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The Ghost of Christmas Past.

“Mummy, can I look at it?”

Ginny chuckles softly. “You already are looking at it, Lil.”

Her five-year-old daughter pouts, wrinkling her forehead in a familiar gesture that comes
directly from Ginny’s own mother. “Pleeeease,” Lily pleads in that nerve-grating manner
unique to small children.

“You’ve been asking the same question since you were old enough to talk, and the
answer’s still the same.”

“It’s not fair! You’re a horrible mummy!”

Ginny rubs her temple in mild frustration as Lily turns on her heel and dashes out of the
room in a fit of temper. She looks back at the snow globe, the cause of Lily’s and indeed
at least one of her children’s upsets every Christmas. She reaches out to touch it, just to
make sure, and as always her fingers can’t quite make the surface, barred access by
Harry’s special Protection Charm. She used to understand the necessity of this
precaution because even one child can make mischief enough to turn a house upside
down, never mind three, and Harry would be devastated if his treasured keepsake was
broken. But she can’t deny that she is hurt by her own exclusion from touching it, and
each Christmas as the snow globe reappears the hurt digs deeper.

Her own husband does not trust her.

~oOo~

She remembers the first time she ever saw the snow globe. It was on the first Christmas
they lived together, right after they were married, and she’d come upon Harry having a
quiet moment in their bedroom. With his back to the door, his body shielding whatever
he was holding, the first thing she’d spied was the royal blue leather box lying on its side
on the bed. Tip-toeing up behind him, she’d suddenly pounced, play-pinching either side
of his waist and pressing a cheeky kiss against his ear. He’d jumped far more than he
should have, instinctively calling out in annoyance before quickly reeling his emotions
back under control. He’d tried to laugh his skittishness off, but as the years pass, Ginny
has replayed the incident many times in her mind and her overwhelming impression of
Harry’s behaviour is that it was guilt.

He’d slowly released the blown glass creation from its tight grip against his chest, and
she’d rested her cheek on his upper arm as he’d held it out for her to see. It was a large

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object, the glass globe the size of a crystal ball, and its base was a dull silver, pewter,
perhaps. Inside the globe was a model of a castle or a very grand house, with towers and
turrets and immaculately sculpted gardens. Had it not been for the gardens Ginny would
have taken the model to be a simplified miniature of Hogwarts. She’d asked Harry where
the scene was, and even now she can recall his words - his lies - and his off-hand tone of
voice precisely:

“Oh, just somewhere. I dunno.”

The fluffy, sluggishly-moving snowstorm trapped inside the ball had settled onto the
contours of the little house as they had looked at it in silence, and Ginny had thought at
the time what a pretty thing it was.

Harry had moved to return it to its box, but she had held him back and urged him to put it
on the mantelpiece; they didn’t have much else in the way of decorations at the time,
and she had thought it would be something lovely to look at by the light of the fire.

With the benefit of hindsight, Harry had definitely been reluctant to display his snow
globe, but he had acquiesced, adding his one and only touch to the Yuletide decorations
in their home.

She had asked him that first year where it had come from. Harry had mumbled
something inarticulate and then segued smoothly into a funny anecdote about his
parents. For several years as the globe reappeared to occupy its place of honour, Ginny
simply assumed it had somehow been passed down from his parents, perhaps through
Dumbledore or his Aunt Petunia. She hasn’t tried to pry the exact details out of him
because he has never once volunteered any information about its origin, and the annual
appearance of the fragile ornament always seems to make her husband melancholy.
Which used to upset her. But now she thinks he deserves it.

~oOo~

Harry has a ritual for his snow globe. The blue leather box appears the weekend before
Christmas Day as if by magic from some unknown hiding place, and Ginny watches her
husband draw out the delicate glass piece with a reverence she has only ever seen
duplicated during the first time Harry has held each of his newborn children. He then
turns the globe over and over in his hands, scanning every tiny section of it to assure
himself of its pristine condition. He holds it close to his face until every last flake of snow
has settled, and only then does he place it carefully in the very centre of the mantelpiece,
twisting it fractionally this way and that until he is perfectly satisfied with its situation.
Finally, he withdraws to the sofa opposite the fireplace and sits down, simply staring at
the globe, completely lost in his thoughts, sometimes for hours at a stretch.

Ginny hates the snow globe.

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~oOo~

Those first couple of Christmases before James came along seemed perfect at the time,
but Ginny has managed to find hidden meaning in every questionable conversation and
gesture over the years, and she blames that wretched snow globe.

The second Christmas of their marriage Harry had shyly commenced his ritual, and Ginny
had thought how wonderful it was to see him hold something so dear; he had little else
to reflect his family or his childhood years, and she couldn’t begrudge him his memories.
She had still been able to touch the globe then, but because she could, she hadn’t
wanted to do so, satisfied instead to watch her husband pick it up from time to time and
sit next to the window, upending it as soon as the miniscule snowflakes had settled just
so he could watch it all over again.

The Protection Charm didn’t start until after James was born. She’d discovered quite by
accident that the invisible barrier kept her out too, and at first she’d made a joke of it,
playfully accusing him of not trusting her with a duster. He’d laughed too, but he hadn’t
altered the charm. She’d felt she couldn’t raise the subject again without appearing
childish so she let it go, but it gnawed at her insides, the first flicker of mistrust and
secrecy in an otherwise happy union.

The worst Christmas was the first one after Al had come along, when Harry’s behaviour
grew downright weird. He’d been short-tempered for a month or two prior to the pre-
Christmas decorating spree, and Ginny had simply known that it was thanks to a few lines
from the ‘announcements’ column of the Daily Prophet. She hadn’t thought anything of
reading out the birth notice over breakfast one autumn morning, the paper folded
double and balanced on the enormous bump of her pregnant belly. Harry hadn’t so much
as snorted in response, but when she’d looked up he had been angrily dumping spoonful
after spoonful of sugar into his tea. To top it off his expression had frozen into an
unreadable mask when she’d pointed out that eleven years hence Hogwarts would be
welcoming the next generation of Potters and Malfoys through its doors. Instead of
making some meaningless joke or casting aspersions about baby Scorpius’s parentage,
Harry had scraped his chair back hard, startling little James into tears, and strode from
the room. She’d been troubled by it, but written it off as stress relating to their own
upcoming birth. Harry hadn’t mentioned it again and Ginny had forgotten about it, at
least until Christmas came around.

Albus had been a difficult baby who needed several feeds through the night. Rather than
constantly disrupt her husband’s sleep, Ginny had taken to feeding him downstairs. They
had maintained fires in every grate to keep the house at a constant temperature, and
once the festive decorations were up the lounge was her favourite place to be; she
would lose herself in the way the flames made the shiny decorations twinkle, or just sit
across from the fire and try to find faces in the embers.

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It had happened on Boxing Day night when Ginny had stood before the fireplace, rocking
Albus to sleep as she contemplated the shadowy castle in its miniature sea of
uninterrupted white. She would have loved to have been able to shake the globe to
watch the snowflakes fall, just as Harry so often did, but she had contented herself
instead with enjoying its scenic vista, feeling closer to Harry because she could share in
its beauty.

Her attention had been instantly captured when a puff of flakes had risen, seemingly of
their own accord, inside the unmovable ball, and she had strained her eyes to identify the
cause. At first it had appeared that a clump of flakes had popped up through the surface,
but when the clump had shaken open a delicate fan tail, Ginny had recognised the speck
for the tiny white peacock it was, and she had felt as though a barrel of iced water had
been dumped over her head. She was left shaking and breathless.

She had tried to reason it out, creating a list of all the fancy homes that might keep white
peacocks, but they were more a sign of status than any particular attachment to the
creature itself, and she had only ever heard of them residing at one specific family estate.

Within seconds her imagination had run riot, cataloguing all manner of outlandish
explanations for why her Harry might be so emotionally attached to an expensive
representation of that bastard’s house. And she had harboured no doubts; it was
definitely his manor house. Why would Harry keep such a thing? And why did it mean so
much to him?

Ginny had spent the remainder of that night pacing the floor, picking at every memory
she had of Malfoy’s name being mentioned since they had all left school. Was she
imagining a certain shifty dismissiveness in Harry’s rare responses, or was there a hidden
hurt below the surface that he was trying to contain?

But there had been so few opportunities for Harry and Malfoy to have settled their
differences and formed any kind of bond. It could only have happened during that first
year out of Hogwarts, when Harry had packed a small bag and disappeared for eight
months, missing Christmas at the Burrow for the second year running. He’d been taking
some time out to get his head straight, he’d said. Ginny felt certain that Harry and Malfoy
must have become involved, ridiculous as the notion was, but there was no other
explanation, was there?

That was when Ginny Potter had first realised that her house was made of cards, and the
smallest breath of air could knock it down.

~oOo~

Every single time Harry had picked his snow globe up after Ginny’s unwelcome epiphany
she had experienced it like nails on a blackboard, a shrill screeching in her head that
wouldn’t go away until the hated object was hidden again. The problem was that as the

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years passed, she grew to dread its appearance, and she would find herself still smarting
about Harry’s worship of it in early spring. The snow globe ate up her life with mistrust
and jealousy. She realised that Harry had been wise to prevent her from touching it
because she would have broken it if she could.

~oOo~

Each year her husband spends more time gazing into its depths, time when they should
be talking, celebrating, loving, but he seems to reserve his deepest affections for a chunk
of glass with water inside it, and a representation of a world she cannot understand.

~oOo~

And so Christmas is here again and she has to suffer the presence of the one object that
has come to stand for everything that’s wrong in her marriage. It’s like the proverbial
dragon in the room: she and Harry both know it’s there, fouling the atmosphere, but
they’re both too polite to mention it. That one simple snow globe, the only meaningful
memento of her husband’s unmarried life, causes her enduring and bitter unhappiness
that multiplies with the passage of time. Her only consolation is that she knows it causes
Harry more pain than pleasure, and she gains comfort from his unspoken misery.

Lily’s bedroom door slams, and a heavy thump from above indicates that she has thrown
herself onto her bed. Ginny sighs and turns her back on the snow globe. She makes her
way through to the kitchen and looks out of the window, barely even noticing Harry and
the boys playing Quidditch on their new brooms. Her eyes instead follow the blanket of
white down the hill and over the roof tops of the village below before moving up the
tree-covered slope on the other side. She wonders if the snowfall extends the hundreds
of miles to Wiltshire. She imagines a grand, turreted manor house there, home to a man
she despises, and his stupidly-named son, and his dozen ostentatious white peacocks.
She wonders if a matching snow globe is watched with the same mixture of longing and
regret she sees in her husband’s face. She hopes – no, she prays - that for all his wealth
he cannot have the only thing he truly wants. In her favourite dreams, he is miserable
too.

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