red Yarn: Parts 7&8

Here is the final installment of this multichapter fic. I hope that you enjoy.
It is as always:
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione and Remus/Tonks
Rating: PG-13 ish
Warnings: None just post HBP

Part Seven:

Harry Potter was engaged in a battle for his life. He had not been part of a war of such epic proportions since the Tri-Wizard Tournament had been played at Hogwarts in his fourth year. There was danger behind every tree and eminent harm on all sides. Harry made a run for it, trying to trade the cover of the side of the Burrow for a large tree that would give him better aim at his enemies.

“Harry! Duck!” Ron’s voice rang out somewhere to Harry’s left, but it was too late.

A snowball smacked into the side of Harry’s head knocking his glasses askew. Okay, well maybe not a battle for his life, but definitely for his health and body heat.

“Nice one, Fred!” His currently traitorous girlfriend called out from across the back garden.

“Take that Ginny!” Hermione had of course bewitched her snowballs and her aim was deadly. Ron had been fully aware of this ability of Hermione’s and that is why the three friends were now embattled against Ginny and the twins. They were worthy adversaries, but Hermione was beginning to tip the scales in the Trio’s favor. Ginny was covered in splatters of snow and her cheeks were rosy from the cold.

“Don’t let her distract you, Harry!” Ron called, now from his right, as a fleet of snowballs flew over Harry’s head. “She knows your weaknesses! Never surrender!” But Ginny had stopped lobbing snowballs and crumpled to the ground, one mittened-hand covering her eye, having just been hit with one of Ron’s frozen missiles.

“Oh my eye!” Ginny wailed, and Harry’s heart lurched, as he ran forward to see if she was all right.

“Harry! No!” Hermione’s warning did not reach him in time. Harry had made it within three feet of Ginny’s weeping form when an entire snowman’s worth of snow landed on top of him. The wind was knocked out of him and he was covered up to his neck. He opened his eyes and found Ginny’s smiling face above him. He could hear the twins whooping cheers of victory in the distance.

“Saving people thing?” He questioned weakly.

“Yup,” she smiled down at him, “Works every time!” Ginny was snickering as she levitated the small mountain of snow off of Harry. Vanquishing the Chosen One seemed to have signaled the end of the war; and the others were heading back into the Burrow’s warm kitchen where Mrs. Weasley had promised hot chocolate for all battle weary snowballers.

Harry grabbed Ginny’s hand in his as they headed back towards the house. He bit his tongue and kept from saying the thoughts that were forefront in his mind. Harry did not want to ruin the peace and magic of this Christmas Day by stating the obvious. ‘Works every time!’ Ginny’s words burned through him; and that was why she was safer here. That was the reason that the entire Wizarding World was better off with Ginny hidden away at the Burrow. Because, what was his fate or the fate of the rest of the world even worth compared to hers? Nothing, he thought, the fate of anyone or everyone would matter nothing to him if she were in danger. Harry stopped, pulled Ginny to him and found her mouth a warm contrast to the cold of her cheeks.

~*~

These children, thought Kinglsey Shacklebolt as he made his way round the circuit of the garden path; these children playing in the snow held the fate of the Wizarding World in their hands. The gloved and mittened fingers that were now packing snowballs were the same ones that wielded wands against Death Eaters and the Dark Lord. He had stopped for a moment to watch the tactics of Weasley, Granger and Harry Potter. Oddly, even in this whimsical pastime they functioned as well as any team of Aurors. They could anticipate the angle of attack and the tactics of their enemies. He even noticed them using a formation that he had not learned until his last year of training. It came naturally to them, the two boys flanking out to protect the partially shielded girl who was bewitching the most effective arm of the attack. If they had been sending more than snowballs, the other team would have been beaten long ago.

When Kingsley saw Harry run to the obviously play-acting Ginny though, he remembered first and foremost why he was at the Burrow. The Ministry might think that the Aurors were there to pass on word of Potter’s actions, but he knew that there was a more important task to be done. It was why the girl had a top notch Auror tutoring her in Defense. It was why Ginny Weasley was learning spells that only Aurors knew. It was why Lupin spent most evenings when the moon was not full here instead going somewhere more private with his girlfriend. The Order kept its presence strong at the Burrow because Ginny Weasley’s very life could become the worst kind of weapon for the Death Eaters and their Master. Her life was second only to Harry Potter’s and was to be protected at all costs.

~*~

“You should have seen it Mum, it was brilliant!” Fred was waxing poetic about their triumph as George stood at his side nodding with a wistful gaze of agreement. Ron for once did not mind losing out to his older brothers. He had gotten a few good shots in and they had all forgotten, at least for the better part of the afternoon, what was waiting for them tomorrow morning. He looked over to see Harry and Ginny enter the kitchen. Ginny was trying to help Harry get all of the snow out of the new red jumper she had given him for Christmas. He, Hermione, Harry and Ginny were the only ones who knew the significance of Ginny painstakingly crafting all of that red yarn into a beautiful jumper.

Ron gazed over at Hermione, who was using her best prefect voice to complain that Fred and George had cheated by luring Harry to his snowy doom. Her cheeks were glowing and she was pulling off her scarf and gloves as she spoke. She was so beautiful this way, with that look on her face that reminded him of her confiscating Fanged Frisbees. He was a bit sorry that he had missed her being Head Girl. She would have been brilliant; he thought as he poured her a mug of hot chocolate and crossed the kitchen to give it to her. She paused in her diatribe to give him a ‘Thanks Ron’ and a swift kiss, and then went back to chastising the twins.

His eyes wandered down to his hand curled around the handle of his own mug, and to the simple silver band on his middle finger that she had given him that morning. It said simply ‘Keeper’ etched in a solid strong text. She, Hermione of all people, had been afraid that she was not right for once in her life. She had been worried that he would think that it was silly for a girl to give a boy a ring. But she was a woman now and he was a man; and these times made it anything but silly.

A Keeper was what he was, heart and soul. It was his job now, not just a position on a Quidditch team. He blocked hexes and curses instead of Quaffles. He protected Hermione and Harry instead of a goal hoop. Ron was no longer worried about saving goals, instead he had been charged with saving lives. That was his job, that was his place on this team and he knew it. Hermione began to move over to the table with a look of frustration on her face that for once he was not the cause of; and Ron smiled as he shifted to make room for her. He would always be her Keeper, he thought, as she snuggled warmly under his arm, always.

~*~

“Thanks for making me come out and play, Ron.” Hermione whispered against Ron’s ear. He had found her pulling out that large rucksack of pilfered library books after lunch and practically dragged her bodily out into the snow. It had been a brilliant afternoon, with the exception of Fred, George and Ginny’s completely unfair tactics. She had taken every available chance to glance over at Ron as he hurled snowballs. His cheeks had been reddened by the cold wind, but he was smiling. He was smiling freely; there was not the strain of keeping others’ spirits up on his face. There was freedom in his laughter; and she knew, thinking back on this day would give her strength. Hermione tucked her head into Ron’s shoulder, reveling for a warm moment in his strength as he tilted his head down to rest on top of hers.

“You needed an afternoon away from the books, Hermione.” She smiled against his chest, even though she knew the reason behind his words. She needed a break because there was no telling when she, when all of them, would have a chance for another one. Every other day with the exception of the last two, she was a detective or a soldier or a Healer. Here and now she was just Hermione, an eighteen year old girl in the arms of her boyfriend. Tomorrow they would again go back to the quest, and they would search and they would fight and they would seek to destroy the most evil wizard of their time. Tomorrow they would again start running, covering their tracks and trying to stay one step ahead of Death Eaters. Tomorrow she would again steel herself against the fear, will herself not to tremble when curses flew at her best friend and the man that she loved, and push it all down so that she could focus her mind on the task at hand.

But today, thought Hermione, she would drink hot chocolate in the kitchen of the Burrow, hold Ron’s hand under the table and kiss his wind burnt cheeks. She would laugh at the twin’s jokes, listen to Bill and Fleur argue over baby names, and smile at Tonks and Lupin in each other’s arms. Today she would savor the love that surrounded her, soak up the joy that rang from the walls, and forget that in the morning she would leave with Ron and Harry to fight for all of this to survive.

~*~

Ginny wrapped Harry in her arms as she smiled. Her hands were wound round his waist, feeling the meters and meters of red yarn that she had twisted over her fingers and knitting needles for countless hours. He looked brilliant wearing her handiwork, she thought as she gazed up into his eyes. They were sparkling with laughter at the twins’ dramatic retelling of their victory over the Boy Who Lived, but there was always something darker, deeper hiding behind them. Maybe that was why, last night in the dark, Ginny had been able to believe so much was possible. Her fingers had wandered over his face, brushing against his dark lashes and her lips had been pressed to the soft sweetness of his closed eyes; but she did not have to see the darkness that they carried.

Even in the most joyous of hours over the past day, Ginny knew he never really stopped thinking about the quest. It was always there, lurking; just like the fact that he would leave her in the morning was a constant in her own thoughts. But she would hold onto him right now, even to the point of silliness. And she giggled as Harry shuffled them, still embracing, over to the stove to get hot chocolate. He poured two mugs behind her back and she reluctantly let go as they moved across the kitchen and sat at the table opposite Ron and Hermione.

Harry’s hand was instantly on her thigh and her fingers instinctively laced through his. This was normal, this was right; this was how it should be for the rest of their lives. She and Harry should always have afternoons of sitting across a table from Ron and Hermione enjoying just being a family, just being alive and together.

Part Eight:

Hermione woke before the sun had set its first blush into the inky sky. She was in Ron’s arms, his hand rested over her heart and his pyjama clad legs were twined with hers under the bright orange Chudley Canon’s blanket. The comfort that surrounded her was soon replaced with bittersweet determination. She would have to wake him up, and then they would have to wake Harry… and Ginny. The disparity of their situations was a painful awareness that she had been living with for months now, but it had become even more unfair in the past few days. Ever since Ron had told her that he loved her, Hermione had begun to have a new understanding of what it was like for Harry to be alone.

Of course Harry would always have Ron and her at his side, but to pack his rucksack and leave Ginny behind was a cruel twist of circumstance. Then again, Ginny would not ever have to watch a Death Eater leveling his wand at the heart of her love. Ginny would not have to see the man who loved her screaming under a Cruciatus Curse. Ginny would not have to hold her beloved’s hand as he bit back screams of pain while she mended open wounds and broken bones. And still, Hermione was not sure which one of them should envy the other.

“Love,” Hermione rolled over in Ron’s embrace to face him, amazed at how quickly the endearment rolled off her tongue. “Love,” her hand reached up to stroke his cheek, so warm in sleep, as she whispered. “Love,” she leaned in and kissed his slightly open mouth and then pulled back as his blue eyes fluttered open. A sleepy smile stretched across his face as she continued, “We have to get up. We need to leave.”

Hermione watched as the soft blue oceans of Ron’s eyes turned to cold steel and the familiar constant ache that had been relieved over the past two days, returned to her heart.

~*~

Remus tucked a wisp of bright pink hair behind Tonks’ ear as she slept, curled against him on the couch. He was going marry this ever-changing woman, someday. Someday when the sun was shining, or maybe some evening when the moon was new; Remus would make her his wife. He thought back to Bill and Fleur’s wedding, and Lily and James’. There had been moments of joy in the sadness of war; Remus had seen them with his own eyes.

Was it wrong for him to want to wait? He had already given Tonks his love, but he wanted to wait until there would be no fear before he truly began his life with her. Merlin willing they were able to have children not marred by his condition, he wanted them to be able to play outside. He wanted to see Tonks running after them down Diagon Alley as they did their shopping. Was it so wrong, he thought, so selfish, to want to be able to enjoy everything that Lily and James had not?

And, as if on cue, Remus looked up and was met with the sight of Ginny and Harry somberly descending the stairs. Remus met Lily’s eyes in James’ face, and Harry smiled guardedly at him. The boy tiptoed across to the door to the kitchen, careful that he and Ginny’s footfalls did not wake the sleeping woman in Remus’ arms. Remus felt his heart wrench. This boy, this man, that was setting out to defeat Voldemort, had been the first baby that he had ever held. He remembered Lily tucking the tiny bundle into his arms and James watching like a lion over a cub. Remus gazed at the softly closing kitchen door and mentally apologized to his dead friends for wanting the world to be safer for his children than it had been for their son.

~*~

Ron Weasley packed his rucksack in silence. This might be the last time that he was ever in his childhood home. It was the scene of so many memories: pranks by Fred and George, sitting by the fire listening to Charlie give play by plays of winning the Quidditch Cup, hearing Bills stories of mummies and curses, teasing Ginny, his father waxing on and on about muggle contraptions, and even his mother’s scolding. He remembered long ago what he had seen in that mirror during his first year. He had seen himself outstripping all his brothers. He had seen himself as Head Boy and holding the Quidditch Cup. No, that mirror had not shown the future. It had not shown the man that he had become, the man that stood before Death Eaters flinging curses and shouting orders at his best mate and his girlfriend.

He stopped in the middle of stuffing his Christmas jumper into his bag and let his mind wander to Hermione. The ring on his finger caught the pink light of the rising sun and he silently re-pledged his vow to keep them both safe. She really was brilliant, his Hermione; he could have asked for no one better to be with them on this journey. It was almost like their very first quest so long ago; his tactics and courage, her logic and learning working in concert with Harry’s determination and destiny. They had survived then with barely any training at all. They would survive now, Ron promised himself, as he took his shiny prefect’s badge out of his trunk and left it on the bedside table for his mother to find. She would have even more reasons to be proud of him when this was all over.

~*~

Molly stepped from her bedroom and saw the packed rucksacks at the door. She knew what that meant. Her baby boy was leaving again. And she was powerless to stop him, and powerless to protect him. She had given him so much over the years; she hoped that it would all be enough to bring him back to her, back home. She had survived the death of her brothers, would she now be forced to survive the death of her sons?

She watched in silence as Harry and Ginny and then Ron and Hermione stepped out of the kitchen and closer to their bags leaning near the door. She knew that all of her boys were brave and strong in their own ways, but she never would have imagined that little Ronald would have been the one who would be taken up in such a quest. She really shouldn’t be surprised, Molly thought, she and Arthur had made sure that their children knew so much of love. She shouldn’t be surprised that Ron chose to love Harry as a brother; that her boy would stand beside Harry in this fight or that he would refuse to leave Hermione’s side. She drew her boy into a fierce hug.

“I love you, Ronald.” She said as she held him close to her, so much taller now than the first time that she had sent him away. But then it had just been off to school, this was so much different. She pulled away and was taken aback at the man that looked down at her, the one who did not even blush at her tender sentiments.

“I know, Mum, I love you too.” He looked her in the eye as he said it, and she fought back the tears. It had been years since one of her boys had been able to look her in the face as they said that. And she knew in her heart that the reason that Ron could do it this time, was because her youngest boy realized it might be the last.

~*~

Harry watched as Hermione and Ron said their goodbyes to the Weasleys, Lupin and Tonks. He had been hugged what he felt was a thousand times, only letting go of Ginny’s hand to return the embraces. She had been at his side all through the night and into the morning. Neither wanted to let go, both knowing that time would come soon enough. But this was it. He would have to say goodbye to her again. Harry knew that he would have to walk away from her: his Ginny, the brilliant, passionate witch that captured his fancy and held his heart, the woman he loved. At least he had gotten two more days with her. Just two days to be with her, to really love her.

This was his life, though, however unfair it might be. Until this quest was finished, until Voldemort could no longer cast his shadow of fear over their world, the beautiful and carefree moments of his life would be too short and too rare. There were times when he had thought that those who loved Harry Potter were doomed to short and tragic lives; but now he knew that it was for a different reason that people who loved him were gone too soon. It was not the curse of loving him; it was the result of setting one’s self against the evil that was Voldemort. And that was what he had done, and Harry knew that could mean that his life would end soon as well.

But Ginny, just because she loved him did not mean that she could not survive this war. Just because she and her family had set themselves against Voldemort, did not mean that she could not stay safe. She had to; he thought as he squeezed her smaller hand in his, she was the keeper of the biggest part of his secret weapon. She had his love.

~*~

Snow sprinkled down over them in the cool morning light as they stood at the end of the lane. Harry held Ginny wrapped in his arms, hers thrown round his neck. Whispers flew hurried and deep with meaning from lips to cold reddened ears. Promises and warnings, endearments and cautions, hope and fear, love and longing; words followed fast with a flurry of kisses.

~*~

Ginny stared down at the empty footprints in the snow with the taste of Harry’s kisses still fresh on her lips. Again he was gone, in a fraction of a second there and then gone. She wanted to push down the ache and fury that was building in her chest. It had been easier to control before, when he had simply walked away, before he had told her that he loved her. Dumbledore told me once that those who love us never truly leave us. The words roared out in her mind with the rush of blood pounding in her ears. Two days was not enough, a life time with Harry might not even be enough; but she might never get the chance to find out.

Two days of laughter, two nights of fumbling hands and mouths was what she had to keep her going. She would burn them into her memory; she would make those two days last a lifetime. Those two days would not be lost. Ginny would not let them be blown away like the ash of Harry’s love letters on the wind. The power of those two days would be poured into Patronuses, flung with curses, threaded into charms. Ginny would not allow his leaving to weaken her; she would use Harry’s love to make her stronger. And it would, it already had.

She shoved her fisted hands deep into the pockets of her cloak and the wings of her bracelet caught on the edge. She had one thing. One thing to keep forever, at least she had this one thing to hold onto. She pulled her hand from her pocket and stared down at the silver and gold glinting in the sun. She had Harry’s heart, she had his love, and she always would, even if she did not have his arms around her or his lips on hers. Ginny turned and faced the warm lights of the Burrow. The sanctuary of the last few days was gone, but she refused to let her home feel like a prison. No, she shook her head, it was a training ground and she would take advantage of it. She would do it because that is what Harry had asked her to do, and she had promised that she would do everything that she could to stay safe for him. Ginny counted the number of steps from the end of the lane back to the Burrow. One hundred and forty-two. Was it fate, destiny, or just a cruel irony? She didn’t know; but as she reached the door and her mother’s arms, Ginny finally allowed her tears to fall.

~The End~

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Sep. 21st, 2005 11:28 pm (UTC)
From NCSH
Thank-you Tory
This is such a nice gift.
I appreciate the time and care you put into it.
jandjsalmon
Sep. 22nd, 2005 03:17 am (UTC)
Can I just say... You are AMAZING? This story was brilliant from the very first chapter. I just loved it. Sad, sweet, bittersweet.

I loved Ron in it particularly... he really is the 'keeper' isn;t he. He is the one to keep the 3 of them going. Just brilliant!

Thanks for sharing it with us! ;)

I can't wait to read more. (Obviously not THIS story... but more of any other story you write! ;) )
weasleegirl
Oct. 2nd, 2005 04:59 pm (UTC)
double sigh
It's over! Waaaaaaaaah! I loved this fic Tory! I just wanted to comment how I loved the way the trio was characterized in this. The way they were carrying the burden and how they were matured from all they'd seen. It's like you know they'd all see threstrals now..very heavy in that sense, but wonderfully done with so much hope~ I'm in awe.... WF
liliaevans
Apr. 8th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC)
Wow! Just wow! Brilliant fic. Very well written, you make your characters so...real. Can't wait to read more!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )