Day 6 is a second submission from @starlingflight, Read it on AO3 here
Title: Rebel, Rebel
Pairing: Gen - Ginny and Sirius
Prompt: Blue Christmas
A/N: This is a prequel to my fic All Right Now on AO3
Most people, Sirius supposed, found sanctuary and peace in solitude but he found only misery. He had been alone for months, with only the occasional visiting Order member for company and it had been a nightmare. Nothing but endless time in which to reflect on how everything had gone so horribly wrong. It was almost as bad as being back in Azkaban – at least in Azkaban he had the dementors for company, rather than his mother’s shrieking portrait and Kreacher’s endless lamentations.
For that reason alone, it had been a relief for Sirius to learn he would be playing host to the Weasley’s for Christmas. He had been overjoyed to discover Harry would be joining them as well.
All the things that had seemed unendurably terrible – the fact that he was now locked in a house he’d sworn to never set foot in again, that Voldemort was on the rise once more, that Harry had endured unimaginable trauma and was obviously struggling to cope with it – suddenly seemed much more manageable now that Sirius was no longer facing the prospect of a fourteenth Christmas alone.
The mood in Grimmauld Place had only improved since then. The Weasleys had returned from their trip to St. Mungo’s yesterday looking extremely relieved and pleased with their father’s condition. Sirius had wasted no time capitalising on everyone’s good mood and had eagerly retrieved the old tree and Christmas decorations from the attic. The house was still rather dusty but the addition of tinsel and baubles had gone a long way to providing some festive cheer.
If only Harry would come out of his room, Sirius thought as he used his wand to guide a garland of holly and ivy around the second floor bannister, it would be the perfect Christmas.
“Er, Sirius?” A voice asked from the landing below.
Sirius turned, hopeful that he would find Harry staring up at him. It was only with a slight pang of disappointment that he saw Ron leaning awkwardly against the wall, holding a rolled piece of parchment in his hand.
“Everything alright?” Sirius asked.
“Yeah,” Ron said, though he didn’t sound entirely convincing. He waved the piece of parchment in Sirius’ direction. “Is it alright if Hermione comes for Christmas? She’s going to get the Knight Bus if it’s okay with you?”
“Of course!” Sirius said at once. He did not try and hide his enthusiasm at the prospect of another houseguest. The more the merrier had never been a truer statement. “Tell her I’d be delighted to have her!”
Ron grinned sheepishly. Sirius very much doubted any letter written by him would be that effusive, though he was quite sure that Sirius’ joy at the prospect of having Hermione join them was only eclipsed by Ron’s.
“Alright,” Ron said. Sirius noted the faint hint of pink at the tips of his ears. “She’ll be here this evening.”
Without awaiting a response, Ron turned and headed back down the stairs. Sirius returned to his task of decorating the bannisters. He finished the second floor staircase and moved to the third, humming God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs as he worked.
The noise reached him as he stepped onto the third floor landing. Loud bass pulsed down the hallway, strongly reminding Sirius of the muggle nightclubs he and James used to sneak into during the summer after their sixth year at Hogwarts.
The bannisters were completely forgotten as curiosity got the better of him and Sirius started walking in the direction of the music. Coming to a stop when he reached the closed doorway of the bedroom which was currently being used by Ginny and soon, Hermione.
Sirius frowned at the door. The music was so clearly muggle, he couldn’t imagine how Ginny had got hold of it. Without thinking, he knocked loudly on the door.
Almost instantly, the music quietened to what he was sure Molly Weasley would call an ‘acceptable’ volume. Footsteps sounded on the other side of the door before it was swiftly wrenched open. Ginny stood framed in the doorway, her face flushed as red as her hair. Perhaps Sirius might have thought the new pallor of her complexion was from dancing if not the puffiness surrounding her red-rimmed eyes.
“Sorry,” She said breathlessly upon seeing Sirius in front of her. “I’ll keep it down.“
“It’s quite alright,” Sirius said easily. “I’ve no problem with the volume. Your choice in music, however, needs work.”
Ginny smiled shyly up at him. “Hermione gave it to me. She said it helps her feel better.”
“Need some cheering up, do you?” Sirius regretted the question immediately. Cheering people up was not his forte in the slightest. He had proven himself rather more skilled at failing everyone he loved and being entirely useless.
He needn’t have worried, however, as Ginny’s response was to fold her arms across her chest and narrow her eyes in defiance. “No,” she said. “I’m fine.”
“There’s no shame in it,” Sirius said in what he hoped was a reassuring manner. “I imagine if you like your family, it’s quite difficult when one of them is ill.”
Ginny looked down at the ground. Her arms crossed tighter around herself as though she was trying to physically hold herself together. “The healers say he’s going to be alright.”
“Nothing to worry about then,” Sirius said, his voice brimming with forced cheer. “Well, aside from your awful choice in music.”
To his immense relief Ginny laughed in response to this. “I liked it!” she argued.
“No,” Sirius shook his head vehemently from side to side. “This is terrible. We must work on your musical education.” He removed his wand from his pocket and gestured to the room behind Ginny. “May I?”
Ginny nodded and stepped further inside, making room for Sirius to enter. He flicked his wand and a pile of records appeared in the small amount of floorspace between the twin beds pushed against the walls. Sirius stepped carefully over the records and lowered himself on to the far bed.
“You don’t have to,” Ginny said, looking curiously between Sirius and the records. “I’m sure you have better things to do.”
Sirius couldn’t contain his laughter at the absurdity of her suggestion. “I assure you I have nothing better to do. Shouldn’t you be off making merry mischief with the other kids though?”
Ginny shrugged and flopped down onto what he assumed was her, rather untidy, bed. “Fred and George are busy working on their Wheezes. Ron and Harry are probably together – if Harry’s finished avoiding everyone.”
Sirius forced his face to remain neutral. His suspicions that Harry was indeed avoiding him – and everyone else, apparently were now confirmed.
“You don’t want to be with them?” he asked curiously.
He remembered being a teenager locked up in this grim house at Christmas. He would have given anything to have a group of other kids to hand around with. There had been Regulus, of course, but he had always been too busy doing his best impression of a perfect young pureblood to be any fun.
Ginny shrugged again, her head bopping along to the overly saccharine crooning of the muggle singer declaring rather circuitously that she wanted to dance with somebody. “They didn’t ask me to join them,” she said. Sirius couldn’t help but note the hint of bitterness in her voice. “It never occurred to them that I might be able to help. That I might have experienced things they never hav-“
Ginny stopped talking abruptly. Her cheeks – which had returned to their usual pale, freckled complexion – tinged pink.
Sirius was struck by a memory from months ago.
A chilly night not long after Harry had returned to Hogwarts. The clock had just struck midnight and he’d had trouble sleeping. He’d come downstairs just in time to run into Bill, returning from his watch at the Department of Mysteries.
Bill nodded his head in silent acknowledgement as he unfastened his cloak and hung it, carefully on the peg by the door.
Sirius nodded back. He crept past his mother’s portrait – currently silent behind the thick hangings which concealed her – and pointed wordlessly towards the stairs to the kitchen.
Bill followed him down, neither of them making a sound until they had entered the basement kitchen and Sirius had closed the door behind him.
“Firewhiskey?” Sirius asked. He removed his wand from the pocket of his velvet dressing gown and conjured a half-full bottle of amber liquid and two glasses without awaiting a response.
Bill smiled gratefully as he sank into a chair in front of the fireplace, lighting it with a flick of his wand.
“Thanks,” he said, plucking a glass and the bottle from the air and pouring a healthy measure.
“Long night?” Sirius asked.
Bill didn’t answer immediately, choosing to take a long pull from his drink first. Sirius took the seat across from him and poured himself a glass. He savoured the way the heat from the fire crept over him, the way he’d once imagined it doing whilst locked in a frigid stone cell in the middle of the harsh North Sea in winter.
“Long few months,” Bill said eventually, looking not at Sirius but into the fire.
“Try a long decade or so,” Sirius replied dryly.
Bill laughed humourlessly. The firelight danced in his brown eyes. “It’s not the life either of us had planned.”
“Definitely not,” Sirius agreed. He tilted his head back and took a long sip of his drink. The firewhiskey seared as it travelled down his throat, burning away the pain and regret that attempted to surface at the mere suggestion of how terribly wrong his life had gone. “Of course, you can go back to your life at any time. Egypt hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Most people would, Sirius thought. Most people would not uproot their whole career – their whole life – to come back to England and face down the threat of a dark wizard on the say-so of only their little brother’s best mate.
Bill shook his head, finally looking up from the fireplace and fixing Sirius with a hard look. “I can’t go back,” he said. “Not until we finish this.”
“Why?” Sirius asked before he could stop himself, curiosity getting the better of him.
“Ginny,” Bill responded. Sirius raised his eyebrows, it was not the answer he’d been expecting at all.
He had been impressed with Ginny over the summer. The spirit she’d shown when her mother had refused her request to learn about the order. The good natured way she helped the twins with their pranks. He’d also been unable to miss the way Harry’s eyes followed her around a room, the way he always seemed to know where she was, though he didn’t think his godson had noticed this himself yet. It had reminded Sirius starkly of Lily long before she’d become aware of her own feelings for James.
Bill sighed heavily before pouring another drink and downing it in one, fluid movement.
“Her first year at Hogwarts,” he said once he’d finished his drink. “You heard about the basilisk attacks? They were in The Prophet?”
Sirius nodded. He’d not been aware of the attacks at the time - newspapers had been a rare luxury in Azkaban – but he’d spent a good deal of time since he’d escaped catching up on what he’d missed. He’d read about the basilisk attacks in some old editions of the paper Arthur had given to him.
“Ginny was behind them,” Bill said. Sirius frowned in confusion. He could not believe that Ginny Weasley was capable of such horrors.
“Not intentionally,” Bill explained. “She was possessed by a diary – Voldemort’s diary – he’d been inside her head for months, forcing her to do things she’d never dream of doing normally.”
“Merlin,” Sirius exclaimed. He felt sick at the thought of it.
“In the end he sent her down to the Chamber of Secrets to die. She went. Harry got to her just in time – used the sword of Gryffindor to kill the Basilisk and almost died in the process.”
Sirius suppressed a shiver despite the warmth of the fire he had been enjoying just moments before. Guilt coursed through him to know that Harry had been in such terrible danger and he had not been there to help. As James would have expected him to be.
“Well, Harry got her out of the chamber,” Bill continued, pulling Sirius from his morose thoughts. “But that wasn’t the end for Ginny. She came to visit me in Egypt that summer. I’d never seen her like that before. She woke me up every night with the nightmares, during the daytime she was withdrawn and quiet. She never talks about it, but I know she still thinks about it now.”
Sirius knew what that was like. Some things would haunt you until the day you died and the only thing you could do was keep pushing forwards.
“So, you’ve come home to get revenge for your little sister?” Sirius asked. It was a worthy goal in his opinion.
“Partly, I suppose,” Bill agreed. “I’ve seen the damage just the memory of Voldemort can do. I can’t turn my back and let him rise to power again without doing anything to try and stop it. Besides, I figure I owe Harry a debt.”
In lieu of responding, Sirius poured them both fresh servings of Firewhiskey. He lifted his glass and inclined it towards Bill. The clink of Bill’s glass hitting his reverberated around the old kitchen. “I’ll drink to that.”
“Sirius?” Ginny said loudly.
The incessantly upbeat pop music had come to an end whilst Sirius had been lost to his ruminations. Ginny was laid across the bad opposite, her head propped up on her arm. She was looking at him searchingly.
“Sorry,” Sirius muttered. Shaking his head and erasing a horrifying imagining of Ginny laid, lifeless in a cold, dank chamber far below the foundations of Hogwarts.
“Here,” he said, leaning forward and snatching up the nearest record. “Put this on, it’s about time you listened to some proper music.”
Ginny sat up and took the record from him. She studied the cover cautiously as she leaned over and set about switching the record in the record player.
The opening riff of My Generation filled the room. For a moment, Sirius was transported to another Christmas sixteen years ago. The same music had filled the living room of a much smaller but infinitely more welcoming home in Godric’s Hollow.
“I like this,” Ginny declared, cheerfully and Sirius was recalled to the present once again.
“I thought you might,” he said happily. He lowered himself to the ground and began to sort through the huge pile of cardboard sleeves, carefully removing any he thought Ginny might like.
They continued for some time, Sirius choosing the records and handing them to Ginny. She, listening carefully before judging them good or bad. Sirius was pleased to see a particular affinity for David Bowie.
“Ah, this one didn’t used to be a favourite,” he said, pulling out a copy of I Fought the Law. “But I have a new appreciation for it now.
Ginny took it from him. She giggled as she read the title before moving to place it in the record player.
“Sirius!” a voice called from downstairs.
“That’s Mum,” Ginny said without missing a beat.
“Sirius!” Molly shouted again.
“I suppose I’d better go,” Sirius said, pulling himself into a standing position. "She’s running Christmas dinner like it’s an urgent Order mission.”
Ginny nodded. Sirius couldn’t miss how her face fell in disappointment. She must be lonely, thought Sirius, to be disappointed at losing his company.
“Hermione’s coming later,” he told Ginny as he reached the doorway. The news seemed to cheer her in an instant. “And I think you should go and find Harry and Ron,” The thought of another person lonely and miserable in this house brought him no pleasure.
“You do?” Ginny asked doubtfully.
“I do,” Sirius agreed. “You said you can help them, then I think you should. It’s Christmas, after all!”
“They won’t listen to me,” she said, though Sirius thought some of the hesitancy had disappeared from her face, replaced with something more akin to determination.
He grinned down at her. “Something tells me you’re more than capable of making them listen.”
Ginny’s face split into a smile.
“Sirius!” This time Molly’s voice was accompanied by the sound of footsteps and the distant creak of the stairs. “I need to speak to you about the turkey!”
Sirius waved his wand a final time, sending most of the records back to his bedroom. A small pile remained beside the record player. “You can borrow those ones,” Sirius said. “I’d consider it your Christmas present to me if you’d educate your friends on what good music sounds like.”