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SIYE Time:19:46 on 5th December 2021


All the Time and Space You Need
By M_And

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Category: Forty-Eight Hours Challenge (2010-2), Fourty-Eight Hours Challenge (2010-2)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Drama, General, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Rating: G
Reviews: 36
Summary: ** Winner of Best Overall and Best Use of Time in the Forty-Eight Hrs Challenge **
It is a few days after the Final Battle, and Harry Potter is frustrated. All he wants is some time alone with Ginny to talk things over. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Written for the SIYE “Forty-eight Hours Challenge.”
Hitcount: Story Total: 7559



Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work. All things “Harry Potter” in this piece are the creation of JKR. Her wonderful imagination made this all possible. Everything else in this story is from my imagination, with imagination, anything is possible.



Author's Notes:
AN: I had a lot of fun with this challenge. There will be some who think I took all the time and space I needed to write this one. My apologies, but I just couldn’t get it all in 10K, and ended up leaving out sections I wanted to put in. I hope you enjoy, and please let me know what you think of it.

And now for some necessary and well deserved props. I need extend my thanks and gratitude to two first-rate people who have helped me with this story. Thank you cwarbeck for all the advice and suggestions (and corrections) you made throughout the writing of this story. I really valued your input and insight. Now for Spencer Hemmingway; you’ve been with me through a number of stories now, and your good natured approach to the process of writing is greatly appreciated. The title was his inspiration. Both of these individuals are accomplished authors and talented Beta’s, and I admire and respect them both a great deal. How lucky am I?





ChapterPrinter


All the Time and Space You Need

by M_And




Abso-bloody -lutely unreal! Harry Potter thought morosely, as he sat at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He sullenly watched as the Weasleys slowly gathered together in preparation to leave for The Burrow. With a slew of funerals coming up, including Fred’s, Molly and Arthur Weasley thought it best to get their family home. The grieving for loved ones and the subsequent healing that would follow was best done at the secluded confines of The Burrow, out of the watchful eyes of the public.

Harry certainly didn’t disagree with that thought process and was glad that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had asked him to stay with them for a while. The problem, as Harry saw it, centred around one petite red-headed girl and her five somewhat over-zealous brothers.

All he wanted to do was talk to Ginny. “Well…more really,” he hoped, “But first things first, I’ve got to find away to talk to her alone.” He’d been trying to do just that since shortly after the final battle had ended. It had all been so simple in his mind. Defeat the evil tosser, Voldemort, apologize profusely to Ginny, get back together with her, and then go about the business of leading a normal life, which he hoped included some of her brilliant kisses. What could be simpler?

Stupid question! he thought bitterly. If he wasn’t interrupted by some minor Ministry flunky trying to curry favour with Kingsley by being too eager (“Seriously, Fawn Schnozer really needed to hassle him about not having an Apparations License within four hours of Voldemort’s defeat? Really?”), then it was one of Ginny’s brothers placing themselves strategically between them, cutting off any possibility of a private conversation. As if that wasn’t enough, when he did manage to get next to her without her family hovering over them, or the Ministry hounding him for details about his miraculous victory, friends and well-wishers made it impossible for him to have a moment of peace so that he could have some sort of meaningful discussion with her. The frustration was building to the point where he wanted to hex somebody.

Trying to take his mind off his problem, he pulled his eyes away from the cluster of redheads and briefly looked around the room. He didn’t find much in the way of relief from his morbid thoughts there. On a positive note, the bodies had finally been cleared out of the Great Hall the day before. The defenders remains had been carefully placed in a couple of the first floor class rooms while the Death Eaters corpses were dumped, somewhat unceremoniously, in the dungeon. Additionally, the long dining tables had been brought back in, making the grand room look almost normal. That is, of course, assuming one didn’t look too carefully at the shattered windows and hex-scarred walls. Still, he supposed, the Great Hall was in better shape than many sections of the ancient castle. The Astronomy Tower was lying in ruins and would have to be completely rebuilt.

So much destruction, Harry brooded. Just the thought of the tremendous amount of effort it was going to take to rebuild the Wizarding World made his head ache. Was the price worth it? Of course it was worth it, you git! he chided himself mentally.

He shook his head to clear his thoughts. First things first, he thought resolutely. Before I can worry about any of that, I need to figure out how to rebuild my relationship with Ginny. That was another conundrum he hadn’t solved yet.

Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t hear Mrs. Weasley and the rest of the family approach.

“We’ve got everyone together, Harry dear. Are you ready to leave?” she asked in a worn voice.

Harry looked up to see Mrs. Weasley’s haggard face looking down at him. He glanced briefly past her to Ginny, who was nervously chewing her bottom lip and watching him.

“I guess, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry replied somewhat apathetically.

“Is something the matter, dear? You seem a bit off. Are you feeling a bit peaky?” She reached over and felt his head, checking for a temperature. “It wouldn’t surprise me a bit. You three show up after almost a year on the run, having done Merlin knows what and looking as if you haven’t had a decent meal the entire time. What you need is a dose of Pepperup Potion, a good hearty meal, and lots of rest.”

Except for the Pepperup Potion, the rest sounded pretty good to him, but not just yet. “No, it’s nothing like that, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry fibbed trying to convince her he was all right. His mounting frustration was making him throw caution to the wind. “Actually, I’ve been trying to talk with Ginny in private for the past several days, but nobody will leave us alone. If it’s not some eager fawning Ministry stooge hounding me, then it’s Bill, or Charlie, or Percy, or Ron glued to her hip. I mean seriously, you’d think I was some smarmy berk she needs protection from!”

“Who left who, mate?” Ron asked pointedly.

“Ron, stay out of this!” Hermione scolded.

“I see. Well, that’s easily solved, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said agreeably, looking appraisingly at first him, and then at her somewhat anxious daughter. “Take some time now and talk. We will give you two all the space and time you need.”

Harry looked at Mrs. Weasley gratefully. “Thank you,” Harry said, feeling somewhat relieved. He stood up and walked around the table towards Ginny. He shyly offered her his hand, which she tentatively took. He turned and faced the others. “We’ll only be gone two days,” he said more calmly than he felt. Then, before what he said had a chance to register, he quickly pulled Ginny to him and they both vanished with the soft Pop! associated with a Disapparation.

**********************

A commotion erupted around the Weasleys in the wake of Harry’s abrupt disappearance with Ginny. A chorus of “Where’d they go?”, “What did he say?”, and “That git took our sister!” rang out across the Great Hall.

One of loudest of all was Ron. “How the bloody hell did Harry get out of here with Ginny?”

“He obviously Apparated, Ron,” Hermione replied, a bit preoccupied with her own thoughts. Though shocked at the abruptness of their departure, she was actually quite happy for both of them. Ginny had been waiting for Harry to pluck up the nerve to talk to her since the battle had ended. She was just has frustrated as Harry with the pace of things. As for Harry, well, she was probably the only one besides him who knew how much he cared for Ginny. Harry wasn’t nearly as sneaky as he thought. She’d seen him pull out the Marauder’s Map on a daily basis, searching for Ginny’s dot. He was either totally besotted with her, or he was a complete nutter.

Ron gave her an exasperated look. “Hermione, aren’t you the one always going on about how you can’t Apparate anywhere on the grounds?”

She returned his exasperated look with one of patience. “Ron, it’s really not all that difficult or mysterious. The anti-Apparation wards were probably neutralized during the battle. Harry must have known about it.”

Charlie grunted in agreement to Hermione’s assessment. “In the mean time, what do we do about Ginny and Harry?” he broke in, his anger barely in check.

“We do nothing,” Mr. Weasley calmly stated, amused at his son’s gob smacked expression.

“Nothing? Harry takes off with Ginny and says they won’t be back for two days, and we’re just supposed to sit here and do nothing?”

“Boys, your father is right,” Mrs. Weasley said, trying to quell the spike of testosterone that suddenly roared through her sons’ veins. “Leave them be. Can’t you see? Harry has been Ginny’s choice for some time. She worried and fretted about him all last year. Apparently he has come to feel the same about her. I expect that they have a lot to talk about. Now, I admit, this is not exactly what I had in mind, but aside from you boys and your father, there’s no one I trust Ginny with more than Harry. They’ll be back before you know it and until then, we need to give them time to works things out.”

“What kind of ‘things’ do they need to work out that couldn’t be done here?” Charlie asked, still somewhat off balance by his parents’ seemingly blas attitude about the whole situation.

“Charlie Weasley! Do you really not know the answer to that?” scolded Mrs. Weasley. You need to spend a little less time with those dragons of yours, and little more time finding a girlfriend.”

George snickered at his mother’s remark, earning him an angry glare from his older brother.

“They’ll be all right, Charlie,” Ron said, trying to reassure him all his older brothers. “Harry is noble to a fault. He’s not about to set a foot wrong with Ginny. In fact,” he chuckled, “I’d be more concerned about Ginny than Harry. She’s probably torn between hexing him and snogging him. Either way, Merlin help him when she figures it out.” That earned him laughs from his family, and an elbow in the ribs from Hermione.

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley herded everyone over to one of the fireplaces, where they flooed home. Sometime later that afternoon, Molly considered the situation further, as she sat down to a cup of tea. Ginny hadn’t said anything during the past year about Harry, but a hundred little actions gave her away. She’d seen the pair sitting together at Dumbledore’s funeral and decided then that something was up. Later that summer, she watched them dance around each other, trying to make everyone believe they weren’t together and failing miserably. While she didn’t know it for a fact, she guessed that they had probably been dating before last summer, but then must have ended it, probably because Harry knew he would be leaving and that Ginny could not go with him.

“Thank Merlin she was only sixteen and still subject to the Trace,” she thought, shivering, “If she’d been seventeen, there’s no way I could have stopped her.”

During the course of the year, Molly had noticed how Ginny’s ears perked up whenever someone mentioned Harry's name. She saw all the plates of untouched food. It was not hard to notice the dark circles bruising the youthful flesh beneath her eyes, which spoke so eloquently of the nights spent lying awake and worrying. The scene she made in the Room of Requirement was certainly very telling, as was the way she called out the boy’s name when she thought he was dead. No, it was not difficult to see the truth of things. Her little girl had grown up, and almost before Molly could see it, had found the love of her life. It’s everything she could have wished for her little girl, and dreaded for herself.

And Harry! She recalled during the battle how he had revealed himself to protect Ginny during the fight with that nasty little bint, Bellatrix Lestrange. If she hadn’t killed her, then she had no doubt Harry would have cheerfully done the job. She’d always hoped Ginny and Harry would find their way to one another. They need each other and they would be good for each other. She smiled briefly at the thought of them together. It seemed that something good and pure managed to spring up out of the ashes of all their family sorrow. If nurtured and allowed to grow, it would be a bloom of remarkable beauty; Assuming of course that my sons don’t maim or kill Harry first, she thought wryly. Well she and Arthur could handle that when the time came. She looked up at the family clock to see Ginny’s and Harry’s hands once again pointing towards ‘Travelling’. Where in the blazes are those two going now? she wondered.

********************

In a dizzying flash, Ginny landed beside Harry in the back alley of some city street. His sinewy arm was wrapped firmly around her waist and steadied her as she regained her balance. “Never quite understood the attraction of Apparation,” she said a bit breathlessly as she regained her balance.

Harry bit back a snort of laughter. “I know what you mean. I always feel like I’m being squeezed through a keyhole, but it did prove dead useful on a number of occasions last year.” He moved his arm from around her waist to grab her hand, and began to lead towards the street.

“So, do you mind telling me where in Merlin’s name we are?” Ginny asked, looking less than enthusiastic about their unsavoury surroundings. The trash bins were overflowing, and the smell of rotting food was making her gag. The walls of the surrounding building were made of brick, and had at some point been painted an assortment of garish colours. Mercifully, time and the elements were pealing the paint off the bricks, but the buildings were still an eyesore.

“I’m taking you to the beginning,” he said cryptically.

He led her around to the front of the building, which turned out to be some kind of round-the-clock caf, at least that’s the impression she got from the sign: Caf Open 24 Hours per Day. Looking down the block, she saw a street sign, Tottenham Court Rd. She couldn’t see a cross street and she still didn’t know what city they were in, but she supposed Harry would tell her at some point in the near future. For now, she was content to wait him out.

Harry led her into the caf. The inside was not much better looking than the outside. It was decrepit and tacky. The tacky description was doing double duty, partly for how the place looked and partly for how it felt. As she walked across the floor, her shoes seemed to squelch on the floor from a thick gummy layer that coated it. She didn’t want to look down for fear that she would see her footprints. As they sat down at a cracked vinyl covered booth, she put her hand down on the table and wished she hadn’t. The table was apparently covered in the same greasy grime as the floor.

Harry saw her looking at her hand and immediately offered her his handkerchief. “Sorry about that, but look at the bright side…”

Ginny raised her eyebrow at him.

“This restaurant gets five stars for its ambiance.”

“Harry, why have you brought me here?” Ginny asked, not quite able to keep the revulsion out of her voice.

They were interrupted by a frumpy middle-aged waitress. “What’ll it be?” she asked in an unfriendly tone. Her attitude suggested someone who hated their job but didn’t have any better prospects.

Harry looked questioningly at Ginny. “Just a mug of hot tea for me,” she replied. Harry turned to the waitress. “Two mugs of hot tea please.” The waitress turned and walked away in a disinterested fashion.

Ginny watched Harry as he fidgeted in his seat. Now that they were finally alone and it was time to talk, he looked as nervous as a long-tailed Kneazle in a room full of rocking chairs. She found it absolutely adorable, and for some reason, it seemed to calm her nerves a bit.

“Right, erm…” Harry said hesitantly, “Look Ginny, I know you must be really mad at me, and honestly, I don’t blame you…”

“Harry…” Ginny started to say, but Harry cut her off, an almost pleading desperation filling his brilliant green eyes.

“No Ginny,” he begged, holding his hands in front of him in a beseeching gesture, “please, just wait before you respond. I need to tell you so much, to explain…why I did what I had to do. I need you to understand why it was necessary.”

“But Harry…” she tried again.

“Please, Ginny, promise me you’ll wait until after you hear everything. Then you can tell me what you think of me.”

The last bit made her think that he didn’t expect those thoughts to be any too good. Truth be told, she was a little exasperated with him. If the silly boy would only let me speak… and yet she wanted to know what he’d been through. She wanted to know everything he’d experienced, needed to know really. He was usually so reticent, but now for some reason he needed to tell her things. Who was she to stop him from doing exactly what she hoped he’d do? She nodded her head in acquiescence.

Harry smiled briefly in relief. “In trying to explain all this, I want to take you to some of the places we were during this past year. I’m hoping it will give you a better feel for some of the things we went through.”

“So how does this place fit in?” She gestured sardonically.

They were interrupted again by the surly waitress banging their tea mugs down and slopping a little of the hot liquid on to the table top.

“Charming,” Ginny said sarcastically.

Harry rolled his eyes in agreement. “Ah…right…well, this is where it began for us,” he said a bit ruefully. “When the Death Eaters attacked The Burrow during Bill and Fleur’s wedding, Hermione grabbed Ron and I and Apparated us both here. She figured a Muggle location would be the safest place to flee to since the Death Eaters wouldn’t know where to follow. Unfortunately she made the mistake of saying Voldemort’s name and Dolohov and Rowle showed up in an instant, ready to nab us. We got lucky and managed to subdue them and get away.”

Harry then proceeded to fill Ginny in about the prophecy, Horcruxes, and the mission that Dumbledore had left him, Ron, and Hermione to complete. As he related all this new information to her, she noticed that he seemed to be watching her expectantly.

The whole business of the Horcruxes was disturbing. It sounded just a little too close to an object she had fallen under the spell of her first year at school. She continued to mull it all over, considering his every word.

“So a Horcrux is an object that contains a part of someone’s soul?” she asked in a shaky voice.

Tears gathered in her eyes, and she knew that Harry could hear the distress in her voice. “Yeah, for the most part, that’s essentially correct, but the vessel for the soul could also be a living animal, or even a person.”

She’d been looking away as he responded, but whipped her head around at this last remark. She’d heard a bit about Nagini earlier, not quite understanding it at the time; but guessed now from what Harry had just told her that Voldemort’s pet snake must have been one. She had a sick feeling that the remark about a human probably meant Harry knew of such a person.

Ginny was struggling to control her emotions, but it was difficult as the beginnings of a horrific realization seeped into her awareness. Just thought of it made her flesh creep, and she had to fight the overwhelming compulsion to stand under a shower and scrub herself raw. She felt unclean, and was not sure she would ever feel unsullied again. Despite the tears forming in her eyes, she refused to let them fall. She had to know, and she’d be damned if she didn’t see this through.

“And first year, in the Chamber of Secrets…” she almost faltered.

“Yeah Gin, Tom Riddle’s diary was one too.” His tortured expression spoke plainly as to what he thought.

She buried her head in her hands and cried, deep wracking sobs. She felt Harry slide into the booth next to her and pull her into a firm but gentle embrace, tenderly comforting her as her despair washed over her like some great tidal wave that threatened to drowned her.

After a while her crying ceased and Harry handed her a napkin when he heard her sniffles. She accepted it gratefully. Fully aware of her proximity to the boy she had loved most of her life, she tried, as daintily as she could, to blow her nose. Having finally regained her composure, she asked, “Why?”

“Why what?” Harry responded in confusion.

“Why did you ever go out with me? What did you ever see in me? I was touched by evil, Harry!” she almost screamed at him. “Why would you ever want to be near me? Why are you here now?”

“First of all, you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met,” he responded earnestly. “You’re smart, and brave, and have a wicked sense of humour. You put me in my place when I need it, but you’re also always supportive of me. You quite simply take my breath away.”

Ginny’s insides glowed warmly from Harry’s words; their sweetness giving her hope and chasing the darkness away. “I thought Ron said you were complete rubbish around girls,” she quipped, wiping the tears from her eyes.

Harry chuckled at the remark. “Second,” he continued, “you were touched by evil, but that doesn’t make you evil. Ginny, you held out against that diary for almost a year. That’s no small feat. The locket Horcrux nearly drove Ron, Hermione, and me mad. I know to some small degree what you must have gone through. I obviously don’t despise you; on the contrary, I admire the strength you showed in fighting against it.”

“Thanks, Harry,” she said, blushing at his kind words.

“Besides, when I get to the end of all this…well…I think you’ll understand my position a little better.”

She looked at him, searching his eyes for the meaning of his ominous statement, but his face might has well have been on a stone statue for as little as she could read from it.

Harry stood and threw a couple of pounds on the table, then offered his hand to Ginny. “Let’s get out of here. There are still a couple places I want to visit before we take a break for the night.”

She took his hand and followed him out the door. They walked back behind the caf to the alley they had first arrived in. Looking to make sure no one was around, Harry pulled Ginny close to him and Apparated them to their next destination.

*******************

“Damn!” Ginny cursed as she stumbled next to Harry; once again feeling as if she had been sucked up through a straw. They were at Grimmauld Place, in London, and unless she was completely barmy, they were somewhere down the street from Grimmauld Square. The dilapidated houses and the general squalor looked familiar from their car rides to and from King’s Cross Station.

Harry gave her a quick look to see if she was okay. She nodded her head and they moved cautiously down the street towards Number 12.

“Why are we sneaking?” she asked, feeling a bit mischievous.

“I don’t want to get too close in case the house is being watched,” he explained quietly.

“I doubt Death Eaters would be keeping watch on it now, Harry,” Ginny proffered.

“It’s not Death Eaters I’m worried about.”

“Well, then, who?”

Harry gave her a wry smile. “Your family for starters,” he replied. “I don’t imagine they are very happy with the way I up and absconded with you.”

“My brothers are probably a bit cross, but I can handle them,” she boasted.

“I don’t doubt for a minute that you could. I’ve seen you in action.” Ginny flushed slightly at Harry’s praise, but flashed him a pleased smile.

“I’m really more concerned about bloody reporters from the Prophet,” he continued as he scanned the surrounding area for suspicious behaviour. “Kingsley Shacklebolt warned me that I could expect to be hounded by the press for a while.”

Ginny grimaced in annoyance. Sodding, bloody parasites! She knew that Harry was never comfortable with his fame. Contrary to the views of some Slytherins and a certain Daily Prophet reporter, Harry was not an attention-seeking publicity hound. Unfortunately, when you save the Wizarding World from the foulest Dark wizard in memory, you tend to draw the scrutiny of just about everyone.

“So what happened here?” she asked

Harry turned towards her as he stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Honestly, for a long time not much. We were really pretty clueless as to how to go about finding the Horcruxes. We knew that the locket Dumbledore and I got was a fake, but that left the questions of who R.A.B. was and where he put the real locket.” Harry then told her of how Mundungus Fletcher had stolen everything that wasn’t nailed down in the house, including the locket, and how, with Kreacher’s help, they caught him and discovered that he had been forced to give the locket to Dolores Umbridge. That was when they hatched the plan to go into the Ministry to get the locket back, and along the way set free all the Muggle-borns who were being held for trial. Finally, he told of their narrow escape from Yaxley on the front stoop.

Ginny was quite simply gobsmacked at the pure nerve all three of them had displayed. Her heart raced and her blood soared as Harry’s story unfolded. They may have been clueless at first, but what they lacked in knowledge they more than made up for in decisive action.

“There was one other thing that happened here,” Harry said, regaining her attention. She noticed that he had a look of deep regret. “Remus Lupin found us here before we found Dung. He told us about marrying Tonks, and that they were expecting.” The sadness of his voice surprised her. Seeing Professor Lupin, and hearing the good news should have been a happy moment.

“At first I was really happy for him, you know? But then he talked about leaving them to join us on our mission. He kept going on about how they’d be better off without him. That he’d made them outcasts. I started to get a bit mad at how easily he could leave them. Finally, he said that my father would want him to go with me. I couldn’t help myself; I lost it and yelled at him. I called him a coward,” he finished hoarsely, his voice thick with emotion.

Now it made sense to Ginny. Harry’s father hadn’t gone off and left his family unprotected. In fact, he’d been the first to die protecting them in their home. Family was apparently very important to James Potter, and it was everything to his only son, who had never really known what it was to have one family. One of Harry’s last moments with his father’s only remaining friend was marred by anger, and despite it being for Lupin’s own good, Harry still felt bad that he’d lost his temper. She stepped forward and pulled him into a hug. He responded hesitantly at first, but eventually held on tight to her and buried his face in the crook of her neck.

They stood that way for some time. She gently rubbed his back and hoped that she provided some measure of comfort. “You know, Harry,” she said, as a thought came to her, “the fact that Lupin and Tonks made you little Teddy’s godfather suggests pretty strongly that Lupin forgave you.”

“I imagine he probably did,” Harry muttered in reply. “It’s just…I never wanted…I don’t like hurting those I care about, even if it is for their own good.”

“Sometimes it’s necessary.”

“I know, but…”

She heard the uncertainty in his voice, and she thought she knew what it was that was bothering him. Harry had very little experience involving unconditional love. “You’re afraid,” she said simply.

She almost laughed at the astonishment on his face as he pulled back from her. “How did you know?”

“Just a guess really. I knew that those horrible Muggles you grew up with were awful to you. I figured you probably never got much love or support from them…”

“Try none,” he said, interrupting her.

She nodded her head in agreement. “Anyway, I just figured that if I were in your place, and had done or said something that might hurt someone I cared for even though it was for their own good, then maybe they might stop loving me.”

Harry’s mouth was hanging open in disbelief. “That…that’s exactly how I feel!” he stammered. “I’m just afraid they won’t understand and forgive me, you know?”

“If they love you, Harry, then chances are that once they think about it, they’ll understand and forgive you.”

“Would you…erm…I mean…would they?” he asked clumsily.

She knew what he was really asking. With a reassuring smile she said, “Yes, they would understand and forgive you, just like I understand what you did. I always understood Harry. One of the things I lo…like about you most is your sense of nobility.” She’d almost slipped and said love. She promised herself that if Harry came back to her, she wasn’t going to tell him she loved him before he said it to her. She’d made enough of a fool of herself in the past around him. He was going to have to find a way to let her know how he felt first.

Harry gave her a warm smile that almost melted her resolve.

CLICK!

“W ell that was really quite a touching scene, Harry,” drawled an all too familiar and detested voice.

Ginny spun a half a beat slower than Harry who already had his wand drawn on a middle-aged witch with blond hair and jewel studded glasses. The witch’s eye-wrenching chartreuse robes clashed horribly with her scarlet lipstick. She was tapping a blood red finger nail against her chin as she ignored Harry’s wand inches from her face.

“What are you doing here, Rita?”

“Ansel, dear, do be sure to get pictures of the red-haired tart next to Harry.” A number of flashes momentarily blinded Ginny.

“So tell me, Harry dear, does that poor excuse for a girlfriend — what was her name — ah yes, Hermione Granger wasn’t it? Does she know about you and this little harlot you’re mooning over?”

Ginny’s own temper was about to snap, and she was incredulous that Harry could seemingly ignore this woman’s insulting barbs. That is, until she saw the dangerous glint in his eyes and heard the deadly intensity of his voice.

“Hermione is not, nor has she ever been, my girlfriend; and you would be wise to never speak ill of Ginny again. Now, since I have no intention of giving you any kind of fodder for a story…”

Ginny almost squeaked has Harry abruptly pulled her to him. In a flash, Rita Skeeter and her cameraman were gone.

********************

CRACK!

Ginny decided she was getting better at Apparating as she managed to at least land solidly, but it still felt like she had been stretched out and shoved through the eye of a needle.

Harry was pacing back and forth, swearing sulphurously. She decided he probably needed a minute before he was fit to talk to, so she looked around to see where he had brought them. It was a forest, and for some reason it looked vaguely familiar. Why…

“Harry, where are we?”

“…No good foul slimy little bi…”

“Harry! Would you stop swearing and tell me where we are?”

She watched as his head snapped up, and a slow blush suffused his face. “Sorry, Ginny, it’s just that woman really…sometimes I would just like to…erg!”

Ginny chuckled at Harry temper. Actually, he did better than she would have. The Skeeter woman was lucky she had forgotten to draw her wand, or her little batty friends would have been pouring out her over-made-up nose.

“Right, well…this is the Forest of Dean. Ron, Hermione, and I stayed here after we escaped Yaxley.”

“Why does it seem so familiar? I could swear I’ve been here before,” she said, puzzled by the familiarity of it.

“I imagine it feels familiar because you have been here. This is where the Quidditch World Cup was held.”

Ginny’s eyes lit up at his pronouncement. Despite the Death Eater attack that marred the end of the World Cup, she had very fond memories of those few days. It was the first time that she relaxed around Harry and was just herself. She was rewarded with Harry being more at ease around her and taking the time to get to actually get to know her better.

“So, what happened here?” Her curiosity was making her impatient.

“Well, we stayed here in that tent we used during the Quidditch World Cup. We really had nowhere else to go. We mostly sat around and tried to think of ways to destroy the locket, and arguing. The bloody locket affected all of us, but it was worse for the one wearing it. Finally, one night we all got into a row and Ron left us.”

Ginny had learned from Bill that Ron had been at Shell Cottage over Christmas and for several weeks thereafter. At the time she had wanted to hex his bits off for abandoning Harry and Hermione. Some of those feelings must have registered on her face.

“He regretted it immediately,” Harry said hesitantly. “As soon as he was clear of the locket’s affects he Apparated right back, but Hermione had done the protective spell work so well, he couldn’t find us again.”

“It’s all right, Harry,” she said reassuringly. “I’m not going to curse my brother. What else happened?

Harry told her all about his ill conceived plan to go to Godric’s Hollow. The visit to the graveyard and his parents’ ruined house. Her blood ran cold has he told her about the trap Nagini had set at Bathilda Bagshot’s house, and their narrow escape from Voldemort.

“You honestly couldn’t tell that Bathilda was dead?” Ginny asked, morbid curiosity getting the better of her.

“Well…” he started lamely, pushing his hands though his messy black hair. “You have to understand, it was hard to tell.”

“Generally speaking, Harry,” she said, trying to inject a little humour into what was otherwise a very dark story, “when their head goes around like that, it means they’re dead!”

“I’ll try to remember that for the next time,” he said dryly.

As he continued, Harry told her about the despair he and Hermione felt at not being able to destroy the locket. She listened intently as he told her about seeing the silver doe, and it leading him to the creek where he found the Sword of Godric Gryffindor. She gasped in horror as he told her how the locket had tried to choke him to death under the pool of water when he dove in to retrieve the sword. Relief flooded through her as he spoke of Ron’s timely rescue, and she thought she’d be sick when he told of all the creepy things that Ron saw before he destroyed the locket.

She felt exhausted just listening to it all. She sank to her knees before they buckled and wrapped her arms around her.

Harry knelt down next to her, gently enfolding her in his arms. Ginny gratefully melted into him, absorbing his warmth to ward off the chill. She heard him clear his throat.

“There’s one last thing here,” he said huskily. “While Ron was gone, Hermione and I barely spoke. She was so upset over Ron’s leaving, and we couldn’t seem to agree on any course of action…well…we just sort of steered clear of each other. Anyway, during my shift at watch, I’d open up the Marauder’s Map and look for your dot. I’d try to imagine what you were doing, or what you were thinking. I’d wonder if you thought about me at all, and I’d try not to think about all the blokes who’d be beating a path to you.”

Ginny’s insides started to thaw from the chilling tale of Godric’s Hollow. She smiled into his shoulder, as her hopes and dreams continued to slowly rebuild. “You’re so clueless, Harry,” she said warmly. “There was not a day that went by that I didn’t think of you, or worry about you.”

Harry gently squeezed her shoulders in response. She could tell that he was a little choked up. It was nice to know she could affect him that way.

“How’re you holding up?” he asked hoarsely, trying to find his voice.

“Actually, I’m starting to get a bit tired.” Her stomach chose that tranquil moment to growl loudly. They both chuckled at her bodily noises.

“It also sounds as if you’re hungry. If I’ve learned anything in this life, then it’s not to keep a Weasley from their next meal.”

She gave him a quick jab to the ribs. “All right, Mister Potter, that’s enough from you,” she chided playfully. “In case you forgot to notice, I’m the diminutive one in my family. It’s my brothers who will eat you out of house and home.”

“Oh, I noticed all right, Miss Weasley,” he growled as he hugged her tighter.

She giggled in response. “Where are we spending the night? It must not be at Hogwarts or The Burrow since you clearly don’t want anyone finding us.”

“We’re going to the last place anyone will think to look,” he said mysteriously. “Are you ready, Ginny?”

“Any time Harry,” she replied, bracing herself for the inevitable discomfort. In a flash of light and a loud POP, they were gone.

*********************

Harry was right; his aunt and uncle’s house was the last place anyone would think to look for them. They were still in hiding from the threat of Voldemort and his Death Eaters and no one saw fit to go and get them just yet. She and Harry would have the place to themselves.

Moments after arriving at Number 4 Privet Drive, Harry summoned Kreacher to them. The ancient house elf arrived with a loud POP and shuffled over to Harry. “Yes, Master Harry, what may Kreacher do for his generous and gracious master?” he inquired in his deep, bullfrog-like voice.

“Uh, Kreacher, you remember Ginny Weasley?”

“Of course, master.” The old elf then turned and bowed somewhat stiffly to Ginny. “Greetings, Mistress Ginny.”

“Hello, Kreacher,” Ginny responded, astonished at the change in his behaviour. The last time Kreacher had greeted her, it was by calling her the daughter of blood traitors. She could see Harry smirking at her out of the corner of her eye, so she stuck her tongue out at him.

“Kreacher, we’ll be staying here tonight. Could you get pyjamas and fresh clothes for both Ginny and I? After that could you see to making us a bite of supper?” Harry asked politely.

“Of course, Master Harry,” he croaked. “Kreacher lives to serve the noble house of Potter, hero of the Wizarding world and friend to house elves.” With another loud POP! Kreacher left to carry out his mister’s bidding.

Ginny looked over at Harry. He was rubbing the back of his neck and looking a bit sheepish. “He lays it on a bit thick, doesn’t he?” she ventured.

Harry smiled back. “Yeah, just a bit. I can see I’m going to have to nip that in the bud.”
A few moments later, Kreacher was back with the clothing, and then just as quickly he disappeared again. Harry, in a very gentlemenlike manner offered her first use of the bathroom to shower and change.

The hot water sluiced all the grime off her tired body, and relaxed muscles she didn’t realize were so tense. After her shower she dried off and put on her pyjamas. As she walked out of the bathroom, Harry came out from one of the bedrooms.

“Go ahead and go on down. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.”

She walked down the stairs and into the living room, amazed at the almost complete lack of dust. Even abandoned for several months, the house was cleaner than anything she was used to. In fact, it was so clean she expected to see Healers wearing St. Mungo’s robes walking about the place.

She took a seat on the couch and folded her bare feet up underneath her. She leaned back and pondered the day she had just spent with Harry.

For someone who was normally loath to speak of his feelings, not to mention his tendency to be moody, broody, and overprotective, Harry had gone out of his way to really try and share the experiences he had encountered over the past year. While many of the tales were sad or even somewhat horrifying, he had not held anything back; on the contrary, he had made sure to tell her in great detail. He had to have known some of the topics, like the Horcruxes, would have been particularly painful for her to hear, but he trusted her to be strong enough to deal with it. He simply had no idea how much she appreciated that.

The growing sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, they would be able to work things out between them made her feel almost giddy. She’d been ready to let him off the hook back in the caf, but now she was glad that he had insisted. He was right, of course, even if he didn’t know what he was right about. If they’d got back together without his sharing all this with her, she was certain that the differences in their experiences would have eventually put a strain on their relationship, and she wasn’t too sure if they would have had the strength to overcome those differences. By taking her to the places that had meant something to him, and by sharing the events that had profoundly affected him, he was giving them a common reference point to work from. A place that anchored them in the storms of memories and nightmares that were sure to come. She doubted that this was a conscious decision on his part, but rather some sort of instinctual reaction to their having been apart. That actually made her feel better for some reason.

She had started to get really comfortable and cosy, and had actually started to nod off to sleep when Harry came down the stairs all freshly scrubbed clean and wearing his pyjamas as well. He gently shook her shoulder.

“Hey, Sleeping Beauty, are you ready to eat?”

She lazily opened her eyes and smiled. “Yeah, I’m starving.”

After a relatively simple meal of lamb stew, hot crusty bread with butter, and a couple of cold mugs of butter beer, the young couple climbed the stairs wearily and headed for bed.

Harry walked her to where she was to sleep. “I had Kreacher put clean sheets on my aunt and uncle’s bed,” he said somewhat nervously. “You should be quite comfortable in there.”

“Thanks, Harry,” she said a bit shyly. Then she rose up on her toes and kissed his cheek. As she pulled away, she couldn’t help but notice the look of wonder on his face as he slowly brought his hand to his cheek where she kissed him. It made her tingle all over just watching him. “Good night, Harry,” she said warmly.

“’Night, Ginny,” he mumbled, still standing there like he’d been Stupefied.

She climbed into bed and a bone-weary tiredness soon overcame her, causing her to drift into a dark, sinister dream.

Her breath sounded raspy and came in strained pants as she struggled to stay on her hands and knees. She could feel the malevolence seething from Tom Riddle’s diary. The black leather-bound journal was mocking her, taunting her. “You’re pathetic and weak. You’re a stupid little girl, but soon you’ll be dead and your little hero too. A spectral skeletal-looking hand reached out of the diary and grabbed her shoulder, shaking her violently… She bolted out of bed at the feel of the hand on her shoulder. She was clammy and her pyjamas were damp with sweat. Her heart raced and the disorientation she felt made her thinking as laboured as her breathing.

“Ginny?” she heard a familiar masculine voice ask in concern.

“Harry?” she asked, desperately searching the dark room for him. “Is that you?” She realized that she was trembling severely.

He padded over to her and carefully pulled her stiff body to him, gently enfolding her in his arms, and slowly rubbing a hand through her dishevelled hair to comfort her.

“What are you doing in here?” she asked more sharply than she meant. “You scared me half to death.”

“I heard you screaming, and I figured you were having a nightmare of some kind,” he said a bit defensively.

She immediately regretted snapping at him. She was embarrassed and frightened, two emotions she detested feeling. “I’m sorry, Harry,” she apologized, trying to calm herself. “All the talk of Horcruxes must have got my subconscious going.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No,” she said a little too vehemently. Harry stiffened in response, and she again regretted her rash reaction. She did feel better now that he was with her. Maybe he could help hold the demons at bay. “Just…I mean could you…”

“Do you want me to stay with you?” he asked, understanding how she felt.
“Would you please?” she said grateful that he’d offered without making a big deal out of it.

“No problem.” He helped get her settled back in bed and covered up, and then he lay down on top of the covers. Once he was settled, she scooted over his arm and laid her head on his shoulder. He pulled her close and held her tight, warding her against further nightmares. Closing her eyes, she listened to his deep regular breathing, and faded into a blissful, sun-filled dream.

*************************

The Weasleys and Hermione were sitting around the breakfast table the next morning when the early edition of the Daily Prophet arrived by Owl Post. Ron picked it up and unfolded it.

“Bloody hell!” His epithet got the attention of everyone at the table.

Mrs. Weasley banged her spoon down on the table. “You will watch your language, Ronald Bilius Weasley! Just because you’ve been living rough the past year doesn’t give you license to use foul language! Maybe cleaning your trap with Mrs. Scowers Magical Mess Remover will purge the filth out of your mouth,” she finished, glaring at her youngest son.

Ron never flinched; he simply laid the paper down on the table.

“Bloody Hell!” Molly Weasley spat as she saw the front page.

It was a testament to their shock that none of the boys laughed at their mother’s slip. There, on the front page, were Ginny and Harry. They appeared to be standing on a sidewalk, holding one another.

“Look at the by-line, Ron!” Hermione hissed.

“Oh no!” Ron said in disgust. “Rita Skeeter!”

“The one and only,” Hermione said derisively.

“Harry will be furious when he sees this,” Ron said, skimming the article.

“It might be time for someone’s little secret to become public,” Hermione said, her bushy eyebrows crinkled in thought.

“What secret is that?” Mr. Weasley asked.

“She’s an unregistered Animagus. Her form is a beetle,” she replied

George let out a slow whistle. “That certainly explains all the scoops she seems to get. Though I have to admit, I’ve always rather thought she reminded me of a blow fly.”

“I imagine you could drop an owl to Kingsley. He’d probably very interested in this little tidbit,” Mr. Weasley suggested.

Ron and Hermione looked at each other, silly grins plastered on their faces.

“I’ll get the parchment, quill and ink if you write it,” Ron offered.

Hermione grinned evilly at him. “Deal!”

*********************

The y awoke the next morning, dressed, and headed downstairs to the kitchen. To their surprise, Kreacher had prepared them a huge breakfast. There were scrambled eggs, bangers, toast and marmalade, pastries and scones, pumpkin juice, and a hot pot of tea. Harry and Ginny looked at each other with silly grins on their faces and immediately sat down to tuck in.

“Ron will be so jealous,” Ginny crowed. “Breakfast is just about his favourite meal.”

“I thought every meal was just about Ron’s favourite meal?” Harry said with a straight face.

Ginny laughed heartily in agreement.

She felt completely invigorated this morning, which was somewhat surprising given how the night started. Of course, I did end up wrapped tight in Harry’s arms for the rest of the night, didn’t I? she thought wonderingly. What would Mum have said about that? She shivered at the thought, glad her mother would never find out.

She was grateful for his presence last night and appreciated the way he took care of her without being overbearing about it. He let her decide how much assistance she needed and never forced it onto her. He let her be her, warts and all, supporting her when she wanted it. She smiled at the thought of it. The truly amazing thing was that he let her reciprocate and be there for him when he needed it. Given his past, that made her feel somewhat special.

“So, where to today?” she asked, taking a bite of sausage.

“Well, I’ve been thinking about that,” he said as he set his teacup down. “The next thing of any consequence that happened was getting caught by Snatchers and taken to Malfoy Manor.” He took a bite of scone that was smeared with marmalade. “I don’t really fancy going there as it’s probably still quite dangerous.”

“Why? What happened there?” she asked, not entirely sure she wanted to know.

Harry proceeded to tell her everything that had happened from the time they had been caught, right up to their harrowing escape. She sucked in a breath as he told of Ron’s agony at hearing Hermione being tortured.

“How did you get everyone out?” She was still incredulous at learning that Luna, Dean, and Mr. Ollivander had been prisoners there for so long. As she asked the question, she noticed a deep sadness come upon him. Whatever had happened next must have been very painful to him. She watched as he pushed his plate away, and rose up out of his chair.

“If you’re done, I’ll take you to a place to answer your question,” he said, offering her his hand. She took hold of it, and Harry Apparated them away.


At The Burrow, Mrs. Weasley saw Ginny’s and Harry’s hands on the family clock move towards ‘Travelling’ yet again. “Where are those two off to now?” she wondered, exasperated at how many times she had seen those hands pointed at ‘Travelling’ during the past day. “Well, at least they’re getting an early start, whatever they’re doing,” she thought, and then went back to cleaning up the breakfast dishes.

*****************

They arrived at a place both familiar and surprising. The salty tang of sea air assaulted her nose, and the brisk breeze whipped her hair about her face. She knew that Harry, Ron, and Hermione had stayed at Bill and Fleur’s place. She begged her parents to let her come and see them, but they wouldn’t let her. That still rankled her, but she dismissed that thought as it didn’t help her understand how this connected to what happened in Malfoy Manor. Then she looked at Harry. He was just standing there, his eyes fixed on a spot behind her. She turned and followed where his eyes led, to a crude tombstone next to a small grave. The stone read simply, Here Lies Dobby, A Free Elf.

Out of the corner of her eye she watched him walk past her towards the grave. Ginny followed and joined him where the brave little house elf was buried. “Oh Harry,” she said in a hushed tone filled with sadness. “I’m so sorry.” She put her arm around him to comfort him, but felt that her gesture was completely inadequate. How many living souls had he lost to Voldemort’s maniacal vision of the world?

She heard him sniffling and looked up to see the tears running down past his glasses. He slowly sank down to his knees and Ginny joined him. “We were trapped down in the cellar,” he said quietly, almost in a whisper. “Dobby Apparated in and we asked him to take Luna, Dean, and Mr. Ollivander to your brother’s place, thinking they would be safe here.” He went on to tell her about the strange death of Pettigrew, killed by the magical hand his master had given him, all because he’d shown a brief moment of mercy. She listened in growing horror as he described the scene in the living room, with Bellatrix threatening to hand Hermione over to Greyback. His voice broke a little has he told her about Dobby charging into the middle of the fray, dropping the chandelier that caused Bellatrix to dive aside and disarming Narcissa. The commotion had provide the distraction Harry needed to disarm Draco, and for Ron to get Hermione out. As Harry was getting ready to Apparate out with the goblin and Dobby, he saw the silver blur that was Bellatrix’s knife heading towards him.

“When we got here, I figured we got out before the knife could hit, but Dobby must have stepped in front of me,” he said hoarsely. “He just stood there in shock, like he couldn’t quite believe he had a knife sticking out of his chest. I managed too catch him before he fell but...” He had to stop a moment to collect himself. “Ron and Dean helped me dig the grave. When we had finished, your brother and Fleur, Hermione, and Luna came out and joined us as we laid him in the grave.” He paused to take a deep shuddering breath, and Ginny put her hand on his back, rubbing slow soft circles on his tense shoulders. “Ron actually took off his shoes and socks and put them on Dobby, and Luna…she said…she said the words that needed saying.”

She actually wasn’t that surprised by Ron’s actions. Her brother had a heart of gold when he chose to listen to it. “Luna’s a good soul,” Ginny said, grateful for her friendship with the eccentric witch.

“One of the best,” Harry agreed. He sat back on his heels, and wiped his eyes.

“What do you know about the Deathly Hallows, Ginny?”

“The Fairy Tale?” she asked, surprised at his change of direction. “Just what was read to me from The Tales of Beedle the Bard by Mum and Dad when I was little.”

“They’re no fairy tale, Ginny,” he said seriously, “and Voldemort wanted the Elder Wand, Dumbledore’s wand.”

Ginny’s mouth hung open in complete shock. Like everyone else, she’d heard everything Harry had said to Voldemort, but hadn’t made the connection to the Hallows. Harry explained to her how Dumbledore had always wanted to unite the Hallows, in hopes of seeing his sister again. He’d managed to possess two of the three several times, but could never get them all together at once. To her amazement, Harry had somehow done it. He hadn’t said so, but she was sure of it now. He had become the master of the Elder Wand, and she was willing to be that his invisibility cloak was in fact one of the Hallows. That left the Resurrection Stone. Had he really found it?

“I was obsessed for a time with finding them all and uniting them. I thought that if I did, I might just be able to survive,” he admitted. “The more obsessed I became with them, the more obstacles seemingly got thrown in my path.” He bent over and absently clutched a handful of dirt, then dropped it. “Dobby’s death cured me of that obsession. I knew that the destruction of the Horcruxes was what mattered, not the Hallows. In the end, because I stopped wanting to find the Hallows, I was finally able to become master of all three.”

“I knew it!” she said with an overwhelming sense of pride. Harry had a knack for being involved with the incredible. He was certainly a proper child of destiny.

She saw him flash a quick smile. “Draco had disarmed Dumbledore that night on the Astronomy Tower, making him the master of the Death Stick. When I disarmed him, I became the master of it, even though I never held it. The ring Dumbledore wore on his blackened hand contained the Resurrection Stone. He left it for me in his will by placing it in the Snitch I caught in the match against Slytherin my first year. As for the cloak, it was a family heirloom.”

She whipped her head around so fast at that last bit that she hurt her neck. She was sure he was having her on, but he looked dead serious. “Family heirloom?” she asked incredulously.

“Yeah,” he said self-consciously. “It seems I’m a descendant of Ignotus Peverell.

Of all the scenarios she could have envisioned for his obtaining one of the fabled Hallows that was not one of them. Harry, related to one of the legends of a fable? She could scarcely keep up with all the twists and turns this story was taking, which made her wonder how he, Ron, and Hermione had ever coped with all of this in the first place.

She glanced up at him and saw the sorrow etched on his features. “You all right, Harry?” she asked, concerned at how much this was costing him emotionally.

Harry didn’t respond at first, but seemed to consider her question. “Yeah,” he answered eventually. “It’s kind of weird, but it helps to talk to you about all this.”
She raised a sceptical eyebrow.

He chuckled in response to her look. “I know, it’s not my normal way, but it’s…different with you. You don’t pressure me or over analyze me, you just listen, and that’s what I want most.”

She was touched by his declaration. She knew he hated it when Hermione badgered him, or when Ron placated him. Her experience in the Chamber had taught her that sometimes, you just needed to unburden yourself without fear of being judged. Her brother Bill had done that for her, and she was glad she could do that for Harry.

“I’m glad you can trust me,” she said, realizing that what he said amounted to that.

“Trust you?” He seemed surprised by her remark. He raised a hand to her cheek and cupped it so that she had to look in the depths of his verdant eyes. “I know you won’t believe it, but that’s never been an issue. There may have been times I couldn’t tell you things, but it wasn’t because I didn’t trust you.

“There are things I’m going to tell you that I’m not planning on telling Ron or Hermione, and they know almost everything. You will know everything. You will likely be the only one besides me who does. That is how much I trust you.”

Her mouth was agape. Why would he tell her everything? Unless… Her heart skipped a beat. Did he really feel that way about her? But he’d never said … She didn’t know what to think, but he certainly was doing a fine job of getting her hopes up. She only prayed that he didn’t end up crushing her.

“I don’t know what to say.” Her voice was a bit husky, and her eyes teary.

Harry pulled her close for a quick hug. “Then what say we go to the next place?”

She nodded her head in agreement and accepted Harry’s hand to help her stand. He gave her hand a brief squeeze, before she felt that now familiar, yet still uncomfortable feeling of compression.


She didn’t need but a moment to figure out where he’d brought her this time. “Harry, this is the Black Lake, and isn’t that Hogsmeade in the distance?”

“Yeah, it is,” he answered. She noticed he was scanning their surroundings, checking to be sure they were alone.

She gave him a cheeky smile. “Channeling Moody now? Constant vigilance and all that?” she said in her best imitation of Mad-Eye Moody.

He flashed a brief smile in return, but finished checking their surroundings. “You laugh, but Moody was spot on with that.”

She let it go. “So why bring me here?” she asked, her curiosity peaked.

Satisfied that they were alone, he turned his attention back to her. “We actually hatched the plan from Bill and Fleur’s to break into Gringotts. That’s where we really went next, but I don’t think the Goblins are too keen to see me at the moment, and I don’t fancy getting anywhere near them until they have a chance to settle down.”

“So the rumours were true?” she asked in amazement.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I can’t say as I don’t know what the rumours are.” He then quickly told her of their plan to break into the Wizarding bank, and steal Hufflepuff’s Cup out of the Lestrange’s vault. He told her everything that had happened from the moment they walked up the steps to the terrifying flight on the back of the old blind dragon. She unconsciously rubbed her hands and arms when he recounted the part about the Gemino and Flagrante Curses on the vault’s contents. “As if he doesn’t have enough scars,” she thought bitterly.

“We jumped off the dragon’s back here when he flew low to get a drink of water,” he finished.

Ginny just looked at him in wonder. “I seem to remember telling you once that anything was possible if you had enough nerve. I didn’t expect you to take me quite so seriously though.”

Harry laughed at her remark. “Best advice I’ve ever gotten!” he said, impulsively hugging her.

“So what happened after you landed?”

His face sobered up immediately. “Voldemort discovered we had taken the cup, and he started to piece together what we were doing. He didn’t want to believe it at first, and went into an absolute rage. I…I saw everything. He was so angry, he killed his own Death Eaters. But during that loss of control, during those moments we were connected, I was able to discover the last Horcrux, was hidden somewhere at Hogwarts.” The intensity with how he spoke was chilling, and she could almost feel the sense of urgency they must have felt at that point.

As Harry continued on with what happened, Ginny was briefly reminded of her fourth year when they were organizing the DA. He had said then that all his achievements sounded great and fantastic when talked about later, but that most of the time, his success was a combination of luck and timely help. “That may be,” she thought admiringly, “but those only take you so far.” Though if she was honest, the bit where they Apparated into Hogsmeade and set off the Caterwauling Charm, only to be found by the one man who could get them into Hogwarts unseen was bloody fortunate indeed!

Finally, he briefly explained how Luna had suggested they look for Ravenclaw’s Diadem, how he figured out where it was likely to be, and its connection to the Grey Lady.

Ginny gave a low whistle. “That’ll be a whole new unit in History of Magic.”

“I reckon Hermione will make sure it’s a chapter in Hogwarts, A History, as well,” he added. She saw him glance at the sun. “It’s getting late. There’s still one more place to take you before calling it a day.”

She reached out her hand, and felt his rough, blistered, fingers take hers. A gut-wrenching moment later, they were standing in a clearing in the Forbidden Forest.

***********************

W hile she didn’t have the details, Ginny knew why he had brought her here. Her nightmares would be fuelled for months to come by what he told her next.

Harry started off by relating the grizzly death of Snape in the Shrieking Shack, and how the former professor (she refused to call him Headmaster) had given Harry his memories just before he had died. She shuddered at the forlorn expression on his face as he finished describing those memories to her, and what they had meant.

Now she understood why he could forgive her so easily about the diary and the Chamber. He hadn’t just been possessed by Voldemort’s soul; he’d been an unintentional vessel that carried it.

Her heart nearly broke at the look of despair and anguish on his face when he told her of his realization that he would have to let Voldemort kill him. That it was the only way to ensure he could be beaten.

Her chest constricted with a suppressed sob as the tears streamed down her face. How did anyone find the courage, the strength to make that walk? Yet he did, though he confessed that he’d seen her, and hoped that she would somehow figure out it was him and stop him. She vaguely remembered that moment. “If I’d have known, I would have bloody well Petrified him, then solved Voldemort’s problem for him for even considering such a stupid thing!” she thought as a wave of anger nearly made her hex him. She knew she was being irrational and unfair, but the silly bugger didn’t realize what his death would have done to her.

With that thought, her anger faded, replaced by the memory of the misery and sorrow she felt at thinking he was dead. She had been too shocked to cry then, but now the thought was more than she could bear. She sank to her knees, her arms tightly held against her body, and cried. Once the dam broke, a torrent of pent up emotions flooded out of her. She cried for all who had been lost. She cried for all the suffering of the living. She cried for the fear she had felt at living without Harry, and she cried for all the pain and agony he had been through.

When her grief and sorrow had run their course, she realized that she was being held tightly, and could feel a damp spot on her shoulder where Harry’s head lay. She hadn’t even felt him embrace her. She reached up her hand and tenderly rubbed the back of his neck, comforting him as his grief was purged.

She didn’t know how much time had passed, but eventually Harry straightened up and brought his own hands up to gently cup her face. She looked into his eyes, his beautiful green eyes, and a fierce wave of love for him washed over her. Harry suddenly gave her a rare, genuine smile as he stared back at her.

“What?” she asked self-consciously, as she wiped away her tears.

“That’s the look!” he said, clearly delighted about something.

“Come again?” she asked in confusion.

“That’s the look you gave me just before our first kiss, and…” he faltered momentarily, “that’s the last image in my mind right before he…”

Ginny’s blazing look was replaced by one of wonder. Then the meaning of his words sunk in and she threw her arms around his neck and thoroughly kissed him. It wasn’t the fumbling kiss like their first time, or the passionate one she gave him on his birthday. It was a sweet, longing kiss of two souls deeply in love that had been too long apart. When the need to breathe finally over took them, they pulled apart.

Harry then told her about going to King’s Cross in some kind of a pseudo-afterlife, and his meeting with Dumbledore. “He said I had a choice, I could come back and try to defeat Voldemort, or I could go on, and be with my parents. What decided it for me was you. I could be with you, share my future with you, if you wanted me back.”

Harry looked down, and fidgeted nervously. He had put himself out there for her to accept or reject. Ginny hadn’t even realized she was holding her breath. He looked back up, suddenly shy and uncertain. “Look Ginny, I know I probably don’t deserve a second chance, and I realize you have every right to be mad at me, but…I need you. I’m completely arse over heels in love with you, and…”

She kissed him soundly before he could finish. “I love you too, you big dope,” she said in a voice thick with emotion. “I always have.”

“Whew! That’s a relief!” Harry said, the tension obviously leaving his body. “I was so afraid you wouldn’t want me back, that I had somehow blown it.”

“Well, that’s your own fault,” she said teasingly. “If you’d let me finish a sentence when all of this started, I would have told you then that I wanted you back.”

Harry looked slightly abashed. She decided to take pity on him. “However, I am glad you shared all this with me,” she said sincerely. “It means the world to me, and I love you even more for doing it.”

He smiled and pulled her into a hug. She looked around and noticed the shadows deepening in the forest. It was getting late, and she suddenly realized she was starving. “Uh, Harry,” she said, looking up at him, “I’m sure the Forbidden Forest is a wonderful place and all, but I hear it gets a bit dodgy at night. Besides, we haven’t eaten since breakfast, and I’m hungry.”

“Me too,” he agreed. “Let’s head in for the night. I have one last place to show you tomorrow, and then it’ll be time to face your family’s wrath.”

Before she could assure him he had nothing to worry about, he had Apparated them both back to his aunt and uncle’s.

*******************

Krea cher once again fixed them a simple but filling meal of steak and kidney pie, Brussels sprouts in herbed butter, warm rolls, and chilled mugs of butter beer. After showers and some quiet time in which little talking and a lot of snogging occurred, the young couple headed up stairs for bed.

Ginny was worried about more nightmares, and stalled their goodnight as long as she could. She really wanted Harry to stay with her, but didn’t know how to ask without looking like she somehow had questionable morals.

Harry, while sometimes a bit thick, was not unobservant. “Uh, Ginny, are you a bit scared of having more nightmares?” he asked her, reading her like a book.

She bit her bottom lip nervously and nodding her head yes. A slow blush suffused her at the admission of fear.

“I can stay with you again if you like. I don’t mind,” he offered, his expression sincere. “I know how bad the dreams can get. Besides, last night was the first time in a long time I slept so soundly. I think your presence must have kept the bad dreams at bay last night. I wouldn’t mind another good night’s sleep.

“Thanks Harry,” she said gratefully, “I would like that, but we need to remember never to tell any of my family about this. They’d all have Kneazles if they found out.”

“Don’t worry, Ginny. I don’t have any desire to die a horrible death.”

*****************

The next morning saw them up early, dressed and fed and ready to head out. Harry had left instructions with Kreacher to leave no trace of the presence behind for his aunt and uncle to find, and the old house-elf scurried about the place following his master’s orders.

Harry reached for Ginny’s hand, and she felt his larger warm hand surround her smaller cool one. In a flash they were gone.

They reappeared next to a stone building in a small village. A wrought iron pole held a sign that read, “Saint Sophia’s Chapel.”

“So, this is a Muggle Church,” she said quietly, her curiosity building as to where they were. Harry tugged on her hand and she followed him towards a graveyard behind the chapel. He showed her the graves of Dumbledore’s sister and his storied ancestor, Ignotus Peverell. Finally, they walked up to a white marble headstone with two names engraved on it, Harry’s parents, James and Lily Potter.

Ginny felt a lump constrict her throat at seeing the legendary pair’s tombstone. They were in Godric’s Hollow. He’d brought her to see his parents. She didn’t know whether to be happy or sad.

She looked towards Harry to see what he was feeling. He didn’t seem to be upset, more resigned if anything. As if reading her thoughts, “I know they’re not really here and they’ve moved on, but it gives me some comfort to know there’s a place where I can come and still feel some small connection to them. I…I know it sounds weird, but I wanted to share this with you. Their sacrifice made me who I am.”

She was deeply touched at his gesture. “Thank you, Harry,” she said simply.

He pulled her into a hug and kissed her lightly on the lips. “You ready to head home?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she answered, though in truth, she knew that she already was home just being with him.

*********************

Arthur and Molly were having a quite early morning breakfast together. The boys and Hermione were still asleep. Out of habit, she glanced at her clock. The hands for Harry and Ginny were moving from ‘Travelling’ to ‘Home’. Arthur stood up and looked out the window hoping to see the two wayward teens. Molly joined him at the window, wrapping an affectionate arm around her husband. Off towards the orchard stood two figures. The taller of the two had unruly black hair, glasses and had his hands on the shoulders of the smaller figure. The smaller figure had long red hair that fanned out in the breeze. Her hands cupped the face of the man in front of her. They leaned forward and shared a brief kiss before touching their foreheads together.

“Everything seems to have worked out, Mollywobbles,” Arthur said, relieved that his daughter and her boyfriend had come home safely.

“Yes, Arthur,” she replied while wiping tears of happiness from her eyes, “I think everything will be all right now.”

They continued to watch as their only daughter, and the boy who they thought of as one of their own, walked hand-in-hand through the yard towards home.


Finite


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