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Savoring Patience

Savoring Patience

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This is my first Post-DH story.  It's sort of a response to several things other people have said.

Genre:    Fluff
Rating:    PG-13.
Setting:    Post-DH.
Length:    About 1,770 words.
Warnings:    Very mild sexuality; unbeta’d; DH spoilers.
Dedication:    This story is for David, Dave, Brad and Ros, for reasons each of them can figure out.
The Summary appears under the link, as it’s a tiny spoiler too.
Summary: Harry and Ginny realize they have time.
Savoring Patience
By Rhetor
She was holding his hand under the table, occasionally squeezing it and occasionally letting it go. When she had to use both hands to cut her chop, or when she was passing something to someone, her hand left his, maybe for a moment, maybe for several minutes. But sooner or later he’d find her reaching for him again. It made eating a little awkward, but he didn’t mind, and apparently she didn’t either; if anybody else noticed, they didn’t say anything.
It had been like this for days. Whenever the two of them were together, whenever they’d been walking, or sitting nearby, one of them would take the other’s hand. He didn’t know whether it was she or he who did it most often, nor who started it. No, he did remember who started it; she took hold of him the second day after the victory, when they were walking to lunch. But after that it might have been either one. It wasn’t secretive and it wasn’t showy; she wasn’t announcing anything to the world; he wasn’t offering to fight off all rivals. They liked holding hands.
Nothing much else happened between them. Oh, he’d kissed her goodnight practically every night, felt her press against him warmly, familiarly, comfortably, as if she’d been holding him all her life and was just getting back into the habit.   But nothing more than that. They didn’t exchange many words, either; so much was going on.
They’d attended more funerals than he wanted to think about, some of them so awful that they could do nothing but cling together, their tears staining one another’s shirts. At Fred’s funeral Harry had practically held Ginny upright, though there were seven other Weasleys for whom he might easily have provided he same service. He’d looked into George’s face and wondered what anyone could ever do for him. At Remus and Tonks’s funeral they’d both sat, appalled, as Andromeda Tonks stared into a pit of loss they could only imagine – husband, daughter, son-in-law. Overcome by his own grief and not thinking very clearly, Harry’d walked up to her and offered to take care of little Teddy, as godfather. Andromeda had looked shattered and cried, “He’s all I have left!”
There were too many moments like that.
Funerals aside, there were endless other meetings, conversations, plans. The world needed rebuilding, and Kingsley was asking for help from all quarters. Hogwarts would need months, if not years, of repair; McGonagall had contacted Harry, Ron and Hermione about finally taking their seventh year, and helping with the reconstruction. And there were well-wishers, people offering condolences, witches and wizards wanting advice on things about which Harry had no clue, dozens who just wanted to touch the hand of the savior. Harry’d been much more in demand than Ginny, so many people wanting to ask him things, tell him things. But always the two of them managed to find each other again, and it seemed understood between them – never yet spoken, but assumed – that they belonged together whenever possible, her hand in his. Just existing in sight of each other.
And he’d been wondering – not worrying, not yet – where was the urgent hunger for her he’d felt a year ago? Where was her hunger for him? Had he imagined it all? Why weren’t they all over each other, as Ron and Hermione now seemed constantly to be?
Tonight, though, after the pudding, as they were getting up to help her mother with the dishes, Ginny whispered in his ear, “Let’s walk a bit afterward.”
It was still midsummer, and the twilight was just coming on. They walked for a long time silently, hand-in-hand as ever. The smell of the grass was a bit dusty, and the western sky held every color Harry could think of. He didn’t know the names of all the birds they could hear. He felt that he could do this, stroll with Ginny at his side and nowhere to go, no appointment to meet, exactly in step with her, feeling her pulse in his fingers, all night. All year. Longer.
Finally Ginny spoke, not breaking stride, not releasing his hand. “I was a bit jealous of Cho, the other day.”
It took him a moment to remember what she was talking about. “What – oh, you mean that business with the Ravenclaw Common Room?” She nodded, looking straight ahead as they walked. He answered, “Yeah, I could tell.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, still looking ahead. “It wasn’t the time or the place.”
“No,” Harry agreed.
“I hadn’t seen you in so long, hadn’t heard from you. And I’d been in the Room of Requirement for maybe ten minutes, and there she was, so damned pretty, so friendly, and – ” Ginny chewed her lip and looked over at him, her eyes pleading that he understand. “Well, I’m sorry.”
“You know,” he assured her, “you had nothing to worry about.” That sounded a lot less convincing than he wanted it to, and he could hear Ginny humph! in response.
“Ginny. I thought about you every day. Not Cho. Not anyone else. You.”
“Oh.” Her voice was small.
“And when – when I thought I was about to die – ” He stopped and inhaled. She looked at him with a distressed expression. He finished, “The one thing I wanted to see was your face.”
“Oh.” Her voice was smaller yet.
They walked on for several more seconds. Then he added, “But I’m kind of glad you were jealous.”
He could see the corner of her mouth twitch. “You are?”
“Yeah, sort of like you were telling everybody I was yours.”
That got a full grin from Ginny. She teased, looking at her feet, “Should I pin a notice to your back, This Is Ginny’s, Hands Off?”
“I wouldn’t mind.” He stopped walking before she did, and their arms extended, her fingers almost tugging away from his, but then she must have felt him stop; she turned to face him before their hands could part. He looked her in the eyes. “I really wouldn’t,” he repeated.
Then he pulled her to him by their entwined fingers. He kissed her slowly, searchingly, listening to each breath she took and feeling every tiny movement she made, smelling that scent that made him think of all the good things that had ever happened to him. And he felt his hunger for her return – but not the desperate, urgent need he’d felt on his birthday. This was a calm, warm, pleasant desire that spread through his whole body; it was friendly and full of mirth and delight. He actually started to laugh, and he knew she could feel the vibrations of it on her own mouth.
She broke apart from him, doing her best to look annoyed but failing. “Oh, so kissing me is funny, is it?”
“No,” he said, no longer chuckling but still grinning as if he were about to start again. “I’m happy.”
Ginny smiled back. “Tell me why.”
“I’m happy with you. I’m happy to be alive. And I’ve got you for – ” He stopped, realizing he’d made an assumption. It wasn’t a bad assumption, but it was only polite to ask. “I do have you, don’t I?”
She put her hands on his chest and put her face close to his, and her voice dropped by half an octave. “All of me, Harry.  That’s what you have.”
She swallowed. So did he. 
“Oh,” he said weakly.
He took her face in his hands and kissed her again, this time with such joy and gratitude that he began to tremble. When he pulled away from her, he was smiling so hard it hurt.
“Thank you. Ginny, I – thank you.” He wrinkled his brow. “What was I saying?”
She dimpled. “You were saying, I’ve got you for –
“Oh, right! Thanks. It’s the time,” he continued, his smile still making his cheeks ache. “It’s the time that’s different. Before, I always thought I’d die at any moment, that anyone close to me would be hurt, that anyone who loved me would come to grief. And I felt that any happiness I could have, I’d have to grab quickly, before the opportunity slipped away. But now – ” His voice trailed off.
“Ages,” she finished for him. “We have ages.”
“Ages,” he agreed. “No hurry, no hurry at all. I could spend days just looking at your eyes, and weeks just asking you nitpicky questions about all your friends and family – ”
“Yuck,” she grimaced.
“Or,” he continued, undeterred, “two or three hours trying to figure out just where you do, and don’t, have freckles, or – ”
“ ‘Two hundred to adore each breast,’ said Ginny.
“What?” asked Harry, exercising all his will to prevent his gaze from drifting where she seemed to be directing it.
“An old poem,” she explained, “about how little time there is for love.”
“But not for us,” he beamed.
“But not for us,” she repeated.  There was a pause, and her eyebrows lifted and one corner of her mouth twitched again, although he thought it was the opposite corner from last time. “You know, you can look if you want to.”
He swallowed again. Then he thought about it. Then he said, “I do want to. But right now I’m looking at your eyes. There’s time.”
“Yes,” Ginny answered. Then she added thoughtfully, “Time isn’t really unlimited, you know. We’ll still die eventually. There will be an end.”
“I know.” I know it better than anyone, he thought.
“It might happen unexpectedly, and sooner than we think.” She looked sad, and he knew she was thinking of Fred. And Tonks. Poor Tonks, who only had a year…
“Yes,” he confirmed. “Nothing is certain.”
“But still?”
“Still, the luxury we’ve earned is time. That’s what we fought for. That’s what we won. We don’t have to hurry. It can be a nice, long – engagement.”
She blinked, and her face colored a bit. “Engagement?”
He nodded. “Engagement.” There was a moment or two of silence that felt more awkward than it ought to. He hadn’t actually meant to say it out loud – although he surely meant it. He looked around, then he said it again. “Engagement. Betrothal. I can kneel down. Would you like me to kneel down?” He was starting to feel ridiculous.
She stared at him for a moment, then put the tip of her tongue on her upper lip and swung his hand playfully. “Oh, eventually. But tonight we’re taking a walk, yeah?”
“Yeah. A long one.”
“Then let’s go.” They both turned, swinging their joined hands back and forth as they went.
They enjoyed every footstep.

Author’s Note:
This story is my answer to the expressions of disappointment by several people concerning the practically nonexistent interaction between Harry and Ginny at the end of Deathly Hallows. Being myself an incurable romantic, I too would have enjoyed a snog-fest between Harry & Ginny, Ron & Hermione, Arthur & Molly, Bill & Fleur, and any other couples who happened to be around. But I took my cue from Harry’s thoughts when he glimpsed Ginny in the Great Hall: “There would be time to talk later, hours and days and maybe years in which to talk.” This story expresses what I think he was feeling.
Just so we understand each other, I don’tmean to imply that Harry and Ginny have somehow lost their teenage hormones. Soon enough, I think, they’ll be experiencing that headlong, hot, impatient, intoxicated, can’t-get-my-hands-off-you, Zeffirelli-style passion that is their birthright and their delight. But this is the moment when patience is delicious, and they’re enjoying it.
Nor do I necessarily intend this story as recommendation of pre-marital abstinence. My instincts do tell me (as does stmargarets ) that Harry and Ginny are the kind of spiritual people who are likely to want to mark the “last step” ceremonially, be it with wedding or some other way, but I could be wrong – and in any case this story doesn’t answer the question one way or the other.
Ginny’s quotation comes from Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, which I’ve loved since I was fifteen, and which girlyswot  , of course, has used to great effect in her stories.
  • I was wondering why you'd dedicated an H/G story to me until I came across that line! This was very sweet, and I'm glad that Harry and Ginny are in a place where they don't always hear time's winged chariot hurrying near, and they're not having to worry about their own graves being fine and private places. They can take the time that they've never been allowed before just to enjoy being with and exploring each other. I'm so glad to know that you can write happy fluff too!
    • Hi, Ros. Happy fluff is a stretch, but I do love reading it, so I thought I'd try writing it. Thanks!
  • Yes, yes, yes. I am one of those who thought that we needed even the smallest moment between the two of them for any sort of realism. A tight hug and a whispered "I miss you" would've been sufficient because, sorry, after such a separation, especially with all the death and fear, they would have done that. Yes, trust me on that one. Such reunions are indescribably special. Still, I did appreciate his acknowledgment that they would have plenty of time together and that he was taking comfort in knowing they had a future.

    Saying that, I'm so pleased that you took that moment and ran with it. Surely, they would have days where it would be difficult for them to have any quality time, no time to talk about them as a couple (Fred's funeral - I get teary just thinking about it), so I do love that you explored the idea that they just fell into being close together, the nearness being natural, even if they are so assaulted by other things that they are yet unable to explore passion even on a PG-13 level.

    This is oddly chipper for you, but you did have funerals just to twist the knife a bit. Oddly enough, my father and I were discussing poor Teddly Lupin, and I said that at least he had Andromeda, a loving family member - something Harry never had. My dad has been feeling his age lately, and, as much as he loves his 5 grandchildren, was a bit daunted by the idea of her raising Teddy. I kid you not that my response to him was that she'd lost Ted and Tonks which meant that Teddy was all she had left. Well, great minds and all that.

    Absolutely lovely, Ken, as always.
    • Hi Christine!

      I won't argue the point; I do see where you are coming from. The only thing I'd note is that JKR hasn't the benefit of your experience in this area.

      The funerals weren't there gratiutously -- I was trying to get across that the mood and the time weren't right for the kind of physical, joyful expression they'd otherwise want to engage in.

      "Chipper?" I'm going to have it tattoo'd on my chest, next to the Horntail. The longer I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that having the luxury of being patient must seem like a tremendous gift to both of them, that it'd make them really happy.

      Andromeda, unless my calculations are way off, is no more than 47 (my age) when Tonks dies, and might be several years younger. I think she's up to it. (Antoshevu just posted a beautiful little LJ story that takes place at Remus & Tonks's funeral, and includes a dialogue between Andromeda and Harry similar to the one I mention here -- but he goes into a more detail and pulls it off better. I recommend it.)
      • Oh, I know the funerals weren't gratuitous at all. You just have a knack for reminding us of the sadder side of life in your fics. It is, of course, exactly what they will have to go through for the week or so after the battle, Fred's and the Lupins' clearly being the most difficult, but I'm sure they'd go to Colin's and possibly others'. While there is much to celebrate, there is much to mourn. You are correct that with such an atmosphere, it would be difficult for them to be - er - chipper themselves. They would, however, certainly show the kind of closeness you did here, which is why this was so well done.
  • I was one of those that thought fluff between the two would have been gratuitous. I was happy to see JKR write that.

    Having said that though...

    I LOVED this story. So good for you to emphasize what friends they are. That holding hands without thinking of it is too natural for words. That holding each other up, listening to each other and not closing themselves off with the people that need them. Sometimes more then two people need each other. I could not even begin to imagin what George would be going through. One half of him gone in an instant. One face missing suddenly in a family that was so close.

    What happen after the war, was Harry finding a family and finding love with a partner. One does not take presidence over the other. They found time. What I thought touching, was that you thought of it.
    • Hi, Rachel. Myself, I was torn: On the one hand, I completely understood the narrative choice and I could believe, from a character standpoint, that Harry would leave Ginny with her head on her mother's shoulder. On the other hand, I've wanted to see that embrace -- the one at the end of all the troubles, the one that says, "now we've got each other!" -- for two years.
  • Ken! You're writing fluff! I'm so happy that epilogue rubbed off you in this way. :) You hit so *many* good points in this little ficlet. First with the funerals and Harry's relationship with his godson:

    Andromeda had looked shattered and cried, “He’s all I have left!”

    Of course that's why Teddy didn't live with Harry. A lot of readers forgot that when they were complaining about the epilogue.

    This was a calm, warm, pleasant desire that spread through his whole body; it was friendly and full of mirth and delight. He actually started to laugh, and he knew she could feel the vibrations of it on her own mouth.

    I love how you took time for this kiss. And how it wasn't so much about desire, but happiness.

    “ ‘Two hundred to adore each breast,’ ” said Ginny.

    “What?” asked Harry, exercising all his will to prevent his gaze from drifting where she seemed to be directing it.

    LOL - The perfect response to that statement by Ginny's!

    Harry and Ginny are the kind of spiritual people who are likely to want to mark the “last step” ceremonially, be it with wedding or some other way, but I could be wrong

    The reason I wrote their relationship that way in NZ Chronicles came down to a matter of logistics. I had Ginny tucked away in school and then living at home before the wedding. Now after reading DH, I don't know if I would have them marry so quickly. There's much more time for courtship and I like how you show this in this story.

    Anyway, I'm amazed at how quickly people are writing from the new canon. I'm still trying to absorb it and study it and figure out why JKR made the choices she made.

    Here's something I posted on the Quill yesterday:

    I know I wanted H/G to speak or hug or kiss at the end of the battle scene, and it's taken me a while to figure out why JKR played it this way. The last glimpse Harry has of Ginny before he goes to the Headmaster's office is this:

    He spotted Ginny two tables away; she was sitting with her head on her mother's shoulder; there would be time to talk later, hours and days and maybe years in which to talk.

    Harry's first glimpse of Ginny at King's Cross was when she was with her mother. This last glimpse brings it full circle. I think Harry is acknowledging that they have left the childhood part of their relationship behind. In due course Ginny will leave her mother and family and they will have their time together.

    One thing I liked about H/G in this book was how young they seemed and how innocent their relationship still was. JKR did a good job of showing and not telling the physical attraction between them during the birthday kiss (not a chest monster in sight), but from Harry's thought that she had never kissed him like that before indicates to me that they're not all that experienced yet (but would certainly like to be).

    This seems fitting for the tone of H/G in the book - it's the idea of Ginny Harry carries with him during his quest. The memory of her kiss is the last thing he thinks of before he is going to die. Maybe this ending of the H/G thread in the narrative proper is JKR's nod to the fact that Harry has unconsciously carried an idea of Ginny with him since the first book. The romantic in me thinks so, since eleven year-old Harry has to turn around and look at her as he goes on his first adventure to Hogwarts. Now his last adventure is over and they have hours and days and years to talk and be together. The epilogue tells us exactly how that worked out. *pats epilogue* </>

    So now you can see why I like this story of yours so much.
    • Hi, Mary. Thanks for the praise. Fluff is a bit of a stretch for me, as you know, but it's fun. Anyway, I'm going to find it hard to write apocalyptic angst for the canon universe anymore, since we know that H, G, R & Hr live happily ever after. And I'm not sure I want to create an AU just to make people cry.

      *Groans* People complaining about the Epilogue. Honestly, I think people ought to restrict themselves from commenting on a new book until they've had a few days to think about it... ("You're one to talk, Ken...")

      It's hard slippery difficult to write a teenage love scene where sexual desire isn't the main thing going on. I worried that I rewrote H & G to suit my own purposes, but in light of that quotation we both like I don't really think I did. The other tricky part was showing that they weren't exercising self-control so much as enjoying the anticipation.

      I love your commentary on the last scene and the Epilogue and I agree with it entirely. I'm so glad you liked the story.

  • I think a lot of people miss the deep romance that was present in Harry's statement, “There would be time to talk later, hours and days and maybe years in which to talk.” There's a peaceful, deeply joyful love there.

    And as old marrieds maybe we're just more familiar with that quiet, happy kind of love you're talking about here. The burning need and passion Harry muses about in your story is certainly a part of love, but this type of happiness is reflected in a love that is enduring. Very, very nice!
    • Thanks, Joia. Of course I agree about the peaceful, joyful love. And yes, being married for a long time and much older than Harry, I feel familiar with it. What I wasn't sure of was whether a 17-year-old -- any 17-year-old -- is equipped to appreciate it. I think I remember savoring things like that back then, but the mind plays tricks.
      • I would bet that even if we didn't appreciate such things at age 17, Harry probably does now at the end of DH. So it is certainly an approach that works very well here!
  • *Happy sigh* Thanks, Ken! This was a wonderful glimpse into H&G's days together after the battle was won. Such a lot of sadness with all the losses and too many funerals to count (he probably wore himeslf out, trying to attend each one), but then their love is in there. They're holding each other up. I don't know about others, but when I'm grieveing sex is the last thing that's on my mind. I'm not the kind of person who mourn the dead by "celebrating life." What I need is closeness, someone to be there with me, hold my hand, caress me with no other thought than to hand out a gently comforting touch.

    I'm not one of the pre-marital abstinence preachers, either, but I do wish my kids wait until they really mean it, and your H&G not jumping to bed fits that. There's too much else at the moment, they need to be able to focus on each other first, build up the relationship oncce again.

    Andromeda's reply was spot on. I've seen a few wondering why on earth Harry didn't do his duties as godfather and raise the child, and they've missed the point imo. Andromeda is Teddy's grandmother, and as such is able to tell him all about mum and grandpa, and a lot about dad. Harry won't have that knowledge, he won't be able to say "Oh, that's just what your mum used to do!" when he's trying out his morphing abilities. Plus - she's raised a metamorphmagus before, I dare say that experience is worth a lot. Teddy having dinner at their place four times a week shows me he didn't shy away from his responsibilities, either.

    Great story, please continue to fill the holes JKR so generously left for us.
    • Thank you, Berte. There are a lot of stories out there, aren't there, about people who deal with death by making love? It doesn't ring true to me, though.

      I like your wish that the youngsters wait until they "really mean it." I could have used advice like that myself at that age, although I'm not sure I would have followed it. But when I think of some of the mistakes ... *shudder.*

      I agree that Andromeda is better placed to raise Teddy than Harry is, for all the reasons you've cited. Anyway, Remus didn't name Harry guardian, just godfather, which is (in this country, anyway) a different thing. But I couldn't see Andromeda willingly parting from the only link left with either her husband or her daughter. *sniff*
      • There are a lot of stories out there, aren't there, about people who deal with death by making love? Too many, way too many. I don't know how many fics I've read with that part, and it always surprises me.

        If my kids are anything like their parents, I shan't worry. So I hope they are.

        It's the same thing here with godparent/guardian. Most people don't name a guardian for their kids, but they give them several godparents, and if worst comes to worst, those left - family and godparents - agree on the best approach.
  • 200 freckles, each? The thought of counting them all must give Harry pause.
    (I know it's years, in the poem, but that's what I thought you meant when seeing that line here.)

    • I'll bet that's what Harry thought, too. Can you imagine the internal monologue? "Two hundred -- each? And she counted them? And she wants me to adore them? What am I supposed to do now?" Poor guy.
      • You think he could be so coherent after receiving that mental image?
  • Thank you for the story. I loved how you showed that they did, indeed, have so much time together, whilst reminding us of those who had none. It contrasts beautifully with the end of HBP, when there was no time.
  • Very nice!
  • Passion and time

    You always do this to me, how you can express so much contained passion, so much emotion - subdued, under the surface unexpressed yet visible, present, tangible. Are you sure you're not British?

    I absolutely adore the theme of this story. "Where was his passion of a year ago, where was hers?" They move from the desperate passion of youth, with war looming on the horizon - where time is ephemeral and promised no one. To the subtle passion of a relationship that is comfortable, aged by time, shared memories, shared experiences, it does not require expression, it is understood.

    Oh Ken, this is so wonderfully poignant, so beautifully expressed. Passionate, ageless, timeless.

    Thank you.

    • Re: Passion and time

      Thanks, Maggie. Is that a British characteristic? Then I'll be proud to count myself among them.

      I hope you know how much it means to me to have you say things like "You always do this to me." I value your good opinion and, even more, I value that you're moved by something I wrote. In this case, you saw just what I was hoping you would see. And as for that last paragraph of your review, I'll just say I'm honored and flattered.
  • That was just lovely. I love the pace of both your words and their actions.

    This is one of those moments when the power of fic can be seen in all of its glory. I love Antosha's story with its blaze of passion and this story with its quiet simmer. I can see either one of them happening -- just as I can see my day tomorrow going in several directions depending on my choices and those of everyone I interact with. Wonderful and unpredictable this life thing is.

    Anyway, I just loved the tenderness of this story of yours. Well done.

    I am friending you. I hope that you do not mind. I feel as though I should have done that long ago as I have been passing you in the hallways of the Hogwarts in my mind for some time now.
    • Well, thank you! Pace was most of what the story was about, so I'm glad you liked it.

      As you probably gathered, Blaze was the reason I wrote this story to begin with. I'm an ardent admirer of Antosha's work, especially of his exquisite control over language, so it was a surprise to me when I read that fic of his and felt that something about it felt dissonant. So I asked myself why I felt that way, and the result was this story. And I agree with you 100%: it's a delight that we can see the breadth of perspectives with which we treat the same concepts.

      Since I've been reading Antosha's stories for a while, naturally I've been seeing your name (handle, whatever) over and over again. So I'm very pleased you've decided to friend me.

  • Oh, lovely. I like the way Harry seems to want to savor his time with Ginny. Very sweet and I think it carries what you wanted to say perfectly. Well done.
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