A/n: alas, the end…
E P I L O G U E
Ginny clutched the handle of her broomstick—a hand-me-down from the George Weasley—firmly between two palms. She looked up at the evening sky, shot with pale pinks and golds, disappearing beyond the Quidditch pitch, and took a deep breath. The mounted broom eased smoothly upward, amid both sets of goal posts as Ginny's braids flew out behind her. Taking her position, she closed her eyes and sighed.
"Not nervous, are you?" asked a teasing voice, from beneath a mass of jet-black hair.
"Of course not," she replied, tossing a braid over her shoulder and smiling. "Especially since the captain may be biased in my favor."
Harry Potter laughed, waggling a finger at her. "Ah ah ah, I am strictly impartial when it comes to this team. Gryffindor doesn't take just anyone."
"But I'm not just anyone," Ginny said, blinking big brown eyes faux-innocently.
A small scarlet tinge kissed Harry's cheeks. "I know," he muttered, and, rather daringly, leaned across midair to tug on her pigtails. "Good luck," he added, soaring towards the stands.
Ron and Hermione were nestled together there, talking quietly. He dismounted and joined them as the new aspirants took off for warm-up flights.
"I thought you two were here to supervise," he said sternly, nodding at their prefect badges but grinning a bit. "Maybe you're going to need the chaperones instead."
Ron and Hermione shared a glance before looking back at him.
"Sod off, Harry," said Hermione cheerfully.
Harry feigned a jaw-drop; Hermione turned to Ron and whispered, "Did I say that right?"
"I think you've been a bad influence on her," Harry said, throwing Ron his Cleansweep. "C'mon, Chaser tryouts..."
"Ha ha, Gin, better try again," taunted Ron, tossing the Quaffle back into play. It was caught by Katie Bell, who threw it to Natalie McDonald. "Look alive, Weasley," Katie demanded.
Get a grip, Ginny, she thought, absentmindedly ducking a Bludger.
"Ginny!" called Natalie, chucking the ball at her. Ginny caught it, swerved between two other Chasers in the scrimmage, and came face-to-face with Ron. She faked a left and aimed for the center post.
"You got me!" Ron yelled, stunned. He glared at Hermione, who was cheering from the stands. The redhead seemed to be deciding whether lobbing a Quaffle at his girlfriend would be worth it.
"Back into play, come on now," said Harry, making notes on a clipboard in almost an Umbridge-like fashion.
Ron stuck out his tongue at Hermione and let Katie have the ball, who passed to Natalie, who…was immediately winded by Beater Andrew Kirke.
"Time out!" Harry exasperatedly called, blowing the whistle around his neck. All players zoomed back to earth, circling a pale Natalie.
"Are you alright?" he asked urgently.
She nodded determinedly, attempting to use her broomstick as a crutch. However, her legs would not support her, and she stumbled into Jack Sloper's arms.
"Harry, she's can't play like that," said Hermione anxiously, peering over his shoulder.
"Yeah," he gruffly agreed. "Someone take her to the hospital wing, then…"
"I will!" volunteered every male huddled around her. Her weak smile was still very attractive (along with the rest of her), even if she was in pain.
"Lovely," Hermione muttered, watching the throng of boys lead Natalie away. "Ron, get back here!"
"Zonko!" cried Katie happily, spotting the Weasley twins' owl and running after it.
The pitch, excluding Harry and Ginny, was now completely vacant.
"Now I know why Katie passed up the captaincy," he groused, gazing skyward. A drizzle of rain hit him full in the face; Ginny giggled.
"Think it's funny, do you?" Harry inquired, looking at her. She had her eyes closed and her head thrown back happily, arms spread wide to welcome the rain.
"Yes," she replied, clearly content, and Harry's cantankerous demeanor softened. He opened his mouth to say something, but Ginny had mounted her broom and was hovering above him.
"It's beautiful up here. Wanna see?" She outstretched her arm to him. He took it and allowed her to take him aloft.
"See? Isn't it beautiful?" Harry gazed at her, the beads of a September storm clinging to her hair and eyelashes, molding her clothes to her body.
"Yeah…you are…" he replied, tilting her chin and leaning in.
He nearly fell off the broom when she pulled away.
"Harry," she began, grasping his hand, "I…I feel like I love you, I really do…but…"
I need a commitment.
"You need a commitment, right?" he said. She blinked.
"How did you know? I didn't send you that…"
"Lucky guess," he shrugged. "Truth is, I've been feeling the same way, but I didn't know how to tell you…"
They listened to the steady patter of the rain for a moment, then…
"Are we…together, then?" Ginny asked hesitantly.
Harry said nothing, but reached beneath his T-shirt to pull out a silver chain. He removed it and coiled it into her palm.
"Lupin said it was my mum's," he said quietly. "And I want you to have it."
Ginny gasped, gazing at the ring on the end of the chain. In the center of the emerald stone, a small carved, white lily glistened.
"It's beautiful, Harry…but I can't…"
"Please?" He didn't wait for a reply, but fastened it around her neck. "This way…no matter what happens…I'll always be with you."
"Harry, don't say things like that…you'll be alright."
"I'll be alright for as long as I live…as long as I have you."
Ginny's eye glistened with tears. She did not like the subject of this conversation.
"Please don't say those things," she pleaded, fingering the necklace.
"Please…be strong, Ginny. I don't like to think about these things, either, but what's coming will come, and we have to meet it when we does."
She gave him a watery smile. "Look at you, fighting the good fight."
"Look at you, being brave and sweet enough to fight it alongside me."
Harry flushed again as Ginny kissed his cheek and nuzzled into his shoulder. "So, are we together, or what?"
"If you're asking if we're romantically involved, then yes. If you're asking if I'll protect you, then definitely. If you're asking if I love you, then, of course, for all eternity. I look into your eyes and it's like I see what I've been missing for so long."
"Me too," she said softly, meeting her lips with his. "Me, too."
"I take it I'm on the team, then?" Ginny said a while later, soaking wet and on solid ground.
"If these are the kind of training sessions you offer, naturally."
"How is it you always know the perfect thing to say to me?"
"How is it I've found the perfect thing right in front of me?"
"Oh, you," Ginny laughed, shoving his arm. Harry caught her fingers between his, smiling as the storm above them began to pound vociferously.
"I think I've found our song."
And as a loud thunderclap shattered the air, they both knew he was right.
a/n: hope I caused the romantically inclined to shed a few tears on this one. Thank you so very much, everyone, for being true-blue readers and bringing happiness to my life with your wonderful reviews. I hope each of you takes something away from this story—a sort of message or just a general feeling of joy—and that everyone is satisfied with the conclusion.
Honorary mentions to the extraordinary Snake Eyes Hannah, cherryblossom08, JamieBell, milky way bar, Luna Lovegood 2, Nightwing 509, Carmel March, Padfootlover719, and Rayah Papaya for giving me the drive to complete a chaptered fic of mine for the first time ever! Thank you for the inspiration, praise, and demand of updates. You rock!
HiSpAniC PaNic—August 2004