splendorfalls (splendorfalls) wrote in eriseds_mirror,

Teach Me To See: Harry/Ginny postwar fic

Title: Teach Me To See
Author: splendorfalls
Pairing: Ginny/Harry past relationship implied
Rating: R for dark subject matter, angst and character tragedy
Summary: Harry and Ginny dicuss the war and its aftermath, and how some things cannot be unlearned.
Disclaimer: Characters and original story belong to J.K. Rowling. I'm just borrowing.

I see him in my dreams and I cannot forget. Gone, but certainly not forgotten. But the constant reminder isn’t within, but from without. I see it in his every line: posture, movement, glance. He dances as if evil is on his footsteps. He eats every meal as if it were his last. His hands are cold, and he kisses as if his mouth were filled with glittering chips of ice. He reminds me too much of what happened. Of what I had to do. We don’t speak of it now, but it lies between us like a corpse in our bed, bleeding on the white sheets. But I could forget. I know I could.

The ice is thin come on dive in
Underneath my lucid skin
The cold is lost, forgotten
Hours pass days pass time stands still
Light gets dark and darkness fills
My secret heart forbidden

“You said you’d be here over an hour ago.” He says, his voice hoarse with worry, rising from his chair, almost tripping over one of the legs in an effort to reach me. Perhaps reading something in my eyes, his hand falters and, to cover, he pulls out the chair next to him.

“I was wandering and lost track of time,” I reply, keeping my voice down. He looks ready to reproach me, so I hide behind a café menu.

“Why did you pick this place to meet me?” He was picking at the lacy tablecloth with barely disguised disgust on his face.

“You don’t like Madame Malkin’s, Harry?” I hid my small grin behind the menu, but I had never felt less like laughing.

“I would have preferred Madame Rosmerta’s or the Hog’s Head.”

I knew that. I had known Harry disliked Madame Malkin’s café since his sixth year at Hogwarts, but I hadn’t made this choice for him. I should have stopped making choices in his favor a long time ago.

Harry just rolled his eyes, looking a little bewildered. “How long have you been here for?”

“A week or so.” The silence fell between us, both familiar and strange all at once. ‘It’s only been three months, and already he’s becoming a stranger to me,’ I thought. I signaled to a waitress, on impulse, and ordered a cup of earl grey tea.

“Since when do you drink earl grey?” There was a teasing edge to his voice; he was trying to be friendly.

“Since when did you give a damn?” Bad for him, I wasn’t feeling very friendly.

Harry’s eyes went wide and he swallowed in embarrassment, the point of his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down. We didn’t speak again until the waitress had placed a large, steaming mug of tea on the table.

“Ginny—,” he began, and I knew where he wanted to go. I learned a long time ago that you didn’t need legillimency to read Harry’s mind. No magic required. His face, his eyes, said it all.

“Don’t. Just don’t. Try something else.” I took large gulps of the tea, feeling it burn as it flowed down my throat. The pain was good for me. It was the only thing I really understood, anymore.

“What else is there? What else do we have?”

“We used to have this place.”

“Madam Malkin’s?”

“Hogwarts. We were different here.”

Understanding dawned on his face, and surety returned to his eyes. He pushed the bridge of his glasses back up on his nose, looking squarely into my eyes. “You’re here to reclaim your youth.”

“Our youth.”

“Okay, our youth, then. What we had before the war.”

I took another burning gulp of tea, and Harry gave me a reproachful look.

“What I had before the war,” I said.

Harry sighed. “Sure.” But his annoyance at my game didn’t last for long. His face was brightening by inches, by degrees. He had me figured out. His emotional compass had led him to the answer. I, the unexplored country, had been conquered in times past. But he had explored me, set his flag pole into my flesh, and claimed me for his own, bringing the light into the jungles of my mind. Cut down the vines and set up shop.

The surface was all he wanted. He never bothered with my roots. The roots are where the truth lies.

I think you worried for me then
The subtle ways that I'd give in but I know
You liked the show
Tied down to this bed of shame
You tried to move around the pain but oh
Your soul is anchored

I stood on the bridge, staring out at the lake. Harry stood next to me, staying as quiet as church mice. He had followed me from the café knowing I had tired of his company, somehow, but the knowledge didn’t seem to faze him. He leans on the railing with gloved hands. Our misty breath mingles in the frosty air.

“Ginny.” That tone again, this time with a little more confidence.

“Don’t,” I say again. “Try something else.”

His disappointment shows on his face, but his plan is not completely thwarted, it seemed. “The sky looks beautiful this morning, doesn’t it?”

In fact, it did look beautiful. Once, I would have reveled in the clarity of the sky, a singular arch of blue. The unhindered sun made the snow on the ground look like luminous clouds somehow anchored to the earth. But I don’t notice those things anymore.

“The lake.” It’s all I need to say. All I want to say. I could use a million different words, and Harry wouldn’t understand why I notice it. But, then again, there probably aren’t any words to explain it. At least not ones that I know.

“It’s very pretty. Looks like a dark mirror.” Sometimes he surprises me. I forget that he has seen the same evil I have, stared into the face of it, and come back. Somehow, this loosens my tongue.

“The glass glitters on the surface, but the darkness underneath is untouched.”

He stares at me, no worry in his eyes this time. His understanding is completely clear.

“I know what happened to you.”

“Who told you?” But I already knew that answer. Although I had only told her a fraction of the truth, nothing too far beyond the surface, I felt my skin almost bubble with anger as he said her name.

“Hermione.” When I said nothing, only turned my face away, he continued. “She said—she said…well, I expected that he had hurt you somehow, but I never anticipated this.”

‘There was a hell of a lot more than that,’ I thought, my anger growing. ‘I could tell you things that would make your war stories seem like fairy tales.’

“What do you see now?” He paused. “How do you see now? Your eyes don’t look any different…”

“But they are.”

“Hermione said it changes the way you see everything. She said that you left because you saw something different…in me.”

“Don’t think you’re so special.” The anger was there, but my bewilderment was plain. ‘Hermione’s too smart for her own goddamn good,’ I thought.

Harry’s eyes narrowed, and his hands gripped the railing tightly. He took a deep breath and continued.

“I need to know. I need to know what you see.”

I crossed my bare arms on the frozen railing and leaned my forehead against them. I felt dizzy. “You don’t want to know. Really. You don’t.”

Peering up at him, I could see his face change, as if an angry blossom bloomed upon his face, almost beautiful in its sudden metamorphosis. ‘No,’ I thought, closing my eyes tightly. ‘That’s not him.’

“Look, in case you’ve forgotten, I faced Voldermort, too.”

“How many times now?” I said, muttering. “Was it seven or eight?” In my mind, his hands were on my shoulders, nails digging into my skin, face pressed closely to mine, anger flowing easily into rage. ‘But that’s not him.’

Harry placed a soft hand on my shoulder, and I stood up. Contrition had its lines scrawled all over his face. I wanted to scratch them out.

“I shouldn’t have said that,” Harry said. “It’s just…you and I, we faced the same evil. You put yourself in harm’s way, let yourself be captured by Voldermort for the Order, so soon after our…”

“Our what? Our wedding?” I could have been angry, should have been, but my mind was flooded with images of another’s reactions to me, acting in ways Harry couldn’t.

“Ginny.” His voice was softer now, more gentle, but this only made the visions in my head all the more unbearable. I saw a place where the extremities of hate only deepened the slightest bit of feeling, the slightest connection. And I wanted it. So badly. I wanted what Harry couldn’t give me.

“I just want to know why you’re leaving me.”

His words hung like the tolling of a heavy, ancient bell between us. ‘There, now you’ve done it,’ I thought. ‘I told you to try something else.’

My words wouldn’t come. A few times I opened my mouth to speak, but couldn’t. I heard another’s words, close up against my ear: “Pain is the only way to love. The only way I know.”

Suddenly, I was crying. My knees knocked, then seemed to melt underneath me, feeling nothing as they hit the cold, metallic bridge floor. Harry’s arms were around me then, consoling, embracing, but they only made my grief more palpable. I wished for longer, stronger, stranger arms than his, ones so filled with hate they burned like cold fire if they touched bare flesh. ‘But the burning was better,’ I thought. ‘The cold was better than this.’

I don't like your tragic sighs
As if your god has passed you by well hey fool
That's your deception
Your angels speak with jilted tongues
The serpent's tale has come undone you have no
Strength to squander

I reached for the closet handle, opening it as quietly as possible. In my particular room in the Hog’s Head, everything squeaked if you weren’t very careful. I pulled the door open and pulled out my broomstick. I walked gingerly across the floorboards to the door. I opened the door, then walked out into the hall. Thankfully, the lunch crowd downstairs had cleared out for the day, making the Hog’s Head seem almost blissfully quiet in comparison. I moved to shut the door behind me, then stopped and turned around. Harry lay asleep in the bed, arms and legs sprawled, his bare, pale chest only half covered by the white duvet.

“Stay with me,” he had said, “and I’ll take care of you. We’ll find some way to lift this curse on your eyes.” His smile had been so bright, so full of hope as we made our way up to my room, his hand clutching my own as if I would run from him. “Stay with me and everything will be all right.”

“No,” I said aloud to the sleeping man in my bed. “It won’t.”

I closed the door and walked back down the steps, my broom slung over my shoulder. The barkeep eyed me with lascivious interest as I walked across the main room, his gaze slathered as much with lust as with disdain. I ignored him and walked outside. I looked up at Hogwarts, seated on the hill, covered with gleaming snow and ice. I turned away from this sight as well, mounting my broom with practiced ease. I pushed off hard and felt the wind whip my hair into my face as I flew towards the lake.

I told Harry that the lake was like a mirror, where the glass glitters, but darkness remains untouched. He knows that this is how I see the world, now. But that was not of my own design. My education in sight began long ago, in Hogwarts. But the things I learned frightened me. I was not ready to accept them. ‘To accept you,’ I thought, flying high over the forest, ignoring their beauty as if it did not exist.

Years later, I loved foolishly. I married foolishly. Then I did the smartest thing in my life. By taking that mission, I knew I should have been afraid. In all likelihood, I was going to die in the attempt. But the part of me Harry could never understand wanted my education in sight to be complete.

Being captured was probably the worst of it. Death Eaters are never particularly friendly, and I’ve racked up many a grudge with them over the years. Too many for being so young, some said. They beat me, then brought me to my knees in front of their Lord. They waited for him to strike me down. Their wishes were not appeased.

“I know your face,” he said. He tipped up my chin with one long, delicate finger. The rest, as they sometimes say, is history. History I cannot share in words.

I left land behind as I flew out over the lake. I stopped suddenly, almost upending my broom in the process. My cloak hung half on, half off my shoulders as I stared down into that impossible darkness.

I knew I should say something here. Something meaningful about this strange education I’ve had. No one was listening, but I needed the world to hear. Instead of words, the lake itself flickered into different images before my eyes. I saw a broken body, felt it lying next to me, felt the vice grip of its hand closing over my wrist. Again, the voice speaking close up, lips brushing my ear.

“You can no longer know any love but mine. I’ve altered you beyond any hope of healing. And now, I give you this.” His hand, over my eyes now, burning their winter chill into my skull. “You will see what I see. Know as I know. Feel as I feel. Want as I want.” The hand falls away, but the pain keeps my eyes closed up tight. He speaks no more, and in my blindness, I refuse to blunder away into a battle.

“That’s where you found me, Harry,” I said. “Next to the body of your enemy.”

‘And there,’ I thought, ‘is where I belong.’

My hands went limp and I didn’t cry out as I slipped off the broomstick, my cloak fluttering around me as I fall into the water. I make no splash; merely slip through the water as if it were glass.

The only comfort is the moving of the river
You enter into me, a lie upon your lips
Offer what you can, I'll take all that I can get
Only a fool's here to stay
Only a fool's here to stay
Only a fool's here...


A/N: This was written for the fic_cd_mix community. This was track number eight, to Sarah McGlachlan's haunting song, Ice. Comments are welcome and appreciated.

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