sparsenicjade
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Ginny has always liked the sounds of Muggle words on her father's lips. She knows there is something wrong with them, can always tell by the way Harry flushes and takes a moment and then explains. Harry never corrects her father, so she never gets to hear what they would sound like on his lips. Which she supposes is for the best. She can handle Harry not being hers, she can even handle watching Harry be somebody else's, but there are lines she's pretty sure can't be crossed, and hearing him change the sound of her world as she knows it, that's probably one of them.

In the final year--long after anyone thought a war with Voldemort could be sustained without complete and total annihilation of either or both sides--when Harry finally just admits to Ginny that his time wandering with Ron and Hermione has been less than completely platonic and says, "I have to tell you, because I can't ask you to do what I will ask you to do without telling you."

Ginny gets Harry's thing with honesty, what with other people being really bad at returning the favor, but sometimes she wishes he'd be a little bit less of a stickler for it. "Ask."

"Ginny-"

"Harry, just bloody ask. I can forgive you when I live through this." He'll hear the unspoken "at your expense." It's on everyone's lips but hers.

He does ask and she agrees. She agrees because he asks, but in fairness to him, faking the death of anyone who might be of use at a moment's notice and hiding them in the Muggle world is sort of brilliant. It's like Guerilla Warfare for the Eckeltricity Impaired. Ginny says, "If you need me, and I find out you didn't pick up the felly-tone out of some misguided-"

Harry looks at her then, apology overlaying the anger and fear constantly banked in his eyes.

She nods. "Right then," and goes to set herself up in the Muggle world.

*


Harry has given them survival packets. Or rather, Ginny suspects, Hermione has. The instructions for the telephone--Ginny hears it in Hermione's brisk instructional tone, which is a relief--are clear, and the papers that declare her to be one "Shannon Dewey" look legitimate. Granted, Ginny has no idea how they're supposed to look, but these look confusing, and in Ginny's experience, the more confusing a piece of paper is, the more likely it is to get her in all the right places.

Hermione has also added a note in her tight, curly handwriting: "Ginny, my parents were able to get you an interview with the public relations firm that represents their practice's parent company. You, of course, have the choice of whether or not to take the chance, but you always were good at advertising for the twins, I thought this a good opportunity."

It is. Ginny thinks about eschewing it. Hermione, who has always been a good friend, has been trying too hard since she disappeared with Ginny's probably-boyfriend and did not really ever bring him back. Not to Ginny, at least.

Ginny thinks about denying her the right of help because she knows it will cut at Hermione, drag her bleeding through guilt and consternation.

It will also hurt Harry, and Ron.

Ginny takes the interview.

She shows up in one of the outfits she found in the flat Harry and Hermione arranged under Shannon's name. The front door has a name plate that says "Dewey." The interior is decorated with pictures of places Ginny has never seen.

The outfits are mostly in chocolate browns and navy blues. They are more austere than Ginny is, but they fit and when she looks in the mirror, she is surprised at what Muggle clothes can do for a girl. Before they've always seemed bulky or a bit ridiculous, but then, Ginny's not unaware that her father may have picked their Muggle clothes with the same finesse he had for pronouncing the words of that world.

She smiles and introduces herself as Shannon Dewey and nods a whole bunch and rattles off some ideas for concepts she's never heard of, let alone tried.

When they offer her the job, she takes that too.

*


Working for a Muggle public relations firm is a bit like thinking up jingles for a whole bunch of Weezes products that she's never actually beheld. She learns how to use a computer--a real one, with a screen that works and a keyboard with all the keys--fairly quickly, and when she has to ask questions that she knows are going to make people look at her oddly, she lies with good, solid, Muggle sounding lies: "My father was a dentist, we spent a lot of time in foreign countries giving aid. Things were different over there."

People are often surprised to find out that dentists go on medical missions. Ginny, who isn’t entirely sure they do, looks equally surprised at their surprise and says, "People in Africa have teeth, too." So far as she knows, they do.

Ginny makes catch-phrases for mobile phones--which, as it turns out, are different from telephones, sort of. Hers is a mobile--and jingles for some bookstore that has more locations than Ginny reckons the country has room for, and stocks books that look nothing like the ones Ginny is used to. The first time she saw one of the type that can fit in her back pocket and is wont to have a cover the color of Tonks' hair on any given day, she nearly asked what it was. Luckily, she remembered in time that they'd come to survey their newest client, and said client was a bookstore chain. Things are hard enough without her memory going as well.

A coworker teaches her about something called graffix. (She later looks the word up. It is spelled "graphics." Muggles have something against phonetic spelling.) Ginny can't make them move, not unless the client is willing to pay for a special sort of screen, and not many of them are, but they are colorful and fun and remind Ginny of a whole life of which she never speaks. Also, as it turns out, they are a skill that once learned earns her more money. It comes in the form of a piece of paper with a system of words and letters that mean nothing much to Ginny.

Luckily, Hermione has left notes on how to handle that, as well.

*


The coworker who takes the time to tutor her is tall with curly blond hair, nondescript brown eyes, and the meanest sense of humor Ginny has ever come across, even being related to the twins. His name is Grant. She takes to him immediately.

He invites her to take a night class on graphics at a local uni, and she thinks it's a bit like asking her on a date. She doesn't say, "I'm still pining." That's not attractive in a woman, Ginny's pretty sure. She can't say why she wishes to be attractive, not when she carries her phone everywhere, waiting for a phone call that she will take no matter what, even should she be presenting to clients. She does know that it is what she wishes.

Sometimes, it's easiest just to follow a whim.

The uni also has classes in electrical engineering. Ginny signs her father up to receive a brochure from the school. She hopes she has remembered his new name and address correctly. She hopes he is still there to be found. She hopes her phone will ring soon.

*


Ginny really should know better than to blindly hope for things. Her phone does ring.

In the middle of celebratory sex with Grant, over her promotion. Grant says, "Bloody Christ, let it ring."

She knows the number on the screen, knows it without ever having seen it before. She says, "Harry."

He says, "Kings Cross, oh thirteen hundred, three days from now."

"Should I bring anything?"

"Your wand."

She rolls her eyes. "Other than that."

"Be rested."

"I'll see you?"

There's a pause before he says, "Yes." She can hear the prayer behind it. She hangs up.

Grant raises an eyebrow. "Harry?"

Ginny says, "Old friend," and goes back to having sex with a man who calls out the name "Shannon," when he comes.

*


Ginny thinks it's somehow appropriate that Harry doesn't need her, he needs her power. She is one of several amongst the crowd at Kings Cross. She hugs her father and her mother, she even hugs the twins, who look at her oddly, like they know something about her that she doesn't. They probably do. She doesn't ask.

Hermione and Ron are not there. Hermione and Ron are with Harry.

Ginny is surprised to find that she doesn't so much mind. She is even more surprised to find herself wishing she had found a moment to drag Grant into a washroom and kiss him goodbye. The do not acknowledge each other at work, not like that. She thinks maybe today would have been a good day.

She didn't know she cared that much.

Then there is a signal--one she does not recognize, but Remus does--and Ginny has no room to care about anything but the spells she is performing. She and the people around her have hidden for a year, waiting to be a surprise to Voldemort.

Ginny wonders if any of the others were a surprise to themselves.

*


After Harry kills Voldemort--who takes out a whole plethora of his own Death Eaters through a rather inopportune (for him, at least) moment of legilimency--Ginny quits her Muggle job and goes back to the world that she has always thought of as hers. She does say goodbye to Grant this time. He, like her employers, looks at her and says, "If you change your mind, well, uh, I'll probably still have a fairly large cock."

Actually, her employers say, "We're sorry to hear you're moving across the pond, if you ever come back we'd be glad to take you on again."

Ginny has never been to America, either, but it seems a likely place for people who are good at telling lies. Ginny is quite skilled at that.

For no reason at all she misses the feel of a keyboard underneath her fingers, and the rustle of pulp-based paper on her thumb. She misses the all-too electronic music that the mobile allows her to change as she pleases, and she very much misses her microwave.

She misses the pantsuits that Grant tells her match her eyes, and she misses Grant trying to explain the mystery that is Doctor Who while she watches, hoping against hope to catch up on thirty years of British television history.

She misses bouncing her ideas off of others, and she misses walking into Muggle supermarts--the variety of products sold at those stores nearly ridiculous in scope--and watching people walk away with trinkets she has sold them through the remote magic of her words, her pictures.

She whips around at the name "Shannon," and she spends more time than she should holidaying in Puerta Vallarta and Prague and New Zealand--places she has only owned the pictures to before now.

She Apparates home from one of these trips to find Harry, Ron and Hermione on her couch. Ron and Harry look concerned. Hermione looks as though she knows better. Harry says, "We were worried about you."

Ginny tells him, "You went away for a year and you never came back."

"I betrayed you?" he says, but he sounds unsure.

Until this moment, when she has to either nod or shake her head, Ginny has thought he did. Watching the three of them wait for her answer, she knows, "No. No. I just- No."

Hermione says, "It wouldn't be like before. We could connect any flat you rented to the floo."

When they leave, Ginny finds her phone, the mobile, the one she still pays the bills for monthly, despite not having to wait for anyone's call. She hits "one" on the speed dial and is terrified until Grant picks up on the very first ring. He asks, "Shannon?"

She says, "I have things to tell you. Do you have time?"

He does. She figures that means she can apologize later in the conversation.


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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile