Harry sat in the small grove of trees overlooking the lake. Few people came here, and it had become his refuge from the world.
He was looking at the lake, but his mind was seeing Sirius falling again. He sighed heavily, and stared out at the setting sun, wondering if he'd ever forgive himself for allowing Voldemort to play with his mind. If not for that, Sirius would still be here to help Harry deal with one simple fact.
If Harry wanted to live, he would have to kill a man. Yes, Voldemort was evil, and nobody would blame Harry for it, but the thought of killing anyone was still disturbing.
Harry stood up, and headed for the castle as the sun slid over the horizon, leaving the world in that twilight time, when the light was diffused and dim, allowing the thoughts to run free.
He paused as he heard a voice, and on a whim, he followed the vaguely familiar sound.
In a small hollow screened by a few trees, he found Ginny Weasley sitting on her heels, talking to a small bunny rabbit she was feeding.
Harry stopped, not wanting to intrude, and not really in the mood for company, until he heard what Ginny was saying.
"Life would be so much easier if I was a rabbit. Nothing to worry about, and no worries about being loved, or liked. Rabbits don't worry about Dark Wizards," she confided to the bunny, "or if the people they love are going to die."
Harry felt a flash of anger that he quickly suppressed. Ginny didn't even know he was there, and she had every right to be worried. With so many of her family involved in the fight against Voldemort, she was almost certain to lose someone she loved.
Harry turned and walked away, lost in thought, and not even hearing the small branch breaking under his foot, or seeing Ginny's head pop up and watch him walk away.
Late that night, Harry descended the stairs and sat before the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room, staring at the shapes that danced in the flames.
He had woken from a nightmare that was becoming all too familiar. In the dream, he watched Sirius fall through the doorway again, and every time, he couldn't do anything about it, even when he was right next to Sirius.
Tears ran down his face as he thought about the man that had meant so much, and suffered so much for Harry and his parents.
He jumped as a moan from a dark corner startled him. He looked at the wand in his hand, and put it away. Taking a tissue from the box on the end table, he went to see what or who was over there.
Harry found Ginny curled up on a loveseat, surrounded by papers and notes, as well as books and other things. He noted in passing that she had apparently been working on a potions essay when she fell asleep.
He was about to shake her awake when another moan and a couple of words stopped him.
"No. Please Tom, don't make do this."
Harry froze, and his mind flashed on the scene in the Chamber of Secrets. He waited, wanting to know if some part of Ginny was still under his sway, or if she was merely reliving that terrible year.
A few minutes of listening convinced him that it was only a memory that bothered her, and he bent over her to wake her up.
"Ginny, wake up." Harry spoke softly as he shook her shoulder gently. Ginny opened her eyes, her mind still caught in the nightmare that had gripped her.
With the nightmare, and Ginny not being quite awake yet, the explosion that followed could have been foretold by anyone.
Ginny opened her eyes, feeling someone's hand on her shoulder, and she looked up, still caught in that time between sleep and waking, looking for one of her family.
In the dim light, she could only tell two things. The man bending over her was not a redhead, and he looked an awful lot like her dream memories of Tom Riddle.
The thought that she wasn't awake yet, and Tom was about to take her over again flashed through her mind, and she reacted as the DA training had taught her.
Rolling off the loveseat, she pulled her wand.
Not expecting to be attacked by Ginny in the Gryffindor common room, Harry was a beat too slow, and before he really knew what was happening, he was waking up.
He blinked, feeling the headache that meant he'd been stunned. He looked up at Ginny, who was hastily putting her wand away, and the memory of what had happened came back in a rush.
"I'm so sorry" Ginny said in a rush, "It's just that I was having a bad dream, and I'm not used to being woken by men that don't have red hair, and I wasn't all the way awake yet..."
Ginny quieted as Harry began smiling, and then broke out laughing helplessly.
She stared at him in bewilderment, wondering if she'd done something to his mind.
Harry finally stopped and grinned at Ginny, an expression that made her heart leap.
"Here I am, the Boy that Lived, future Saver of the World, and All Around Hero," said Harry in a voice that was still laughing, "and a little girl, who's barely awake can take me out."
Ginny stared at him, feeling her cheeks redden. She wasn't sure if she should laugh with him, or hit him.
Finally, she decided on a different tactic. She smiled at Harry, putting everything she had ever felt for him in that smile, and watched with delight as his eyes suddenly changed. She straddled him, and bent down low, so that her lips barely brushed his, and spoke.
"All I can say, Harry, is that you're in worse shape than I thought, if you think I'm a little girl." Ginny stood up, and left without even gathering her books, disappearing up the girl's stairs before the befuddled Harry could do anything but think about the feel of Ginny straddling him, and the brush of her lips on his.
Harry stared at the stairs that Ginny had gone up, his mind whirling as he rapidly realigned facts in his head.
He wondered exactly when Ginny had become a woman, because the body that had just rubbed his in various places and ways had most certainly not been the stick figure, skinny and mostly neuter that he'd helped out of the Chamber.
He sat up, and looked at the books and papers scattered around. He smiled then, and picked everything up, placing it on a table for Ginny to find.
He paused, trying to find something to leave with the books, an apology for not noticing her, but the only thing in his pocket was the card from the Chocolate Frog he'd eaten at lunch, and he ran up the stairs, looking for something in his trunk.
He finally found a Muggle lollipop in the bottom of the trunk. He hesitated, but there wasn't anything else, and he took it back down stairs, leaving it on the books.
Harry went to bed, feeling better than he had in several months.