SIYE Time:3:19 on 17th January 2022

All It Takes
By Summer Potter

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Category: Alternate Universe
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: 69329; Chapter Total: 3887

Author's Notes:
FINALLY a chapter update! I apologize for that long delay, but I’ve just finished my undergraduate degree so as you can imagine, I was quite busy for that last month and I had next to no time. Regardless, I’ve been adding bits and pieces, but here it is at last! Thank you to EVERYONE who has shown so much support and offered your kind comments. Oh, and one last thing, you may recognize some familiar ‘advice’ in this chapter, which is intended as being very similar to advice that is given to Harry by Dumbledore. It was intended to be a nice little parallel between their experiences with death. So that’s it! : ) I hope you enjoy chapter fourteen!


Chapter 14: A Light in the Darkness

All too soon, Ginny was roused by the shifting of the mattress and the feel of cool air brushing against her side. Blindly reaching for the blankets and for the body that had kept her warm until now, she lifted her head off the pillow and groped in the dark to find Harry. She opened her eyes groggily to find Harry leaning in to kiss her lips gently before slowly pulling back with a soft sigh.

“Where are you going?” She asked sleepily. Her hand found his face and she cupped it, sliding her fingers into his tangled hair.

His lips pressed into hers once more before he pulled back to look at her and stood up. She could barely see his face in the dim light of the rising sun that was peaking out from behind the heavy drapes covering the window. His warm fingers smoothed her hair from her face as he spoke in a rough, just-woken-up kind of way. “Sorry I woke you. I have to go in for training today, but I’ll be back later.”

“Stay a bit longer?” She asked over a yawn that she was unable to stifle. Exhausted as she was, she did feel better though she was sure that sleeping so well was partially due to the comfort of having Harry so close.

Harry shook his head no. “I need to go home to shower and change. I’ll see you after, though.”

She nodded, too tired to try and convince Harry to stay when he obviously had to go. She murmured ‘okay’ and then laid back down with another yawn, almost immediately tumbling back into sleep. When Ginny woke up again, it was to the sound of murmuring voices and then to the snap of the door. Startled, she opened her eyes to find Ron entering the room with a copy of The Daily Prophet in his hand. Judging by the amount of bright light in the room, it seemed to be about mid-morning. Momentarily confused about how Harry’s departure and Ron’s entry had seemed to have happened in a matter of seconds from each other, she made a mental note to take fewer sleeping drafts–she was losing grip on her sense of time and she didn’t like that she slept through more noise and light than she normally would. Being knocked unconscious by exhaustion was one thing, but with potions was another.

Ron looked startled to see that she was awake and Ginny waved at him with one hand and rubbed the sleep from her eyes with the other.

“Morning. How are you?” Ron asked as he dropped himself lazily into the chair by her bed.

Desiring an answer to that herself, she stretched her arms and legs carefully. When there was no pain and minimal stiffness, she stretched her abdomen and turned her hips side to side to test for any pain. Her stomach ached only slightly at the movement, but it was such a huge improvement that she decided it wasn’t even worth complaining about. Lastly, her fingers combed through her hair, exploring her scalp to find that there was only a very small bump, but no other pain here.

Pleased with her findings, she smiled and answered him cheerily, “Much better. Think I can go home today?”

“Probably,” Ron answered thoughtfully. “Mum’s gone off to find a healer to ask about you, so I’m sure you’ll have an answer very soon.” He peered at her for a long moment before he seemed to relax. “You look better–much more like yourself.”

“That’s good.” She peered around the room, wondering how much time she had to kill. For the first time since waking up in St. Mungo’s, she didn’t feel tired anymore. Moreover, she wanted desperately to get out of this bed and out of her room. She’d been lying down far too long and was beginning to feel restless just thinking about being trapped in bed.

“What time is it?”

Ron unfolded his copy of the paper as he spoke, scanning the headlines. “Just after nine.”

So it was only nine a.m. She wondered what time Harry had left her, only to realize that Ron was here and not at the Ministry. “Oh. Don’t you have training with Harry?”

Ron shook his head. “Harry takes the morning stealth class, but I take the evening one. I hate getting up early when I don’t have too.” He looked up from his paper suddenly and set it in his lap. “Bloody hell, I forgot! Harry said he spoke to the Captain earlier this morning and he said that if you still want to talk to Annie before she has her memory altered, you need to do it the minute you wake up. St. Mungo’s is getting a little testy about giving out a bed to someone who doesn’t need it,”

“Can I see her now?”

Ron nodded and stood, folding his paper as he got to his feet. “I can go get her now, if you promise to eat something?” He motioned to a breakfast tray that she hadn’t noticed earlier. “The healers say they can’t give you any more healing drafts until you get something in your system. The sooner you eat, the sooner you can come home.”

Her stomach churned at the thought of more healing drafts, although the food didn’t look repulsive. Still, there was something slightly off-putting about it. Weighing her options, she realized that if she refused to eat, she expected Ron to sit back down and refuse to let her see Annie. It was eat and risk the queasiness or play it safe and lose out on her chance to meet with Annie.

“Alright, deal,” she agreed, pulling the tray toward her and picking up a fork to poke hesitantly at the scrambled eggs on the plate.

Ron waited and watched her take a bite before he was satisfied and turned to leave. He got as far as the door before he stopped and turned, his ears turning a bright pink as he seemed to mull over what he wanted to say next.

“What is it?”

“Don’t think that I don’t know that Harry slept here last night,” he told her dryly, raising an eyebrow as he spoke.

Ginny gaped at her brother, startled that he knew such a thing. She was even more shocked when he added, “you know, the least he could have done was enlarged the bed so he could have stretched out. You’re such a bed hog!” And with that, he was gone.

Ginny stared after him and then laughed quietly to herself, completely blindsided by her brother’s comment. Ron had definitely just made a lighthearted and teasing joke about the size of the bed, rather than lecturing her about sleeping with Harry. Taking a reluctant bite of the scrambled eggs, she wondered for a few moments over how he’d found out, but supposed that any Auror on watch in the hall would have noticed Harry leave the room early this morning. If this piece of gossip had gotten back to Ron, chances were that it had spread pretty fast and this was rather amusing that people found this so fascinating. However, considering her experience with rumours about Harry, perhaps people would come up with some juicy ones that would really test Ron’s newfound maturity and patience. As she ate, she promised herself that if the Prophet printed anything about a midnight romantic visit from Harry, she’d cut it out and have it framed.

She finished her scrambled eggs while her stomach protested only mildly. She found that she was indeed hungry, and that the food was going down better than she’d extended. Finishing eggs and a piece of toast, Ginny had taken a bite of an orange slice when the door opened and Annie stepped in. Seeing her friend, Ginny dropped the fruit on the plate and swallowed the mouthful of orange hurriedly.

“Hi,” Ginny said, suddenly feeling incredibly nervous to be in the room with Annie..

Annie smiled back just as hesitantly and closed the door behind her. “Your brother says we can talk for a bit?”

“Yeah. Sorry I haven’t been to see you, but I haven’t been able to get out of this bed,” Ginny said apologetically while examining her friend carefully for signs of injury. Aside from the awkwardness of this moment, Annie looked fine. Her wrist was wrapped up and she had the faintest trace of a bruise on her leg, which was revealed beneath the same brown dress that she’d worn on the day of the attack.

Sensing the tension between them, Annie bit her lip and then folded her arms across her chest as she moved forward slowly. “How are you feeling?”

Ginny swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. She hadn’t expected a wave of emotions to slam into her again the moment she saw Annie. She was relieved to see that Annie looked good, but seeing Annie just reminded her of losing Jackson. She wondered if Annie was angry about all this, considering that if roles were reversed, she wouldn’t be doing so well after being involved in such a situation.

“I’m feeling better. How are you?”

“All good, except for my wrist,” Annie said as she held up her bandaged left arm. “It was broken, but your doctors fixed it.” She grimaced at her bandaged wrist, as if she was unsure if her wrist being fixed by magic was a good thing or a bad thing.

“You can fix anything with magic, huh?” The vain attempt to lighten the mood made Ginny feel even guiltier. She’d never seen Annie so subdued before–it wasn’t right.

“Nearly,” she answered timidly, anxious to start apologizing and explaining. She shifted over on the bed and Annie immediately closed the distance between them and climbed up on the bed to sit across from her. The two friends looked at each other a long moment before Ginny found her voice again.

“Annie, I’m so sorry that you got dragged into this,” she began miserably. “I never, ever thought that being around you would be dangerous. I can’t-”

The rest of the sentence was cut off by Annie suddenly leaning in to hug her tightly. Tears formed into Ginny’s eyes as she hugged Annie back. Annie began to cry and Ginny’s own tears dripped onto her cheeks as she held her friend. They sat like that for several minutes, sobbing into each other’s shoulders for the loss of their friend. With Annie here, Jackson’s death felt more real than it had before. Before now, his death had seemed nothing more than a horrible nightmare, but it was real–Jackson was gone.

When her tears began to subside, Annie slowly pulled back with a heavy sigh. “Oh, it’s not your fault–none of this is your fault.” She took a steadying breath and then offered a watery smile. “You were so brave fighting those guys on your own. You saved my life–you saved a lot of lives in that village.”

“I just wish I’d been faster to save Jackson,” Ginny found herself whispering, the guilt making her feel nauseous with the intensity of it. “I could have protected him–I could have done something- anything- to make sure he made it out alive. I’ll never forgive myself for that. All I wanted was to say goodbye before I went off to school–I just wanted to say goodbye to both of you and to make sure that we were still friends after what happened at the end of July wit Harry!”

Annie’s eyes went wide and she reached for Ginny’s hands, squeezing them in hers. “Ginny, you can’t think like that!” She scolded, her voice sharp, though her eyes were still brimming with tears. “Jackson would never have wanted you to blame yourself. I’ll admit, I was barely conscious, but I watched him move in front of you to save you–he knew what he was doing. He wanted to protect you. You couldn’t have changed his mind about what he wanted to do.”

A sob escaped Ginny as she shook her head in disbelief. How had Jackson died to save her from Death Eaters in a muggle village? Death Eaters, Voldemort and magic–those were not muggle things and they were not things that were supposed to happen to Jackson or Annie. They were her friends from the village, which was supposed to be a place where no one knew anything of the magical world and the terrible things that had happened there because of dark magic.

Ginny found herself talking in a whisper, more to herself than to Annie. “I can’t believe any of this. I can’t believe Death Eaters showed up in that village, I can’t believe I had to fight them, and I can’t believe Jackson is gone.”

Annie squeezed her hands, her expression troubled. “I know…”

Annie looked lost as she sat across from Ginny, looking so small and helpless. It hurt Ginny terribly to see her friend like this when she was so normally outgoing and full of excitement and life. She watched as Annie’s eyes drifted toward the curtained window, her expression sad. “He was a good friend. We were both lucky to know him…”

“We shouldn’t have lost him,” Ginny muttered bitterly. “Not Jackson, too,” she added even more softly. Annie turned her eyes back on Ginny, her expression changed to confusion at her last comment. It suddenly occurred to Giiny how much Annie didn’t know about who she was and this suddenly made everything worse. They were separated by worlds of difference–how was she to explain everything?

Deciding she needed to try, she asked softly, “Did they tell you what happens next?”

She was referring to the Aurors who would wipe her memories, but she wasn’t sure how much Annie knew about what happened after they talked. She wanted this conversation to have meant something, even if Annie couldn’t remember it later. Since her memories would be changed either way, she felt she owed it to Annie to be completely honest with her for the only time that she could be so open and honest.

Annie nodded, wiping her tears with the back of her bandaged hand. “Yes, Harry told me that I’m not going to remember what happened. He says I’ll have new memories about what happened in the village.”

“Yeah…” Ginny swallowed hard, touching Annie’s hand. “I’m so sorry about that. You must be so unhappy about having your memories altered, but that’s the law and I can’t–”

Annie suddenly chuckled darkly and interrupted Ginny’s spluttered apology. “Actually, I’m not really upset about that part.”

Surprised, Ginny leaned back against the pillows of her bed. “Really? You’re not? If it were me, I think I’d be really upset if a bunch of freaks told me they were going to take away my memories!”

Annie raised her eyebrows at Ginny’s dramatics and then sighed, her amusement turning to sadness once more. “When they told me that they were going to change what I remember about Jackson’s death, I was really angry and scared,” Annie admitted softly. “But after I had some time to process it, I’m kind of glad that they are.”

“What do you mean?”

Annie hesitated and then scrubbed her face with her hands in frustration. “I don’t understand any of this, Gin. I would be more miserable having to live a life where I would never be allowed to understand how my best friend died. I’d spend my whole life always wondering about why and how Jackson died. I know there’s bigger things here than what I can wrap my mind around and I don’t want to be alone in that wondering for the rest of my life. You wouldn’t be allowed to talk about it… you can’t include me in your life. I’d be alone in that knowledge for the rest of my life.”

Ginny considered this, frowning slightly. “That would be hard,” she agreed slowly.

“Whatever new story I’ll remember, it’ll be easier than this one. It won’t be the truth and I wish it could be, but I don’t want to obsess over the details when the general facts will be the same. Besides, it’s not like they’re taking anything anyway. Harry said they’re just going to change how I remember what happened, but it’ll be the non-magic version with guns or something. It won’t be exactly right, but at the very least, I’ll have a shot at mourning and then moving on in life. I want to remember my friend for how he lived and not how he died.”

Annie seemed so resolute in her belief that Ginny knew that Annie was truly okay with having her memories altered. Of course, in a perfect world, Annie would be allowed to know about magic, her world, and be able to talk about it with Ginny. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be this separation of the magical and muggle population. Really, they were no different–they each experienced life the same way with love, friendships, hardships and death.

“I didn’t want this for you,” Ginny sighed, feeling miserable.

“Would you honestly be able to fully move on from something you could never talk about because no one would believe you? Wouldn’t you feel incredibly alone and confused? Maybe it’s the easy way out, but I share everything with the people I love, and Jackson was my best friend for years. I’m heartbroken that he’s gone, but death is death, and I believe that God has a plan for each one of us. Jackson was put on this earth to meet us both and change our lives in many ways.” Annie let out a breath and offered a sad smile as she added miserably, “I’ll miss him forever, but that’s fate. I’ll always remember him, but life goes on…”

Ginny considered this, half-concerned that she didn’t have Annie’s assurance and maturity about such things like life and death, especially considering how fast she was forced to grow up with the war. Annie was right that it was very different to have to lose your best friend in a way she was not allowed to understand, rather than losing him in a tragic accident that would hurt terribly, but at least she could move on in the end. Still, Annie was hurt and confused by secrecy and even if she could never know about it after today, Ginny wanted to be honest about everything for once.

“I want to tell you everything before they do it. I want to explain it all so that we can at least have these moments of being completely open with each other–of being true friends.”

Annie tilted her head slightly, her brow furrowing. “Ginny, none of what you’ve been hiding has kept us from being true friends. It didn’t matter. We loved you because you were you and not because of your secret lifestyle.” She paused before adding softly, “but I’d really like the whole truth before I forget.”

“I’ll tell you anything you want to know,” Ginny replied firmly, her heart quivering in her chest with the effort that not crying was costing her. Actually preparing to tell her story for the first time was like cracking open a dam that had built up a substantial amount of pressure behind it. There had been so many times this summer when she’d wanted to tell her friends about all the awful feelings that had threatened to drown her.

They sat in a momentary silence while Ginny silently debated about where to begin. Deciding to start with the most basic facts, she leaned forward slightly, feeling a little strange to be saying these words aloud. “Well, for starters, I’m a witch. I don’t wear a pointy hat or anything weird like that, but I’m a witch.”

A small smile tugged at Annie’s lips as she let out a long sigh. “I know it’s true, but it’s so strange to hear. Go on.”

In spite of the seriousness of the things she wanted to say, Ginny found herself wanting to smile back. It was surreal being able to tell Annie about who she truly was. “Me and my whole family are witches and wizards–my friend Hermione and Harry too. I go to a school to learn about magic and to become a proper witch.”

Ginny paused again, shifting awkwardly on the bed as she continued to explain that the men who were in the village are called “Death Eaters” and that they used to serve this really evil wizard called Voldemort. She told Annie that Voldemort had been around for years, but at the end of the school year, there was a battle where Harry beat him and her world — the wizarding world–was free of this evil wizard. She explained that the men in the village were trying to get back at Harry for ruining their lives by capturing and probably killing Ginny.

At the end, Annie stared at her in horror. “Harry–as in your boyfriend? Harry beat a seriously evil wizard that your police couldn’t? Why did it have to be him?”

Ginny hesitated and then found herself smiling slightly. She supposed it did sound ridiculous from Annie’s point of view. She didn’t want or truly need to get into a long explanation of Harry’s history and the importance of prophecies. Since she had no idea how long she had to talk with Annie, it was important to stick to the most important facts.

Instead of offering another long explanation, Ginny replied: “It’s a really long and confusing story, but basically Harry was destined to kill him– it had to be Harry.”

“No wonder you love him,” Annie replied faintly. “The guy’s a superhero.”

A small, but real smile tugged at Ginny’s lips and a small giggle escaped her at the thought of Harry as some sort of superhero. She supposed that some people did think of him that way–as someone who saved the world and would go down in history books as a some sort of saviour. Pushing past this, she continued with her explanation.

“Harry’s destiny was why Harry left me in the first place–why we were broken up at the start of the summer. He left me a year ago to find a way to beat Voldemort.” At that moment, she recalled arguing with Jackson at the bar and out on the street about how poorly he felt Harry treated her. Perhaps Annie also thought back on that memory because she immediately pushed past the awkward moment.

“So you’re magical and you were attacked because these criminals wanted revenge on Harry?”

Ginny nodded, relieved that Annie was understanding and accepting the gist of it. That was the wonderful thing about Annie–when it was important, she didn’t need to focus on all the little details. She listened and worked hard to understand. “And by being friends with you, I accidentally put you guys in the middle of it.”

Annie seemed to take all this in for several long seconds before she finally replied wearily to Ginny’s guilt-ridden statement. “Ginny, until yesterday, I didn’t believe in magic. However, I’ve always believed in fate. You said Harry was destined to kill this evil wizard and I think we’re all destined for something. We were destined to meet each other and this was fated to happen. Jackson’s plan was to be a great friend, and then to die a hero. You didn’t cause his death by being friends with us–it was already in the cards.”

“I still lost him,” she argued miserably, but Annie wasn’t hearing it.

“We both lost him, but it wasn’t your fault. And if nothing else, we have each other. We survived and that’s something to be happy about. You should never spend your life feeling sorry for the dead–he’s in a better place.”

They sat in silence for a long moment before Annie shifted over to recline on the hospital bed next to Ginny.

“It still hurts, Annie. I’ve lost so many people,” Ginny admitted quietly, her voice catching. She cleared the lump that had formed in her throat before she finally explained what she meant by having lost so many people. “I lost my brother Fred, just before Harry won the war. And we lost good family friends–Lupin and Tonks, Moody, and so many people from my school. A lot of people died this spring and many, many more before that. Sometimes it’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t worry about someone leaving and not coming back.”

“No wonder you were so broken up,” Annie murmured sadly. “Jackson and I could see that you were distracted by something all the time. I know you tried to pretend that you were fine, but it was easy to see you were hiding something. We never asked because we figured that you’d tell us when you were ready.”

More tears dripped onto Ginny’s cheeks as she looked over at Annie. “You have no idea how much I wanted to tell you.”

Annie looped her arm through hers and nodded, understanding her friend’s grief. They sat in silence for another long moment before Ginny spoke again. “I usually come home for Christmas,” she spluttered anxiously. “I’ll come see you?”

Annie smiled and nodded. “You had better come visit me! Besides, who else is going to tell me to get my head out of the clouds?”

“In case you hadn’t noticed, I tried not to do that. I had my head in the clouds with Harry and everything else that was going on. I felt like a hypocrite telling you to move on with Pat. And now look at the two of you– finally dating and happy!”

Annie grinned, her expression brightening at the mention of Pat. “I don’t have as much luck as you and Harry. I really care about Pat, but I’m a little envious I don’t have the same connection with him that you have with Harry. I suppose after everything you’ve both been through, nothing else would ever make sense. He absolutely loves you, you know that?”

Ginny felt her face colour and a warmth spread over her at the confidence in Annie’s tone. She opened her mouth to tell her that she and Harry hadn’t actually said these words to each other yet, but the door opening stopped her. A woman in Auror robes stepped into the room and Ginny felt her heart sink that her time with Annie was probably about to be cut short.

“Ladies, I am sorry to interrupt, but I’m to inform Annie that she needs to be taken home in the next few minutes — her parents are getting quite worried and demanding to be taken to see their daughter.”

Annie looked startled and she told the woman she’d be out shortly. The door closed again and Annie turned and embraced Ginny again–more tightly than before. Ginny hugged her back and silently reminded herself not to cry. This was not a goodbye–she’d see Annie again soon.

“It doesn’t hurt,” Ginny murmured in an attempt to comfort her friend about having one’s memory altered. “And I’m sorry again–for everything.”

“It’s not your fault, Ginny. And I know that I can’t take away any of that guilt or try to pretend that I wouldn’t feel responsible if I were in your shoes, but please remember that Jackson wouldn’t have had it any other way. Jackson would have always chosen himself to protect his friends.”

“I miss him,” Ginny admitted miserably, a soft sob escaping her. “He was a good friend!”

“I miss him too,” Annie murmured, pulling back. “But my mum always said that we should never pity the dead–they go on to a much better place. We both have so much else to live for, so we shouldn’t waste it in sadness.” She chuckled at herself. “I sound like my mother.”

Ginny found herself smiling too. “She sounds like a smart woman.”

Annie grinned and slid off the bed. “She is. I need to go home so that my parents can see I’m alright. I’ll see you soon, Gin.”

Ginny wiped her eyes and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll see you soon.”

And with one last wave and smile, Annie left. Ginny sat on her bed for a long moment before the tears finally began to fall. She cried for several long minutes for Jackson, letting her heart cry the pain out. When the tears finally subsided, she couldn’t deny that she did feel better. Jackson’s loss still hurt, but after Hogwarts, loss was something fairly familiar, and Annie was right about not wasting her life being sad. She had come through far too much to let herself dwell on the misery of life. Somewhere up there, someone had decided that she would survive and she knew now that she would leave here feeling okay–a little weary–but okay.

There were too many things to look forward to and more challenges to work through that would keep her from obsessing with the past: Quidditch, graduating from Hogwarts, trying out for the International Quidditch League, seeing Harry, spending time with her friends and family…

Yes, she was okay. Annie was right-- life was too short to waste it in sadness.

* * *

Ginny was released from St. Mungo’s at exactly four PM and was taken home by her mother, only to be ordered into bed and force-fed some of her mother’s delicious vegetable soup and fresh bread. While she was discharged with a clean bill of health, the healers had warned her to take it easy over the next few days, lest she wind back up in St. Mungo’s with her concussion acting up. The cuts she had inflicted from the curses had healed over and all that was left of the evidence of the cuts were a few thin, white scars, which she had been assured would disappear soon, so long as she kept applying a special ointment twice a day.

Hermione was waiting for Ginny in her room with a solitary yellow flower in a little green pot. The flower swayed gracefully in the soil, its pedals dancing and its stem twisting and shifting as if it were dancing to music only it could hear.

“Isn’t it pretty?” Hermione had exclaimed excitedly. “The flower dances whenever it senses positive energy. It will live as long as its owner is happy! I read about them a while back and thought it’d make a nice ‘get well’ present!”

Ginny smiled at the dancing flower and place it gently on the window sill. It gave a delighted little wriggle to be placed in direct sunlight.

“So how are you feeling?” Hermione asked, turning her attention away from the flower and onto Ginny.

“Much better! Although, Mum is insisting that I rest in bed. I had hopes of escaping bed for a while…”

Hermione smiled sympathetically. “She just wants to make sure that you get well. She’s worried about you and who could blame her? You were in bad shape.”

Ginny sat on her bed and leaned back against the pillows with a sigh. “Yeah, I know. What about you? What’s new?”

Hermione became excited as she told Ginny that her mother had allowed her to use magic to fix a necklace that her father had given her back when they were dating. Apparently the chain had broken and Mr. Granger had requested his wife wear the necklace for their wedding anniversary dinner. Beside herself with worry and anxiety that Mr. Granger would be upset at hearing the necklace had broken, Mrs. Granger had asked Hermione to fix it. This was the first time Hermione had used magic in her house without being made to feel as if she were doing something wrong. She also told Ginny had she and Ron had plans tonight with Hermione’s parents, and after the necklace incident, she was sure that tonight wouldn’t be as awkward.

“I still can’t believe your parents aren’t comfortable with you dating a wizard,” Ginny said, a little troubled with the hope in Hermione’s voice as she wished for tonight to go well.

“It’s not specifically that I’m dating a wizard, is the concept of magic that makes them uncomfortable. They associate Ron with the world of magic because that’s the world he grew up in. My parents do like Ron and they know that he makes me happy, but ever since I lifted the memory charm, things have been weird.”

Hermione turned to fretting over the evening ahead of her, recanting all the different times that Ron had come over to visit her and her family. Ginny listened with amusement to Hermione’s obsessing over Ron and worrying that tonight wouldn’t go well.

“Ron had better not take his time leaving the Ministry,” Hermione “I know he doesn’t really like coming over, but my parents need to get to know him better. They need to see him like I do! They need to see that being a wizard isn’t all about danger and magical solutions.”

A little skeptical that her brother’s sometimes bluntness or poor table manners were not part of this issue, she fought a teasing smile as she asked, “Ron hasn’t done anything in particular to not make your parents not like him?”

“No,” Hermione sighed. “Ron is perfectly charming! Ever since I undid the memory charm and told them what I did to protect them, they’ve been completely anti-magic and they’re taking it out on Ron. I think my parents think that magic has had a bad influence on me.”

“Which would include dating a wizard,” Ginny supplied grimly. “Hermione, I’m sure they’ll get over it. They love you!”

“I know that, but their attitude is exactly why it’s so important to talk to Ron before we go–I’d like to limit the amount of wizarding-world conversation tonight. They do like Ron, but they’re just so adverse to anything at all magical.”

Ginny reached over and patted her arm sympathetically. “This will pass. Besides, being nervous about bringing something home to your parents is normal. You’re lucky you get to go through that rite of passage in a relationship. I kind of wish I had that experience–meeting the in-laws, I mean.”

Hermione seemed to appreciate the truth of these words, until she made a noise of disbelief and rolled her eyes. “I have this awful feeling you would have had it easy. If James Potter was anything like Remus or Sirius, I’m sure you would have had any easy time. Lily Potter seemed to be a favorite student at Hogwarts, not to mention she married James Potter. Sorry, Ginny, but I don’t think that would have been the same thing.”

“Mothers can be pretty protective of their sons. It took my mum a long time to accept Fleur, remember?”

“That’s true.” Hermione thought for a moment before she added in a whisper, “do you think your Mum will accept me as a daughter-in-law if Ron and I ever get married one day?”

Ginny laughed aloud and nodded. “I think she’s already expecting you and Ron to get married one day. Just don’t rush into it and she’ll be over the moon when you announce the news!”

Hermione grinned, looking much more cheered up. “Well, I don’t even want to consider marriage until I’m done with school and have a job.”


The sound of Ron’s voice came up the stairs, causing Hermione to leap up from Ginny’s bed and hurry to the door.

“Up here!” She called back, glancing back at Ginny. “I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Good luck!”

Moments later, she could hear Hermione lecturing Ron about getting changed and then needing to prepare him before they left. Ron groaned loudly, reassuring Hermione that everything would be fine. He argued that they were just meeting the Grangers and “not with the bloody Queen.” Hermione followed him up the stairs, poking her head back into Ginny’s room to give her an exasperated look before keeping on Ron’s heels as she followed him up the stairs.

“Ron, I just want everything to go better than last time, okay?”

Ginny chuckled and picked up a Quidditch magazine that Charlie had given her at St. Mungo’s. Not wanting to eavesdrop on the happy couple’s argument, she began to read. She’d only just turned the page when Harry appeared in her doorway, his hair windswept and still dressed in his Aurors’ uniform.

“Hi Harry,” she said happily, a little embarrassed by the eagerness in her tone. She hadn’t seen him since he’d left her hospital bed and hadn’t realized how much she’d missed him until now.

“Can you hear the lovebirds arguing about going to dinner?” He asked mischievously, moving into her room. He sat next to her on the bed and leaned in to kiss her hello.

“Hermione’s been in here complaining about how her parents aren’t exactly warming up to Ron.”

Upstairs, Hermione’s shrill voice came through the ceiling, “well if you don’t want to eat my mother’s meatloaf, then don’t eat it!”

They both laughed quietly for a moment.

“Want to come to my house for dinner?” Harry asked. “I promise, no yelling will be involved in the dinner arrangements.”

Dropping the magazine again, she smiled up at him. “Sure!”

He grinned and stood up. “Lovely.” He helped her up, though Ginny didn’t really need it. She felt strong enough, albeit a little stiff. Still, it was nice that Harry was so concerned about her.

“And that’s how you make dinner plans,” Ginny joked dryly, grabbing a sweater before following him out the door. “No bickering or raised voices!”

“I’m really glad we don’t fight like those two,” Harry told her, not bothering to hide his sincere relief. “I think I’d go mental trying to keep track of when we were and were not speaking.”

“They don’t mean it,” Ginny said with a chuckle. “My brother’s been in love with her for years.”

When they got downstairs, it took Ginny a few minutes to track down her mother to tell her that she was going over to Harry’s for dinner. She wasn’t sure if her mother was a little disappointed that she wasn’t going to be home for dinner, but she didn’t object and told Ginny to be home in good time so that she could get a good night’s sleep at home.

“What’s the plan for dinner?” Ginny asked Harry curiously as they left the Burrow.

“I’ve got it all planned out! I’ve been looking forward to spending a quiet night in with you for a while now. We’ve got to make the most of the few weeks of summer we have left. It’s going to be difficult to find quality time alone together when you’re at school.”

Ginny smirked. “Difficult, but not impossible, Harry. There are lots of places to hide away.”

“I’m not sure if I should be worried that you’re so familiar with all these private spots, or relieved that I’ll definitely have some time to be alone with you,” Harry commented quietly, more to himself than to her.

Ginny laughed at this, choosing not to respond right away so as to playfully keep him guessing. The truth was that she hadn’t used all of these spots. Wanting to spend time alone with one’s boyfriend but not having anywhere to go was a common problem. To remedy it, the girls in Ginny’s dormitory had essentially compiled this list of spots over the last few years to avoid having to sacrifice the entire dormitory to each other.

“Don’t worry,” Ginny told him with a reassuring smile. “I haven’t used all of them,”

Harry rolled his eyes, still looking a little uncomfortable. His reaction made Ginny have to fight to hide the laugh that wanted to escape her control. Harry was so cute when he was a little jealous!

They apparated to Harry’s and almost immediately after re-appearing on his property, Harry’s fingers intertwined with hers and he held her hand all the way up to the front door. Ginny silently thanked the heavens that Harry had more of a clue about being a good boyfriend than Ron had with Hermione. She also shared Harry’s deep relief that they didn’t fight like Ron and Hermione. Ginny preferred the normalcy of their relationship and the easiness that existed between them.

Harry unlocked the door and led her inside. Ginny paused on the threshold, startled to see that the inside of his house had changed quite a bit since the last time she’d visited. It was finally starting to look more like a home than a big, empty house.

“Done some decorating, have you?”

Harry closed the door behind her before he answered her. “Actually, I’ve hired a decorator. So far I’ve done this front hall, the kitchen and my room.”

Ginny’s eyes moved around the front foyer, appreciating the work that the decorator had done. The entrance had been painted an off-white colour, with beautiful crown mouldings along the walls. Two large and colourful vases filled with exotic-looking flowers sat on either side of the door, and the staircase had been widened and given new black banisters. Looking down, even the floors had been redone with a dark hardwood.

“Spending a fortune on home dcor?” Ginny asked, feeling awed at the grandeur of this room alone.

“Mostly it’s transfiguration–there’s a great company in Salisbury that I hired to do all this. I just pay the workers by the hour and they do all this. All I said was to keep it simple and so far, I’m happy with their work.”

“It looks really good, Harry! How much are you going to have done?”

“Not too much more. I can do the wall-colours by myself and I’ve gone out already and bought most of the furniture. Mainly, they’re filling the rooms and improving the structure of the house. I’m also debating on using my backyard as a Quidditch pitch. I figure it’ll help with ensuring that my girlfriend visits me.”

Ginny chuckled and looped her arm through his before telling him seriously, “Good idea, because why else would I come?”

“You’re mean,” Harry moaned, his lips twitching as he repressed a smile. He kissed her anyway before they moved into the kitchen. Harry dropped her hand and instructed her to sit while he got started on dinner. She tried arguing with him at first, but when he quite literally used magic to make her sit on the counter to watch, she gave up. He handed her a butterbeer and then removed the charm that was forcing her to stay where she was.

“You know, if you wanted me to come over solely to see you and not for your Quidditch pitch, perhaps this could be accomplished by not using your fancy Auror magic on me?” She suggested innocently, taking a sip of the delicious butterbeer.

“If you don’t want me to use my Auror training on you, then you’ll have to let me spoil you every once and a while. All you have to do is sit there and enjoy the dinner I’m going to make for you.”

Ginny smiled and watched him move around the kitchen. “Harry, you spoil me all the time. You take me to Rome, you make me dinner, you manage to relocate the Auror fleet outside my door at St. Mungo’s…”

Harry smiled as he worked on preparing the salad. She paused before asking her next question in a sweet voice. “Was that the first time you pulled the ‘I’m Harry Potter’ card to get your way?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Harry replied calmly, keeping his eyes on the salad bowl. “But I’d like you to sit there and let me, Harry Potter, the-boy-who-lived, make you dinner.”

Ginny burst out laughing, nearly choking on her butterbeer as she fought to swallow the mouthful she’d practically inhaled. “Well-played,” she giggled. “Be glad I’m no longer the silly little girl who thinks of you that way because I think eleven-year-old me would have positively fainted at such a request.”

“Or fallen off the counter,” he muttered teasingly, easily dodging a playful kick that she aimed at him from where she sat.

“Alright, boy-who-lived, I’ll let you cook. Just don’t burn anything!” she replied with a chuckle.

As Ginny watched him start out on dinner (chicken, vegetables and salad), Ginny considered how easily Harry was able to make her smile and feel good again. Earlier today, she’d felt positively miserable, but Harry was certainly able to help her to feel happy. Sure she was still sad, but Harry made all the bad things tolerable and gave her a reason to feel good about being alive. She deeply missed Jackson, but it was good to know that even after everything and everyone who was lost, there was still hope for happiness.
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