Ginny sat in the paddock behind the Burrow, staring up at the clouds. The grass was barely growing in but had a bit of moisture in it, a weird damp crinkly feeling under her legs. She was wearing the same jeans and t-shirt that she’d fallen asleep in earlier. Her scuffed purple trainers were starting to fall apart; she could pull the sole away from the uppers at the left toe. She frowned. Tonks had given those to her while she’d been stuck at Muriel’s during Easter. Ginny-in-the-paddock sighed, knowing that she was just waiting for now. The fireworks would start in approximately twelve and two thirds minutes.
It was May 3rd, and Ron had been at Hogwarts for almost a whole year and he’d only written her twice. He was her favorite brother! And he’d only sent two letters! Her whole ten-year-old self was furious with the whole thing, stomping around her bedroom. Ginny-in-the-paddock knew that right about now Ginny-who-was-ten would be throwing herself onto her bed, burying her face in the pillows, and stormily crying until she felt sleepy.
Somewhere around there, Mum would let the kitchen door bang shut. She couldn’t help it when she was carrying the basket to town for the weekly grocery run. But when the door banged like that, Ginny knew that Mum would be gone for a while. And since Dad was at work and the boys were all gone (she sniffled a bit) she had the house to herself for about an hour.
An hour was plenty of time to go flying.
So in the two minutes and change, Ginny-who-was-ten crept into Fred and George’s room, stole a hairpin, unlocked the broom shed, and ran to the paddock. She was intent on figuring out how to do the barrel role she’d seen in Ron’s Cannons book. Her hair flew behind her as she leapt over a tree root, ready to fly —
Until she saw the red-haired teenager sitting in the grass, staring up at the clouds. Ginny-with-purple-trainers looked down, and she and Ginny-who-held-Fred’s-broom looked each other over warily for approximately seventeen seconds.
“You can go flying,” said Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers. “I won’t tell.”
Ginny-who-held-Fred’s-broom eyed Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers. “Who are you?” Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers snorted.
“I’m Ginny Weasley, seven years ahead of you,” she said. Ginny-who-was-ten didn’t look surprised, but cocked her head.
“What’s on your collarbone?” Ginny-who-was-ten asked. Ginny-who-was-seventeen’s hand flew to her shoulder, covering the pink knot that began a long, ropy scar across her abdomen.
“Nothing,” she said shakily. Ginny-who-was-unscarred cocked an eyebrow.
“I’m a better liar than that,” she informed her older counterpart. Ginny-who-was seventeen just sighed.
“You better still like flying, at least,” Ginny-who-was-ten said finally. Ginny-who-was-seventeen, who had expected that reply, looked sad.
“I haven’t flown in a long time,” she told Ginny-who-was-ten. She looked up at the sky, stretching her neck out so the skin would get taut so the tears couldn’t leak out. It was futile, really, because Ginny-who-was-ten was about to —
“Would you like to borrow this broom?”
Several tears ran down the sides of Ginny-who-was-sad’s face. She sniffed. “That’s alright,” she said, her voice tight. “I’ll watch you.”
Ginny-who-had-been-mad-at-Ron shrugged. Time was ticking, after all. She swung a leg over the broom, settled herself carefully, and kicked off.
Ginny’s hair swirled around her as a breeze kicked through the paddock. Her stomach swooped as the broom swerved; what if she fell? But no; she’d always had good balance and good reflexes and the broom was stable once again. She kept flying and slowly felt the anger and hurt and sadness fall away.
Ginny-who-was-on-the-broom came to a halt in the middle of the paddock, hovering several feet above the ground. In order to do that barrel roll she was going to have to flip the broom up-side-down. She’d done this once before by accident, when Fred had thrown a make-shift Bludger at her. She’d tried to duck and suddenly found herself hanging from the broom rather than sitting on top. She’d shrieked as she clung to the broom for dear life, and it had taken both the twins to get her down. Ginny-on-the-broom scowled at the memory, but she focused on the remembered sensation of ducking. She wanted to recreate that motion, hopefully this time with a bit more control.
Ginny-on-the-ground snorted when Ginny-on-the-broom scowled. She’d been mad at the twins for ages over that one. The smile faded from her face at the thought of the twins. Of Fred.
But Ginny-on-the-broom was letting herself slide sideways, holding her breath. With her eyes closed, she flipped up-side-down, her hair brushing the crinkly damp grass. She cracked open her eyes, and Ginny-on-the-grass was tempted to smile again. Ginny-who-was-upside-down's face was turning magenta. She swung side-to-side a little bit, but she couldn’t seem to get herself back upright.
Ginny-on-the-ground knew what she was going to say next. “Start with your hips,” she called. Ginny-who-was-up-side-down’s eyes popped wide open.
“What?” she asked breathlessly. Ginny-who-knew-how-to-do-the-trick remembered how scared she had been, hanging up-side-down from the broom, and how determined she’d been to get it right.
“Start with your hips,” Ginny-who-knew-how-to-do-the-trick said again. “Roll your hips up, and let the rest of your body follow. Try to only rotate the broom, and let your head be the last thing to come up.” Ginny-up-side-down made a face of concentration, and Ginny-with-her-bum-on-the-ground grimaced. Right about now Ginny-on-the-broom would roll too hard and-
Ginny-sprawled-on-the-grou nd rolled onto her back, panting a bit. She hadn’t been high, but she had hit the ground a little funny.
“Try it again, a little less vigorously,” Ginny-who-was-sitting said to Ginny-who-was-laying. Ginny-who-was-laying gathered little pieces of her dignity around herself, picked herself up, and walked to where the broom was hovering. She stared at it for a moment before briskly remounting and kicking off again.
Ginny-who-was-on-the-ground smiled a bit. She missed being Ginny-on-the-broom, being determined, being so sure she could do it (whatever it was). Ginny-on-the-broom took a deep breath, slid herself sideways, and without hardly a pause gently rotated her hips and came back to upright. She paused there, her eyes still closed.
“Open your eyes, silly,” Ginny-on-the-ground said fondly. Ginny-on-the-broom obeyed, and let out a whoop when she saw the world right-side-up.
“I did it!” she yelled, swooping around the paddock. Ginny-on-the-ground laughed, a full real laugh for the first time in a very, very long time.
Ginny-on-Fred’s-broom swung another lap around the paddock. She was going to skid to a stop in front of Ginny-on-the-ground, still giggling, and then they were both going to wake up. Ginny-on-the-broom would wake up to Errol hitting the window. The silly bird just wasn’t up to Hogwarts flights anymore. But he would be carrying a letter from Ron, so Ginny-who-was-ten-and-missed-her-brother s wouldn’t care so much that she was going to have to nurse Errol back to life once again.
Ginny-on-the-ground wondered what she would wake up to.
But Ginny-on-Fred’s-broom was fish-tailing to a stop in front of the tree house, her mouth hanging open. Ginny-on-the-ground stood up, feeling for her wand. Something was different. Something was wrong.
“How many of us are there?” Ginny-who-was-ten asked, exasperated. “You didn’t have to hide in the tree.”
“I have no idea,” said a voice. Ginny-with-her-wand-in-her-hand stood stock still as a red-haired woman jumped down out of the tree, her hair streaming behind her. Ginny-from-the-tree brushed off the seat of her jeans and twisted her hair up in a loose knot at the nape of her neck. Ginny-with-her-wand-in-her-hand suddenly wished her hair was up in the braided bun Lavender had charmed for her last fall, wished she knew what was going on, that she had some back-up —
“Stop panicking,” said Ginny-with-her-hair-up. “Not everything unexpected is bad.” She smirked at Ginny-who-was-definitely-still-panicking . Ginny-with-her-hair-up turned to Ginny-on-Fred’s-broom. “Keep practicing that barrel role. You’ll get it soon, and it will be hugely useful to you, despite what Ron says.”
Ginny-with-her-wand-in-her-han d felt a sense of realization wash over her. She’d practiced that move until she felt nearly as comfortable up-side-down or sideways as she did right-side-up, even though Ron had told her she would only make herself nauseous. And bugger all if she didn’t put the Quaffle through every time she came at him sideways.
Ginny-on-the-broom grinned and took off around the paddock again, every so often stopping to roll herself sideways and back up.
“So how far ahead are you?” Ginny-with-her-wand-in-her-hand asked.
“Seven years on you,” Ginny-who-was-twenty-four said.
“Are you - am I - happy?” Ginny-who-was-seventeen asked, confused. “What do we — you — do?
“Ah-ah, that’s cheating,” Ginny-who-was-twenty-four said. Ginny-who-was-seventeen scuffed her purple trainers against the grass, watching Ginny-on-the-broom slalom through a row of apple trees. Ginny-who-was-ten had handled her much better than she was handling this new older self.
“You weren’t in my dream when I was ten,” Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers said finally.
“That Ginny needed you, not me,” Ginny-with-the-loose-bun said, leaning back on the climbing tree. Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers twirled her wand.
“What did that Ginny need from me?” she asked slowly.
“To know how to flip her world,” said Ginny-with-the-loose bun. Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers stared at Ginny-leaning-on-the-tree.
“What I told myself every day of my second year, yes,” Ginny-leaning-on-the-tree finished for her. “I remember.”
Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers studied Ginny-leaning-on-the-tree. She’d gotten good at reading people this past year; Ginny-who-was-twenty-four seemed…happy, though carrying vestiges of stress. She still rolled her right shoulder in a bit, but not nearly as much as Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers-and-the-t oo-fast-reflexes.
“So what do I need from you?” Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers-and-a-tir ed-heart asked Ginny-who-stood-up-straighter.
“Two things,” Ginny-who-stood-up-straighter said. “Do you see how much fun Ginny-on-the-broom is having?” Ginny-with-a-tired-heart watched Ginny-on-the-broom roll up-side-down again, giggling as her hair got caught up her nose. “You need to remember how to do that,” Ginny-leaning-on-the-tree said.
She levered herself off the tree and put her fingers between her lips, letting out an ear-splitting whistle. Ginny-on-the-broom looked scandalized.
“Hey!” she called. “Mum will be back soon! What if she heard that?”
“You have approximately ten and a half minutes,” Ginny-who-could-whistle-just-like-Fred said. “Do you mind if we borrow that broom?”
Ginny-who-was-ten-and-trustin g landed and thrust the broom, tail up, at Ginny-who-hadn’t-flown-in-a-long-time. “You need to smile more,” Ginny-who-was-ten told Ginny-who-was-seventeen. “You-we-ugh. I guess 'I' works…I grow up to be sort of pretty.”
Ginny-who-was-seventeen-and- prettier-than-she-thought-she’d-be stared after Ginny-who-was-ten-and-blunt as the red-headed girl tore through the trees, making sure she’d be back inside before Mum got home.
Ginny-who-could-whistle-just-like-Fr ed chuckled. “Maybe you didn’t need me at all,” she mused. “Maybe you needed her.” Ginny-holding-the-broom looked sideways at Ginny-who-was-laughing. “Oh well,” said Ginny-who-was-laughing, “you get me. Now get on that broom.”
With a shock, Ginny-holding-Fred’s-broom realized exactly what her hand was wrapped around, and this time nothing could stop the tears from running down her face. She pulled the broom to her chest and buried her face in the tail.
“Oh sweetheart,” Ginny-who-was-older said, and she cradled Ginny-who-was-crying in her arms, stroking her long red hair. “It gets better, lovely, it really does,” she crooned, as Ginny-who-was-going-to-bury-her-older-br other sobbed and sobbed.
Tears ran down Ginny-who-was-comforting’s face as she felt herself cry once again for her lost brother. Maybe she’d needed this moment too; maybe she’d needed to comfort herself, to truly see herself, to forgive herself for the pain she’d carried and sometimes, when it was too much, dealt out to the people who’d deserved it the least.
Ginny-who-was-clinging-to-the-broom- for-dear-life sniffed hard and stood up straight, her back ramrod-straight. “Enough,” she said roughly. “I’m alive, and I’m damn well going to keep living.”
Ginny-who-had-finally-forgiv en peered at the burning look on Ginny-who-declared-life’s face. “Good girl,” she murmured. “That’s exactly it. Now prove it.” Ginny-clutching-the-broom looked confused. “Get on the broom,” said Ginny-who-had-forgiven. “Fly.”
Ginny-with-the-purple-trainers looked carefully at the broom she was holding, her fingers tracing the metalwork holding the tail to the handle. With decisive movements, she flipped the broom around and mounted it. She took a deep, shaky breath, and kicked off.
Ginny bit her lip as she rose away from the ground. The broom was a little shaky, more because she was shaky than because she’d lost any flying skills. Ginny’s hands tightened a bit as she ordered herself to get it together.
Ginny-on-the-broom hovered for a moment before leaning forward and taking off. Fred had preferred maneuverability to speed in his broom, and it took all of the strength in her inner legs from years of handless barrel rolls to keep the broom tracking a straight line. Her hair flowed out behind her as she whipped around the paddock. Without thinking about it, Ginny-on-the-broom echoed Ginny-who-was-ten’s whoop of delight as she finally tasted the beginnings of freedom.
Ginny-who’d-jumped-down-from-the-tre e-house laughed as tears ran freely down her face. She wrapped her arms around herself, ready for the moment when she could wake up to find herself wrapped in a different, altogether more masculine, pair of arms.
Ginny-on-the-broom landed, skidding a bit in front of Ginny-who-was-hugging-herself and giggling. “Oh, I missed that,” she said, running a hand through her wind-swept hair. Ginny-who-was-hugging-herself smiled wistfully.
“What?” asked Ginny-who’d-been-flying. “What’s that look on your face for?”
“Oh, I’m ready to wake up,” said-Ginny-who-was-twenty-four-and-in-lo ve.
“What are you waking up to?” asked Ginny-who’d-been-flying. She peered carefully at the older girl and smirked. “Or, should I ask, who?”
“Sneaky!” said Ginny-who-was-twenty-four. “Sneaky sneaky girl! I’m not supposed to tell you anything!” But she was grinning. Ginny-who-still-held-Fred’s-broom felt her mind wander to the boy she loved, and her smile tightened a bit.
“Ok, time to go back,” said Ginny-who-was-sappily-in-love.
“Wait! ” cried Ginny-holding-the-broom. “What about the other thing you needed to help me with?”
Ginny-who-had-started-walking- towards-the-tree-house looked back over her shoulder. “I already told you, lovely!” With an athletic jump, Ginny-who-had-come-from-the-tree-house vanished back up into the leafy branches, leaving Ginny-who-had-started-alone-in-the-paddo ck standing there, staring after her, still holding Fred’s broom.
“And how exactly do I wake up?” she muttered. “And what will I wake up to?”
The wind gusted, and Ginny shivered slightly. It carried the smell of rock dust, spell burn, and blood, but also of broomstick polish and lavender laundry soap and something else, something she knew well. Her eyes slipped shut and her body felt tingly. She felt a rough hand stroke her long tangled red hair.
“Don’t wake her,” she heard Ron say.
“Shut it, Ronald,” came Hermione’s tired voice.
Ginny opened her eyes to see cream linens, scarlet blankets, and a filthy beat-up jacket. She blinked several times, forcing her eyes up to the face above the jacket.
“Harry,” she said, her voice raspy.
“Hey there,” he said. Ginny stared at him, trying to get her brain kicked into gear. She hadn’t been expecting him here, watching her sleep. Hell, he should be asleep. Right? What time was it anyway?
“Please don’t be mad,” he said softly. Ginny blinked several times. She hadn’t expected that either. But really, waking up to him wasn’t a bad thing.
“You’re a mess still,” she said blankly, and promptly felt her face turn magenta. Harry laughed a little.
“Probably,” he said.
Ginny pushed herself upright, still trying to link her thoughts together. Her brain swam with images of herself, younger and older, flying on broomsticks.
“Do I have my broom?” she asked herself. Harry frowned. He started to open his mouth, but Ginny cut him off. “Did I ever tell you about this dream I had when I was ten?” she asked. She pushed the covers back and shoved her feet into the purple trainers Tonks had given her over Easter. “I met my seventeen-year-old self and she taught me how to do a barrel roll,” Ginny said.
“Ok,” said Harry, bemused. Ginny knelt, stiff, and stuck her head under her bed. She was sure she had left her broom here over break. Spotting the tip of the handle among all the other rubbish she’d shoved there, she dragged her beloved Cleansweep out.
“Come on,” she said, taking Harry’s hand. Harry looked at their twined fingers, and then up at her. Ginny felt her face heating up again — her hair was sticking everywhere and a Chocolate Frog card was stuck between the twigs of her broom tail.
“Where?” said Harry.
“Flying,” said Ginny. Harry raised his eyebrows. “Trust me,” she said. “Not everything unexpected is bad.”Start writing here ...