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SIYE Time:5:17 on 17th January 2022


All It Takes
By Summer Potter

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:None
Genres: Angst, Romance
Warnings: Death, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 150
Summary: Sometimes things don't always work out the way you plan them. Ginny must come to terms with life after the war, even if her life isn't exactly what she thought it'd be. She'll soon realize that all it takes is one little moment to make everything fall into place
Hitcount: Story Total: 69340; Chapter Total: 4182





Author's Notes:
And here we go for another update :). I'm probably taking a short writing break for a few weeks just so I can wrap up my final assignments of my undergraduate career, and to get settled into work. Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to review! Without further ado, here's chapter thirteen.




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It was the soft sounds of passing footsteps and murmuring voices that slowly roused Ginny from sleep. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes. Shifting her head on the pillow, she froze when the movement triggered a sharp pain in her head. As she stared at the white ceiling above her, her mind shifted through her memories until she remembered where she was. The memory of the green flash of light startled her and a soft sob escaped her. Jackson was dead, Annie had been badly hurt, and half the village had been blown apart by Death Eaters who had come to kill her.

She remembered feeling sick and dizzy and she remembered a lot of shouting. It occurred to her that this was first time since the street that she’d been able to see without blurred vision and this, at least, was a huge relief. She recalled being thrown into a brick wall, which had probably given her a bad concussion. As the tears stopped, she sighed, grateful that she’d survived. Her brain felt fuzzy as she tried to put her memories back into a logical order, but things a bit out of order and dream-like until she remembered the burly Auror lifting up a dark-haired teenager that was Jackson, but was so much like her memory of Hagrid holding Harry that it made her feel ill just to think about it.

Another sob escaped her as her memory brought her back to that flash of green light and the feel of Jackson’s weight pulling her down to the concrete. It was unfair that he had to die for her, especially so soon after she had made things up with him. He’d died protecting her and while she’d lived through a lot of heroism at the Battle of Hogwarts, it was hard to accept that Jackson had chosen to die for her.

“Ginny!”

Ginny turned her head sharply to see a door to her right open and Hermione hurrying in, looking perfectly healthy. “How are you?”

Hermione bent to give her a careful hug and then perched herself on her bedside looking concerned. Ginny debated the question groggily, feeling too out of it to decide on one answer. How was she? For starters, she felt tired. Also, scared, hurting, guilt-ridden, miserable, confused, anxious, and one million other things that were not even close to defining her as being ‘good.’

“Jackson’s dead?” She asked, her voice thick from crying. She already knew the answer, but her memory of the flash of green light and watching the Aurors pick up Jackson’s body seemed too surreal to be true. Jackson didn’t belong in her world–how could he die apart of a world he wasn’t a part of? How was it possible that one moment she’d been worrying about jealousy and Jackson’s friendship and the next, she had to watch him take the killing curse for her?

Hermione’s face fell and she nodded. “I’m so sorry, Ginny.”

Tears welled up in her eyes again, but Ginny wiped them away with a shaking hand. She met Hermione’s worried eyes and took a deep breath to calm herself. She didn’t want to fall to pieces here–not in front of Hermione, or anyone else who could walk in. “It wasn’t your fault, Hermione. Thank you for coming when you did. You saved my life. You were the one who called the Aurors?”

“Yes, right after I saw the smoke coming from the village. I could hear the screaming from the garden, so I used the Floo to contact the Aurors’ office and then ran out the door to find you. I disapparated to the edge of the village when I couldn’t disapparate directly onto the street. I suppose they must have cast an anti-disapparition charm on the village.”

“They did,” Ginny confirmed. She shifted uncomfortably on the bed, but the action caused a sharp pain in her abdomen. She lifted her blankets to peer at the bandages wrapped around her middle. “What’s wrong with me?” She had a vivid memory of hitting a brick wall and then vomiting everywhere, but she didn’t feel quite as broken as she remembered. She hoped to God that she wasn’t paralyzed or somehow had her life greatly diminished by a couple of stupid Death Eaters.

“You were in bad shape, but you’re loads better now. You broke two ribs and fractured your skull. You also lost a lot of blood from your abdomen, chest and back, plus you had a few cuts on your legs and a big scrape on your face.”

Ginny raised her hands to touch her head, but found no bandages and no sign of a mark. She ran her hands through her hair to find the source of the pain she’d felt earlier, wincing when she found a tender spot at the back of her head. Her fingers found a small lump on her scalp, but no sign of a cut. She then touched her face, but found that that was already healed. Upon examining her arms and legs, she found a few minor bruises and a various scabs on her legs that had already healed.

Hermione watched her assess the damages, adding, “They healed the injuries you didn’t get from curses within a few minutes. Apparently, your skull fracture was pretty small, so it healed over quite quickly. They gave you a lot of healing potion, plus a strong sleeping potion. They didn’t think you’d have any lasting damage from the head injury, but they said they’d test you when you woke up.”

“And my stomach?” She asked, touching her bandaged middle experimentally to see if it ached at all. She quickly retracted her hand when pain immediately flared to life under her touch.

“You got hit with a curse sort of like the one Harry once used on Malfoy in our sixth year, but not as brutal. It still did a lot of damage and you lost a lot of blood. Not to mention you were thrown into a wall and had a serious head injury…”

Ginny suddenly flashed back to the street where she realized her shirt was stained with blood. She didn’t recall feeling horrible pain, but she supposed that her desire to survive had pushed through the pain. “Oh,” she murmured. “How long have I been out?”

“Only a day… it’s ten-thirty in the morning. How are you feeling? I know emotionally, you must be a mess, but physically? Are you in a lot of pain?”

“No,” she admitted gratefully, stretching carefully. Perhaps a little stiff, and her stomach and head hurt, but nothing she couldn’t tolerate considering the extent of her injuries. And anyway, she didn’t care about her injuries knowing that Jackson was dead. And what happened to Annie? She was afraid to ask, but the question burned in her mind. And what would they tell Jackson’s family? Was she in any trouble for having used so much magic in a muggle settlement? Had they been able to adjust the memories of those who had witnessed it?

Hermione glanced at her watch. “Everyone just stepped out for something to eat. Harry’s been storming in and out of here every hour. He should be back soon, though.” She glanced at the door, as if expecting Harry to charge through it at any moment.

This bit of information triggered a fuzzy memory of Harry sounding livid as she laid on top of Jackson’s body. Harry hadn’t wanted her in the village at all, and he always got so upset when anyone was put into danger because of him. She just dreaded seeing him come in here, angry about her being hurt and about the Death Eaters. She didn’t have it in her to try and calm him down, or to feel much anger herself when all she felt was sadness and guilt over her friend.

Trying to sound nonchalant, she asked, “Is he angry with me?”

Hermione seemed taken aback by the question. “Angry with you?” Hermione repeated, startled. “No! He’s just…” Hermione trailed off, sounding exasperated. “You wouldn’t believe the security on this floor, right now. He’s gone a little mad. Even Ron, who agrees that you need protection right now, thinks Harry’s gone a bit overboard. He’s not even a proper Auror yet and he’s given orders to the entire fleet.”

Hermione gave a small smile and leaned in before adding, “And he’s never exercised his ‘I’m the-boy-who-lived and the chosen one’ titles before. That’s how you know he’s completely lost his head.”

The thought of Harry getting so worked up over a few injuries made her feel ill. Deciding to change the subject to calm her racing heart, she looked Hermione up and down to search for sign of injury on her.

“Are you okay? Were you hurt?”

Hermione shook her head. “Not really, but I wasn’t there for long.”

Ginny nodded and rubbed her stiff neck absent-mindedly. “You’ll need to teach me how to duel better so I don’t end up this bad of shape again.”

Hermione did not look amused at her attempt to keep it light. “Ginny, you did incredibly well in that village. Don’t even think for a moment that you could have done more. The Aurors are impressed that you lasted as long as you did, not to mention that you survived at all.” She hesitated, and then added, “And as for your friends… well, there’s nothing that could have predicted they’d get targeted by Death Eaters, or that you could have done anything more to protect yourself and two others while duelling two Death Eaters.”

Suddenly, there were voices right outside her door and Ginny found herself suddenly very anxious to have her whole family swarming in here just yet. She was a mix of emotions, and behind her slight feelings of anxiety, there was a desperate need to cry for Jackson. She wanted to grieve for her friend and she wanted time to understand and accept what had happened.

“Is the whole family here?”

“Yes, but not here at the hospital. Bill was here this morning and Percy has been in and out. Everyone’s been so worried about you.”

The mere thought of having more than a few people in her room at a time made her nauseous. “Can you tell them I don’t want a scene? Not everyone in here at once? Maybe just Mum and Dad, and you and Ron for now?”

Hermione nodded and stood to pass on the message. “There’s no one else at the hospital right now anyway, but I’ll tell your Mum just in case they show up.” She paused near the door, however, her expression suddenly nervous. “And what about Harry? I’m just going to warn you now that even if you don’t want him in here, it won’t matter. He’d break down this door and refuse everyone else entry.”

Feeling a little guilty at her lack of a desire to see Harry right at this moment, she forced herself to nod anyway. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see him, it was just that she was terrified of what he thought of the whole situation, and more than that, she had an awful feeling that this was going to drive a wedge between them, especially since he did not want her in the village at all. If Harry was as riled up as Hermione said, she wasn’t sure she could handle him–she was on the verge of a breakdown, and if Harry was even the least bit upset, she was sure she’d fall to pieces.

“Harry, too, of course,” she replied, only sounding a tad unsure.

As Hermione hurried out into the hall, Ginny listened to the voices in the hall as she stared at the white ceiling, feeling–what? Pain, for the most part, but there was something else–something that made her feel almost empty inside. The small rational voice in her mind told her that it was normal to feel so horrible after someone dies. After all, it was very similar to the feeling she’d had after Fred’s death, and long after the Battle of Hogwarts.

The door suddenly opened and her parents came in, followed closely by Ron and Hermione. Molly hurried over to her, bursting into tears as she approached. Suddenly, Ginny found herself being practically smothered by her mother, who sobbed into her daughter’s shoulder. Once her dad had pulled her mother away, he bent down to give her a tender hug and a kiss on the cheek, murmuring that he was happy to see her awake.

“I’m okay,” she tried to reassure them, figuring that everything aside, she was okay. She was alive, and all things considered, she wasn’t badly hurt. ‘Okay’ was probably an acceptable description without pouring out her heart to her mother.

Her mother frowned, stroking her cheek. “Don’t be brave, Ginny. You’ve been through so much, dear. Are you hurt? Oh, I knew going into that village alone wasn’t a good idea.”

Ginny swallowed the urge to cry. “Mum, please don’t lecture me.”

“Lecture you?” Mrs. Weasley exclaimed hysterically. “Ginny, I’d n-never… not when you’re so…” she broke off, half-turning into her husband’s arms.

Feeling suddenly guilty for upsetting her mother, she decided to change the topic. “Did they catch the Death Eaters who did this?”

“Yes,” her father replied gravely. “We have that to be grateful for. Harry’s on the warpath to push their trials forward. He’s worried about copycats and about letting this type of rebellion-idea spread.”

Molly swatted at her husband. “Arthur, don’t tell her that!”

Ginny considered this piece of news. So she was still in danger? “Harry’s worried that others might try to hurt me? Why? Because those Death Eaters failed?”

“No,” Molly said, a little too sharply. “He just doesn’t want anyone to get any ideas about any kind of rebellion, not specifically against you.” And then suddenly, she smiled. “It’s sweet to see how much he cares about you, Ginny, dear. You should see the security in St. Mungo’s, right now.”

“Although there’s no one guarding the rest of the wizarding world,” Ron chimed in dryly.

Great, so Harry had stationed the entire Auror force outside her door. Pushing past this, she moved to her next pressing question. “What about the village?” Ginny asked.

“I’m not sure what’s going on,” her father answered honestly. “Harry will tell you, I’m sure. You can ask him when you see him.”

“Your friend Annie is recovering in a private room a few doors down,” her mother told Ginny gently, settling down in a chair she’d conjured to sit by her daughter and hold her hand and stroke her hair.

“Annie is here?” Ginny practically squawked, grabbing her sheets and tossing them aside to get out of bed. However, the second she tried to sit up, a powerful wave of nausea and a fresh burst of pain stopped her. She sank back toward the mattress with a soft cry of surprise at how much sitting up had hurt.

“Don’t you even think of getting up,” her mother scolded, helping her back into bed and under the sheets. “Annie is sleeping, anyway. She’s fine and they’ve fixed her all up. I’m sure they’ll let you see her before she’s discharged. Anyway, she’s been put under a sleeping draught so she doesn’t have to suffer while she waits for you.”

Well, that was good news at least. Annie was alive and well, and sleeping just next door.

“Why isn’t she in a muggle hospital if she’s fine?” Ginny asked confusedly. “Why would they bring her here? And what do you mean ‘so she won’t suffer?’”

“She’s seen so much, Ginny,” her father reminded her gravely. “And she’s lost her friend in a tragic accident that she doesn’t understand. The Ministry can’t have her wandering around St. Mungo’s, either.”

Her mother patted her hand, her expression soft. “And there’s something else we should tell you. Ginny, you know that under the law, muggles aren’t allowed to know about us. Harry’s bent the law enough to have her stay here while she waits for you, but after you two have a chance to say goodbye, she’ll have her memories modified and erased.”

“So, she won’t remember what happened today? That’s good.” Then she frowned. “But what about Jackson? How will they explain the fact that her best friend is dead? And how will they explain the state of the village? I should probably know the story just in case I don’t get to talk to her until after they use the Memory Charm.”

Everyone looked to Ron, who shrugged. “Harry will probably know when he gets back. I haven’t heard anything about the story.”

“But I can see her before they wipe her memories?” Ginny asked worriedly.

“Yeah,” Ron answered.

After a long moment, her mother returned to stroking her hair affectionately. “I’m so sorry about your friend Jackson, Ginny. You were very lucky to have such a good friend,”

“I know,” Ginny mumbled weakly.

“A real hero,” her father added somberly. “It’s too bad that more wizards can’t realize that wizards and muggles can form such meaningful friendships with each other.”

No one spoke for a long moment and when Ginny tried to stifle a yawn, her mother kissed her forehead and got to her feet. “You should rest, sweetheart. I’m going to go find a healer to fetch you another sleeping draft. Your body needs more rest.”

“Okay,” she agreed dully. Half of her wanted to protest, but the other half desperately wanted sleep. Truthfully, she wanted to just turn off her brain for a little while and not think about anything. She wanted not to feel for a while–at least until she was awake enough to sort out her thoughts and her feelings.

Her mother located a healer almost immediately and in a matter of minutes, a sleeping draft was pressed into her hand after first having to swallow three other types of healing elixirs and potions. With her stomach full of liquid, she leaned against her pillows and allowed her mother to tuck her under the blankets. She closed her eyes, and let the tug of sleep drag her under to the place where she could hide away from her mind.

*~*

BANG.

Ginny looked up, shielding her face from the debris and the dust that blinded her vision. Somebody’s cold laugh sounded over the screaming, the explosions and the bangs of spells hitting their targets. Ginny turned on her heel and tried to run, though her legs felt like lead and were unable to run fast enough to dodge a jet of purple slight that knocked her sideways.

She was aware of the blood soaking her clothes, but she stood up anyway, terror overriding all other senses. Someone pulled her to her feet — Hermione, with a determined, hardened expression.

“I’ve got you,” she told her in a fierce voice.

“Okay,” she raised her wand and fired a few spells back at her attackers. Giants, spiders, dementors and Death Eaters were still pursuing her, though. The force of the dementors’ presence filled her with an icy coldness.

Suddenly, Jackson was there, holding her free hand. “Fight, Ginny!” Jackson was shouting at her determinedly. “You can do it!”

A giant, who’d randomly appeared too close for comfort, roared murderously and swung a huge club in her direction. Cloaked figures were approaching, killing students and muggles as they pressed forward. Her friends and Aurors were dropping like flies. Ginny turned to run the other way when Hagrid appeared, parting the crowd of allies as he came forward. As always, his huge arms cradled the still-form of Harry in his arms. Great sobs shook his massive shoulders and large tears splashed down his face.

A scream escaped from a deep, horrible place in her chest. “Harry!”

“Ginny, move!” Jackson was shouting in her ear. He pulled her roughly toward him, knocking her out of the way of the killing curse. “I’ve got you!” He told her.

Ginny turned her glassy eyes from Jackson’s face to Hagrid holding Harry and found herself now staring at Jackson’s limp body in Hagrid’s arms. Was it Jackson or Harry? Confused, she turned her head to see Harry standing in front of her, his wand raised.

“EXPECTO PATRONUM!” A beautiful silver stag erupted from his wand, pushing the dementors, and surprisingly, the spiders and giants back as well. He turned his head to look at her, his face dirty and blood stained. “You can’t give up,” he told her. “You can’t ever give up.”

Ginny opened her mouth to tell him that Jackson was dead–that he’d died for Hogwarts, and she wasn’t sure why he was here, but she didn’t get the chance. A deafening bang made the world explode and Ginny felt herself thrust backwards into oblivion, Harry’s hand slipping away from hers in the darkness.

“Ginny?”

The silence of the room in contrast to the noise of the explosion was terrifying in contrast. She found herself sitting up, staring into blackness and in her panicked state, it took her a long moment before she realized that it had been a dream, and it was dark because it was night-time. When she noticed someone moving toward in the darkness, she found herself unable to shout for help. When a light clicked on next to her, she found herself staring into Harry’s illuminated, worried face.

She let out a long sigh of relief, feeling stupid that she’d panicked–she was in St. Mungo’s and hadn’t everyone kept joking how much security Harry had put on the floor? Of course, she was safe.

She ran a still-shaking hand through her hair and lowered herself back to the mattress in attempt to stop her aching abdomen, gently placing her hands on her stomach and willing the pain to go away.

“Hey,” Harry said, sinking into a chair next to her bed. “Sorry if I scared you. You were having a nightmare and I got up to turn on the light and make sure you were okay.”

Still startled, Ginny looked him over, feeling guilty at how tired he looked, and the size of the chairs in the room–sleeping in them couldn’t be comfortable. He had dark circles under his eyes and his face was pale under the light of the lamp. The good news was that he didn’t seem to be in any sort of rage or mad state–he seemed tired and reserved, but not angry.

“You okay?” He asked worriedly when she didn’t speak, his brow furrowing.

Shaking herself out of her thoughts, she nodded rather jerkily. “Just a little shaken up, sorry. I’m okay.”

“That was some nightmare,” he murmured anxiously, searching her face. “They can be pretty vivid… I use to have them all the time. What were you dreaming about?”

His concern and how much he understood how she felt made her feel a tiny bit better. At least, if nothing else, Harry understood how she felt. It was nice to have someone like him in her life so she didn’t have to open up or explain things when she didn’t even understand them. That was one of the perfect things about being with him–he just got it.

Hesitant to relive the dream, she sighed. “Kind of a flashback from the war, but it was different. Jackson was there…” she trailed off, realizing that even saying his name in front of Harry made her feel apprehensive.

“Were you sleeping?” She asked, wanting to change the subject away from her dreams. “Harry, you don’t have to stay here. You can go home and sleep. Besides, I understand you’ve moved the Auror headquarters here,” she told him, trying to keep her voice light.

Harry didn’t smile, though. He merely shrugged and ran a hand through his hair, leaving it messier than it had been before. “I wanted to be here… just in case.”

Ginny didn’t like the conflicted, upset look in his expression. He looked almost lost, like he wasn’t sure what to do or what to say. She was grateful that he wasn’t in whatever raging mood he’d been in earlier, but she didn’t like this reserved, distant one either. She knew that while he wouldn’t voice his thoughts, she was fairly sure that he would be internally blaming himself for this.

She didn’t like the fact that he didn’t seem to want to be close to her, or that he didn’t even sit on her bed like Hermione had. He had taken a seat in the chair at a respectable distance, looking all tormented and exhausted; far from where she could comfort him. Ginny hoped it was the concussion affecting her thinking, but the fear that Harry might end things with them for her own safety began to seem very real to her. If he even suggested anything like that, she wasn’t sure what she would do. She’d already lost her friend today, and she didn’t want to think what kind of a wreck she’d be if she lost him too.

“What time is it?” Ginny asked him, finally breaking the silence. She had to keep him talking if she wanted to get whatever he was thinking out on the table.

“A little after three,” he replied quietly. “Are you still tired?”

The realization that it was three in the morning and that no one had woken her up to say goodbye to Annie jolted her. “But Annie was supposed to be discharged! I didn’t get to talk to her before she left!” It surprised her how fast she was crying at this knowledge, but the tears dripped onto her cheeks and streamed down onto her hospital gown. She’d wanted to take advantage of her only chance to have a real conversation with Annie, and to explain things without having to go along with whatever lie they told her.

Harry shook his head, suddenly panicked by her outburst as if she’d hurt herself. “Don’t worry, she’s still here. I won’t let them clear her memories without letting you two say goodbye.”

In her highly-emotional state, affection for Harry welled up within her and the reassurance that she hadn’t missed her chance, made the tears come. She suspected that her head injury had something to do with her inability to control her emotions. “Thanks,” she replied in a thick voice, unable to say anything else without blubbering.

While trying to regain composure, she also became aware of her desperate need to use the washroom. Spotting a door across the room from her bed that likely led to the loo, she shoved the sheets back.

“What are you doing?” Harry asked suspiciously, holding out his hands like he was going to stop her from getting up.

“I need to use the loo.” She managed to turn her legs over to the edge of the bed, biting her lip against the stinging sensation in her abdomen. It increased when she leaned forwards and slid her feet toward the floor.

“Hold on,” he murmured. His tone indicated he was still a little aggravated, as if he didn’t think using the washroom was a good idea until she was completely healed. Harry slid an arm around her and helped her get to her feet.

Leaning heavily on Harry and remaining bent over to keep the pain to a minimum, she was able to walk. Harry kept a firm grip on her as they walked and when he helped her inside the washroom, he hesitated to release her.

“I’ll be okay, you can go.” The last thing she wanted was for him to have to see her pee–there was something so unromantic and uncomfortable about that that she was sure she could sit down and get back up on her own. There was no way that she was ready to let him be there for such a private thing before they even said ‘I love you.’

“Okay,” he agreed, stepping aside and closing the door for her.

Ginny edged to the sink and caught a look at herself in the mirror. She blanched at how awful she looked–her hair was an absolute disaster, she was pale, no makeup, and wearing an awful green hospital gown. No wonder Harry was being distant–even on her worst day of Quidditch practices, she hadn’t looked this bad. She did her business quickly, washed her hands and then splashed water on her face. She made a brief attempt to to flatten her hair and then sighed when she failed to look like less of an embarrassment.

Opening the door, she was startled to find Harry standing right outside, waiting. He didn’t say a word, but immediately slid an arm around her and helped her back toward the bed. When they stopped at the bed, she was surprised when Harry’s other arm slid under her legs and lifted her carefully onto the bed like a child.

“I hate this,” she muttered grumpily, watching him pull the bed sheets back up and sit back down in the chair.

“You don’t like being taken care of?” Harry asked, a hint of amusement in his voice.

“I broke up with Dean because he kept trying to help me climb through the portrait hole,” she replied irritably. “I hate feeling helpless.”

Something flickered in his expression, but she was unable to determine what it was before his expression turned neutral again.

“How are you feeling? Does it hurt? Should I get the healer to get you another healing draft?”

She supposed people would ask how she was about fifty times a day for the next little while, though she couldn’t really say why this time was funny. It was such a silly question–one that she’d probably have to lie about for the next little while. Not wanting to lie to Harry, she folded her arms with a sigh. “Harry, I’ll be honest with you when I say ‘I feel like shit.’”

This time, he did crack a grin at her half-cheerful bluntness. The tug of his lips seemed to break the ice that made him seem so rigid, and he relaxed his posture. “I think that’s to be expected, but trust me, I see huge improvements from when we brought you in here.”

She made a mental note to ask her family not to show her any pictures that the Prophet might have snapped of her when they brought her into St. Mungo’s. “How are you? Are you okay?”

Another ghost of a smile flashed across his face as he answered her. “I guess I’ll be honest with you too. I also feel like shit, but I guess it’s expected when someone tries to kill someone important to me.”

He did look like shit, but she’d never tell him that. He seriously needed a shower, a change of clothes and a good night’s sleep. Ginny ran her fingers along the bandages across her abdomen absent-mindedly. “Has everyone else gone home?”

Harry nodded. “Visiting hours are over.”

“Breaking the rules, Potter?”

“No one has dared to try and kick me out yet,” he replied coolly. “Besides, it is policy that after something like this happens, you need to be assigned Ministry-protection.”

Great. How long would Aurors be trailing her? And was that why he was still here? Was he just on guard-duty until his shift was up? Hoping to hide her desperation to have him stay here with her, she decided to encourage him to go home. If he left, he was trying to put some distance between them, and if he stayed, she would know he wouldn’t break up with her. It was petty, but she didn’t care–being attacked by Death Eaters seemed like a good excuse to be petty.

“Harry, I’m perfectly safe here. You can go get some sleep, if you want, Harry. You must be exhausted.”

His expression grew dark again, and he spoke with a hint of ferocity in the answer that made her colour. “I can’t go home and leave you here.”

No, I don’t want you to go home either, she thought anxiously. Especially not now that she was awake and could be left alone with her thoughts. Deciding there was nothing else for it, she lifted herself up and reached over for his hand, wincing when her stomach ached in protest of the movement. He frowned at her paining herself and scooted his chair closer, taking her hand in his. His fingers felt cool in her hand, and he didn’t lace his fingers through hers like he normally did. Why was he being so distant? Did he think he was going to hurt her by being close? Or worse, did he want to keep a distance?

“I suppose I should thank you for the DA lessons,” Ginny said, trying to keep things light as she laced her fingers with his, squeezing his hand. He might be trying to put some space between them, but she wasn’t going to give him up without a fight.

“If you didn’t teach us back at school I probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as I did.”

“You don’t need to thank me for that,” he replied in a dull voice. “You should probably be angry with me, though.”

She stared at him, her heart beginning to speed up. “Why would I ever be angry with you? Because of what happened? It wasn’t your fault!”

“They’d do anything to get back at me,” Harry growled, more to himself than to her. “They tried to kill you to hurt me. They killed Jackson, two other muggles and blew up a village.”

Tears stung at her eyes again and she squeezed his hand. Two other muggles had died too?

“Harry, it wasn’t your fault,” she replied, a little shrilly. She tried to tell him it was the Death Eaters, but all she got out were the words “Death Eaters,” and even then, they were pretty garbled by sob that threatened to burst from her. The pain of losing Jackson, of nearly being killed, of being thrust into a living version of her nightmares was boiling up within her, and she wasn’t sure when it would come bursting out.

Harry was watching her worriedly and his other hand covered hers, stroking her knuckles. “I’m sorry. I should probably let you get some rest, huh? You look so tired…” He glanced at his watch, and then at the door.

What? He still wanted to leave? What was wrong here? “No, I’m not tired,” she said, her voice broken as she fought against the urge to cry. She felt so incredibly vulnerable, though she knew it was a whole mixture of factors making her feel this way. Still, Harry had her heart in his hand and it felt like he was squeezing it.

“Gin, you’ve been through a lot. You really should get some rest to give the potions and the healing drafts the time to work, and I’m keeping you up and upsetting you.”

She stared at him through her tears. “Please stop trying to convince me to go to sleep. It’s like your planning your escape.”

A frown line creased his forehead at the comment. “I’m not planning my escape,” he disagreed quickly.

“Then what are you doing?” She wanted to sound firm and strong, but instead she sounded miserable and broken.

“I’m here to make sure you’re okay,” he replied, frowning.

She hated his hesitance. She was too tired and had been through too much to analyze what he said or how he was acting. A sob finally escaped her as she shook her head slowly, defeated by the pressure of her emotions. “I’m not okay, Harry.”

Concern shone in his eyes, but he still held her hand loosely in his. The touch felt awkward and wrong and she hated it. She wanted his arms around her and his lips against hers. She was alive, though she felt empty inside with him so far away. “What can I do?”

She glared at him, unable to understand why he was acting so distant. She dropped his hand, stung by rejection and settled back on her pillows. “Harry James Potter, if you want to leave then just go. I can’t handle this right now. My head is killing me, my stomach hurts and I just can’t…” the tears came in earnest now, cutting off her sentence.

He stared at her, his eyes wide. He swallowed hard and shook his head. “I don’t want to leave , Gin, that’s why I’m still here. There’s a guard outside your door... I’m not really here officially working. I’m here because I’m pushy and refused to leave your side.”

She glared at him for a brief moment before she sighed, convinced that he was being sincere. “Then can you please not sit in that stupid chair anymore?”

A true smile cracked across his face at her exasperation, but he agreed. If he wasn’t going to be near her, she didn’t want to deal with how awful it’d feel to see him trying to fall asleep across the room and refusing to close the distance between them. She needed him there beside her-- now more than ever. He bent to remove his shoes and his robes so that he just wore a white T-shirt and his pants. When he slid onto the bed, she let out a sigh that was supposed to sound exasperated, but instead it sounded like a tearful sigh of relief.

“What are you full-naming me for?” He asked, his voice gentle. “Because I helped you to the washroom? Please don’t tell me that I deserve to be dumped because of that,”

This was more normal for them. Hope replaced the panic and illogical anguish that had brought her to tears.

“No, it was because you were being thick,” she grumbled in reply, reaching for his face when he settled onto the bed next to her. She pushed the hair from his eyes and slid her fingers down his soft cheek and along his jaw. The simple reassurance of being able to touch him helped to calm her racing heart and her bout of anxiety. He was here, he was alive, and he wanted to be here with her– she could get through it if she had him there to help.

“I was being dramatic,” she added. “I don’t break up with boys because they’re being too nice, you know. It was driving me crazy that you were being distant and sitting in that chair, rather than lying here with me.”

“I’m sorry I upset you,” he told her seriously, pressing a kiss to her forehead, her cheek and then a soft one to her lips. “You were in a lot of pain before. I wanted you to have your space so you could get better. I didn’t want to bump into you and accidentally hurt you.”

“Really? Because you always do this,” she argued, her voice faltering as she added, “I know what’s going on in here.” She poked him in the head as she said it. “I won’t be able to handle it if you decide to do what I know you’re thinking about. Please don’t leave.” She lifted a hand to hastily wipe away the last of her tears, but he gently pushed her hand aside and did it for her.

“I won’t leave you,” he assured her in the same gentle and patient voice. “I won’t ever leave you.”

He did sound sincere, but in her emotional state, she needed more confirmation. She could always apologize for being so pathetic once she was in a better state of mind. “The not-leaving option requires you to stay on this bed with me. All boyfriend-requirements are in-effect for this option.”

A small smile tugged at his lips as he carefully put an arm around her and gently urged her closer. “All of them, huh?” She went willingly and cuddled up next to him, grateful for the security of his embrace. “Like what?”

“This,” she murmured, laying her head on his chest, pressing her ear to his heart. With Harry’s arm around her, she felt her worries and fears being to dissipate. The large hole in her chest felt a little less gaping when his arm eased her up against him protectively. Just a simple reminder that he cared for her seemed to make the world a little less terrible.

She could go through hell on earth and relive her worst nightmares, and lose a friend–but as long as she had him, she was sure that the rest of the world was bearable. The pain of losing Jackson and of this memory would get easier to deal with, but she was one hundred percent positive that losing Harry would finish her.

With Harry here and holding her, she couldn’t remember why she’d felt anxious about seeing him earlier. Having him next to her was about the closest she felt to being okay again, though she supposed that Harry in a bad/panicked mood would only have made her more anxious.

“What do you think I’m thinking?” He asked in a gruff voice, gently stroking her hair and upper back where there were no bandages.

Ginny looked up at him, adjusting her position so that the tender part of her head wasn’t on him. She was exhausted, so much of her was physically hurting and she was certain that the attack on the village would bring her nightmares and anxieties since the war back to the forefront. Still, in spite of everything that could physically and emotionally hurt her, she feared Harry’s next move more than the healing process and more than her emotional and psychological well-being.

Ginny was certain that inside Harry’s head, he was having a mental debate over how much danger she was in. With the ridiculous security measures, and how irritated he’d been earlier, she knew that there was probably a reason to believe that she was in true danger. “Well, for one, I’m willing to bet that you’re blaming yourself for me getting hurt. And two-- and I swear to Merlin if I’m right on this one, I’m going to hex you, Harry Potter.”

He waited patiently, still stroking her back calmly. She took a breath, steadying herself. The last thing that she wanted to do was sound desperate or clingy. She wasn’t the sad little pathetic school girl she’d once been. She was cool, calm, and collect. She was independent and strong. But right at this moment, she felt that if he even suggested they take a break until the Death Eaters were caught, she’d fall to pieces.

Unable to speak louder than a whisper, she said, “I’m afraid that you’re thinking of going separate ways again until the danger is gone.”

When he didn’t say anything right away, her heart seemed to freeze and wait for the line that would break her. Vaguely cursing her head injury- sure that the concussion was making her emotions all wonky, she waited for him to speak, grateful for the dark room so that he couldn’t see the tears that had formed in her eyes at his pause. His silence was deafening and she was forced to wait in suspense.

“You don’t think it’s a good idea?” He asked quietly, staring at the opposite wall as his fingers toyed with her hair.

It took her a second to respond, fighting her automatic response to pull away and cry. In spite of how unstable she felt, she didn’t want to let her emotions drive him away. “You’re giving me a choice?”

He nodded, waiting for her to speak. She’d never had a choice last time, and that’s why she’d been able to let him go. She’d let him break up with her because she knew that it hadn’t been about Harry and what he wanted, but what he had to do. There’d been no fighting fate last time, but this, if he left her now–would be his decision.

She willed her emotions to stay in check when she answered, “No, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think it’s the worst idea you’ve ever had!”

To her surprise, he gave a short, dry chuckle of amusement at the certainty of her answer. “I ended things last time to keep you safe,” he reminded her. “It worked…”

“Yes, but Harry the Death Eaters already know you care about me–that’s why they attacked me. You could leave me now, but they know you’ll still come for me. They know you care.” The irrational part of her mind had another answer all lined up, but she was glad she went with this one. It sounded so much more logical than saying something along the lines of ‘if you leave me, I won’t survive it again.’

His fingers froze for a long moment, before they continued to stroke her hair. He didn’t speak and Ginny carefully lifted herself up to sit, ignoring the pain when she did so. Harry frowned and put his arms around her, bracing her.

“Lie down,” he told her, his voice sounding a little flustered. “You’re going to start bleeding again!”

“Not until you swear you won’t do anything stupid. They already know you’ve got feelings for me, and I proved that I can protect myself and survive. So it’s either we’re together or we’re not.” There, that was as forward as she could be without being irritating.

He looked at her a long moment before he sighed and pressed his lips to hers. At first, Ginny resisted against him, not wanting his kiss to distract her from their conversation, but as it turns out, she had little fight left in her. She kissed him back, losing herself in the wonderful feeling of his lips against hers. The kiss wasn’t a long one and he pulled back sooner than she expected, one hand sliding up to cup her face.

“I promise. And for the record, I wasn’t going to suggest it anyway,” he told her. “Now please lie down before you give me a heart attack with worrying about you.”

Relief swept through her and made her eyes water. Damn concussion. Feeling happier than she’d felt since waking up, she kissed him again, allowing him to gently ease her back down. He ended the kiss when her hands slid around his neck to hold him there, but he pulled back again with a soft sigh.

“You need to rest,” he murmured against her cheek.

Her head hurt anyway from where her head had landed on the pillow, so she gave in with a smile and shifted to lay with her head against his chest, his arms encircling her once more.

“Out of curiosity, why wouldn’t you have brought it up?”

She felt his shoulders shrug. “It was just a thought. I didn’t want to put a hold on us again. I want to be with you.”

She smiled against his chest and closed her eyes again. When he said he didn’t ‘want’ to put a hold on their relationship, it had sounded pretty synonymous with ‘can't.’ It was nice to hear that Harry couldn’t bring himself to break up with her this time around. It meant that they were stronger–more real than just a couple of kids dating at school.

“Alright,” she said, very satisfied with that answer. She stifled a yawn and closed her eyes, her fingers sliding up his chest to rest on his shoulder.

“I won’t leave you ever again,” he repeated gently, pressing a soft kiss to the top of her head. “I need you in my life.”

Something deep in her chest throbbed at these words and Ginny pursed her lips, grateful that he couldn’t see the how ridiculously happy that made her. He didn’t think he was capable of leaving? He needed her? How often had Harry outwardly expressed that he needed anyone? After all, he’d spent his entire life being so selfless and protecting others that he was more practiced in pushing them away than letting them in.

Her head was pounding, bandaged, and she was concussed. She probably looked like hell, and probably fairly ridiculous with her head bandaged up. And yet, here was Harry Potter, saying wonderful, romantic things that made her heart pinch and swell up.

“I need you too.” She needed him like she needed air–her life had been dull and empty until she’d started dating him. Having Harry in her life, was like someone had opened the curtains to let the sunshine in.

They lay in silence for a long while. Finally, when Harry spoke again, Ginny was already drifting off into sleep. Harry’s touch was soothing, as was the sound of his heart beating in his chest.

“I should warn you now that I’m planning on being very protective of you for the last bit of the summer. I can relax a bit when you’re at school–at least I know you’ll be safe there.”

She smiled sadly against him at the thought of leaving him soon for school when all she could think of right now was laying in his arms forever. On another note, if he thought she’d be safe at Hogwarts, it meant that the castle was back in good shape. “Hogwarts is safe again?”

“Yeah. I hear it doesn’t look that different from what it used to be. Some of the staircases are behaving a little better, they haven’t gotten to replacing nearly-half the portraits, and there are plenty of new suits of armour to replace the old ones, but that’s about all you’ll notice.”

That was comforting news–she had been a little nervous about how much she’d be reminded of the battle, but now it was definitely going to be a new start. She was sure that some things would still bother her–things that would stay burned in her memory forever, but at least she could move on and these things would become a little less painful.

The room was silent except for the humming of the fan in the corner, and the sound of their breathing. Inside the room, with Harry next to her, she felt–okay. Life would get better–she still had her friends and family to get through it. There was one more year at Hogwarts, Quidditch trials and her career and so many other things to look forward which would not be darkened by any of these awful things of the past.
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