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SIYE Time:8:10 on 19th July 2024
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Summer of Recovery
By PotterSloth

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Category: Post-DH/AB
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Teddy Lupin
Genres: General, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use
Story is Complete
Rating: R
Reviews: 141
Summary: What comes after Voldemort’s defeat? A very, very difficult summer. The world moves on, and it’s much different than it was when Harry and Ginny first got together. The summer will be one of grief, but they’re ready to recover together after so long apart. The only question is: will the world finally let them?

Part 1 of Happier Every Day
Hitcount: Story Total: 16408; Chapter Total: 719
Awards: View Trophy Room






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Ginny pressed her lips together. “We need to take you to see Madam Pomfrey.”

/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*

She was holding Harry’s hand. She was holding Harry’s hand! She… had they… Merlin’s beard, had they really just kissed in front of everyone? In the middle of the Gryffindor common room? Suddenly, they were outside, and she blinked to adjust to the light. When her eyes refocused, she saw Harry’s nervous grin, and there was no question in her mind now. They had definitely kissed, and everyone had seen.

It was about damn time, Ginny knew. She’d had a crush on the idea of Harry since she was a little girl and he was a bedtime story her parents told her. That crush had turned into full on fancying when she saw him for the first time, and ever since he saved her in the Chamber of Secrets, she knew that she would always want to be with him. Of course, Harry hadn’t really paid her much attention after that. She finally decided, with some help from Hermione, that if Harry was going to moon over Cho Chang, she could date other guys. She had more than her fair share to choose from, truthfully. Michael Corner had been her first boyfriend, but he ended up being much too whiny and high maintenance for her. When she first started dating Dean Thomas, she thought that there could be something special there. He was sweet and caring and an altogether lovely boyfriend most of the time. The problem was, Ginny had realised as she slowly started noticing Harry looking at her differently than he ever had before, that Dean just wasn’t Harry. And as much as Ginny had tried to move on or forget about him, she couldn’t.

Hermione had nagged her for months, telling her that she was certain that Harry fancied her now. Ginny finally did break up with Dean because the boy tried so hard to be the perfect boyfriend that it became overbearing and suffocating. Despite Hermione’s comments, Ginny refused to get her hopes up that Harry would ask her out. Several other boys had, but she turned them all down. She couldn’t keep the charade up any longer. Maybe it was what Hermione had said. More likely, it was that for more than a year now, Harry had seemed to treat her like an equal, like a friend, not just his mate’s little sister. Ginny had tried suppressing her feelings, but with every glance she saw Harry give her, every joke they shared, and every conversation they had, she became more convinced that she wouldn’t be happy if she was with someone other than him. So even though she tried not to get her hopes up, she knew that she would wait until Harry realised what she’d known for a long time- they belonged together.

Of course, Ginny wasn’t expecting him to realise it in such public fashion. She’d thought maybe he’d ask her to talk after a Quidditch practice and confess his feelings, especially since she’d given him several opportunities. She’d been watching him even closer than usual since she’d broken up with Dean, and even she had to admit that he did exhibit all the symptoms of fancying a girl when he was around her. He just couldn’t seem to get past the last obstacle of actually telling her. And as much as Ginny wanted to be with him, he needed to figure it out for himself. Besides, she owed it to her younger self, the eleven year old who had stuck her elbow in the butter dish because of how much she fancied him, to make Harry be the one to make the first move after she’d been so obvious for so long about her feelings for him. And when he finally did make that move, just minutes ago, it had certainly been worth the wait.

Ginny blinked again, blushing as she realised Harry was staring at her because she’d been staring at him. She squeezed his hand, and it was his turn to blink, shaking his head as if waking up from a daydream. Ginny looked up at him expectantly, and he seemed to realise that he should probably say something.

“Er- so we… just did that. In the common room,” he stammered.

“In front of everyone,” Ginny added helpfully.

He nodded, turning red as it sunk in to him, and Ginny worried for a second that he regretted it.

“Right. Yeah… in front of everyone. Sorry for- I- I should’ve asked first.”

Ginny decided he was being a tad stupid, and he deserved a little bit of teasing, even though he was so frustratingly cute when he was nervous like this.

“Should’ve asked me what?” Ginny asked innocently.

Harry rubbed the back of his neck, looking down at the ground. “I should’ve asked if I could kiss you. Actually-” Harry looked up at Ginny, making eye contact with her for the first time since they began this awkward conversation, and Ginny breathed in sharply as his eyes had chased away his nervousness, replacing it with a confident intensity. “I should’ve asked you what I’ve wanted to ask you for a long time. I should’ve asked if you would go out on a date with me. Well, actually what I really wanted to ask was if you’d be my girlfriend, but a date seemed like a good place to start. Definitely less forward than kissing you in front of the entire house.” Harry blushed a little, but his eyes didn’t lose any of that intensity.

Ginny couldn’t help herself. She wrapped her hands around Harry’s head, pulling him down to meet her lips in their second kiss. This kiss was just as electric and heart-pounding as the first one, and Harry was just as eager as she was. He wrapped one hand around her waist while the other found its way into her hair. Breathless, she pulled away after several moments. A couple people on the grounds were staring at them, but Ginny didn’t care. She only cared about the boy staring down at her like she was the only person in the world.

“Harry, you’re kind of an idiot,” Ginny began, and Harry raised his eyebrows at her. “A very cute idiot, but still slightly idiotic. You don’t need to apologise to me, I was the one who threw myself at you up there, and I was very glad that you kissed me. I’d been waiting for so long for you that I thought you’d just keep me waiting forever.”

Harry smiled at her. “I think we can take equal responsibility for the kiss then. I was planning on finding you when I got to the common room to tell you how I felt anyways. I am sorry it took me so long to realise it though; not all of us are sure what we want when we’re eleven years old.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. My feelings are very new.” Harry chuckled, and Ginny smiled. “Okay, maybe I wasn’t exactly subtle, but that’s not really what I meant. I’ve been waiting for you to ask me out for almost a month now, although I wouldn’t have complained if you’d done it much sooner.”

“I’ve wanted to for a long time, Ginny. I just… things are so complicated with me. I wanted to be sure, and then when I finally was sure, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t say anything while you were with Dean. I know I’ve had a couple weeks, but I- I was just too cowardly to do anything about it until- well I thought if Gryffindor won, you might get back together with him or something, and I just knew that I’d lose my chance if I didn’t say something now.”

He really was about the most modest person she’d ever met. “Harry, you’re a lot of things, but cowardly isn’t one of them.” Ginny cupped his cheek in her hand and his eyes almost closed, savouring that contact. “It doesn’t matter how long it took, I’m just glad that we both finally figured it out.” She kissed him again, to emphasise her point. When they broke apart, he looked at her like he’d remembered something.

“Er- a minute ago… you said I was a cute idiot. D’you- you think I’m cute?”

Merlin, his cluelessness made him even more attractive. She wanted to make another joke, but he seemed so genuinely surprised that she didn’t have the heart to take the mickey right at this moment.

“I said you were a very cute idiot, and I definitely meant it,” Ginny affirmed, and Harry’s blushing grin told her how happy that made him. He took her hand in his, and they slowly started walking the grounds, absently heading towards the Black Lake. Ginny looked back at him and saw that the grin hadn’t left his face. Then again, she didn’t think she’d stopped smiling since they’d kissed for the first time.

“Harry, you said you wanted to tell me how you felt when you came up to the common room. How exactly do you feel?”

They entered the shade of a tree by the lake, and Harry stopped walking, turning to face her. His eyes were still intense, Ginny noticed, but they also held a kind of honesty, a trust he was placing in her. She knew that whatever he said next, he’d be telling the truth.

“I hadn’t exactly planned out what I was going to say. There were a lot of things I wanted to say though. I- I don’t know what Ron will think of my feelings, and he’s still my best mate. Actually, I don’t know how anybody in your family would react, and they’re basically the only family I’ve got. And I know I can’t be easy to be with. I’ve got a bad habit of almost dying at least once a year, and there’s this whole… thing,” he said, waving vaguely at his scar.

“Harry-" Ginny cut him off, realising that these were all the reasons that he had been afraid to tell her. “I didn’t ask what you were going to say. Clearly you’ve given this a lot of thought, but despite all that, you still wanted to tell me. How do you feel?”

Harry looked at her almost confused, as if that was completely obvious. “Oh, I thought you knew. I like you, Ginny. A- a lot, actually. I’ve known for a long time that you’re hilarious, and for the past year or two, it’s been so easy to talk to you about stuff I don’t like talking about with anyone. And obviously, you’re like the most beautiful girl at Hogwarts. I dunno… I- I think I started feeling something more for you this summer, but I didn’t realise it. You were so brave at the Department of Mysteries, and you were there doing everything you could to protect me, as stubborn as I’d been about everything. And you’re better than me at Quidditch, which is apparently a major turn on for-” Harry clapped his hand over his mouth as his eyes bulged, and Ginny couldn’t help herself from laughing. By the time she’d calmed herself, Harry was a very bright shade of red that almost matched her hair.

Ginny took both of his hands in hers. As funny as his reaction to what he said was, she was taken aback by how easily he’d taken her heart and made it his. With just a few sentences, Harry had made her feel so seen, so appreciated, and so cared for that she knew that she was his for as long as he wanted. But he liked her sense of humour too, and Ginny felt that it would be cruel to deprive him of a very funny moment she was plotting in her mind.

“That’s… wow, Harry. If I’d known kicking your arse at Quidditch was all it would take for you to notice me, I would’ve tried out for the team three years ago.”

Harry was still blushing, but he chuckled at her joke.

“Truthfully though,” Ginny whispered conspiratorially, “I was waiting until you made Quidditch Captain. You see, there’s something about listening to a captain lecturing about strategies that really turns me on, so I guess it’s lucky for you that I didn’t join the team when Oliver was captain.”

Harry couldn’t hold in his laughter at that, and Ginny laughed with him, pleased that she was able to make him feel comfortable so quickly even though he’d been embarrassed at what he’d said.

“Merlin, Gin… I know you’re the twins’ sister, but I think you’d give them a run for their Galleons for funniest in the family,” Harry complimented her, still chuckling at her joke.

“Gin?” she asked, looking at him curiously.

“Yeah, Gin… unless, if you don’t like that, I’m more than happy to keep calling you Ginny,” Harry reassured her, looking nervous that he’d said something wrong.

Ginny smiled a little. She’d always hated people calling her anything but Ginny. Ginevra was much too old-fashioned and formal, and Gin had always felt so dismissive, like it wasn’t even worth their time to say the second syllable. But when Harry said it, there had been just as much care and feeling as when he said Ginny, and there was an air of familiarity and intimacy, as if there was a part of her, the ‘Gin’ part, that was reserved for only him to know. And Ginny really liked the sound of that.

“No… I actually really like it,” she confessed with a smile. “I’m just not used to it. I guess… just like you surprised me, a lot, with what you said you were feeling. I guess I’m not quite used to not being just Ron’s little sister with you.”

The intensity in Harry’s eyes, which hadn’t ever left, somehow caught her by surprise yet again. “You’re so much more than Ron’s little sister. You’ve been way more than that to me for a long time. And Gin, if you want… I’d really love for you to be my girlfriend.”

Ginny answered his implied question with another deep kiss, and they spent the rest of the day beneath that tree by the lake, enjoying their first afternoon together as a couple.


Today felt so similar to their first day together that Ginny struggled to bring herself back to reality. She walked hand in hand with Harry outside, just like she had that day a year ago, and as was becoming an odd new habit, she relived one of her favourite memories with Harry in the blink of an eye. As she blinked again though, she saw what had changed. The grounds were nowhere near as well-manicured as they had been. Burns and faint blood stains tarnished the green carpet. The castle behind her was scarred, with holes and crumbling stones littering its exterior. And most notably to her, the man holding her hand was not the boy she’d kissed in the Gryffindor common room. The most important parts of him- his kindness, selflessness, and bravery- were still intact, but he seemed so much older and wiser, though Ginny didn’t know how she could tell that just by looking at him. And, she realised, flushing slightly, the boy she had kissed then had been very cute and handsome, but the man she was with now was striking and, if she was being honest, incredibly desirable.

She expected him to lead her to their tree, but instead, they just walked around the grounds. But her mind, focussed again after her brief daydream, was begging to know what had happened with Kingsley and McGonagall to make Ron and Hermione look so distressed and Harry look so worn out. As if sensing the question burning in her head, Harry looked at her.

“Kingsley and McGonagall wanted to know about what had happened, how we defeated Riddle. Ron and Hermione… they’re okay,” Harry assured her.

Ginny raised an eyebrow at him and he tried his best to maintain eye contact with her, but he broke, raising the hand not holding hers, gesturing for a truce. “Okay, maybe they’re not okay right now… I know they looked kind of rough when you saw them, but they’re going to be fine.”

Ginny snorted. “A little rough? They looked like they’d seen death for Merlin’s sake.”

Harry grimaced, and Ginny frowned, puzzled at his reaction. Before she could think too long about it, Harry said, “I- I want to tell you exactly what made them look like that, but I want you to know the whole story first. I’m sure it’s driving you crazy, knowing that I’ve had to tell other people, and I am sorry. I wanted you to be the first to know everything, but things haven’t exactly worked out like that.”

Ginny shook her head. “I do want to know, Harry. But I know why you’ve had to tell the people you’ve told, and I do appreciate that you’re telling me everything. Just… don’t make me wait forever. This year has clearly shown that I’ll wait for you, but I also want us to be able to put this behind us and start living our lives as a couple, not just two people sharing stories about their time apart.”

Harry gazed at her affectionately. “I want that too, Gin. I really do. And you’re right, I don’t want to make you wait longer than I have to. So I’ll get back to it right now.”

Surprised, Ginny smiled at Harry’s willingness to talk to her even though he’d just spent an hour recounting a briefer version of the events of the past year. She was even more surprised and pleased when Harry leaned down to kiss her, his lips just barely brushing her smiling ones before he pulled away, smiling at her and starting his story again as they walked across the castle grounds.

“After Ron found us, we decided to go to see Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s dad,” Harry said. Ginny stared at him, very confused about why they would need to see him. “Dumbledore left Hermione his personal copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. There was a rune that was drawn in it that Hermione had never seen before. It was a rune that Mister Lovegood had worn around his neck at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. I remembered it because Viktor Krum was angry about it. He’d called it Grindelwald’s mark. We’d also seen it on the grave of a man named Ignotus Peverell when we were in Godric’s Hollow. Ron and Hermione were convinced that it was something important, and Mister Lovegood was the only person we could think of to ask about it.

“When we got there, he told us that mark was the symbol of the Deathly Hallows. We had no idea what that meant, so he told us the story from Beedle that the mark had been drawn on. I know Ron remembered the story, so you may too… it’s The Tale of the Three Brothers.”

Ginny nodded, remembering the story that had always confused and frightened her slightly, imagining coming face to face with Death himself. She’d preferred Babbitty Rabbitty and the Cackling Stump as a child, personally.

“So in the story, Death gives the three brothers gifts for besting him. He gave the first brother the most powerful wand ever, the Elder Wand. He gave the second brother the Resurrection Stone, capable of bringing those who have died back to our world. And the third brother received a true Invisibility Cloak.” Harry raised Ginny’s hand, opening it so that the palm faced up. On it, he traced a straight line, making her skin tingle. “Elder Wand,” he said. Then he traced a circle around the bottom half of the imaginary line. “Resurrection Stone.” Finally, he traced a triangle around his first two tracings. “Invisibility Cloak.”

“The story’s true,” Harry said plainly. Ginny blinked, furrowing her brow, certain that she’d misheard him.

Seeing her expression, Harry clarified, “I don’t know about the whole meeting Death thing. It’s probably more likely that the brothers were powerful wizards who created the objects themselves, but other than that… yeah. The brothers were real, the Peverell brothers, and the Deathly Hallows are definitely real too.”

Ginny was dumbfounded. This was a children’s fairy tale, what on earth did it have to do with any of this? And was Harry being serious? One look at his face told her that, as usual, he was being completely honest with her.

“I know it’s hard to believe… but you’ve seen me use one of the Hallows several times,” he said, looking at her meaningfully. Ginny’s jaw dropped as she realised what he meant.

“But Harry… there are lots of people with Invisibility Cloaks like yours,” she reasoned, sure there was some other explanation.

Harry shook his head. “Not like mine. Other cloaks fade or have charms on them that need to be renewed. My dad had the cloak when he was my age. It hasn’t faded, and I’ve never had to renew any charms. And my cloak can’t have spells cast on it. A Death Eater tried to summon it a few days ago and it didn’t work. No other cloak is like that. My dad was descended from Ignotus Peverell, the third brother. His grave was near my parents’ in Godric’s Hollow, and the cloak was passed through the family.”

Ginny was stunned, and still a little confused. Even if the Deathly Hallows were real and Harry owned one of them, how did that relate to what had happened this year?

Recognising her confusion, Harry spoke again. “I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s really important. Riddle was after the Elder Wand.” Ginny’s eyes widened as the story Harry had been telling reconverged with the one she’d expected. “He’d been after a new wand ever since the night I left Privet Drive. Our wands were connected because their cores came from Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix. Ollivander told me once that they were twins. Every time we fought each other, it was like our wands refused to hurt the other. In the graveyard when Riddle came back, they connected. When Riddle chased me that night I left the Dursley’s, he had a clear shot at me, but my wand acted on its own somehow, connecting with his again and breaking the wand he was using, even though it wasn’t his phoenix feather wand. I don’t really know why that happened honestly, but he was convinced that he needed a stronger wand. He started trying to find out what happened to the Elder Wand.

“Hermione told us that throughout history, there were stories of extra powerful wands. All those wands were the same wand under different names. They were all the Elder Wand. Riddle was able to trace the wand to a wandmaker named Gregorovitch. He found Gregorovitch, who told him that Grindelwald had stolen it a long time ago. Grindelwald became extremely powerful with it, until he was defeated by Dumbledore, who took the Elder Wand for himself.”

Ginny gasped, realising just how close this story was now hitting to home. Then she started working things out in her mind. “But if the wand changes hands when its previous master is defeated… that means that Snape was the master of the Elder Wand since he killed Dumbledore?”

She was surprised to see Harry shake his head. “Before Snape killed Dumbledore, Malfoy disarmed him. To the wand, that counts as its previous master being defeated, and even though nobody knew it, Malfoy had become the master of the Elder Wand.”

Ginny’s jaw dropped again, shocked that Malfoy, of all people, had managed that. Harry nodded, clearly agreeing with her. “The thing is, Riddle didn’t understand how the wand worked. He thought that if he had the wand, it would be his. So he stole the wand from Dumbledore’s tomb.” Ginny frowned, disturbed but not surprised that Riddle would rob graves to get what he wanted.

“Luna had been kidnapped by the Death Eaters,” Harry continued, “And Mister Lovegood was desperate to get her back. He notified them while we were at his house, and we barely escaped without the Death Eaters seeing Ron or killing us. Hermione was smart enough to remember that Ron was supposed to be in bed with spattergroit since your family would’ve been in danger if he’d been seen.”

Ginny could hardly believe that Luna’s dad had tried to sell the three of them out. He’d always seemed so supportive of Harry. Even if he missed Luna, she wouldn’t have wanted him to do that for her. She cared too much about her friends.

“We spent months looking everywhere we could think of for Horcruxes. Diagon Alley, Borgin and Burkes, his old orphanage. We even talked about going to Albania. Eventually, we were looking in Wizarding places that had nothing to do with Riddle that we knew of. We were so lost, constantly paranoid, and on the run from Snatchers. We had no idea what was going on in the world until we were able to tune into Lee’s radio show one night near Easter. After the show was over, we were talking, and I slipped up. I said Voldemort, and Snatchers were there immediately. Hermione disguised my face with a Stinging Jinx, but they realised who Ron and Hermione were and took the three of us to Malfoy Manor.”

Ginny shuddered, having some idea of where this story was going. But even though she knew, it didn’t make hearing it any easier, especially considering Harry’s eyes had narrowed as he remembered what had happened there, and she knew this was probably one more thing he blamed himself for. Ginny suddenly realised that they were near their tree, so she tugged on Harry’s hand, pulling him into the shade. They leaned back, side by side, against the tree, and Ginny absently caressed the engraving Harry had made as he began talking again.

“They wanted to call Riddle, but they were afraid he’d be angry if they were wrong. They asked Draco if he could identify us, but he said he wasn’t sure if it was me. It didn’t matter. They’d decided to summon him anyway since Ron and Hermione were there and I still looked somewhat like me. Just before they did though, Bellatrix saw the Sword of Gryffindor. One of the Snatchers had taken it from our tent. She went mad, stunning all of them. The sword was supposed to be in her vault at Gringotts, but it was a fake. We’d overheard a goblin telling some wizards on the run that the goblins knew it was a fake but didn’t say anything since she never asked. Bellatrix was panicked that if Riddle found out that someone had been in her vault, he’d kill her. She needed answers so she sent Ron and I to the cellar while she- she tortured Hermione.”

Ginny exhaled sharply, squeezing Harry’s hand and trying not to imagine the pain Hermione dealt with being tortured by that evil bitch. Harry squeezed her hand just as tightly before continuing.

“Ollivander, Luna, Dean, and the goblin we’d overheard, Griphook, were all in the cellar. Ron was throwing himself at the walls, trying to get to her. They’d taken all our wands, and I was looking for anything I could do to get help. I don’t know why I did it, but I found the fragment of the two-way mirror Sirius had given me. I’d never used it, but it was supposed to let us talk to each other like the other one was in the mirror. I thought I saw Dumbledore in it for a moment, so I told him where we were and that we needed help. Almost immediately, Dobby apparated into the cellar. He took Ollivander, Luna, and Dean to Shell Cottage, but Bellatrix had started interrogating Griphook too.

“They heard Dobby apparating from upstairs, so they sent Peter Pettigrew to see what was going on. Ron and I jumped him, but he started choking me with his metal hand. I reminded him that I’d saved his life the night Sirius and Remus wanted to kill him in third year and asked if that was how he was going to repay me. He released me, and the hand strangled him instead… I think because he showed me mercy. Ron and I went upstairs, right as Griphook had assured Bellatrix that the one she was holding was the fake and the real one was in her vault. That satisfied her, so she called Riddle and told Fenrir Greyback that he could have Hermione. Ron disarmed Bellatrix and I stunned Lucius Malfoy, but then Bellatrix had a knife and was holding it to Hermione’s neck. We gave up our wands, and Riddle was on his way.

“Suddenly, the chandelier fell. Bellatrix jumped out of the way and it fell on Hermione and Griphook. Dobby had done it to cause a distraction. Everyone was so surprised, I took the chance to pull the wands Draco had taken out of his hands and stunned Greyback. We all disapparated right before Riddle arrived. But…” Harry’s voice quivered and Ginny pressed herself into an embrace under his arm, trying to comfort him as much as she could, knowing that he was about to tell her what had happened to Dobby.

Harry took a breath, still holding Ginny tightly to him. “Bellatrix threw the knife at us as we disapparated, and she hit Dobby. He- he died in my arms at Shell Cottage.”

Ginny saw a tear run down his face. Even after he’d lived through so much death around him, he still was so affected by it, even when it was a house elf who died. There were so many witches and wizards who wouldn’t have been bothered by that, but not Harry. The man she loved was so deeply compassionate that he couldn’t fail to be affected by death. She pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek, sitting with him in silence until he was ready to continue talking.

After a few moments, Harry said in a trembling voice, “We buried him near the cottage. Bill told us that they’d gotten your family into hiding after Ron had been seen with me, and at least that was one small bit of good news, but we needed to talk to Ollivander and Griphook. Ollivander tried to explain to us how wand loyalty worked, but it still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. He said that he felt that the wands we had stolen would be loyal to us. I guess I forgot to mention that when we escaped from Godric’s Hollow at Christmas, one of Hermione’s curses ricocheted off the snake and destroyed my wand. We tried to fix it, but there wasn’t anything we could do, at least until a couple days ago. I’d been using a wand Ron had stolen off a Snatcher when he was separated from us, but we’d left that one and Hermione’s at Malfoy Manor and needed new ones to use. Anyways, Ollivander confirmed our suspicions about Riddle looking for the Elder Wand and taking it from Dumbledore’s tomb.

“We also needed to get into Gringotts. After seeing how Bellatrix had reacted to the idea of someone being in her vault, I started thinking more about it. I realised that when I first found out I was a wizard, one of the things that signified that I belonged was that I had a vault at Gringotts. Riddle never had one of those, and I think he would’ve really wanted one when he was young. Besides, it’s the safest place in the world, so what better place to hide a piece of his soul? We convinced Griphook to help us break in in exchange for us giving him the Sword of Gryffindor.”

Harry paused, looking at something on the other side of Ginny. She turned around and saw Hagrid walking back to his house.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you… Hagrid wanted to see both of us before we left tomorrow,” Harry said a little sheepishly.

Ginny sat up. “Why didn’t you say so? Honestly Potter, it’s like your priorities are all confused,” she said, shaking her head disappointedly. She knew he’d tell her more of the story when he could, and she was very interested to hear how they’d managed to fly on a dragon out of Gringotts.

Harry grinned at her. “Sorry Blaze, but I disagree. I know exactly what my top priority is.” Before Ginny could respond, he was kissing her, caressing her side as she leaned up into him to deepen the kiss. She ran her hand along his stomach, feeling the toned muscles underneath his shirt, wondering somewhere in her mind when the scrawny first year she’d seen at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters had turned into a man.

Before she could answer that question, Harry pulled back, and Ginny remembered what he’d said before he kissed her. “So… what’s your top priority?” Ginny asked breathlessly.

“Oh, well that’s not a secret. It’s Hagrid. That’s why we have to go see him!”

Ginny gaped at him, shocked that he’d been the one to make a joke in a really romantic moment instead of her. He laughed at her reaction but took pity on her because he leaned close to her ear and goose pimples ran up her arms. “It’s you, Gin. It’ll always be you,” he whispered before kissing that spot right underneath her ear that he was getting very good at finding.

She loved him. That was irrefutable. Every word he said, every look he gave, every thing he did confirmed that. She thought he loved her too, but much like when she waited for him to ask her out last year, he needed to be the one to say it first. She was sure of her feelings, and she wasn’t keeping it from him because she felt like she owed it to herself to make Harry say it first. She just wanted the relationship to move on his time. After everything he’d been through in his life, losing so many people that he’d loved, he deserved to be the one to decide when the right moment was. He’d tell her when he was ready, and she could wait. She did have a lot of practice, after all. She’d wait until he told her he loved her, and she’d be ready to say it back and say it forever.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG

Honestly, Harry was grateful for the distraction that was provided when he remembered that Hagrid wanted to see him and Ginny. He still found it very easy to talk to Ginny about what he’d done in the last year. Even when he told her about Dobby, she made the pain of the memories bearable. Despite that, Harry knew the story was getting into even more uncomfortable territory, as he’d soon be telling her about Gringotts, how they ended up at Hogwarts, and what had happened that led him to the Forbidden Forest. As much as he trusted her, he worried that she’d be upset or angry that he’d walked to his death without telling her bye. He wouldn’t have hid it anyways, but it didn’t make things easier knowing that she knew Harry had walked past her that night.

That was a problem for another day though. To this point, Ginny had been unfailingly supportive, and Harry would have to continue trusting that. If he couldn’t, what was the point of any of it? Besides, the way Ginny was gasping as he kissed her neck was enough proof that she didn’t want to be anywhere else, regardless of everything Harry had told her to this point.

Giving her ear a final nibble, he raised his head up so he was looking down at her again. Her eyes remained closed for a couple more seconds before slowly fluttering open and gazing warmly at him. She smiled dreamily at him, and Harry was seized with the urge to forget about going to Hagrid’s because really, what could be more important than this?

Before he could act on that impulse, Ginny whispered, “Hagrid is definitely my top priority too.” Her smile widened into an impish grin and she kissed Harry’s nose before she sat up. Harry grinned too, staring back at her, wondering for the thousandth time how he’d gotten so lucky.

After a moment, Ginny raised an eyebrow at him, jerking him back to reality. “Oh, right. Hagrid… we should definitely go see Hagrid,” Harry said, trying his best to act like he wouldn’t rather stay here with her.

He was pretty sure Ginny could read his mind when she said, “Yes we should… but let’s come back here tonight after dinner. We’re leaving tomorrow, and I could do with another good memory at our tree before we leave.”

Harry’s mind wandered as he imagined what kinds of good memories they could make under their tree. Ginny suddenly kissed him quickly, and he leaned forward as she moved back from him, not letting him continue the kiss. He groaned and opened his eyes, trying his best to look annoyed.

“That’s just a preview,” Ginny whispered wickedly. “If you want the rest, you’re going to have to beat me to Hagrid’s!” She sprung up and started running down to the gamekeeper’s hut. She looked so cheerful with that childish grin on her face and her hair streaming behind her that Harry almost forgot to chase her. Even though she had a head start, Harry’s legs were longer, and he caught up to her just feet before the door to Hagrid’s hut. He stretched his hand out as if reaching for a Snitch and touched the door an instant before her.

“Easy,” Harry managed to get out in between gasps. Ginny folded her arms and tried to look agitated that she’d lost, but Harry couldn’t help noticing how sexy she looked with her face glowing a bright red and sweat beading around her hairline. Her hair had become messy and windswept and with her arms crossed, the curves of her chest swelled and moved in time with her heavy breathing. Mesmerised, Harry looked back at her eyes, which were blazing even as she smirked at him, and Harry knew that he’d been staring.

“My eyes are up here, Potter,” she said as if she was offended, but the way she was looking at Harry told him that she also liked the way he looked right now, even if Harry didn’t understand how. Her eyes were blazing with that passion and desire that excited Harry so much that he almost couldn’t breathe.

The only thing he could think to say was “You’re so beautiful, Gin.”

“I know that’s so not true right now,” Ginny chuckled, but she slowly stopped smiling as Harry’s expression hadn’t changed. He thought she looked perfect right now. “Wait, you’re serious?” Ginny asked, looking at him like she was surprised that he thought that.

Harry was a little confused. “Well yeah, I mean… you’re always beautiful. But- I dunno, you just look really good right now too,” he explained lamely, in his opinion.

Ginny slowly beamed at him. “You really are good with compliments, you know? Even if you don’t always realise it.”

Relieved, Harry smiled back at her, thankful that he’d said the right thing to show her how he felt. “What can I say, I’m magic,” he whispered, taking a step towards her to give her a kiss.

That progress was stopped as his knee buckled and he collapsed. The pain in his legs that he’d been ignoring seemed to have caught up to him after that run, and they refused to hold him any longer. He fell face first in front of Ginny, catching himself on his elbows. Shit. That hurt.

Ginny gasped and knelt down next to Harry, rolling him over so she could look at him. With the sun right over her head, Harry thought she looked like an angel, and for a moment, he wondered if he was dreaming. Then he tried to move, and the pain in his legs reminded him that he was definitely still awake.

“Harry… Harry! Are you okay?” Ginny asked frantically as she checked him for injuries.

“Fine, Gin,” Harry said tightly. “A little wobbly is all. I’ll be fine, just need to get back up- damn!” He exclaimed as Ginny touched one of his newly scraped elbows. Ginny looked back at him with concern evident on her face and Harry realised that she was probably terrified for him.

He took a deep breath and took her hand in his. “Okay, I’m not fine,” he admitted. “My legs have been bothering me since I woke up yesterday, but I thought they’d start feeling better soon. And now my arms hurt after falling like that.”

Ginny pressed her lips together. “We need to take you to see Madam Pomfrey.”

“She’s probably dealing with a lot of people who were injured in the battle. I just have an ache in my legs, I don’t need to bother her right now.”

“You stubborn berk, your health matters too!” Ginny almost shouted at him. Harry’s eyes widened and Ginny clapped her hand over her mouth.

“Harry, I-” Ginny began but Harry squeezed her hand, shaking his head.

“No, you’re right,” he said quietly, knowing that she was likely having visions of his body lying at Voldemort’s feet when he collapsed. “I can be a stubborn berk, more often than anyone calls me out on it. I need to remember that- well, I guess… if I can’t take care of myself for me, I want to do it for you. After everything… I can do that.”

Ginny’s breathing evened, and she bent down, kissing Harry softly on his forehead. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Harry smiled up at her. “Anything for you, Gin.”

Hagrid’s door swung open loudly, causing both Harry and Ginny to start, looking to see the source of the loud thump. Hagrid stood over them, looking curiously down at them. Slowly, he started grinning and chuckling to himself. Harry looked at Ginny, bewildered at what could be tickling Hagrid this much. She shrugged at him, clearly confused as well.

Hagrid’s rumbling laughter slowly subsided and, wiping tears from his eyes, he said, “Y’know, there’s loads o’ more private places up in the castle than on my doorstep.”

Harry blushed, but Ginny gaped. “Hagrid! We weren’t doing anything! We were coming to see you, but Harry’s hurt.”

“Wha’ d’you mean he’s hurt?” Hagrid asked, at once looking very concerned.

“It’s not a big deal, Hagrid,” Harry assured him, but seeing Ginny glaring at him, he quickly amended his statement. “I’m just having some trouble standing. Just- just carry me inside and we’ll visit with you for a while, and then I promise I’ll go see Madam Pomfrey,” he said, looking at Ginny. Ginny hesitated for a moment before nodding reluctantly.

“If yeh say so,” Hagrid said, bending down to pick up Harry. Harry was suddenly very aware of the fact that Hagrid had carried him almost exactly like this just a few days earlier, and judging by Ginny’s face, that hadn’t escaped her either. Hagrid carried Harry inside, setting him down in one of the large wooden chairs in the middle of the room. Ginny sat down next to him, and Harry took her hand in his, squeezing it while smiling at her comfortingly.

“I’m right here,” he whispered to her. Ginny nodded, still looking a little upset but better than she had a moment earlier.

Harry turned to look at Hagrid and saw him smiling widely at the two of them. “‘Bout time the two o’ yeh got back together,” he said affectionately.

Ginny smiled softly, glancing at Harry. Harry smiled at her. “I did my best to get back together with her as soon as possible, Hagrid.”

“Oh I know tha’... I’m jus’ sayin’ you two look a mighty sight better together’n yeh did apar’.”

Visibly pleased, Ginny asked, “How did you know we were back together anyways, Hagrid?”

Hagrid chucked. “It may be a battlefiel’ now, but Hogwarts still has a fair bit o’ gossip. And you're both pretty popular ‘round here. Professor McGonagall saw the two o’ you after the battle. Said yeh both seemed right glad ter be… well, she said in snoggin’ range.”

Harry’s eyes widened as his jaw dropped. “McGonagall said that?”

Hagrid laughed loudly seeing their shocked reactions. “Surprised me too. I reckon she was in a bit o’ a state after ev’rythin’ and it slipped out. She did seem pleased ‘bout it though.”

“So Professor McGonagall was happy to see us snogging after the battle?” Ginny asked incredulously.

“Well, I wouldn’ say it like tha’. I reckon she’s jus’ thinkin’ what ev’ryone who knows you two is. You kids have deal’ with so much, yeh deserve ter be happy,” Hagrid responded, smiling at both of them again.

Ginny grinned at Harry, who grinned right back. “Well I’m very happy,” he said, not taking his eyes off her.

“Not as happy as me,” Ginny said with a wink to him.

Hagrid chuckled. “Tell yeh what though. Wish I could go back ter tell li’l Ginny Weasley that she’d end up with the boy she couldn’ stop talkin’ ‘bout ev’ry time she’d come ter visit me.”

Harry’s eyebrows raised as Ginny blushed considerably. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Hagrid,” she said, growing redder by the second.

“‘s not like it was ever a secret Ginny. Dunno a girl who was more obvious ‘bout what she wanted. And it worked out fer yeh didn’ it? Anyways, I was happy to spen’ the time with you, even if I coulda gone without hearin’ so much ‘bout how handsome and brave Harry was,'' Hagrid chuckled again.

Harry didn’t know how it was possible, but Ginny’s face got even redder. Harry squeezed her hand but couldn’t resist. “So… handsome and brave, huh?” he asked with a grin.

She shot a look over at him that likely would’ve withered any of her brothers but only added fuel to Harry’s fire for her. “Shut it Potter, or you won’t have any legs for Madam Pomfrey to check.”

Harry widened his eyes in mock fear, miming zipping his lips before winking at her. She snorted and rolled her eyes, but the red in her face slowly started fading away. Satisfied, Harry turned to look at Hagrid, who was smiling at them again.

“You’re one to talk about Ginny being obsessed with me, Hagrid. I seem to remember hearing something on the radio in March about you having a ‘Support Harry Potter’ party. Know anything about that?” Harry asked, raising an eyebrow even as he grinned at his friend.

Hagrid looked surprised that Harry had heard about that. Hagrid’s eyes shifted quickly towards Ginny, but Ginny just shrugged and nodded slightly, seemingly making a point to not look quite in Harry’s direction.

“Hagrid?” Harry asked, more seriously this time, wondering what that exchange had been about.

Hagrid thought for a moment before responding. “Sorry ter disappoin’ yeh Harry, but I was only part o’ the plan for tha’ party. Course, I took the blame when the Carrows found out ‘bout it, spent two months hidin’ with Grawpy up in a cave. But it wasn’ jus me tha’ put it together.”

“Oh… well then who-” Harry stopped as he realised who would’ve really been behind it, even if she still wasn’t really looking at him.

“Well, Ginny came ter me ‘round the middle o’ February an’ said she thought we should do summat to keep spirits ‘round here up. It was righ’ gloomy here the whole year, an’ I reckoned she was righ’ abou’ needin’ ter do summat. We figured we’d throw a party ter remind folks tha’ you were still out there, tha’ yeh hadn’ been caught, tha’ we were still fightin’ for summat.”

Ginny finally looked at Harry with glassy eyes, but her expression was resolute. She sat up straight and raised her head, and Harry realised that she was broken inside, much like him, but despite that, she was still the strong girl he’d fallen so hard for a year ago. Her strength had matured, like she understood the consequences demanded by true strength and bravery, and even though it left emotional damage, she was still proud and strong. He was very glad that some things hadn’t changed.

“I see…” Harry said cautiously, not taking his eyes off Ginny but doing his best not to make her feel like she had to say anything.

“It’d been six months since Remus had told us the three of you were safe,” Ginny said slowly, seemingly considering her words carefully. “There’d been rumours after that. A lot of people thought you broke into the Ministry in September, some people swore they’d seen a glimpse of you in Diagon Alley or another wizarding village, and there were even more people that were convinced that you’d fled the country with Hermione.”

Harry started to open his mouth to protest this ridiculous rumour that he was sure had been thrown in Ginny’s face in the past year, but she just shook her head.

“I knew that was the furthest thing from the truth, and so did everyone who actually knew you. But there wasn’t anything for us to go on. Things were getting worse here, and we needed something to bring spirits up. I spent quite a bit of time with Hagrid this year when I wasn’t with the D.A. and the grounds were open. They’d close the grounds for weeks at a time as punishment after our D.A. stunts. They’d cancelled the previous Hogsmeade weekends, but for some reason, they gave us the one in the middle of February, but I just… didn’t want to go to Hogsmeade, so I came down to Hagrid’s, and we made a plan to have a party a couple weeks later.”

“It was a brillian’ party too,” Hagrid added on. “I prob’ly wasn’ the bes’ example, but the kids deserved it. Rosmerta helped me smuggle in plenty of Butterbeer, and I set it all up in here. Tha’ house-elf tha’ took a likin’ ter yeh, Harry… Dobby? He even had a bunch o’ balls with yer face on ‘em, so we hung those up all ‘round here ter celebrate. We musta had almos’ fifty students packed in here!” Hagrid beamed proudly, as if he didn’t almost die for hosting this party.

The mention of Dobby made Harry smile slightly, even if he was saddened as he remembered how his friend had been so excited to decorate the D.A. room for Christmas a couple years ago. Of course Dobby had done a great job decorating for a Harry Potter-themed party. Something else was bothering Harry, but he put it aside for now. “How did you get caught then?”

“After the party, the castle felt alive for the first time this year. We’d lowered the age to third years for the D.A. out of necessity, so the younger students had been left out of the D.A. and now the party. The kids and the teachers could tell that something had happened, but they didn’t know what it was since there wasn’t an obvious thing the D.A. had done. I don’t know why, but a third year Ravenclaw thought he’d gloat over his younger brother that he’d gotten to go to the only party at Hogwarts this year. His brother told everyone in his dormitory about the party, and everyone who didn’t know found out within a day, including the Carrows.” Ginny’s face darkened as she said this.

“I caught wind o’ folks talkin’ ‘bout the party, so I told the firs’ years I heard talkin’ tha’ it was a party I’d done meself. I hoped the Carrows would hear tha’ an’ jus’ blame me fer it. When they heard, they tried ter attack me, but I got away and went up ter the mountains with Grawpy. Came back when we heard You-Know-Who at Hogwarts the other day,” Hagrid explained.

“That was really brave, Hagrid,” Harry said honestly, thankful that his friend had done what he could to protect Ginny and the other students of the D.A. Hagrid turned a little red at this but nodded. Harry turned to look at Ginny, who’d started looking into Hagrid’s flickering fire. Probably best not to say anything more about it now, Harry decided.

“Blimey, I can’ believe I never even offered the two o’ yeh summat to eat!” Hagrid exclaimed. He stood up quickly to get them some of his even-more-stale-than-usual rock cakes. While he was gathering them, Harry smiled a little at Ginny, and she raised an eyebrow at him, glancing at his legs. He patted them both as if to emphasise that they were still attached, and she rolled her eyes at him. But when he grinned at her, she finally smiled back.

Harry and Ginny spent a couple of hours with Hagrid, reminiscing about simpler times when they were younger. Harry was disappointed that Ginny refused to allow Hagrid to mention anything more about her childhood crush, but he had to admit that it felt great to be doing something like this that felt normal. Eventually though, Harry caught sight of the time and realised they’d be needing to get up to the castle soon for dinner. After some crushing hugs, they told Hagrid goodbye and promised that they’d be visiting over the summer. Then, they left the gamekeeper’s hut and began on the pathway back to Hogwarts.

Harry still felt the pain in his legs, but he could manage to walk, although Ginny insisted on supporting some of his weight, pulling one of Harry’s arms over her shoulders. She was definitely much stronger than her small size suggested, he knew, so he willingly let her help him, knowing that it would make her feel better too.

“Did Hagrid’s plan work?” Harry asked as they started walking.

“Hmmm?” Ginny looked over at him, unsure what he meant.

“About keeping everyone out of trouble by taking the blame for the party. Did it work?”

Ginny opened her mouth, then closed it again. She sighed. “Kind of. They probably would’ve been more thorough with investigations and punishments if Hagrid hadn’t done what he did. But… well it wasn’t a secret that the party was about you. The Carrows figured I must’ve had something to do with it. I got off lighter than I could’ve though. A couple rounds of the Cruciatus and a night in the dungeons. And Alecto cut my hair again. This time, I didn’t get the hair growth potion until I got home for Easter, so my family found out about some of what was going on. I tried to lie about how bad it was, but I don’t know that they would’ve let me come back even if we didn’t have to go into hiding. But that party was the last straw for the Carrows. The thing with Amycus and Sam Collins happened a few days after Hagrid left, and that was when they snapped and started trying to kill the people who crossed them.”

Harry wanted to hit something, or more specifically, someone. The Cruciatus he’d cast on Amycus Carrow didn’t seem like anywhere near punishment enough as he learned more about the Carrows’ reign of terror in Hogwarts. And although Ginny had glossed over it, it hadn’t escaped Harry’s attention that she was punished for being his girlfriend all year, even though she’d made it sound earlier like her activities with the D.A. were what got her in trouble most of the year. It made him feel awful, but he knew that expressing that wouldn’t make anything better. They were together now; that was all that mattered. Although, there was still something else that he was wondering about.

“That Hogsmeade weekend you skipped… it was over Valentine’s Day wasn’t it?” Harry asked, glancing over at her to see her eyes narrow and lips tighten.

“Erm… yeah I think it was,” Ginny said casually.

Harry nodded. “I spent the entire day alone. I told Ron and Hermione to quit talking about bloody Horcruxes for once and bugger off for the day. I think Ron was pretty pissed off at me, but Hermione calmed him down. She understood. I wish we hadn’t even known what day it was, but after Godric’s Hollow, we made a calendar so we wouldn’t lose track again. So I spent the day alternating between brooding in bed and practising duelling imaginary Death Eaters in a clearing we’d camped in while they just kept their distance. The next day, Hermione told me that Ron had figured out why I’d been like that, and even though he wasn’t going to say anything about it, we were okay. Apparently I’d been… saying some girl’s name in my sleep that whole night or something barmy like that, and he finally understood why the fourteenth of February set me off like that,” Harry confessed, not even embarrassed at all because he knew that she understood.

He hadn’t even realised they’d stopped walking, but Ginny was now facing him, peering up at him through sad, brown eyes. There weren’t any tears in them though, and as Ginny pulled him into a tight hug, he knew it was because they were together now, and just like he’d remembered moments earlier, that was what mattered.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG

“We never even had a Valentine’s together. Or anything really. After the first few months you were gone, I’d start having dreams that I’d imagined the whole thing because it had happened so quickly. But when I’d wake up, I’d know that it was the realest thing I had in my life. But Valentine’s Day was too hard. That was one of the only times that I felt like it hadn’t been real when I was awake. Because that should’ve been our first Valentine’s Day as a couple, and this should’ve been our first year together. Hagrid understood why I was at his hut, without me ever mentioning what day it was. He spent a lot of time trying to cheer me up, telling me funny stories about you. When he told me that you’d been happier those weeks we were together than he’d ever seen you, I said I wished you could be here. Everyone would’ve been so uplifted and excited to see you, especially me. It was Hagrid’s idea to have the party since that was the next best thing.”

Now it was Harry’s turn to pull her into a hug, which Ginny gratefully accepted, always feeling safer in his arms. She looked up at him, and he was smiling down at her.

“I really wish we could’ve had this past year, that things could’ve been different and easier. But I’m just so happy to be with you finally that it almost doesn’t matter. It’s like I- I finally get a chance to live life the way I want, and you’re at the centre of it,” he said, gazing at her adoringly.

Ginny just had to reward that. She pulled him down into a deep kiss that was only interrupted when Professor Sprout coughed loudly as she passed them, walking up to the castle from the greenhouses. Pulling apart, Ginny smiled back up at Harry.

“So… what was the name of this girl you were dreaming about on Valentine’s Day, Mister Potter?” Ginny asked seriously.

Harry pondered her question. “I can’t remember… it was something like Jennifer or Jenna or… oh! Jenny! It was definitely Jenny!”

Ginny punched him in the shoulder. “You’re a real arsehole sometimes. Let’s see if this Jenny can help you walk up to the castle then.”

She made like she was going to step away from Harry, but he pulled her tightly to him. “Nah, she’s imaginary so she wouldn’t be a lot of help. I definitely prefer a woman with real hands, real arms, a real back…” Harry’s hands started drifting down her back suggestively, and Ginny had to laugh now.

“If you’re suggesting that the only reason you’re with me is because my bum is real and Jenny’s isn’t, I’m slightly insulted. But I am rather proud of my bum, so I can’t blame you too much, I suppose.”

“You should be, it’s fantastic,” Harry commented, grinning as he pinched her there quickly. Ginny rolled her eyes but laughed with him again, honestly a little impressed by his boldness. “Really though,” Harry continued as they finished their walk to the castle, “Jenny’s way too selfish. She’d never drag me to the Hospital Wing because she was worried about my health.”

Ginny grinned. “Then I guess I’ll be grateful that Jenny would be a terrible girlfriend for you because you get hurt so often, you need a girlfriend willing to spend time in the hospital.”

Harry snorted, “That was actually the first requirement in the job description. I realised you’d be a good candidate when I saw how much time you spent in the Hospital Wing after the Department of Mysteries.”

Ginny gaped at him, almost forgetting their banter. “That better not be the first time you realised you had feelings for me, Potter.”

Harry laughed yet again. “I was just joking, Gin. Maybe I’ll tell you the real story one day,” he thought aloud. Ginny raised her eyebrows at him, but he just shook his head. “One day, I promise. It’ll definitely disappoint you though, just so you’re warned. But we’re here now, so let’s get this over with.” He gestured at the door for emphasis, and Ginny sighed, annoyed but resigned to not knowing just yet that tidbit of information that Harry had dangled in front of her.

They entered the Hospital Wing but were surprised to find that there weren’t any patients in the room. Madam Pomfrey walked out from her office when they entered, and she shook her head when she saw Ginny supporting Harry.

“I should’ve expected this just after I sent the last of the patients to St. Mungo’s. What’s happened to you now?” Pomfrey asked sternly while gesturing over to a bed.

Ginny walked him over to the bed, and as he sat down on it, he responded, “Honestly, it’s not anything nearly as bad as what I’m usually in here for. I’ve just been having pain in my legs for the past couple days, and I collapsed earlier today.”

Madam Pomfrey clucked her tongue as she began examining him. She used her wand to cast a diagnostic spell while she felt both of his legs, testing their reflexes and feeling for any obvious abnormalities. When her diagnostics concluded, her wand projected a display of runes and numbers that Ginny couldn’t make any sense out of. Granted, she’d never taken Ancient Runes. She did notice the confused look on Madam Pomfrey’s face though, but she suspected that didn’t have anything to do with translation issues.

Surprisingly, Pomfrey turned and spoke to Ginny instead of Harry. “I’m sorry, but could you wait outside for a moment?”

Ginny narrowed her eyes, angered at the matron for suggesting that she shouldn’t be here for something like this. Harry clearly agreed with her, and he started to protest, but Madam Pomfrey interrupted him. “Mister Potter, as romantically involved as the two of you are, she is not your legal family, and I have sensitive medical issues to discuss with you. You are free to share them with her after we conclude if you wish, but for now, it must be just you.”

Harry looked at Ginny, who nodded reluctantly, not seeing a way around Pomfrey. That didn’t make her any less angry though. “I’ll be right outside. Come get me as soon as you’re done,” she said impatiently to Pomfrey. Ginny squeezed Harry’s hand before standing up and exiting the Hospital Wing, standing just outside the doors.

One day, things wouldn’t be this difficult, she knew. It was annoying, and a little insulting if she was being honest, but there wasn’t much they could do about it now. Ginny waited for about fifteen minutes, passing the time by impatiently pacing back and forth until the large wooden door creaked open. Pomfrey stood there, holding it open, and, Ginny noticed, looking considerably paler than she had before.

Ginny sat next to Harry, who was now laying in his bed. “What’s going on?” she asked.

Harry rolled his eyes. “She’s making me stay here overnight, and she’s gonna give me some potion that should keep the pain from coming back.”

“But what’s making your legs like this?” Ginny pressed.

“Pomfrey thinks it’s a combination of things. I didn’t tell her about the Horcruxes or anything, but she can tell that my body’s been exposed to some Dark Magic. Apparently that’s affecting my nervous system, and my body’s supposedly starting to catch up to the fact that it’s not in constant danger anymore. She thinks I’m starting to feel a lot of pain that my body’s covered up for the past year that we’ve been on the run, if not longer. The only reason that my legs are the only place the pain is in right now is I just use my legs more than my arms or other parts of my body, but if it didn’t get treated, she said the pain would’ve eventually gone everywhere. So I have you to thank for saving me from that.”

Ginny smiled softly at him, pleased that he saw at least some of the benefit of taking care of himself, and she was even more pleased that he was thankful for her. It felt childlike almost. Of course he was thankful for her- she was his girlfriend for Merlin’s sake. But that didn’t make it feel any less special when he actually did say it.

Pomfrey walked in with a goblet full of steaming orange potion. “As we discussed, Mister Potter. Drink this immediately, and it should start repairing your nerves so you don’t experience any more of the pain.”

Harry took the goblet and drained the potion, gagging as he finished what was surely a foul-tasting concoction. It was a shame, Ginny thought, that all the most effective potions tended to taste horrendously.

“Will the potion make him fall asleep?” she asked the matron.

“It should start making him drowsy in about an hour,” Pomfrey responded.

Ginny nodded, looking down at Harry. “I’m gonna go to the Great Hall and make a plate of food for you then, so you can eat before you fall asleep. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Harry must’ve been feeling worse than he’d been letting on, which wouldn’t be any surprise knowing him, because he didn’t even suggest that he didn’t need her to do that from him. He just leaned into her as she kissed his forehead before she left, hurrying down to the Great Hall.

Her family was already there, so she sat down next to Hermione, filling two plates with roast chicken and potatoes. She made sure to give Harry two helpings of treacle tart, while she took a Honeydukes chocolate bar for herself, surprised to see the product in Hogwarts when she’d never seen it at a dinner here before.

“Ginny, dear, where’s Harry?” her mum called across the table. Immediately, every member of the Weasleys was looking at her.

“Oh, um… well, I’m bringing him dinner because he’s- he’s in the Hospital Wing,” she said as calmly as she could.

Naturally, everyone started panicking, standing up to go check on him. Exasperated with her overprotective family, Ginny jumped on top of the bench.

“Oi!” she shouted. That got her family’s attention. Actually, that got the attention of most of the Great Hall, Ginny realised as the room quietened substantially. Looking back at her family, she stepped off the bench and started talking to them as the noise levels gradually rose again in the hall.

“Harry’s okay. He’d been having pains in his legs for the past couple days, and he collapsed a few hours ago because his legs couldn’t support him anymore. Pomfrey’s already given him a potion. She said that his body has been dealing with a lot of exhaustion and strain for the past year and even longer, and it’s all catching up to him now that he’s not running from or fighting anything. She also said that Harry had been exposed to some of Riddle’s Dark Magic, which didn’t help anything with his legs. It’s a good thing I got him to go when he did though; she said the pain would’ve continued spreading if he’d waited much longer.”

Ginny pretended not to notice the distressed expression on Bill’s face when she mentioned Dark Magic or the look Ron and Hermione had exchanged. Probably something else she was still in the dark on, for now at least.

Ginny continued, “The potion’s gonna make him fall asleep in like… forty-five minutes. If you lot stampede up there, he’s not going to have time to eat and relax before it kicks in. I’ll let him know you’re all worried about him, and you can come check on him later, after he falls asleep, if you have to. Otherwise, he should be better in the morning.”

“Damn sis, when did you become such a domestic girlfriend? You sound like his nurse,” Charlie asked as the family sat down, appeased for now.

“When did you start caring enough about my boyfriend to want to run up to the Hospital Wing to check on him?” Ginny countered.

Charlie grinned. “Hey, there’s only one Chosen One. The thing he was chosen for may be over now, but who knows when he could come in handy again? Gotta make sure nothing happens to The Boy Who Lived, y’know?”

“Technically, I believe there’s still a ten thousand Galleon bounty on his head,” Percy mused. “I doubt the Ministry’s gotten around to doing the paperwork to remove it.”

“Ten thousand Galleons? Bloody hell Ginny, you could buy a much more attractive boyfriend with that kind of money,” George said. The family was surprised once again that he was talking. It seemed that he’d only talk when Harry or Ginny was around for some reason, and it clearly was bothering her mother.

“I’d rather just have the ten thousand Galleons in Gringotts if I was collecting the reward. But I have to admit that I’m quite satisfied with the attractiveness of my current boyfriend, scar and all,” Ginny joked back to her older brother.

Ron looked up curiously at her. “Wait… d’you know-”

Bill cut him off, “Of course she knows that he’s a regular visitor to the Hospital Wing. Probably hoping someone will finish him off and he’ll leave her his Gringotts vault,” he said, winking at Ginny.

She rolled her eyes, but she didn’t miss the meaningful look Bill gave Ron. She didn’t have time to stay with her family longer though; Harry would be wondering where she was.

“Speaking of, I need to get back up there and make sure no other witch has tried to take my spot in the will,” she joked as she levitated the plates and two bottles of butterbeer in front of her. She started walking away when her father called her.

“Sweetheart? Make sure Harry knows that we hope he feels better soon.”

Ginny smiled at him and nodded. “Definitely.”

Then she turned and made her way back up to the Hospital Wing, where Harry was sitting in the same bed as he had been before, absently changing the colour of objects in the room.

Ginny handed him a tray with his plate and butterbeer on it before sitting in the now emerald green chair next to the bed. “Nice colour,” she commented.

“I thought it’d look good with your hair,” he answered, then narrowed his eyes as if confused about why he’d notice something like that.

Ginny chuckled at him, turning the chair so he could see her hair up against the chair. He nodded, “Yep, I was right. Don’t know how I knew that though.”

“It’s sweet, Harry,” Ginny assured him. “Although it’s a little funny, this chair is the exact same colour as your eyes.”

“Wait, really?” Harry asked between mouthfuls of chicken, looking surprised.

Ginny laughed, “Yeah, it definitely is. Believe me, I’d know.”

“Huh, I dunno how I did that.”

“Red hair and green eyes. What a great combination,” Ginny said, giving Harry a big smile.

He grinned back at her. “They clearly go perfectly together.”

They ate quickly, running out of time before Harry would start feeling drowsy. As they finished eating, she could see that his eyelids were drooping, and he was talking less. She took the tray from him so that he could lay more comfortably. Ginny sat back in the chair, but Harry sat up and looked at her.

“D’you- I feel weird sleeping without you next to me now,” Harry admitted.

Ginny smiled at him. “Why didn’t you say so?” She climbed in the narrow bed with him. There was barely enough room for both of them without falling out of the bed. But Harry wrapped his arms around her, and Ginny knew he wouldn’t let her fall, just like she wouldn’t let him fall when she brought him back to the castle earlier.

Harry started falling asleep when Ginny remembered the promise she made to her dad. “My family was really worried about you. It was all I could do to keep them from coming up here to see you, but they wanted you to know they hope you feel better soon.”

Harry was clearly dozing off, but he still smiled slightly, nuzzling her hair and whispering as sleep claimed him, “That’s nice of them. Your family is great, I love them. And I love-”

His sentence was interrupted by his deep breathing as he fell asleep. Ginny couldn’t believe the bad luck that had robbed her of what she expected to be Harry’s confession of loving her, but she had to admit that she’d prefer that he remember when he said it for the first time. That would definitely make the wait worth it.

Ginny hadn’t thought she was tired at all, but suddenly, she couldn’t keep her eyes open. The warmth of the Hospital Wing and Harry pressed closely against her made sleep all the more inviting. As she gave herself up to her dreams, she realised that if there was any doubt what Harry was going to say, the way he held her, even in his sleep, like she was his source of life, was all the proof she needed that he loved her.

/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*/*

A/N: I know I’m biassed, but I love this chapter. It was really exciting to write the immediate aftermath of Harry and Ginny’s first kiss since canon shows the kiss and then fast forwards literally a month. One of my favourite things about this story I’ve written is getting to explore all of that empty time, and I’m happy to promise that there are plenty more memories on the way from that time in their relationship.

Ginny’s year alone at Hogwarts will continue being explored too. I really thought it was important for us to see that she was thinking of Harry just as much as he was thinking of her while they were apart. The whole ‘Support Harry Potter’ party was another thing that needed to be carefully placed in order to line up with canon, but the times do technically work, at least as far as I can tell, especially when considering that Potterwatch likely would’ve gotten news about goings-on at Hogwarts at somewhat of a delay.

I also created Harry’s story of that Valentine’s Day from his perspective because Deathly Hallows completely skips from the end of December to roughly the beginning of April, and I wanted Harry’s experience on Valentine’s to be similarly painful to Ginny’s, which I think makes sense based on how much he thinks about her during his time on the run.

I feel like it’s also worth mentioning that 14 February, 1998 was on a Saturday, so it definitely is plausible for a Hogsmeade weekend. Something I learned while writing this was that JK Rowling was very lax when it came to matching up dates to days, such as 1 September always being a Sunday and Valentine’s in OOTP being on a Hogsmeade weekend when it really would’ve been a Wednesday. I found that it was easier for me if I followed the dates precisely, so I actually have dates in my notes for every chapter and kept a calendar open while I was writing. For example, this chapter takes place on Monday, 4 May, 1998, two days after the Battle of Hogwarts. It might be a little overkill, but it helped a lot with things like birthdays and other special events as well as weekends in general.

Harry’s medical issues will sort of be explained more later, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself with talking too much about it. I’m just gonna ask you to trust that, even though I’m not a doctor, there is a logic behind Harry having this pain in his legs that will eventually come up again.

As a tiny aside, Ginny’s favourite Beedle story is Babbity Rabbity solely because Bonnie Wright, Ginny’s actress in the movies, narrated Babbity Rabbity in the 2020 audiobook of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

And that’ll do it for Chapter 6 and the immediate aftermath of the Battle that happens at Hogwarts! Things are about to change a lot for Harry, Ginny, and the rest of the Weasleys…

Coming Tuesday: The Return- Adjusting himself to the surroundings, Harry looked around for the Burrow, spotting it the moment Ginny gasped.
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