A red haired fourteen year old girl came into the kitchen of the house that she had lived in for her whole life. Her green eyes combined with her hair fit in with the numerous decorations perfectly, or so her father said. Her mother stood at the counter humming as she and the girls black haired five year old brother baked cookies. Her two younger sisters, both red heads, with brown eyes like their mothers, ages ten and twelve, rolled pie crusts for the Christmas celebrations coming up with their entire family coming to their manor.
"Mum? Where's Daddy?" she asked propping her head on her elbows which rested on the counter.
"He took William out to get a turkey. Greg wanted to cook with Alyssa, Lizzie and I so here we are!" she laughed. Caroline smiled too. Christmas was her family's favorite time of year. It was always a magical occurrence in more ways than one and Caroline would never stay at school for it no matter what her friends did. Suddenly the door she had just came through opened and her father came in singing Christmas carols with seven year old Willie. The rest of his children ran to him.
He embraced his wife after the children went back to their tasks. Caroline, who was now mixing pie batter smiled at them.
"Mum? Tell us about the Christmas you and Daddy fell in love. Back before Daddy conquered Voldemort and before we even had Potter Manor." Her father laughed.
"As memory serves, I defeated Voldemort before I became an Aurour Carrie." Caroline shrugged.
"Details, so tell us again. Please?" the others egged her parents on as well and before long the cookies were in the oven and the whole family sat in the living room with even baby Joshua in Ginny's arms on the sofa. "Don't leave out one detail," Caroline said jokingly. Her father laughed at her and her mother smiled before she began to speak,
"It was my fifth year…" Ginny began.
You're so much more than you think you are Ginny. He had told her that the day before it had all come crashing down. Riddle had reassured her that she was worth something to him, but then he had used her, he had used her to get what he wanted. That was all anyone did, was use her for what they wanted. Even Neville had used her, to get into the ball.
Ginny Weasley sat on a snow covered rock on the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry feeling as if she was an absolute nothing. The white snowflakes drifted down onto her maroon hat knitted for her by her mother a year ago. Her flaming red hair, braided down her back, lay stiffly for once not flying into her face.
No one else was on the grounds on this cold winter day. Everyone else was inside enjoying the Christmas festivities. Her parents had not invited them home that Christmas, feeling that they were safer at Hogwarts than they were even at Headquarters. The death toll was mounting, this morning there had been news of another attack, Amanda Grisset, a Ravenclaw in Ginny's year had been killed. Ginny was not supposed to know about this, she had over heard Dumbledore informing the staff when she went to ask Professor McGonagall about her Transfiguration homework.
Amanda, though a Ravenclaw, was one of Ginny's best friends and one of the only people who knew what had happened to Ginny three years earlier. She knew about the diary. It amazed Ginny how much one small book had changed her life. One page, written in as an eleven year old girl, had made her into a very much more mature young woman. If only she could forget it but it clung to her. Knowing she was responsible for the near-death experiences of so many, even her best friend Colin Creevey. No one else could imagine what it was like.
Or maybe someone could.
Harry Potter sat in the Gryffindor common room staring into the flickering orange flames. Christmas for him was not a time of joy and festivity. He had gotten and given presents to and from all of his friends and received the customary rude note from the Dursley's but the day had been incomplete. There was nothing from Sirius. He hadn't expected anything of course he knew that his godfather was gone but there was still a lump in his throat when he opened his last present, a sweater from Mrs. Weasley.
He wouldn't say that Sirius was dead, simply because he didn't believe it. Just because he fell behind the veil didn't mean he was dead, did it? In his dreams he saw Bellatrix, saw her curse Sirius, saw him fall behind the veil, but then climb out again as if it hadn't happened. He always woke up with tears on his face because he knew that wasn't what had happened.
Over and over in his head he relieved the trip to the Department of Mysteries, replaying everything that had happened. Many times what stood in his mind was the heroicness of his friends. He remembered how they had stood together in the crisis. For some reason a face that came to him when ever he thought of this was Ginny's. He would always remember how she had insisted that she, Luna, and Neville be allowed to go. Now he knew what an asset they'd been.
He realized that he'd never thanked her. not then, and not that summer when he'd joined them at the Burrow in July and later at headquarters, nor during the school year in the long hours spent in the common room studying, Sixth year work being even harder than the year before. He tended to think of it when he returned from Occlumancy lessons with Dumbledore when it was midnight and everyone else had retired. Or at night in bed though he'd forget in the morning. Now it was mid-afternoon and Ginny was sure to be about somewhere. Resolutely he stood. Ron who was beating Hermione at chess looked up at him, "Where're you going mate?"
"Out, I'll be back soon," was all Harry offered. As he passed a window on the way to the portrait hole he saw a flash of red hair outside and he headed for the door to the grounds.
I love you Ginny. They had all said that, Tom, Michel, Dean. They said it but she read it in their eyes that they didn't mean it. She didn't mean anything to them; she was just another girl in a procession of them. The only boy she had ever truly loved had seen her as just another Weasley, a sibling of his best friend. An acquaintance, maybe even a friend but not as a girl. She didn't know what was worse.
She had pretended to have given up on him. She'd told everyone that she had and even her best friends believed her. She almost believed herself and with that she found that she could talk to him with out blushing furiously. Once that happened she began to want him more. She had felt such pain for him when he thought he might be being possessed too and she wondered if what had happened to him was worse. He never said just as she never told anyone how much it had affected her.
But he never talked to her about it though they had both been in the chamber. She wouldn't imagine that he would. After all he had been the brave one. Her knight in shining armor. When Riddle had emerged from the diary and forced her into the chamber one of her first and last thoughts at the time had been for Harry to come save her. He had too. But he had saved her because after all he loved her family and because he was Harry Potter after all.
Every year there were moments, times when she thought she might be able to tell him how she felt or that he might let on that he felt the same way. Then the moment would pass, or she'd see him looking at Cho or some other girl. She knew that what she wanted was just wishful thinking and would never come to pass; she would never be nothing more than Ron's little sister, or the youngest Weasley child.
Harry pushed open the heavy doors to the grounds and walked out through the heavy snow. Ginny sat facing away from him and he was surprised by how small and vulnerable and yet so strong she looked. He came up behind her and cautiously put a hand on her shoulder. She started and looked up at him. "Harry?" she said in shock. He nodded and sat down next to her in the snow.
"Hey Ginny, I er wanted to well thank you for everything in the Department of Mysteries. I should have said it sooner I just- well with everything that happened- you know with Sirius…" he trailed off feeling like a rambling idiot. Ginny turned to him smiling gently.
"You really miss him don't you?" Harry nodded silently. Ginny sighed. They sat together in silence for several minutes their thoughts consuming them. The snow began to fall harder and Harry removed his glasses to wipe the snow off of them.
"So what are you doing out here?" he asked feeling a bit more confidant when he couldn't quite see her reactions clearly. Ginny shrugged.
"I wanted to get away. There's nothing to celebrate here. It just doesn't seem like Christmas this year." Harry nodded.
"I guess. It's still better than the Christmases I used to know."
Ginny didn't know how to respond to any of this. She wasn't sure what he wanted. Probably he just had to talk to someone and she was there.
"Why's that?" she asked finally hoping he wanted to be asked. But then what did it matter? Harry paused a minute as if to get his thoughts in order before he answered. Then as he sunk into the memory his eyes clear without his glasses looked as if they were staring into the past.
"Christmases with the Dursleys were never what you might call fun. The first Christmas I remember I was about five I guess. I watched all of the presents pile under the tree and every one of them was for Dudley. I asked my aunt why they were all for him and she told me it was because they loved him. By then I knew they didn't even like me but that stung.
"I remember lying in my cupboard that night wondering about Father Christmas. Our teacher said that he brought presents to all the little boys and girls; she smiled at me as she said it. I was her pet somewhat. No one had ever told me I was a good boy except her but I thought that just maybe Father Christmas knew that I tried. But then I heard Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon bringing the presents down. After that I didn't believe in saviors like Father Christmas until Hagrid… I don't know why I'm saying all of this I'm just babbling."
"No, it's okay."
Harry looked relieved and kept going, "after Hagrid came I thought I might just get away from the Dursleys forever. I didn't. but that was okay because I could come back here, then Sirius said I might be able to live with him and then I couldn't… well now I don't know what I believe."
He put his glasses back on and glanced sheepishly at Ginny. "Well now we know the innermost meanings of my Christmas traumas let us return to my earlier question. Why are you out here in the freezing cold?" Ginny shrugged noncommittally. "C'mon I spilled." He prodded. Harry wasn't sure why he felt so comfortable talking like this to Ginny.
"I-I I Heard Dumbledore talking, one of my best friends was killed last night." Ginny looked away praying that she wouldn't cry, but she was too late. The hot tears turned cold as they hit the air. They coursed down her face and she put her head in her arms.
Harry had a flashing memory of the Christmas before but almost instantly he knew that this was different. Ginny wasn't Cho, crying because he reminded her of her dead boyfriend, she was crying because her friend had just died not quite eighteen hours before. He found also that in the different situation and a year later he knew what to do. He put and arm around her shoulders.
"I'm sorry" Ginny gasped when she could speak again.
"No," Harry said gently, "That's okay. I know it hurts to lose someone you love." He paused a moment then something hit him. "You know I've never seen you cry? I've seen Hermione cry but in all of the time I've been around you I've never seen you even come close, not in the department, not even in the Chamber."
Ginny shrugged as she sat up and wiped her eyes. "I don't cry that easily. But Harry why do you care?" she hadn't wanted to ask that but she felt she had to." It was Harry's turn to shrug.
"I've never actually talked to you Ginny. I mean I've talked to you but not like a true friend. Ginny, it's hard for you isn't it?"
Ginny looked at him, shocked by how right he was, and her shock led her to answer without reluctance as she normally would. "Yeah it kind of is… I mean with my brothers… but that isn't important."
Harry took off his glasses again and looked into her eyes. "Why do you say that?"
Ginny shrugged. "Maybe because it is true? My family loves me I know that. But I'm their little sister. The baby. They treat me as if I know absolutely nothing." She sighed. "That was a bit harsh I know."
"Maybe. But I think it was how you really feel." Harry stared into her eyes realizing how beautiful they really were. "You've never been able to tell anyone that and I bet it feels better doesn't it?" Ginny smiled.
"Yes it does a bit. When did you get so good at interpreting people's feelings? You weren't nearly this good at it last summer." Harry cringed at the memory of his rant the past August.
"I guess I've grown up since then. So have you." he pointed out smiling slyly, "you haven't thrown a dung bomb at a door or anything like that lately." Ginny grinned mischievously.
"Haven't I? Didn't you wonder who turned Snape's nose purple last month and plastered pictures of it all over the school?" Harry's eye widened.
"That was you?" he exclaimed chuckling, "Snape never did figure it out. I heard he wanted to give all of Gryffindor house detention, he suspected me of course." Ginny nodded,
"Yup it was me. I borrowed Colin's camera." He'd been quite reluctant to let it go as she remembered but he'd agreed when he saw how set Ginny was on doing this, she hadn't pulled a major prank in a while and it made her happy so Colin had relented. He was a wonderful friend.
"Colin Creevey? Are you two- you know…" Harry stammered causing Ginny to laugh at the thought.
"Colin? No we're just really good friends, he has a mad crush on Luna actually." Harry looked shocked again.
"Luna? Good grief… how come I never know any of this?"
"You don't pay attention to the social scene at all and you know it!" Ginny accused Harry shrugged.
"Granted. I'm too busy I guess." Ginny also nodded. He had been doing a wonderful job as Quidditch captain and she knew, through observation that he was working hard at Occlumancy, and school work.
"You keep yourself pretty busy," she commented. Harry shrugged and looked at his shoes.
"It's easier." He murmured almost too quietly for her to hear.
"Than what?" she asked gently, sooner than she had earlier prodded into his life. It felt more natural even though not much time had passed since he first joined her. Harry didn't answer at first, sorry for saying anything, almost ashamed at what he was feeling.
"Than missing Sirius." he said finally. A lump had formed in his throat and he tried to swallow it, tried to fight back the sudden burning behind his eyes, fighting the feeling that he had been an expert at fighting since he was a young child had suddenly become a harder struggle than usual. The pinpricks of tears seemed to have a mind of their own and he finally had to relent and let them fall. He turned his face away so, at least, Ginny wouldn't see, but she wasn't that thick.
She inched over to him and hugged him, as he had hugged her before. In her gentle embrace Harry found himself even more unable to stop the steady flow of tears.
"Harry," Ginny said comfortingly, "it's okay, you let me cry, now you need to, don't worry." With this Harry finally gave in to his feelings, something he wasn't used to doing. He sobbed as he hadn't truly done in a long time. Yes he'd had bouts of tears in the past six years but he'd always had to hold back and be the brave one. Now he sobbed from the very bottom of his heart and he felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off him as the tears mingled with the snow on his face.
Finally he cried himself out and took steady breaths to calm himself. Ginny smiled at him as he regained control.
"You feel better don't you? I don't think you've really cried since Sirius died, have you?" she asked. Harry nodded. He smiled weakly at her.
"I should follow my own advice more often. I've always had to be the brave one and you, you always have to be the one okay with everything to please your parents, over shadowed by your brothers. I don't want to cry because it supposedly shows weakness and you don't want to cry because you think you don't matter, what a pair we make." Ginny laughed. Then a sudden realization hit her, a thought she hadn't had in years.
"I don't think that anymore. At least maybe I don't. because… well…" her reason was slightly embarrassing she realized now, having blurted out the realization on the spot.
"Why Gin?" Harry asked putting an arm around her instinctually and drawing her close.
"Because," she said so quietly that Harry leaned even closer to her to hear her, "if no one cared about me you wouldn't have asked me what was wrong, you wouldn't have even come out here today." Harry felt a tear come to his eye, not from sadness, but from the notion that he had changed her feeling over herself.
"Oh Ginny. I'm glad I helped you understand that, you mean so much to so many people. It's hard to remember. Take me I mean something to the whole wizarding world because I am the boy-who-lived." he said this some what bitterly but his tone cleared quickly, "or at least that's what I used to think, but Ginny I've talked with Dumbledore and Lupin a lot recently, and even Ron and Hermione and they helped me realize that people care about me for more than that." Ginny nodded.
"I care about you for more that that Harry." she admitted. It was the first time she had ever admitted that to him. face to face anyway. she was surprised that this admission didn't cause her to blush horribly, instead it made her feel warm inside though it was freezing outside.
Harry was amazed at what she'd just told him, he had thought her feelings for him were long gone, they'd talked like friends that evening, but he didn't think he felt anything more, not like he'd just begun to feel. It wasn't like it was with Cho, not a sudden infatuation before he knew her. He and Ginny had history together. He found suddenly that he too cared about her deeply. He wasn't sure how to express this so acting fairly rashly, he kissed her.
Ginny was swept up in his kiss. It was unlike any other kiss that she'd had. She didn't want to trust another boy, she didn't want her heart broken again, but now this seemed right, it seemed so right that she let him go on kissing her.
Harry was feeling sheer bliss. He knew now that he loved Ginny and he wanted her to love him. he'd never kissed at girl like this and it felt so amazing. To love someone like this was a feeling he'd never experienced and he loved it.
When they broke apart they were both breathless and ecstatic. Harry smiled shyly at Ginny who smiled back, so he knew she didn't hate him for it. He hoped it was on the contrary and her next act confirmed it, she kissed him back. After they broke apart the second time Harry spoke.
"I think I love you Ginny Weasley." he whispered wonderingly staring into the pools of her eyes. He saw something there that he thought, just might be her love for him. What ever of it there may be, he wasn't sure yet that he would believe that she felt for him what he so suddenly felt. But then maybe it wasn't sudden, after all he had been meaning to talk to her for months.
His words struck Ginny and the made her indescribably happy. His eyes were staring into hers and their emerald beauty drew her in. she didn't want to think that he'd betray her like the others, she didn't want to, but old scars still hurt.
"Really?" she asked him breaking the gaze. Harry nodded startled.
"Yes," he sad truthfully. She still kept her gaze away from him, staring at the deep snow nearby and the frozen lake.
"Oh Harry, I want to believe you and I do… I just… i… I've been hurt." she finished lamely. She expected him not to understand but through the events of the past evening she shouldn't have. He cupped his hand under her chin, turning her face towards his, looking into her eyes once more.
"I know Ginny, and I never want to hurt you. I know more about you to day than I've know in the past six years and I want to know more about the magnificent person that is Virginia Weasley, so we'll take as long as you want to figure all of this out. Ginny stopped trying to look away from him and returned his gaze trustingly.
"Okay." she said and he kissed her again. It was nearing dusk when they stopped he stood and he pulled her to her feet. Hand in hand they walked happily towards the castle. Ginny felt better than she'd felt in months and Harry didn't dwell on Sirius's death at all something that hadn't happened since June.
In the common room Ron and Hermione were drinking mugs of hot cocoa, with two more on a platter waiting for Ginny and Harry. They were shocked to see their friends looking so happy and Ron nearly fainted when Harry and Ginny suddenly kissed underneath a sprig of mistletoe and grinned sheepishly at their two friends before joining them in two spare arm chairs sipping cocoa.
Now nearly twenty years later they sat surrounded by their six children who smiled happily at the tale of their parents romance that even Willie and Greg liked to hear; though they preferred the tale of Harry's defeat of Voldemort. Caroline thought the story was amazingly perfect, but that was how their family was most of the time. This was because their parents loved each other and their kids and knew, most of all what it was like to be a child.
At the end of the story Ginny and Harry looked at each other and kissed causing the boys to giggle and the girls to sigh.
Later that evening when the children were in bed and they were setting out presents and filling stockings they talked about the ways their lives had turned.
"You know Gin, I believe in saviors now. you were mine. If I hadn't gone out to talk to you that night we might not be here and I might still be moody, depressed and dwelling on Sirius' death. I still miss him but that was a long time ago and I have a wonderful family. I think he'd be proud of me." Ginny walked over from where she was enchanting Willie and Greg's toy brooms to hover. She hugged him close.
"Of course he would be, somewhere he is. But Harry you're much more my savior. After Amanda died I don't know what I would have done. I think was close to deep depression and maybe suicide when you came out that night and let me cry." She released him and returned to the brooms.
"So we're each other's saviors. Bit cliché isn't it?" Harry said hanging up a small stocking. Ginny smiled.
"Maybe a bit, but despite what the kids think, it wasn't all easy. We've had our times, and your defeat of Voldemort wasn't as easy as you make it sound. It was hard on all of us who loved you. But we made it."
"Yeah we did. Merry Christmas Ginny."
"Merry Christmas Harry."
With that, two lovebirds who were once a hero worshipping girl of ten and her brother's best friend went upstairs to sleep in their room near their six beautiful children in a house they'd bought together to live as a happy family after so many trials had been overcome for them both.