I: dancing to the tune of our blues
It’s Ginny’s idea, of course, but not for the purpose you’d think. Contrary to popular belief Ginny Potter (née Weasley) is not the party hound the Prophet makes her out to be. Her reasoning is as follows: ‘We are the revolutionaries of our generation. How are we expected to pave the new way for Muggle/Wizard relations if we, as a society, continue to isolate and distance ourselves from those we strive to bridge a gap with?’ Everyone knew she was stretching a bit, not for theatrics, but to get Hermione on board with her plan. ‘Besides,’ she continued. ‘You and Harry can teach us the best, being Muggle born and all.’
Maybe it was a little about blowing off some steam. After the first few years of marriage in a post-war environment there was pressure to have everything bright and good. Life had to be filled with rainbows and unicorns. For Hermione it didn’t feel that way. Reveling in the wake of so much darkness seemed a bit premature. Yes, restructuring was important and most definitely a priority, but she wasn’t ready for youthful optimism and age appropriate pastimes. It felt like a betrayal to all those years of struggle. As if all that had been fought for and lost should mean something more than a night of getting pissed as their bodies thrummed and moved to the same droning beat of endless club music.
The other problem being Hermione and Harry were even less skilled at navigating their birth culture than they were at their adopted one. At least the Wizarding world had meticulous and often absurd guides to everything. It was a testament to Ginny’s persuasion (and maybe the Harpies’ starting line had something to do with it) that Neville had decided it would be a good idea too.
‘About time we had a break, innit?’
Even more impressive was his stamina on the dance floor. He was the only one able to keep up and possibly surpass Ginny’s enthusiasm.
‘Blimey, the two of them can have it,’ Ron shouted.
‘I’m surprised you got your arse out there at all,’ Hermione yelled in her appropriate club voice.
The steady din forced conversation to be quick and superficial or a close intimately manoeuvred exchange. Harry attempted to stifle a grin behind his glass of whisky downing the remainder. It was his fourth one, not that she was keeping track. She was on her third fruity concoction herself and decided that maybe one more would be her limit.
‘Nah,’ it was Ron. ‘I’m going to check out the DJ’s list, see if there’s any way a request can be made.’
She hesitated but Ron had been really trying lately. On his own he took up the effort to familiarise himself with Muggle music and late night social behaviour. The least she could do was show a little faith in his attempts. He kissed her in response to the lack of objection and got up to make his way across the club. She pretended Harry’s eyes weren’t fixed on the exchange as she made her way to the bar.
‘We’ll just stay here then,’ one of the girls from the team piped in.
‘Yes,’ Luna agreed immediately. ‘We’ll guard the table.’
Harry made his way to the loo off the side of the bar.
She knows this is wrong, fucking her best friend in a dirty stall of a club she didn’t even want to go to while her husband chats up the DJ, but somehow it feels right in this chaotic way. She’s not over any of it, not yet. She’s not over the death and pain just because she’s alive and breathing. She’s not done living with the regret and the ‘what ifs’. She’s not over the grief caused by a lifetime haunted with impossible choices.
She still carries the marks of all that was taken all that was forced out of her control because this, this with him is something she has power over. Something she can still sway to her favour and he’s more than willing to follow her lead. So it’s okay that he’s buried deep inside her and gasping for air at her throat while his hips pin her to the stall door because he’s not over it either. This place gives them a definition. Vile. Dirty. Askew. Because that’s what this is. This is their personal treason. Except that it’s not. It never was. She was his first, they just didn’t know.
It still means nothing.
II: bear your bones reveal your crime
It’s James’ first Christmas and he’s been restless to the point of breaking Ginny’s patience. She can see the strain of interrupted sleep and early morning feeding hours on both their faces. When dinner is finished, before dessert and eggnog, she relieves Ginny of the post meal clean up and changes the baby into warmer clothes.
She sits him on her lap, closely bundled against the cold; he stops fidgeting and seems more in awe of the blue bell flame in a jar than the vast sky scape looming above them. She’s tempted to regale the child with stories of his father’s youth which, belongs to her just as well, but she figures that will come soon enough. They sit in the quiet while the din from the Burrow occasionally punctuates their small haven.
Later, when James has fallen asleep and she’s thinking about returning to the mayhem of what has become her family, he appears next to her out of nowhere and sits. She lets out a surprised gasp.
‘Don’t do that,’ she chides.
She realises he couldn’t have apparated and wonders how long he’s been out in the cold lurking around them. Or maybe she’s just getting rusty. Then she starts to mull over when she got so complacent. It doesn’t sit well with her.
His face is apologetic.
She catches the fleeting look of something else behind his eyes.
In a house full of people they’re the only ones alone in a world so readily forgotten. When everyone has retreated to their assigned rooms and its late night or early morning (time is irrelevant when they begin) and a part of her can’t believe they’re doing this out in the open. Just on display for anyone to walk in and catch them at it. A part of her thinks that maybe they want to get caught. Maybe if they take away the will to own this and create the opportunity to be discovered it’ll be easier to let go.
It’s the first time she realises this is not about before. It’s never been about what came and went. It’s not about what lies ahead of them and what path should be taken. It’s always been about him and her and now. This is the first time and that explains why they’re both shaking when his name crosses her lips. It’s the first time he says I love you.
Neither of them sits on the sofa until Harry gets Molly and Arthur new furniture for their fiftieth anniversary.
III: unfurl your gown a distant fuller skin
Often she imagines her life free of structure with simpler decisions, living with wild abandon. Her husband would have hair to match. His eyes sad yet content. Not resigned and settled. She tells herself that thinking keeps her sane. Observation shows she cares. If she didn’t they’d fall apart. The architecture, her framework keeps them whole, together. Nothing could possibly break them. Not death, not war, not any shapeless enemy that may rise up in their future. But love, love could be the one thing that does.
After a particular nasty row her daughter wants to know if marriage is worth it; if marriage and its happiness merits all the disagreements and fights and ‘why would you put yourself in an institution that makes you miserable?’ These are the unusual musings of a teenage girl. Then again, her parents are anything but usual. Rose thinks maybe she’ll pass on the whole wedded bliss and keep her life to herself thank you very much.
The revelation makes Hermione sad and maybe a little angry.
The roots of the argument go back to before they were all set in their careers. Deciding who should do what and if the real Moody would have planted the idea of Auror in their heads at fourteen. Fourteen. Ron developed a taste for battle, Harry’s never known anything but and she was tired of having to fight with (for) her body. It was time to flex her stronger muscle. They’d need it if the two of them ever ran into the kind of trouble only logic and reasoning could trump.
Ron wanted her removed the farthest possible distance from harm. Harry took offence at the implication he was the harm. Her own choice was dangerous. Changing the way people thought would be a harder fight than monitoring and reinforcing archaic guidelines. There were old wounds being picked at, old prides thrown around and a She’s not your wife, so just back off Harry! was fired across the room.
I know hung in the silence.
So she doesn’t believe in a god because her daughter doesn’t believe in love the same way she does. Because how could it be a sin when the man she loves but didn’t marry is knelt in front of her begging forgiveness by way of his shame and regret? When she sees him on his knees trying to make it up to her using his hands and lips she thinks phi equals one plus the square root of five over two...
And maybe she knows now why Pericles lobbied for the Parthenon and commissioned Phidias to design it. And maybe she understands how the Earl of Elgin mistook the Ottoman Empire’s permission to remove what was once the most sacred and revered items to a lost civilisation and how they may have actually been stolen because she can’t hold it in anymore. She finally breaks as she pulls him up to her level and whispers I love you into his mouth years after his painfully honest confession because she’s tired of fighting and hiding.
She’s tired of stealing time.