Deathly Hallows Chapter 37 - Reunited by bbrod8
Summary: The chapter of Deathly Hallows that JKR should have written. Harry and Ginny speak for the first time since the Battle of Hogwarts.
Deathly Hallows Chapter 37 - Reunited by bbrod8
Chapter 1: Chapter 37Author's Notes:
When Harry finally woke up, he had no sense of time or place. He had no idea how long he had slept; all he knew was that he had rested more peacefully and comfortably than he had in a very long time. That was not to say that he was fully restored just yet. He still bore several cuts and bruises from the battle the night before, not the least of which was a large contusion on his chest where he had been hit with Voldemort’s killing curse — a mark which, much like the world-famous scar on his forehead, was a symbol of an impossible survival. No one before or since him had stood a chance against "Avada Kedavra," yet Harry had now twice survived such an attack — and from one of the most powerful wizards of all time, no less.
He put on his glasses, reorienting himself. His surroundings were so familiar, yet so foreign — a dormitory that had been more of a home to him than any place he’d ever known (then again, its greatest competitor was a cupboard under the Dursleys’ stairs), but with Harry having been away hunting Horcruxes since the previous August, it had been nearly a year since he had felt the warmth and comfort of his four-poster in Gryffindor tower. He had even been mildly surprised to see it waiting for him, given that he had essentially dropped out of school, though this made him recall what Dumbledore had said to him hours earlier: Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who deserve it. Harry, of course, never figured that he deserved much — the Dursleys had beaten that message into him, literally at times, for years — but after the wildest twenty-four hours of his life, which had ended with the final defeat of his life-long nemesis, he decided that a long, comfortable rest was surely not too much to ask.
After taking a moment to collect his thoughts, Harry slid out of bed and put on some clean clothes. The fighting may have been over, but he had to brace himself for the aftermath. No doubt countless people would ask him to recount his tale, though he himself preferred to focus on rebuilding. In the literal sense, Hogwarts needed a substantial amount of reconstruction after the heavy damage the castle had sustained during the battle. But this paled in comparison to the emotional rebuilding that the wizarding community would have to endure in the wake of all the lives that had been lost. Harry had lost more friends, classmates, and acquaintances in this horrible conflict than he dared count — deaths for which Harry couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt. His personal losses, after all, were trivial compared to those of his loved ones. Teddy Lupin, his godson, was now fated to grow up without ever knowing the love of his parents. The Weasley family, who had been nothing but gracious to him since his very first day at King’s Cross, was now one member short, and would never again be the same.
"It isn’t your fault — none of this is." He knew that’s what Ron and Hermione would say. In fact, he could think of no one who would more adamantly chide him for feeling guilty than Fred Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, and Remus Lupin — the latter, perhaps, most vociferously. But all three were now dead, alongside scores of others who had given their lives to protect the wizarding world from the likes of Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Harry supposed that he could take solace in the fact that their deaths had not been in vain.
Harry’s thoughts were interrupted by the growling of his stomach. It dawned on him that he had not eaten in an extraordinarily long time. Since the break-in at Gringotts the day before (though it felt like ages ago), Harry’s only source of food had been a small Ploughman’s lunch at the Hog’s Head, courtesy of Aberforth Dumbledore. Taking his wand from his nightstand, he headed downstairs toward the common room. At first, the common room appeared empty, but then Harry noticed a head of flaming red hair sitting on a couch by the fireplace. While every member of the Weasley family had this distinct hair color, Harry knew at once who this head of hair belonged to. In fact, he could nearly smell the distinctive flowery scent that it always gave off — an aroma that reminded him of some of the happiest days of his life.
Harry froze. What would he say to her? He hadn’t gotten to see much of her during the battle, much less talk to her. Was she still upset with him for the way he had broken up with her the year before? Did she resent him for the way he had urged her to stay in the Room of Requirement the previous night, despite the fact that she was one of the most courageous — and, he had to admit, most skilled — fighters he had ever known? Did she even still have feelings for him after he had been away for so long? The mere thought of her had been his greatest source of hope and comfort throughout the previous year, but now he was alone with her for the first time since they had shared a passionate kiss in her bedroom at the Burrow...and so much had changed since then...
Ginny whisked her head around and looked him in the eyes. Harry’s heart skipped a beat. She was beautiful, even with cuts and scratches on her face to rival his own. Her eyes were weary, yet had an unmistakable gleam in them; she had clearly been waiting for him. It occurred to Harry that the events that had just transpired had been even harder on her than they had been on him. She had lost a brother to whom she had always been very close, not to mention the fact that she, like everyone else, believed for a short while that Harry had been killed as well, and while his eyes had been closed at the time, he had been able to tell from her screams that his supposed death had devastated her. He hoped she would forgive him for it.
“Harry...” she said breathlessly, almost at a whisper.
“Er...hi” he stammered.
She paused for a moment, then a small smile crept over her face. “Is that how the savior of the wizarding world greets his adoring fans?” she teased, though her tone was coy.
Harry felt immediately at ease. Even before they had started dating, she showed an uncanny ability to soothe and relax his apprehensions, in a way nobody else could. She understood him better than anyone. It was, after all, one of the reasons he had fallen in love with her in the first place. He walked over to the couch upon which she was sitting. She patted the cushion next to her, inviting him to join. For the first time since the battle had ended, Harry smiled.
“I missed you,” he said sheepishly. It wasn’t a profound statement, but it was from the heart. “I never wanted to leave you, I — ”
Ginny took his hand in hers, her eyes sparkling. “You did what you had to do,” she said, quietly but without any reservation. “And I’m grateful for that. You saved all of us.”
Harry’s expression turned somber. He was very aware that not everyone had been saved. “I’m sorry about Fred, Ginny,” he said, as sincerely as he could, “about Lupin, about Tonks...”
But Ginny shook her head. “Don’t be such a noble prat, Harry. They died fighting for the ones they love. This was a cause we were all willing to give our lives for. No one but Voldemort deserves the blame.” While he had reminded himself of this fact just a few minutes ago, hearing it in Ginny’s voice made him feel a sudden rush of relief. She always knew what to say to help him get over himself.
“I just — I never stopped thinking about you. When I was hunting horcruxes, I mean. Some nights I would even take out the Marauder’s Map and look at your dot, just to know you were safe.”
Ginny let out a giggle. “Looks like I’ve turned the great Harry Potter into a sap!”
Harry blushed, but Ginny continued, albeit in a much more serious and heartfelt tone. “Of course, I never stopped thinking about you, either. I knew you would return. Luna, Neville, and I kept the D.A. going and thwarted the Carrows as much as we could.”
“I know. I heard about it on Potterwatch during my travels. You were brilliant, Ginny, really. I’ve never been more proud to call you my — ”
He halted his thought mid-sentence. Did he still have the right to call her his girlfriend? Technically, they had broken up, though his feelings for her had certainly not subsided in any way since then. It was in this moment that he realized that he had been so focused on horcruxes, hallows, and Voldemort that he hadn’t even briefly considered what would happen when it was all over. He had assumed — or at least hoped — that he and Ginny would begin dating again. But he wasn’t sure how one went about re-establishing a relationship like this.
“Your what, Harry?” asked Ginny, softly with a hint of uncertainty that was uncharacteristic of the confident young woman she had become. Harry’s hesitation hadn’t been lost on her. He had to say something. He drew in a breath, plucking up all the Gryffindor courage he could muster. “My girlfriend, Ginny. I mean, if you’ll have me...”
Ginny beamed, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief. He could tell by the way her eyes lit up that she had not been this happy in a long time. Maybe it was that easy after all, Harry thought. Or maybe he and Ginny had something truly special. All he knew was that, after nearly a whole year of being without her, she was finally his once again, and it was clear from the way she looked at him that she was feeling the same whirlwind of emotions that he was. Anything that either of them could have said in that moment would have been superfluous. He wanted nothing more than to keep her hand in his, and take in her look of pure joy and gratitude.
But then Ginny’s expression mellowed, her eyes turning downward. He was puzzled by this development, but fortunately, Ginny wasn’t one to hide what she was feeling. “I just wish we could have gotten you the sword of Gryffindor. Whatever reason Dumbledore had for giving it to you, I’m sure it would have helped.”
“Well if it makes you feel any better, that sword was a fake anyway. The real one was hidden behind Dumbledore’s portrait. But honestly, Ginny, that was the bravest thing anyone’s ever done for me.”
Ginny’s expression lightened again, much to Harry’s delight. “That’s high praise coming from someone who just vanquished the darkest wizard of our generation.”
“I mean it though, Ginny. When we heard you’d tried to steal it, we had no idea where it was. We needed that sword to destroy horcruxes, and the fact that you were willing to risk everything for it...it made me realize that we were truly in this together.”
She gave him a puzzled look. “You keep using that word — horcruxes, is it? What are they exactly? What do they have to do with Voldemort?”
Harry realized that the time had finally come to recount his journey to her in detail. For the first time, however, he no longer had to keep anything a secret. He could tell her everything he had truly and sincerely wanted to tell her for the past year: the horcruxes, the hallows, and how he, Ron, and Hermione had travelled all over Britain trying to find them. As his story unfolded, her gaze never wavered; she hung onto every word he said, a hard, blazing look in her eyes (though she did seem a bit mournful when Harry recounted how Dobby had died — she had always been fond of the kind yet free-spirited house elf).
After what seemed like nearly an hour, Harry had arrived at the part about Snape’s memories — how his supposed murder of Dumbledore had been pre-arranged at Dumbledore’s behest, how Voldemort thought that killing Snape would make him the master of the Elder Wand, and how Snape had worked behind the scenes during the past year not only to aid Harry in his quest, but also to protect the students of Hogwarts.
“I remember you saying during your duel with Voldemort that Snape was on our side all along.” Ginny interjected. “But he was always such a git. I don’t understand it.”
“The thing is,” Harry replied, “Snape had motivations that none of us knew about except Dumbledore. That’s why Dumbledore always trusted him. You see...Snape did it for my mother. They were childhood friends. And...he loved her.”
The look on Ginny’s face suggested that, had she been taking a drink at the moment, it would have sprayed out of her mouth instantly. “Your mother? SNAPE? But — she’s been dead for sixteen years! He still had feelings for her?”
“The ones we love never truly leave us,” Harry replied, sharing the bit of wisdom he had learned from his encounter with his parents, Sirius, and Lupin in the Forbidden Forest. Ginny looked at him tenderly, and in that moment, they both came to truly appreciate how much they had missed one another during the past year, and Harry felt foolish for ever doubting that things would work out between the two of them.
“Once I’d seen the memories, I knew I had to face Voldemort,” Harry continued, “and I knew I had to do it quickly, before anyone else got hurt.”
“But then...” she hesitated, “why did you go alone? We would have stood by you. We would have fought with you!”
Harry shook his head. He had no idea how he was going to tell her the most important detail of all. But he reckoned that she, more than anyone, deserved to know the unadulterated truth.
“I had to go,” he said matter-of-factly. Ginny raised an eyebrow at him, but he continued. “There was one more memory from Snape I didn’t tell you about. Dumbledore revealed to him that when Voldemort tried to kill me after killing my parents, the curse rebounded on him. So when his soul ripped in two, a piece of it attached itself to the only living thing in the room — me. I was the final horcrux.”
Ginny went pale as she tried to comprehend what Harry had just said, her eyes widening in a horrified shock.
“That’s why I had that mental connection with Voldemort,” he elaborated, “and it’s why I could speak Parseltongue. And that’s why I had to give myself up. In order for him to be defeated...I had to let him kill me.”
Ginny threw her arms around Harry with such a force that it nearly knocked him over. She sobbed uncontrollably into his shoulder, holding him so tightly that he genuinely wondered if she would ever let go. Though, if he was honest with himself, he wouldn’t mind if she didn’t. He intuitively pulled her into an embrace, and after having been without her for a whole year, he had no objection to holding her for as long as she needed. She wasn’t usually the type of girl who shed many tears — Harry had always liked that about her — but this new development in his story had sent her over the edge. Harry couldn’t blame her for reacting the way that she did; after all, she had firsthand experience with the horror of having one’s soul corrupted by Lord Voldemort.
After Ginny had calmed down, she cupped Harry’s face in her hands. “But then...” she said, stroking his face lightly, almost in disbelief that it was even real, “how — how did you — how are you here?”
“When the killing curse hit me,” he explained, “I was knocked unconscious, and I had this vision. It was like I was in King’s Cross, only it wasn’t King’s cross — I don’t know. But Dumbledore was there. He explained everything. He told me the horcrux had been destroyed, and that it was my choice whether I went back or went ‘on.’ But I knew I had to come back.”
“You had to defeat Voldemort,” said Ginny, understanding.
“Well, er, yeah,” Harry replied, “but it’s not just that. There were other things I wanted to come back for...”
He took a moment to look into her eyes, still shimmering from tears, and it was clear that she knew exactly what he meant by his words. Then, with barely a second’s notice, she pulled him in and kissed him with such passion and longing that it made their kiss at the Burrow seem like a peck on the cheek. As Harry eagerly kissed her back, he knew that being with her, in this moment, was worth all of the suffering of the previous year. Every dark and painful memory he had been holding onto was instantly vanquished as her presence overwhelmed and consumed him. It made Harry realize, after seven years of living in the wizarding world, that she, Ginny Weasley, his best mate’s younger sister, was the most magical thing that he had ever encountered. Dumbledore had been right all along — love was a power like no other. When he thought of it that way, the fact that a 17-year-old boy had just defeated the greatest dark wizard of all time made perfect sense. Love — first from his mother, then from his friends, and now from Ginny — made him far stronger than Voldemort could have ever been.
Harry allowed Ginny to finish the kiss on her terms. He owed her at least that much. When she finally broke apart from him, Harry knew that there was one more thing he had to own up to.
“Ginny, I want to apologize for how I treated you during the battle. I know you wanted to fight. I just...I didn’t want anything to happen to you. I hope you can forgive me”
Her eyes narrowed. “Oh no, you’ll be making that up to me later, you chivalrous git.” But before he knew it, they had both burst out laughing. Out of all the insults he had ever heard, THAT was certainly a new one.
“Honestly Ginny, there’s no one I would have rather had at my side. You were one of the best in the D.A. But your mother was right — you needed to be safe. I needed you to be safe. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you. You represented everything I was fighting for. You mean everything to me Ginny. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and, er, well...I love you.”
Ginny looked at him with the same bright brown eyes that had gazed upon him in awe at King’s Cross station when she was just ten years old. “I love you too, Harry. I always have. And I always will.” And with those words, Harry pulled her close and kissed her just as passionately as he had before. He had finally found true love, and he would never, ever let it go.
“Back to snogging my little sister then, mate?” said a familiar voice. Ron had just climbed through the portrait hole, hand-in-hand with Hermione. Harry spun around in surprise, though not before he noticed that Ginny looked as though she had one of her notorious bat-bogey hexes ready in case her brother made one more derogatory comment about her romantic interests.
Luckily, Hermione intervened. “Come off it, Ronald!” she huffed, “Harry and Ginny love each other. Be happy for them!”
“I am, Hermione, honest. It’s just...I don’t want Ginny to get hurt again, that’s all.”
Ginny glared at him. “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thanks. Besides, it’s not like I’m snogging some tosser, you know. He happens to be Harry bloody Potter.” Harry let out a chortle.
“Besides,” Hermione scolded Ron, “he only broke up with her to protect her from Voldemort. You knew as well as the rest of us that he would take her back as soon as this was all over.”
Ron took a moment to mull over his thoughts. “So...that’s it then? You two are really together?”
“Yeah,” Harry said, as though stating the obvious, “and unless there’s any other dark lords with horcruxes trying to kill me that I don’t know about, I reckon I won’t be sodding off on her this time.”
“You’d best not, Potter!” laughed Ginny as she hugged him from behind. As Harry saw Ron and Hermione both grinning at Ginny’s cheeky antics, it dawned on him that the trio of he, Ron, and Hermione, dubbed by many as the “golden trio” over the course of the past year, was a trio no longer. They were now a foursome, with Ginny having proven herself worthy of being their equal in every conceivable way. All of them shared unshakable bonds of family, friendship, and love — bonds that had taken root seven long years ago, built upon a foundation of nerve and bravery that would have made Godric Gryffindor proud. For a moment, Harry reminisced about how the original three had first become friends, when Ron saved Hermione from the mountain troll Professor Quirrell had unleashed upon the school during their first Halloween at Hogwarts. Harry, of course, had similarly rescued Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets the following year. Hermione and Ginny, to their credit, were far from the damsels in distress that they had been as eleven-year-olds. Both had become incredibly strong-willed and powerful witches who could hold their own against experienced dark wizards. Harry was confident that all four of them would prevail against whatever challenges the future would have in store for them.
Ron was the first to speak up. “We actually came up to fetch you two. They’re having a feast in the Great Hall tonight to celebrate the victory. Starts in ten minutes.” He was halfway out the portrait hole by time he had finished his sentence.
“Will you ever think about anything other than eating?” groaned Hermione, rolling her eyes before hurrying after Ron. Ginny looked at Harry, and they both snickered. Apparently, the fact that Ron and Hermione were now officially together would not abate their bickering. But Harry had to take Ron’s side this time — he had been so preoccupied with Ginny that he had entirely forgotten how famished he was. Ginny, who could go toe-to-toe with Ron when it came to food (must be a Weasley thing, Harry thought), looked similarly eager to attend the feast. She rose from the couch and took Harry by the hand, leading him out of the common room. Before they reached the portrait hole, however, Harry stopped for a moment.
“You okay, Harry? You must be starving,” said Ginny.
“I am,” replied Harry, “it’s just that...this will be the first meal of the rest of our lives. I’ll finally know what it’s like to be a normal person.”
Ginny looked up at him, then slowly put her arms around his neck. “I couldn’t think of a better person to spend it with,” she whispered, kissing him one more time. “But,” she added with a grin, “don’t think for a second that Harry Potter will ever be normal.”
Harry let out a laugh. She really was something else. “Hard to say what ‘normal’ even means anymore, isn’t it?” Ginny nodded in agreement. “But as long as the new ‘normal’ includes you,” Harry continued, “then I’m all for it.” And he knew it would. Nothing will ever break them apart again. “It might take a little while to get used to,” he added, his eyes fixed on Ginny, and hers on him, “I know there’s still loads to be done before all this is finally past us. But one day, I promise, all will be well.”
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