GUYS. GUYYYSSSS. I JUST REALISED SOMETHING. (prepare yourself. also this took me 15 minutes and this is still a rough draft so I’m sorry if the wording’s weird)
Remember in HBP when Ginny said that she deemed Fleur worse than Umbridge? We of course know that this is an exaggeration, but yet we are still surprised that anyone could hate anybody more than Umbridge, or at least I was. A lot of the fandom agrees that Umbridge is worse than Voldemort. This is probably because Umbridge is human, horrible and sadistic, but human nonetheless. On the other hand, Voldemort is so dehumanised, from his looks to his inability to feel guilt, love, or remorse. That’s terrifying in its own way, but there is a backstory to explain (yet not justify) his actions, whereas we know nothing of Umbridge and just assume that she was horrible throughout her entire life.
We can all agree that Voldemort’s actions are worse than Umbridge’s, (genocide versus deliberate expulsion, and carving out words into the back of ones hand, still awful but you get the idea, murder trumps all other crimes) but because she is such an asshole and a sadist, we dislike her more passionately than we do Voldemort.
Voldemort may not have been human, but Tom Riddle was, at least to Ginny. What Ginny faced with Riddle was far more traumatic than what the entire school faced under Umbridge’s short-lived, yet cruel and terrible reign. Tom Riddle was this comforting force who helped Ginny throughout her difficult school year, his betrayal, his reveal that he was Voldemort, his possession of Ginny as a tool for potential murder, and the guilt that Ginny must have felt, hurt a lot more than cuts in the back of her hand and a shitty DADA class. She’d had blood on her hands before, and Lupin was practically the only non-shitty DADA class she’d experienced.
With Umbridge as Headmistress, Ginny was still allowed to play Quidditch and was not ostracised for being a fanatic, so therefore her school experience was still considerably more pleasant than Harry’s, not even counting all the shit he was going through outside of school.
This is why Ginny was so cavalier about someone being worse than Umbridge, because she’d encountered someone worse than Umbridge, and everyone, including the readership, had forgotten.
Imagine Harry and Ginny a few months into their marriage and they’re so happy and in love and then one day they go shopping for food and household items and Harry just casually grabs certain items before Ginny hisses at him to "Check the prices, Harry, God! That bed set is far too expensive, we’re not going to have anything left to get the food with!" And Harry starts to laugh and say "We don’t have to worry about -" and then he stops and he and Ginny look at each other. And Harry realizes that she’s grown up having to measure out all her money and decide what she can and cannot have for a certain week or month or year. And Ginny realizes that she is actually no longer obligated to worry about money ever again.
Imagine Harry and Ginny eating dinner together and Ginny’s telling him about certain meals her mum made and teasing him about how he wolfs everything down and "Honestly Harry, you’re worse than Ron!" and Harry retorts laughingly "well old habits die hard, I had to fight Dudley for meals all the time, you at least knew you were going to eat every day!" And Ginny’s grin starts to fade and she asks "You…you didn’t get to eat everyday?" And Harry realizes what he said and he changes the subject quickly and Ginny looks at the plates in front of him and resists the urge to pile on some more potatoes. And the next day Vernon Dursley’s car is egged.
Imagine Harry and Ginny both suffering from night terrors and PTSD and agreeing that maybe going to that therapist Hermione recommended isn’t such a bad idea, and that’s how Thursday night became Therapy Night when they go out to dinner or to the pub after each session and agree that they need to talk to some Healers about introducing these sessions since therapy is still widely seen as muggle nonsense in the wizarding world.
And Ginny murmurs over her fire whiskey that sometimes she can still hear Tom Riddle murmuring in her ear, and Harry whispers that he dreams about running after his mother and father and Sirius and Remus as they disappear behind the Veil in the Department of Mysteries and he doesn’t know if he wakes from terror or regret about not making it through. And they go back home and hold each other closer that night and both wake up with raging hangovers.