August 20th, 2002: Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, London
Ginny didn't know what to expect when Harry came home from the Ministry. The Chaser walked into Grimmauld Place that afternoon from a lengthy run, excited to see him.
She had caught a whiff of herself three miles in and gagged. Ginny then grinned viciously and spent the last minutes of her cool down itching to get home. She planned to pull her boy into a nose-hair-singeing embrace.
She was disappointed to find the house empty.
Easing the door shut behind her, sweat gluing her t-shirt to her back, she called out for her hermit boyfriend, expecting him to greet her airily. Thick quiet amplified the click of the door catching, and her exposed back and shoulders, once radiating heat, immediately cooled, skin turning cold and clammy.
"Harry," she called out again, arms down by her sides, shoulders tightening. No one responded.
"Alright, no need to be dramatic. So, Harry isn't home. He's not been home before."
That this had ever been the case was purely hypothetical. It should have been that Harry had once been gone when she came in. However, in the few months they had lived together, Ginny had yet to return to an empty house. Harry always drifted a room or two away, close enough to hear the door close.
With her high occupancy childhood, Ginny hadn't quite caught the hang of empty homes. Walking into a quiet house always made her feel lost. Like she was desperately missed somewhere else but couldn't know where.
She fought the urge to leave and come back when Harry was home. He was probably around the house but a little too far away to hear her.
"Upstairs," she declared, taking the stairs to the second floor two at a time. She spoke to herself like she would a nervous teammate:
"Boys nap, obviously. He must be asleep. Everyone is fine, Weasley, so stop freaking out."
Every morning she went out running and Harry puttered around until she returned. Then they ate breakfast, and Ginny showered. In lieu of lunch, Harry left in search of some new, dismal corner of the house. And when he inevitably found himself in a jam, Ginny hunted him down, knowing too many minutes of quiet meant life-threatening peril.
"He's probably stuck in a wardrobe or something."
They would wrestle some possessed curtain or deceitful bedsheet into submission, and she would crack a joke about it. Harry surreptitiously checked her for injuries until she waved him off, then they'd cook dinner, kiss, and go to bed.
Harry was fine—probably, most likely, odds-favored fine.
Ginny waited on the second floor landing, listening. There weren't any angry huffs or muffled curses, no scraping of animated furniture, or thump of shoes hitting the walls or floorboards.
"I hate this," she mumbled, eyes peeled and aimed at the second floor shadows.
Nothing moved, no one screamed. There was no awful dying smell besides her own armpits.
"Third floor, maybe he's on the third floor."
She took the next staircase at a sprint.
"Harry, are you okay?"
But again, there was nothing. Ginny stopped halfway up the stairs, letting the current of uncaring silence wash over her. She hoped for a treading clue of life anywhere in the house. But there wasn't one. Harry just wasn't home.
She went even higher up, toward the moldy attic.
Coughing up dust, she actively rejected memories of mildewed stone, slimy rat bones, and scales rasping over tiles. One of her anxiety dreams featured Ginny running through the hallways, much like she was now. Her small hand would be wrapped around a rooster's broken neck. The hems of her robe were always soaked and dripping, leaving behind a trail of freezing, stagnant smelling water to guide the monster chasing her, be it Tom, the Carrows, or the basilisk.
"Harry! You better be fine, or gods help you, we're done," she yelled, climbing the rest of the stairs.
She kept climbing until she was alone in the attic, surrounded by dirty heirlooms under moth-eaten tarps. But no Harry, only stillness.
"Where is he?"
Sometimes in those dreams, she was chasing someone, either Harry, or Fred, and while she pleaded in her mind for them to stay, to help her, only sick, wet hisses would pour from her mouth. And all they heard as they ran were her spitting hisses, the steady drip-drip of water from her robes and the crackling of the dead cockerel's neck bones as she squeezed tighter and chased them down the hall.
God, her nerves weren't this bad when she lived with her parents. She was blindsided by her own reaction to being alone.
"Maybe I should go see someone," she muttered, rubbing her nose. Her face tingled like it had gone numb. She may have been having a panic attack. "This is ridiculous."
But Harry had been so strange the morning before, turning inward like he sometimes did when something heavy was on his mind. She figured all her old stories about Weasleys and blood must have made him feel left out.
She waited for him to bring it up again all that evening, but he never did. And he didn't seem angry, just distracted.
On some now-obvious level, she was worried. Had she hurt his feelings and he was being too Harry to confront her? Unless she really needled him, he would rather pretend all was well than just talk to her.
She could wait him out, of course. Silence between two people didn't bother her. But the impenetrable nothing between herself and no one was too much.
The witch breathing harshly in the attic was too far away to hear the front door open. But soon, a gentle silver light creeped up from the end of the attic steps. She slumped in relief when she recognized the silver stag for what it was.
"Ginny, are you home?," Harry's Patronus asked in an unsure voice. It warmed her to also hear his nerves about a seemingly empty house.
Harry found more solace in loneliness than Ginny ever could, but clearly her presence mattered. That soothed her some.
"A lot's happened today...too much, really. Please let me know when you'll be back."
"Asking for help, are we," she replied a bit sourly. The stag just nodded at her, message delivered, and dissolved into sparkles and mist.
Ginny waited a beat, indulging in a deep, steadying breath. Harry wasn't dead, and he hadn't run off. This wasn't Hogwarts. This was their home, in which everyone was reasonably safe and in need of comforting.
"I'm going to hug the shite out of that boy," she swore to herself in the dark.
She then pounded through the house at a full tilt, and seeing Harry hover at the bottom of the staircase, left the stairs in a flying leap. He yelled in shock, dropping something in a mad clatter to catch her as she dove into him. Ginny, weighty with rambling limbs of lean muscle, toppled the tall boy over and brought them both crashing down onto the unswept carpet.
"Wait!," the young wizard gasped. It was a little late for that, with him already wrapped up in Ginny and the rug. "Please, I—argh!
"Just, let me up! Just, alright, just hold me for a second, I guess. Please, Ginny, just...hold me. Today's been..."
Ginny, head lying on his chest, then scooted herself up to see his face. He looked drained. His premature frown lines creased around his mouth. His eyes were bloodshot, like he'd scrubbed at them, and at some point he had shoved his glasses onto his nose hard enough to scratch the bridge of it.
She levered off of him and sat back on her heels, unhappy, her heart finally coming down from its frantic thud. Something was wrong. But he was at least safe, physically, so whatever it was, she could handle.
"What happened?," she prompted.
Ginny chose not to ask where he'd been, figuring she really didn't want to discourage him from going out. Maybe he should go out more, even though she easily understood why he didn't.
"Are you okay, Harry?" His face flushed, savaged by emotion.
His eyes shone, red-rimmed and irritated, and his teeth gnawed at his lower lip. Ginny came closer again, sensing him fight to keep whatever it was inside. She planted her hands on either side of his head, keeping his gaze.
"Talk to me."
"...Yeah, yeah okay. I mean, I'm not okay. I just mean, er, I'll talk."
"Merlin, that was fast," she couldn't help but quip, "Is it that bad?"
Harry turned his head into her arm. She felt his damp, stuttered breath on her wrist. He had been crying.
"Yeah," he croaked.
She bent down to kiss his cheek and watched his face screw up again. She hesitated.
"You're so perfect and so very beautiful," Harry continued. She hummed in agreement, waiting for the "but." "But please hop off of me. You reek."
"Huh-uh, impossible. Girls don't stink. See?" She twined her fingers into his, smiling sweetly. She was honestly glad he was home.
Then she stretched their arms well above their heads, and smothered him in her armpit.
She cackled evilly, letting her boyfriend flail underneath her. She privately considered it her revenge for making her worry.
Harry's foot connected with whatever he dropped. She heard a muted thump of wood on wood on carpet and twisted her body to see what it was.
The witch, while holding down her boyfriend, noticed a winding scroll that unfurled partway down the hallway, covered in clean cursive letters. Beside it was a box of red ochre wood with gold corners, fallen over on the antique olive rug.
"What's that?," she asked, eyebrows raised. It seemed old and expensive.
She rose with Harry's chest when he sighed. He sounded less upset, if not fabulously recovered, as he answered.
"That's my day," he said but didn't clarify. "C'mon. Stink all you want, but let's go upstairs. I need a lie down."
Minutes later, after hearing the words "Potter family vault," Ginny stopped him to take a shower and prepare herself. So, he had taken the old family stories to heart. And done some research on the Potters. He must have felt left out after all.
The young woman stared into the mirror while drying her hair. A quintessential Weasley stared back at her.
If she were honest, she liked having such a strong family resemblance. She didn't think it necessary to hate her freckles or her hair or her pallor when she did alright.
She thought she looked well. So did most of wizarding Britain, hence her going into hiding. And Ginny always knew who she was, being a personality unto herself while, undeniably, a Weasley.
Ginny tried to understand what it might feel like to be the odd one out. She tried to imagine being the one that never fit. She had a year of true isolation to draw from, but since then, she rarely felt like she didn't belong.
She had brothers coming out of her ears, and once she opened up, she had little issue attracting friends. She forged bonds at school that couldn't be shaken, and now worked with an amazing team of strong-headed women who took her under their wing.
Ginny, at heart, knew she was in good company.
That fueled why she felt drawn to people like Harry and Luna, even Hermione. There was a certain quality to the odd-ones-out, the kids in corners who read and stared out of windows. They lingered on the edge of crowds, distinct and curious.
She loved to fit in next to them.
Ginny stopped touching her hair, irritated. Harry just owning his specialness would be nice. Instead he constantly tried to fade into the background, like him just existing caused others trouble.
She loved Harry for the same distinctiveness that isolated him. Even if she tried to fit with him, in some ways she just couldn't. She didn't look like him, and she wasn't ready for children, being young and at the start of a promising career. So she couldn't give him the family he wanted. She wouldn't make him more Potters, not yet. Neither of them were ready for that.
So, they had the box. One he looked sick about opening, but wouldn't let out of his sight.
She didn't know what was in the box, but she could tell it was nothing good. If it hurt so much to open, why open it again? He knew what was inside, why rehash the whole thing for her sake?
"Okay, fine," Ginny poked the mirror, trading determined glares with her reflection. She jabbed the mirror again, like she was gearing up for a match.
"You are enough. You got this. Let's go out there and show him what we got."
She gave her own rump a slap. She then threw on her duck yellow terry cloth robe, hanging on a hook on the door. Dressed for battle, she yanked open the bathroom door and presented herself, fists on hips, to her dejected boyfriend.
He looked up slowly from contents of his box laid out over the bedspread. She gave him a fierce look.
"Are you ready? Because I'm ready," snapped the witch.
"Let me hear it!" She marched until her knees hit the edge of the mattress. "Shoot straight, Potter, I'm all ears!"
The wizard swallowed thickly, mouth pinched. Ginny frowned, annoyed. Had he chosen not to tell her after all?
"What is it?," she egged him, "Family curse? Horrible disease? Distantly related to Voldemort? Umbridge is your great aunt on your dad's side? Snape was secretly your dad?"
"I'm adopted! Okay!?"
Harry grabbed the papers off the bed and threw them on the floor.
"Dammit, Ginny! They're not my birth parents! I went to visit Hermione at the Ministry, then I went to the bank, and I'm sorry for not telling you I'd be gone, but my fucking...I'm adopted.
“Nobody knew but my parents and this super niche healer who I guess is dead now?" Harry flopped backwards onto the pillows, buried both hands in his fringe and whined, "I didn't want this. I should've left it alone."
"Shite, Harry, I didn't," Ginny cursed, hands pressed to her mouth. "I went too far. I lost my temper."
"Yeah, no, it's fine, I don't care," the boy grumbled from under his hands. "I have other things to worry about, and you're fine, honestly."
She murmured something affirmative and kneeled on the bed. She then walked on her knees to the headboard to look down at his covered face. "Still, I'm sorry. How, how do you know?"
One hand waved at the floor dismissively. The eye under it was squeezed shut.
"I threw it down there somewhere. There's a weird handwritten certificate from this secretly famous midwife, Claire something. I don't know. There're two: a fill-in-the-blanks thing, like a whodunnit, and a baby receipt. Ah three, forgot the wanted poster."
"'Baby receipt,'" Ginny whispered, dumbfounded. She crawled back to the edge of the counterpane and lie down on her stomach to reach the floor. She snatched up the couple of papers she could reach.
One must have been the whodunnit, because there were hardly any names on it. There was the Healer and the first name of a witness, besides Harry's given name, but nothing else.
Why the mystery? But then again, if she had ever planned to give up her baby, she supposed she wouldn't leave her full name and forwarding address.
The second paper was just a drawing of a woman. Ginny squinted at it, some rootless recognition tumbling around in her head.
"Who's this?," she asked, holding up the sketch.
"Ha!," barked her boyfriend in reply, startling Ginny. "That's another thing! According to Lupin, I look like her."
Harry then shot up abruptly, whipped off her glasses, and looked at her beseechingly. Ginny only broke eye contact for a second to peek at the sketch in her peripheral.
She knew her eyes widened, as aghast as she was at the similarities, but she didn't say anything. She couldn't lie and say they didn't look very much related. So she said nothing.
"Oh, what, now you're quiet too, yeah," Harry went on, tone vaguely mocking.
She returned his glare, although knowing she deserved a bit of it. Not all the throbbing, injured hostility now focused her way, but surely a smidge.
"It's not so easy to talk about, is it?"
"You're doing fine," was Ginny's staunch reply. "Do you honestly wanna hear what I think?"
"Yes," he dragged out in a whistling sigh. "Sorry, please."
"Stop apologizing," she snapped out of habit. He did that too much. "I'm fine. I think you...honestly yeah, if this is a real woman," she waved the drawing, "then yeah, I think she could be your birth mum. Without your glasses, you look...very alike. It's incredible, actually.
"But Harry," she continued, swinging down a hand to swipe the last paper off of the bedroom floor.
She glanced at it and was relieved to find the Potters' names, and his proper birthday. Looks like all this time, was actually been the anniversary of his adoption.
"Harry, the Potters are still your parents."
Ginny slid the adoption certificate in his lap. She felt her eyes well a little at the slow, fearful way he picked it up, like either it or he was too fragile to touch.
"They chose you. They sacrificed everything for you, the same way you've done for everyone else. That's love. I know you know that, and of course you can still feel betrayed and realize they loved you."
"Yeah, I know," he said almost too quietly to catch. "But why didn't I know this? A letter or something would've—just, why do I have to find out by accident? This is fucked up, Ginny! Nobody should have to find out this way!"
She nodded, then shrugged. "It's just horrible that you couldn't spend much time with them, and that they couldn't tell you themselves. I'm not even going to pretend to know how much this hurts. But the basic facts are the same."
"What!? Are you joking?" Harry was now gripping the certificate in both hands and back to staring at her.
"Well, when you have a second to think about it," she prefaced, reaching out to wrap a hand around his ankle, "What did you know before? James and Lily Potter are your parents, and they died protecting you. That's still true.
"I can't say if it's more or less true because you're adopted, but it's true enough to work with, I think."
She eyed him for a moment, gauging his reaction. Harry's face had lost some of its tension, smoothing from true pain into discomfited contemplation. He had nodded once or twice while she talked, but hadn't replied.
He only stroked the foxed edges of the parchment, processing. Ginny watched him for a few moments and then decided to make them both lunch.
Harry had spent the rest of the day in their room. Ginny had asked if he wanted to be alone. The twenty-two year old wizard had looked up from the book in his lap, blushed, and shook his head. Tugging on his fringe in an impossibly endearing way, he mumbled about how she could stick around, if she wanted.
Resigned to a day in bed, she went down to stack a plate to the ceilings with chicken and cheese sandwiches. She then slid in beside him in the bed, handing him the plate and read the book over his shoulder.
"Why is everyone always trying to feed me," he groaned. Ginny shrugged and spoke around a bite of bread and chicken.
"Ron tells everyone you're too pretty. He thinks if you get fat, he can outshine you," she swallowed her bite and went in for another. "Joke's on him, you'd be even hotter with some chunk."
Harry grinned and nudged her. "Oi, you calling me skinny?"
She pinched his ribs through his sweater. "It's like cuddling with a broomstick. I'm fattening you up so I can finally quit bringing my work home with me."
When Harry rested his cheek on her head, laughing, the young witch figured another day in bed wasn't the end of the world. She settled in, shoving her legs under the comforter, and giving half her lap to the book.
"So this is your family register," she said, turning a page. After the intricate family tree on the first page, there was a log book of births.
It proved a little more detailed than the tree. It had full names and dates, as well as places and times, baby weights and lengths, and short descriptions.
Some of the descriptions included little acts of wild magic at birth. One Victorian age Potter gave birth while floating in mid-air. One newborn girl, a many times great aunt, changed the name on her bassinet in her first night sleeping in it. Any person to misname her had their tongue glued to the roof of their mouth "whilst the infant looked upon them with reproach."
The record was kept in gradually different handwriting as they flipped through the log. It seemed as though every couple of generations, a new family member took responsibility for the chronicling.
Ginny was glad to see that the last entry in the log was Harry's birth—well, his adoption day. The handwriting was messy and all uppercase, unlike the writers' before it.
She couldn't be sure, but given the dates on the family tree, Ginny guessed that James Potter had written Harry in himself. There were no other relatives to survive them. She looked aside at Harry, but kept her observation to herself. The wizard could probably tell for himself, and she wanted to give him his space to grieve.
"Look," she pointed out instead. "You were so tiny."
"I wouldn't know," he answered, squinting at the page.
Harry was born at six pounds and seventeen inches. In his description, it said that no one from the extended Potter family had been present for the birth. That they knew. But it also said, in large, spotty letters, "BABY SMELLS INCREDIBLE." The writer had been too excited and peppered the page with drops of ink.
Harry's dad was a bit of a doof, Ginny thought to herself.
Harry, for his part, was staring bright-eyed at the page, mouth tilted upwards in a half-smile. She wondered vaguely if the son would be as doting as his father. She supposed one day she might find out.
Ginny moved her hand for Harry to flip to the next page. This one was a log of death dates.
"Nope," she said, moving them along. "C'mon, there's plenty of that for later."
"Agreed," Harry intoned. "Wait, what's this?"
He had stopped them on another, two-page illustration. This one was a sepia-toned print of a world map, drawn in two hemispheres. Lines of longitude and latitude crisscrossed the world, overlaying the great continents outlined in lush, green paints. The equator swooped across both hemispheres, and a theatrical sun and moon rose and set, orbiting the earth.
A ribbon across the top read, "Potter Tabula familia."
A drawing decorated the bottom of the page: it was a view of the North Sea Coast, in deep yellows, tans, foamy whites and seafoam greens. The grass waved gently in a rendered sea breeze, and the waves in the distance rolled soundlessly.
An artist signature in the center was distinct, but she didn't recognize the name.
"Why is there a map in here," asked Harry. Ginny looked to him when she realized this wasn't a rhetorical question. He was waiting for her to answer.
"Oh, well, I don't know," she returned. He gave a humored huff, shaking his head. "What? My family book isn't nearly this fancy. Maybe it's a map of the Potter estates? Ask it."
"Whatdya mean, ask it?" He looked at her from the corner of his eye, clearly skeptical of her advice. She rolled her eyes and gestured at the moving artwork all around the page.
"I swear, it's like you forget magic exists sometimes," she teased. "Look, you're the Potter, even if you're a bit store-bought."
"Hey," he protested. "Too soon."
She plowed on. "Ask the book what the map is for. It's most likely enchanted to tell you."
As it turned out, the map had already heard Harry's question. While she finished her sentence, Ginny already noticed cherry red and charcoal grey swirl over the page. The new colors traveled over all the continents, leaving behind alternating pools of vibrancy and somberness.
The letters at the top of the page faded and then resurfaced, now reading, "Harry J. Potter* Tabula familia et trivium."
Harry sucked his teeth, and shook the book as if trying to rearrange the letters.
"Again with the damn asterisk!," he complained. "This book needs better manners."
"So do you if you keep shaking it," Ginny retorted, deadpan. She held the book down by its edges. "Look! It's answering your question, hmm, kind of. I don't suppose you're fluent in Latin?"
"I can guess most of it, except 'trivium.' What's that?"
The book obliged, if slowly. It rewrote itself with much less enthusiasm than when it had covered itself in dots. Ginny told Harry that his shaking probably offended it. The young wizard just rolled his eyes and bent down to read the new ribbon of text.
"'Potter trivium, the place where three roads meet.'"
Harry read this and then sat quietly for a moment. Ginny watched his expression with a bland smile, knowing from how he read the sentence, that its meaning was a mystery to him.
"I don't get it."
The waves on the bottom of the page sputtered, before catching themselves and returning to their peaceful roll. Ginny snickered. She had an inkling about what the book was getting at.
So she savored how it then rolled out a fresh ribbon, in stark white with clear, black print, parting from the vintage aesthetics of the page. This was probably the tome's way of sounding out its words.
"Harry James Potter*," it read with an especially bold asterisk, "a meeting of three roads: the Blood of Olde, the Blood Born Anew, and Magick as the Blood of the Eternal."
The colored dots on the page then pulsed once, as if to draw their attention. Ginny examined the page, starting to understand. She checked around the British Isles to make sure.
Touching the page, she traced her finger from the one red dot in London, to a pair of grey ones in Godric's Hollow. She tried to recall where other Potters might have lived and died, but found she would have to double-check the logs. Still, she had enough to tell Harry the map's purpose.
"It shows you where in the world your relatives are," she explained.
Harry looked at her, shocked, and then bent back over the book. His eyes ran all over the map, mostly in a fuss, she thought. Harry seemed to land somewhere eventually. He focused on where her calloused fingertip pointed out Godric's Hollow.
"I think the grey dots are the, um. Dearly departed."
"That's…," Harry dropped a heavy sigh, but powered through. "That is a lot of grey."
"I'm sorry," she whispered. Ginny wound an arm around his waist for good measure.
"You don't have to," he protested.
"Just for a second," she bargained. He leaned into her side, and they shared some heat, before she let him go as promised.
"So the red ones are the living...Ginny." This was Harry's nosebleed tone, she realized. His "violently suppressing a heart attack" manner of speaking. His finger stabbed the page in the northwest of England.
"Hm? Ohhh, Merlin."
His finger above hers was nestled in a cluster of three or four bright red dots. Some were more transparent than others, like they only half-belonged on the map. However, one in particular was a solid, non-negotiable, blaring red, like Harry's own dot found miles away in London.
"I have family," the boy breathed, eyes wide, nose practically pressed to the page. "Ginny, I have living family."
"Are there really more Potters?," Ginny asked, suspicious. After all, Harry's name was the last one in the birth logs.
She didn't think there were other, official, by-the-book Potters, if that's what Harry could be called. However, she didn't want to be the one to argue with the map, or turn down Harry's excitement. She suddenly wished Hermione or Luna was present to be the voice of reason. If she said anything, it would just be her there to manage his disappointment.
Ginny also wished that Harry was a little more for cautious deliberation. His mind, once armed with enough information to decide, tended towards major conclusions and immediate action.
She could see it happening now, as a beaming smile split his face. Harry hadn't considered that the bright red dots on the map might not be Potters. He saw them as undiscovered family just within arm's reach. Deep in her gut, Ginny knew otherwise.
She loved Harry, which is why she hated seeing him upset. So she wished, very much so, that he would try a little harder to protect himself. His exile in Number Twelve wasn't necessarily good for him, but it was on the way.
Whatever idea had currently lodged itself in his mind was throwing caution to the wind.
Before he could even convince her with his big, green, star-catcher eyes, Ginny snatched the book from his lap and shoved it under the comforter. He tried to stop her, but she just slapped his hands away and wielded a stiff pointer finger against his parted lips.
She channeled Hermione Granger, giving in to the fact that one of them had to be the adult.
"Before you do anything," she warned him, face grim, "you need to run it by Hermione first-no! Harry James Potter, I mean it. Normally, I wouldn't stop you and you know that, so listen to me. Do not rush into this."
"But Ginny! Here give me the book," Harry tried to burrow under the covers, but she slapped him away again. "Ow, stop! Listen to me now, Ginny, please! If I have other family out there, I have to meet them!
“I can't believe I've gone all this time not knowing, and what if, what if they—I have to go!"
The witch looked into the Boy-Who-Lived's pleading, puppy dog face and didn't budge an inch.
"And if you go up north to visit them, I'll gladly go with you, but you have to think, Harry, and you don't always do that." Ginny dug the book out from where she'd trapped it under her legs. She pulled it out, cover closed, and held the book with both hands, showing it to him.
"You need to consider that the people on this map are not Potters like the Family Potters. They might not be cousins or long-lost uncles.
"Harry, this map just showed you your relatives. Yours, as in…," Ginny looked into his face, heart sinking as the realization crept over it. "Yeah. These could be the people that gave you up. In fact, they probably are, and I'm sorry about that, but...do you really want to run off to meet them? Right now, today?"
She cast about for the loose documents and, catching them, pressed them over the book. On top was Harry's adoption certificate, with a corner of the woman's sketch peeking underneath. Directly on the cover of the book was Harry's birth certificate, with the very few names and the Healer's prayer for his well-being.
Harry reached out a finger and wedged it into her hand gripping the book's spine.
"Harry," she cautioned.
"Just...lemme see it, okay. I'm not going anywhere right now. I only want the map."
"Okay," she capitulated, feeling he meant it. It was awful to see him deflate as his birth certificate came loose and fluttered to the bedspread. She took it to move it aside but had a hand come over hers. "Oh, sorry, here."
She handed Harry his papers. He looked at them in the order she held them, lingering on the last. He then leaned back against the headboard and leveraged the book on his bent knees. It fell open on the family map, as if picking up where they had left off.
Ginny didn't know what to do, if she should leave him alone at this point or come closer. She made to do the former, muttering about giving him space, but again, felt his hand on hers.
"No, I wasn't...you can still stay," Harry said, looking at her over his knees. She wrapped his questing hand in hers and he squeezed it.
"Erm, please, actually. I know it's been so much today, and it's past dinner at this point. But stay, a-and I'll finish up here, and I'll call Hermione in the morning about everything. I probably need to apologize for storming out anyways."
Ginny snorted and laid herself down along the foot of the bed. She sank into the king-sized mattress, and felt how she couldn't quite reach either edge. Ginny tried anyway, enjoying the stretch.
"What'd you run off for?," she followed up neutrally, after a second of stretching. The day had been a lot, but she'd be fine if they could just sleep. "You were only slapped with your secret family history in front of her and Merlin on a Tuesday without warning. Really, it's nothing to carry on about."
She got an amused 'hmph,' and welcomed the small victory. "But really, why'd you run off?"
"Honestly?," at which point in his answer, her boyfriend turned a new shade of fuschia.
Ginny peeked at him, still joined by the hand, fascinated by his mix of offense, embarrassment, and bashfulness. It had a puckering effect on his eyes and mouth, like he'd sucked on a lemon and the lemon sucked back.
"What," she prodded, passively interested.
"Well," Harry hedged. "Did you know Lupin has a job now? He works with Hermione at the Ministry."
Ginny did know, and only hummed to show she was listening. Harry let go of her hand to pull at his collar.
"Well," the boy repeated. She lifted one eyebrow and smirked. "Heh, well you would've stormed off, too. He said I looked like the woman in the picture!"
"You do look like the woman in the picture."
"Yes, well—! Apparently, that woman makes a business of being in pictures. Lupin basically said she was a…," and the rest of his statement was mumbled into his chest.
Ginny blinked, disbelieving. She then pushed herself up on her hands, and crept up to her boyfriend to peer at him over the book, where he had receded into his sweater, miserable.
"My apologies, Golden Boy. But did you just say that Lupin called your birth mother...a porn star?"
Harry attempted to shrug but ended up slumping over to hide his face. Ginny, on the other hand, had fallen onto his knee and laughed herself dizzy.