Remus straightened and unbelievingly stared at Sirius.
"You hid yourselves in small boxes?"
Sirius nodded, laughing.
"Yes, whether you believe it or not, it's the truth. Though it was pretty uncomfortable, Harry meant that it would be the safest way. Portkeys would have been too much work and apart from this then the wards would have sound the alarm. This was also the reason why we couldn't just march into the castle, even if we would have made ourselves invisible. Don't ask me how, but Harry used some spell which enabled us – being locked in the boxes – to pass the wards, too. Anyway, as soon as Harry, Ginny Weasley and Snape were in the castle, they freed us and we could conquer Voldemort's headquarters without any difficulty. Our surprise attack was a complete success."
While Sirius carried on with telling him everything, Remus leaned back into his pillows and shook his head. Exhausted as he was, he found it hard to grasp the incredible events that had ended the years of war the previous day. That the Dark Side had been defeated and he was still alive, seemed to him like a miracle that he could hardly fathom.
He glanced to the window, looked out into the garden of Godric's Hollow and knew that he was truly at home. He was in his room, lay in his bed and he was safe. And yet the pain he felt whenever he moved led him to believe something else. Involuntarily his breath quickened and he swallowed deeply, fought against his memories with all his might. His eyes darted through the room, recognized the familiar things. Concentrating on Sirius' voice, he made an effort to listen to his friend who just was telling him with an amused undertone that James had really managed to have his wand taken away by a Death Eater and that he owed it only to Alice Longbottom that nothing had happened to him.
Time, Remus thought, yes, it would take some time until he recovered from his captivity. The healer in St. Mungo's, who had seen to his injuries, had told him this, too. Gradually Remus calmed down again, glad that he was at home. It had been luck that the hospital had been overworked and that his condition had permitted him to be brought to Godric's Hollow. He would have stayed there only grudgingly. Here, in his familiar surroundings and with his family he would regain his strength faster.
The thought of Sirius, Peter and James caused him to frown. To discover that James had a son who had been the heir of the Dark Lord in addition and that it had been Peter who had betrayed Lily then had been an awful shock to him. And it still was.
Torn between white-hot fury and his mourning for Lily, he felt how the occurrences of the last days threatened to overwhelm him. So much had happened that he had to digest first.
"Sirius," he said quietly.
"For the time being it's enough. Everything else you can tell me later."
Then he threw the blanket aside and looked at Sirius, pleadingly.
"Would you help me to the bathroom?"
James put a hand on the door handle and paused, hesitated. After having taken a deep breath, he finally pulled himself together, opened the door and stepped over the threshold. The stale air caused him to cough. Walking swiftly to the window, he tore it open. Only after a while he turned around once more and regarded the big room, which he hadn't entered anymore since Lily's disappearance. For all these years their bedroom had been locked and even the house-elves he had forbidden to clean up here. He, however, had moved to one of the guest rooms. To stay in this room that had been inextricably linked with Lily from the beginning, he just hadn't been able to bear. Everything in here reminded him of Lily. It had been her who had furnished the once gloomy chamber and thus had transformed it into a bright, cheerful room.
With a quiet sigh James looked over to the chest of drawers. Lily's things still were lying in place, unchangingly. His eyes wandered over the little jewellery box, the mirror whose frame was elaborately decorated with ivory roses and the book that she had been reading at that time. If not for the several layers of dust, he could perhaps have deceived himself for a merciful moment, but so he was relentlessly confronted with the truth.
James turned away and fastened his eyes on a photograph of Lily that hung on the wall. It had been one of those fortunate coincidences, James remembered. One evening in summer Lily had run straight towards him with her hair blowing in the wind and shining eyes to throw herself into his arms, unaware that Sirius had stood on the terrace with a camera. It was one of those rare pictures that virtually lived. A picture of his Lily, brimming over with happiness and love, recorded for all eternity.
Tentatively returning Lily's smile, James took a step towards the picture.
"We've won the war, Lily. Together with Harry we've managed it. While we were fighting with the Death Eaters, Harry killed Voldemort. It's over, Lily. The war is finally over. Harry is now living in my old children's room. I will take care of him, Lily, this I promise you. He will lack for nothing. And I will help him to cope with his past. Yesterday he found the little book my mother gave to you and discovered the incantation. I tried to make him realize that it wasn't his fault, but I don't know whether I succeeded. I told him that you would have wanted him to be happy. Yes, I know, I as well. And one day we will be it, Lily. Thanks to you, we will be it."
James reached out an arm and lightly stroked over Lily's cheek.
"And yet I long for you to be here with us with all my heart. Oh, Lily, if only the war would have never happened, if only Voldemort would have never seen you. How happy we could have become, you, I and Harry. If..."
As he heard approaching steps, James' voice trailed off. Soon afterwards Sirius and Remus stood in the doorway and looked at him amazed. James went to them and stepped to Remus, who was supported by Sirius and eyed his friend worriedly.
"How are you?"
"Better," Remus said, peeked past him into the bedroom and then looked at him again.
But before Remus or Sirius could have said anything, he quickly asked,
"Do you know where Harry is?"
He had hardly finished speaking, when he felt a tremor.
"The wards! We are being attacked!" James shouted and raced to the staircase, closely followed by Sirius.
James stormed out into the garden and cursed as his eye fell on the black masked wizards who had assembled on the other side of the garden wall. It was obvious that the followers of the Dark Lord had come to take revenge on Harry. But how on earth had they known that Harry would be here? Pointing his wand on the attackers, he recalled the previous day. Was it possible that one of the prisoners had somehow eavesdropped on their conversations or had seen him together with Harry and had drawn the right conclusion? A second later he shook his head. A prisoner could not have been it. He would not have had a chance to pass the message along to his comrades. Someone who had escaped unnoticed?
Well, how they had known it really didn't play a role in the moment, James thought. Now they were here and that was the decisive factor.
They were many and that worried him. Susceptible to an incessant attack, the wards would not hold long. And though no curse could get inside, whereas they could send curses out, James knew that it would be difficult. They were only three, not counting Remus, who was still too weak to help them.
"Get out of my way!"
Surprised, James whirled around as he heard Harry's voice, but he did as he had been told. Sirius and Remus, who had reached the garden as well in the meantime, stepped aside, too. Harry stopped and raised one hand. An instant later a wave of silvery light shoot towards the trespassers. And stunned, James watched how a great part of the attackers sank to the ground. Another wave of the silvery light persuaded the remaining Death Eaters to disappear as fast as possible.
Slowly James lowered his wand and looked to Harry, not knowing whether to be appalled or relieved.
It was late in the afternoon as Ginny walked through the little garden and stared at the sky at regular intervals and looked out for Harry's phoenix. She knew that her parents worried about her, but how should she have explained to them that she missed Harry and doubted his love towards her? She had written a letter to him early in the morning and ever since she had been waiting for his answer. She just had to know whether he was doing well. Why didn't he write back to her?
Stopping herself from thinking about possible reasons with difficulty, she quickened her pace. She almost wished that Luna would be still here to distract her. Even if she had been tremendously happy to see her friend again, who had visited her briefly a short while ago, a part of her thoughts had yet been with Harry.
As Ginny approached the house, she heard loud voices. She cast a fleeting glance at Ron's open window and went on. Still she could not comprehend that she had only realized the previous evening that Ron and Hermione had fallen out with each other and Hermione's cheerfulness had been merely put on in the main. And knowing her brother who could sometimes display an incredible stubbornness it would take a while before he would see that Hermione had done the one right thing as she had taken his wand away and forced him to stay in Hogwarts when he had indeed intended to set off to the Dark Lord's headquarters yesterday.
But, of course, Ron didn't want to admit that, nor did he want to hear that he would not have been able to achieve anything at all, anyway. Even if he had reached Voldemort's fortress, he wouldn't have been able to come through the wards. He would have only risked his life. Ginny knew that several Death Eaters had managed to escape and against the followers of the Dark Lord Ron certainly would not have had any chance.
Sighing, Ginny shook her head and wondered whether she should try to speak with Ron. Perhaps she could make it clear to him that Hermione had only done it because she loved him and that he was definitely wrong.
Although she recognized Bill's voice, she violently started. The happenings of the last days must have shaken her more than she wanted to believe. Bill came towards her and seized her arm.
"Ouch, Bill, let go of me. Every bone in my body is aching."
"From your fall?"
Ginny nodded and looked at her brother, concerned.
"Did anything happen?"
"No. I shall only fetch you indoors."
"Why? It isn't getting dark yet," she asked bewildered.
"Mum is worried about you", Bill replied gruffly and pointed with his head in the direction of the house.
There Molly Weasley was already busy with preparing supper. As Ginny and Bill entered the kitchen, Molly gave Ginny a kiss, heaped numerous suggestions upon her what they could do over the course of the summer and wanted to hear her opinion of that. That Ginny answered rather monosyllabically, appeared not to bother Molly. Ginny looked at her mother and had more and more the feeling that something wasn't right.
At supper she was certain of it. For some reason which wasn't apparent for Ginny her entire family seemed to be tense. When she asked, however, what had happened, she only got to hear that nothing had occurred at all and that everything was fine. But why then had Bill, Charlie and the twins put their wands on the table? Why did they look over to the window again and again?
That Hermione, too, avoided her gaze, led her to suspect that she was right about her hunch. Annoyed over the secretiveness she quickly finished her tea, feigned tiredness for the second time and shortly afterwards went upstairs. She had hardly stepped over the threshold of her room, as a hand was pressed against her mouth and someone was holding her tightly. Frantically she tried to struggle, but it was in vain.
"Ginny. It's me, Harry," a voice whispered.
Harry loosened his grip and turned her around to him.
"I'm sorry, if I scared you."
Ginny nodded. She wasn't capable of doing anything more and while she gradually calmed down, Harry locked the door and drew her towards the window.
"We have to be quiet. I was here a short time ago and wanted to visit you, but your family sent me away."
"They did what?"
"They have forbidden me to come back here ever again. I had to sneak into the house through the terrace door", Harry said and smiled mischievously.
"Don't be angry, Gin. They are only anxious about you."
"They had no right to do that!" Ginny said and could not believe it. Now she knew why her parents and brothers had behaved so strangely, yet she could not understand it. How could they dare to treat Harry so? After all he had done for her and her father?
"They love you. Isn't it then the most natural thing in the world that they want to protect you?" Harry asked and put an arm around her waist.
The tenderness in his voice made Ginny forget her anger and hold her breath. And before she knew what he intended, she already felt his lips on hers. So she did mean something to him, she thought overjoyed and returned his kiss.
One moment later Harry let go of her abruptly. Ginny looked at him inquiringly, but then she also heard how the handle was pressed down. As the door didn't open, someone loudly knocked. While Harry flung open the window and softly whistled, Hermione called her name.
"I'll come back as soon as possible. Good night, Ginny."
He stroked her lightly over the cheek and swung himself out of the window.
She still tried to hold on to him, but she didn't succeed. The sound of flapping wings and the sight of Harry who calmly flew away on his phoenix caused her to stifle a curse. Some day she would pay him back for this, she swore to herself. First he scared her out of her wits and now this! Could he not have told her at least that his phoenix had been waiting for him?
Furious at him as well as at Hermione and her entire family, she stamped to the door. She turned the key, opened the door and looked into Hermione's worried face.
"Ginny! Is everything all right?"
"Sure, what should be wrong?" she replied coldly and added quickly,
"Sorry, that I locked the door, Hermione. I just wanted to be alone for a bit."
Hopefully her voice had not sounded as angry as she felt, Ginny thought, stepped back and sat down on her bed. After all, it wasn't Hermione's fault. She could not have known it.
"Don't you dare think that I wanted to lock you out," she said and forced herself to smile.
But Hermione didn't respond to her remark. Instead she sat down next to her and regarded her gravely.
"You know that I'm always there for you, if you want to talk, don't you? If you need someone..."
"I know, Hermione", Ginny interrupted her friend.
Calmer she said,
"I know. And perhaps I will tell you one day, but not now. I…please, understand it, Hermione. It's over and I do not want to remember it. Nothing bad has happened to me and this is the most important thing, isn't it?"
Hermione looked at her and hesitated, but to Ginny's relief she finally nodded, reached out her arms and embraced her.
"Yes, it is. And I can't tell you how happy I'm about that. But please don't forget it. You can come to me at any time."
Ginny smiled and hugged Hermione.
"Thank you, Hermione. And I definitely won't forget it. Promised."
As they let go of each other, Hermione asked,
"Do you want me to stay?"
"If I want…? But of course, Hermione. Why…"
Realizing that she had taken Hermione's question the wrong way, she broke off.
"So you still haven't made it up with each other?"
"He doesn't talk with me."
"That's so typical of Ron", Ginny said and shook her head.
"But don't worry, Hermione. In one week at the latest he will beg your pardon on his bended knees. Believe me, I know my brother."
A fleeting smile flitted across Hermione's face.
"Let's hope so."
Then she looked at Ginny with wide sad eyes.
"I couldn't let him go, Ginny. I just couldn't do it."
"I know. It was the right thing to do. If I had been in your position I would have done the same. And Ron will understand it, too. Sometimes he simply needs a while before he realizes certain things", Ginny said and jumped up.
"Come, I'll help you packing."
Hermione stood up and glanced at her indecisively.
"If you want, I will still stay for a while."
Ginny looked at her friend full of affection.
"That's very kind of you. But I know that you want to go home and besides I can visit you, can't I, Hermione?"
But only after she had promised Hermione to write immediately a letter to her if anything should be or she needed someone to talk to, Hermione walked to her bag. Shortly afterwards Ginny accompanied Hermione into the living room, where Hermione said goodbye to the Weasleys, apart from Ron, who had hid himself in his room.
Then she stepped into the fireplace and reached for the Floo powder. As Hermione had been engulfed in the green flames, Ginny went upstairs again. She considered briefly to give Ron a tongue-lashing, but decided to wait a few days. She knew her brother well enough to know that it would be pointless for the time being. Back in her room Ginny closed the window, leaned against the wall and looked thoughtfully up to the clouds.
As Ginny came into the kitchen the next morning, her family was already all present. The moment her family noticed her presence, the newspaper was quickly folded together and deliberately casually laid aside. Her family could not have made it more obvious, Ginny thought. But she would find out what the newspaper said. Before, however, she had a bone to pick with her family. She sat on her chair and reached for the teapot. She poured herself a cup of tea and took a few sips. Then she put her cup down and looked at her family.
"Why did you forbid Harry to see me?"
While her parents exchanged glances, Bill asked with furrowed brow,
"How do you know this?"
"Because Harry told me, he was in my room yesterday."
Her answer was followed by stunned silence.
"But…but how did he get through the wards?"
Bill bestowed a dark look upon Charlie.
"Did you forget who he is?"
Meanwhile her mother had laid a hand on her arm and surveyed her worriedly.
"Did he do anything to you?"
"No! Of course not. Harry would never hurt me. He has saved me, Mum. And I love him."
Arthur Weasley drew in a sharp breath and leaned forwards.
"Ginny. You've suffered a terrible shock. You do not know what you say. It…"
"But my mind I didn't lose yet", Ginny interrupted her father and although she was angry, her voice remained calm.
"And besides, you're mistaken. It only would have been a terrible shock if Harry hadn't helped me. I've seen what the Death Eaters did to Katie, Cho and little Anne. The same would have happened to me, had Harry not rescued me from the dungeons."
Her words hit the mark. But Bill asked back,
"Do you really want to tell us that he actually did nothing to you? That we shall believe you? Snape told us that he hit you."
Involuntarily Ginny's hand flew to her cheek.
"That wasn't Harry, but the one who abducted me. And what happened between Harry and me is none of your business," Ginny said and withheld that Harry had also hit her one time, but this had been justified after all.
"It's none of our business?" her father asked and stared at her, unbelievingly.
"You are our daughter! Do you know how worried we were about you?"
Feeling guilty Ginny looked down at her plate. How on earth should she explain her relationship with Harry to her family? But then she realized that she didn't want to. How should her parents and brothers understand what Harry had done for her? The first two nights she might hadn't have a choice, nevertheless Harry had at least made an effort not to hurt her more than necessary. And was it a miracle that Harry had behaved in such a way if you considered which tragedy he had witnessed as a little child?
What had happened in the first two nights didn't play a role for her anymore. She had forgiven Harry. But her family would surely not understand it. Yes, she herself could not explain how it could have happened. She only knew one thing: that she loved and trusted Harry. He had given hope back to her as she had believed everything lost. And she was certain: Harry loved her as well.
Thinking of Harry's words, Ginny glanced at her family and softly said,
"I know and I'm sorry. I also believed I would never see you again. But I'm only here because of Harry. Only because of Harry the war is over. Dad, he saved your life. He saved me. We owe him much."
Her father returned her look gravely and nodded slightly.
"Yes, we do and I wished it were not so. He's a dark wizard, Ginny. He's dangerous. What he did to the Dark Lord and some of his followers…he wasn't content with killing them, Ginny, he downright destroyed them. All what has remained of them is a pile of ash."
Ginny swallowed hard. Suddenly she saw herself standing in the hall, watching how the Death Eaters burned out in a dark fire. She remembered Harry's chilling eyes, the merciless glint in them, seconds before he had recognized her.
Yes, she had seen what he was capable of. But she also knew his other side.
"He hated them", she said.
"They have taken his mother from him. And do not forget that he grew up on the Dark Side. But that doesn't mean that he's dangerous. If he were it, he would have killed you and would have abducted me."
Ginny looked at her parents imploringly.
"We love each other. Please, believe me, Harry would never harm me. I know him. Please, don't forbid me to see Harry."
Her father sighed deeply, reached out and put his hand on hers.
"We do not want that something happens to you, Ginny. And perhaps you should read today's newspaper."
"Nothing will happen to me," Ginny said determined and took the newspaper that her Dad handed her.
With an uneasy feeling she glanced at the first page and began to read.
In the meantime Molly Weasley regarded her daughter and felt a painful twinge. She didn't fail to notice that Ginny had changed. Before her abduction Ginny would have never stayed so calm during an argument, let alone it would never have occurred to her to inquire as to the reason once she had flown into a rage. She would have screamed, jumped up from the table and run out of the kitchen. Now, however, she seemed to save her anger for really important matters.
A strange mixture of regret and pride seized her as her eyes rested on the young woman who had taken the place of the little girl that she had seen in Ginny still a few months ago; her daughter who could have miserably perished in the Dark Lord's dungeons if it hadn't been for Harry Potter. She owed it to him that Ginny as well as Arthur were still alive and she had her daughter and husband back. The gratitude she felt to the young wizard she could not put into words so happy was she.
And yet the thought of a love relationship between him and Ginny filled her with anxiety.
There were times, when Albus Dumbledore could not help regretting that the owner of the Daily Prophet and his few employees which had been left to him had indeed managed not only to keep their hiding place a secret from Voldemort, but also to deliver their newspaper more or less regularly. Frowning Albus read the newspaper article a second time, then leaned back in his chair and stared at the big headline that warned against the young Lord in no uncertain terms. Even Harry's true identity the Daily Prophet had already found out. Some Order member had probably not been able to keep his mouth shut, Albus thought resignedly.
If his worry hadn't outweighed by far, he surely would have been angry, but so he tried to assess how much damage the article that dismissed Harry's ancestry as negligibility and described Harry as a dark wizard who intended to become the next Dark Lord would cause. His past and the reason why he had hated Voldemort weren't mentioned at all, but instead yesterday's attack on Godric's Hollow was discussed in detail.
Well, one thing was certain. In consideration of the fact that Harry had killed a large part of the attackers, it would become a great deal more difficult to keep the former Aurors and members of the Ministry from arresting Harry.
But exactly this he could not allow to happen under any circumstances. Since this would lead into catastrophe. Harry would never surrender himself to them voluntarily and this meant that it would come to a fight that would inevitably divide the Order of the Phoenix. James, Sirius and Remus would definitely stand by Harry and so would most likely the parents of the saved students. Apart from his conviction to owe it to Harry and James, this was the weightiest reason why he had to prevent an arrest of Harry by all means.
And it was up to him to get the Order to understand that.
Though he had to admit that the concern Harry could follow in Voldemort's footsteps was not wholly pure invention, it was unwarranted in his opinion. At least, if they gave Harry a chance to begin a new life.
Thoughtfully Albus leaned forwards, intertwined his fingers and propped up his chin on his hands. And if Harry would not cause him enough worry, he had to agitate over Severus' fate as well. Once more he asked himself just what Severus had been thinking to free Narcissa Malfoy and to bring her to a place that was only known to him and whose location he steadfastly refused to tell.
At any rate the Order assembly that would be held in the afternoon promised to become very interesting, Albus thought cynically and briefly closed his eyes. He didn't believe that they would get around to discussing the formation of a new Ministry already today and yet it was just this that should have the highest priority. Only the Ministry would be capable of putting things on an orderly basis and above all of restoring public order.
As Albus pondered how much there was still to do, he sighed quietly, but at least he would no longer have to make decisions that tore his heart apart. For now he would not be forced to send anyone into battle or risk the lives of his Order members. For this he had to be infinitely grateful. But Albus knew that it would still take a while before he would finally realize that the war was over and that Voldemort had been defeated. The war had lasted too long and had left too many scars to just be able to erase it from memory.
Involuntarily his eyes wandered to the photo album of the Order. One moment later he stood up and fetched it out of the bookshelf. He sat down at his desk again, opened the album and slowly turned over the pages. As he looked at the faces of the witches and wizards, who had fought with him against Voldemort and his followers, deep sadness rose in him. So many had senselessly lost their lives – and for what?
Lily Potter's picture caused him to pause. How long he regarded it he didn't know, but it was the memory of Lily that jolted him out of his dejection. She had never been afraid of giving him a piece of her mind and would she see him now she probably would have only shaken her head about him and asked why he didn't celebrate the end of the war.
Almost it seemed to him that he could hear her voice that told him to look into the future and not back. He returned Lily's smile and nodded, suddenly realizing that neither Lily's sacrifice nor that of the other Order members had been in vain. Since without them there would never have been a victory. To Lily, however, they were especially indebted. It had been her courage and her love that had led to the downfall of the Dark Side in the end.
Yes, Albus thought and straightened. They would never forget how much they owed Lily and all the others who had given their life. He would make sure of that. And though he would mourn for them, he would not forget the living over it. What had happened had happened. The past could not be changed anymore. That he had to accept as hard as he found it. Concerning his feelings of guilt, it might well be that a large part of them was irrational, but one part was justified.
But if he was wise, he would learn from his mistakes; for the future was not yet written in stone and thus he would be able to influence it. Determined Albus nodded and fixed his gaze on a certain point on the opposite wall. Never again would he thoughtlessly sacrifice a single person for the survival of others. Though it was occasionally a bitter necessity in time of war, he knew that he had had the choice to reach another decision a few times during the war, if he hadn't clung so much to his convictions.
And perhaps there was a possibility to ensure that such a war would never happen again. The Order of the Phoenix as a guardian of peace, he mused. Yes, perhaps this would be the solution. At any rate he would think about it. But before, he would devote all his energies to giving the world its order back. Seized with a new thirst for action he put the album again in the shelf and picked up the newspaper.
Remembering how Ginny Weasley had run towards Harry during the battle and Harry had drawn her into his arms, Albus felt confident that Harry Potter didn't intend to become the next Dark Lord.
As Ginny and Harry reached the former headquarters of the Dark Lord, Ginny moved closer to Harry and clung to his arm. Seeing the fortress again after their victory caused conflicting feelings to rise in her. Even if she quickly succeeded in suppressing the memory of her stay in the dungeons, she was nevertheless glad about Harry's suggestion to have a walk in the park first, before going to his old chambers to fetch some of his things.
While they were slowly sauntering one of the narrow pathways along, Ginny told Harry about her visit to St. Mungo's. She had been there together with Bill yesterday afternoon and had searched for the two little Muggle children. She just hadn't been able to stop thinking about their fate.
"Their parents didn't survive," she said sadly.
"I'm currently trying to convince my parents to adopt them if they don't have any relatives anymore," she added, looked up to the trees and made an effort not to contemplate whether there really hadn't been a way to save the Muggle family.
Harry squeezed her hand silently and asked an instant later,
"Do you know how Anne and the other girls are?"
"No. I haven't heard anything from them, but I'll write to them soon. One thing is for certain, however: they will not forget it."
"We all will not forget it", Harry said quietly and stopped.
Ginny followed his gaze and realized that they were standing in the vicinity of Lily Potter's rose garden.
"Shall we go in?"
Harry shook his head.
"Let's go to the lake."
Ginny nodded and cast a sidelong glance at Harry. This time it was her who squeezed his hand, and as she brought her steps in line with his, her thoughts suddenly wandered to her parents who had only grudgingly consented to her meeting with Harry today. Since yesterday's newspaper article had shaken her and had merely increased her worry about Harry and had not, how her father had hoped, changed her opinion of Harry, the discussion had of course continued. Her Dad had even asked her if she truly loved Harry or if she had only made herself believe that because he had saved her and thought to owe him something.
Ginny had been so furious over it that she still didn't know how she had managed to keep herself from yelling at her parents and to explain to them with gritted teeth that this wasn't true and that she was completely sure of her feelings. In the end her parents had given in to Ginny's relief, but the thought that she was causing her family distress with her decision for Harry pained her. And the knowledge that her parents only wanted to protect her certainly did not make the situation any better.
"What are you thinking about?"
So abruptly jolted out of her thoughts, Ginny said the first thing that occurred to her,
"Oh, I had to think of the newspaper article that was in the Daily Prophet yesterday."
As it turned out Harry had read the article as well. He laughed softly and put an arm around her shoulders.
"Don't worry about this, Ginny. I bet they will not dare to arrest me."
"And if they do?"
"Then the whole world is open to me. They would never find me", Harry said and seemed not to be concerned in the slightest.
"But I don't think that it will come to that. Come; let's sit down on the shore."
As they had found a shadowy place, Harry riveted his gaze on the lake and without transition began to tell her what had happened the previous days. He told her of his fight with Voldemort, of the little book he had found in his mother's rose garden and of the conversation he had led with his father.
"I know that Dad is right. If I hadn't thrown myself between, the first curse would have hit her and yet…"
"…are you blaming yourself", Ginny concluded his thought and laid a hand on Harry's arm.
"But it wasn't your fault, Harry. It was Voldemort's. It was him who started the war and abducted your mother."
As Harry slowly turned to her and looked at her, she said roughly,
"And for this he has paid. For everything he ever did."
With a more gentle voice, she added,
"It's over, Harry. You've defeated him. It's over."
Harry shook his head and lifted her chin up.
"I did not do it alone, Ginny. You forget which contribution my mother and you made to our victory. Without you the Dark Side would never have been defeated."
Harry stroked her tenderly over her cheek.
"You fetched me out of my indifference, Ginny. You've saved me as I lost myself in my magic."
A shudder run through his body and he averted his gaze.
"Do you know that I swore myself to never use Dark Magic again after the fight with Voldemort?"
He looked at her and said with a bitter undertone,
"Not even one day later I broke my oath. But when Godric's Hollow was attacked, I…I just reacted, Ginny. That I used Dark Magic I didn't realize at all! Only later I became aware of it. But…"
A sudden smile brightened Harry's face.
"…I think I have found a way how I can prevent me from losing myself in my magic. It helps me to think of you, Ginny, of you and your love."
He took her hand and their fingers intertwined.
"I love you, Ginny," he whispered.
"You are my light in the darkness."
Ginny stared into his emerald eyes and as Harry bent down to her and kissed her, she flung her arms around him. Yes, she thought blissfully happy.
He loved her.
But the other way round it was the same. While she was his light in the darkness, Harry was hers and Ginny knew: however the future would look like as long as they loved each other they would survive everything.
A/N: And with this chapter the story is finally finished. Many thanks to those who took the time to leave me a review! Though, of course I would still be happy about further opinions and reviews.
And who liked the story and wants to read more, following stories play in the same universe:
"Light in the Darkness"
"Even in the Darkest Night"