Chapter 14! Okay, I warn you now, this chapter is going to be very long and, at times, very confusing. But, please, I know that if you take the time to read it, it will be a good ending! I'll make it as easy as I can.
Ginny exhaled and smiled at the wand tip currently hovering in front of her face as a beam of light emitted from it, enveloped her face for a moment and then vanished. She sighed and looked at the boy beside her.
"Well?" she asked.
He smiled and, amazingly, pulled her into a hug. "Good to see you again, Ginny." he said.
She shivered, took a fistful of long hair and examined it. It was copper, streaked with a little blonde from her summer spent in Egypt with Bill and Fleur the previous summer. She smiled at it, for once glad to actually see it.
"Now, do me!" said Ron, looking at Dumbledore expectantly.
Dumbledore laughed and raised his wand to Ron's face. "Are you quite sure now? You don't wish to remain a brunette for just a bit longer?"
"He's kidding!" laughed Ginny, tapping her brother on the arm at the appalled look that crossed his face.
"Yeah,' nodded Ron. "I knew that."
Ginny stood aside and watched as Dumbledore muttered a spell and Ron's face molded back into the face Ginny knew every detail of. His long nose covered with freckles, the dimple in his left cheek which made itself known whenever he got anxious, the small birthmark just under his chin… all of it. His hair lightened back to red, lengthened just that little bit and his voice went back to normal.
"Well, there you both are." Said Dumbledore, beaming.
While Ron took a moment to marvel at his old appearance, Ginny looked at the Mirror behind her. It was leaning up against the wall, as innocent as it had been the day she and Ron had found it three weeks ago. But, with a pang, Ginny saw no-one on the other side, waiting for her. No Hermione, no Harry, no Dumbledore…
"What are you going to tell everyone?" asked Ron, handing his bag of borrowed textbooks back over to the Headmaster. "About us just disappearing?"
"Well, this would depend of course on what you have told the people you have been fraternizing with on a regular basis." Said Dumbledore. "Am I to understand you have kept information given to a minimal?"
"Yes sir, we have." Said Ginny, turning to face him.
"Marvelous. Well, I am sure I can come up with something before dinner." Said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling.
Ron sighed and ruffled his red hair. "I just… it feels strange. I feel like I should at least say goodbye – even though we'll be seeing them in a few minutes."
Ginny smirked. "Don't feel too guilty. We won't even remember all this happened, will we?" she said, looking at Dumbledore.
The old wizard smiled at her. "You are very perceptive, Miss Weasley. No, I doubt my counterpart will allow you to remember these events, as will I not allow Miss Granger and Mr. Potter to remember all their…intimate encounters with the two of you."
"Intimate encounters?" laughed Ron nervously. "We wouldn't do anything like that, Professor! "We were just… er, that is… um…"
Ginny laughed. "Ron, give it up."
Ron sighed and smiled bashfully, his ears going red.
"I am not upset, Mr. Weasley." Laughed Dumbledore. "On the contrary, I believe your presence here has made some very significant changes, all of them for the better. Surely you can see examples within the school."
Ginny nodded and smiled. "Harry."
"Exactly. I am not completely aware of what it is you have done, but it is making him into a much better person." Said Dumbledore. "Someone I always knew he could be, given the right environment, influences… and friends." He said, giving them both a significant look.
Ron shrugged. "Everything happens for a reason, right? Maybe I was meant to be a pillock that night and follow my urge to touch."
Ginny giggled. "Or, maybe you were just a pillock, plain and simple."
Dumbledore chuckled. "Well, enough of that. Now, if you both could step towards the mirror…"
The two teens exchanged a look, turned around and began to walk towards the mirror, but Ron suddenly whirled around.
"Sir, are you memory charming Harry and Hermione personally?" he asked.
"Well, yes, I believe I will be."
Ron smiled. "Well then, if you wouldn't mind, there are a few details I want you to leave in their minds."
Harry skidded to a halt right out the front of the room where he had seen Dumbledore, Cassie and Ben enter and waited a minute, catching his breath. He didn't want to just barge in there either; Dumbledore would not be happy at all about that.
He stood up straighter and considered the closed door, wondering what was in there. That was a room he had never been able to get into in the past, not to mention it was right out of the way of anything in the castle. It was probably the most deserted past of the South Tower.
If it's so private, why can't he just take them to his office? He wondered, listening intently to the muffled voices on the other side of the door. And if they really are leaving, why on earth are they doing it in an old classroom?
Perhaps he had heard wrong. Perhaps they weren't leaving the castle at all, but had been talking about something else. Perhaps they were going to stay – perhaps she was going to stay.
Oh, how he hoped he had misheard.
Harry fiddled with his silver and green tie for a moment, gathering up the nerve to be both incredibly gallant and stupid. This wasn't just being nosy into other student's lives; this was intruding on the private business of the Headmaster.
But, that was something he had always been good at.
He smiled to himself, imaging what Draco would say if he could see him now. Huddled behind a statue of a Mermaid, waiting for the right moment to burst in on a conference with the Headmaster and two students for no good reason? Draco wouldn't know whether to me mortified or impressed.
Having enough of all this waiting, Harry straightened up and crossed to the door…
"And that's all, is it?" asked Dumbledore.
Ron and Ginny nodded. "Yep, that sounds fine." She said. "Just make sure you take extra care with…"
All three occupant of the room looked around to see the door fly open and Harry Potter stumble in, looking a little embarrassed, yet determined all the same.
"Harry?" said Ginny, looking surprised.
Harry straightened up slowly, frowning as he examined each person before him. He had that expression one got when they were expecting something, but sadly got something else. Ginny winced inwardly, guessing what he was thinking. He looked very confused.
Dumbledore meanwhile, seemed to have suddenly found the situation rather funny. "Mr. Potter, as always, a wonderful entrance.' He said. 'Now, what could we do for you?"
Harry cleared his throat. "Oh, er…' he said, looking at Ron and Ginny. "I just…I thought I saw Cassie and Ben McDowell come in here."
There was a very uncomfortable silence, and Ginny just wanted to run through the mirror to avoid his expression. Harry had never looked so confused in his life. She could practically see the wheels turning in his head, trying to put the pieces together but sadly drawing no conclusion.
"We should tell him." Muttered Ron beside her. None of them noticed Dumbledore slip out of the room.
"Tell me what, exactly, Weasley?" snapped Harry, looking anything but amused. "And what are you doing here anyway? I thought I told you to trot off after Granger."
Ginny sighed and took a step toward him. "Harry, please, if you'd just give us a moment…"
"Since when have you and I been on a first name basis?" said Harry, looking at Ginny with a hard stare. It took everything for Ginny not to burst into tears at that moment; she had never seen such a beautiful face, such beautiful eyes, look at her like that.
"Listen, mate…" started Ron.
But Harry wasn't having any of this. "Mate? Jesus, Weasley, what did Granger do to you?" he laughed, taking a step back. "Why are you two acting so chummy with me all of a sudden? What are you two both doing in a room with some old mangy mirror? And where the hell did Cassie and Ben go?"
"We're right here." Said Ginny, taking another step toward Harry.
Harry frowned. "What?"
"Harry, it's me." Said Ginny, crossing right to him and looking up at him. "I'm Cassie. It's me."
He looked down at her and laughed. "Don't be stupid, Weasley."
Ginny sighed and rolled her eyes. "Harry, I'm not lying to you. It's been me, and Ron's been Ben. See, this mirror…"
"No, you can't have been." Said Harry, shaking his head. He was looking wildly between Ginny and Ron, waiting for one of them to laugh at him and announce that it was really all a joke. "Its cant be you! I… I've seen Cassie and you together! You sat together at meal times, you talked during breaks…"
"Harry, look, I know this is hard for you to understand,' said Ron, moving closer. 'It's probably just as hard to explain, but it's true. Ginny and I have been pretending to be someone else…"
"NO!" roared Harry, looking furious. "There's no way…"
Not able to take it anymore, Ginny rushed to him, took his face in her hands and made him look at her. "Look at me, dammit." She snapped as he tried to push her away. He stopped his struggling and looked into her brown eyes, his chest still heaving. "Do you see me?" she whispered. "Do you see the real me? The girl you've been following for the past few weeks like a lost puppy? The girl who climbed out of a window to go flying with you? The girl who's wanted to smack your smug little face more times than she can count?"
Harry looked at her for a longest time, his eyes showing many emotions she could read. He looked conflicted and was tense against her, but slowly, he started to relax a little, and his eyes widened a little as he took her in.
"It…" he muttered finally, taking her hands in his. "It's true, then? You're not taking me for a sucker?"
Ginny smiled. "I rather thought you'd be able to judge if someone was lying to you." She giggled.
Harry smiled weakly and looked at her as if only just seeing her for the first time. He ran a hand through her flaming red hair, letting the back of his fingers brush across her cheek as they passed. Ginny felt an overwhelming feeling of freedom as he examined her. It was the first time he was actually looking at her.
He tore his eyes away from her and looked at Ron over her shoulder. "And you? You've been Ben all this time?"
Ron nodded and smiled. "Yeah, I have."
Harry frowned. "But… you and I have actually been getting along!"
"That's not a rarity for me, you know."
Harry groaned and rubbed his eyes. "This is very confusing."
"Tell me about it." Said Ginny. "It's been killing me, not being able to tell you all this…"
"But why?" asked Harry, looking at both Weasleys. "Why have you both been pretending to be someone else? And how have you been able to be in the same place as yourselves?"
"Potter, what the hell do you think you're oh my god."
The air in the room suddenly became heavier than ten Hagrids, as Hermione and the other Ron came barging into the room, at first looking annoyed at Harry for following the Headmaster around, but now looking completely shocked at what it was they were witnessing.
It was like time had just suddenly stopped. It must have been an amusing scene to outsiders. Ginny was standing in the middle of the room with Harry, their hands linked, Ron was standing behind her, looking relieved, yet uncomfortable at the same time. Hermione was looking at the three of them in disbelief, and Ron2 was looking as if he had been stupefied and was white as a sheet.
And then, Ron2 stomped forward, wretched Ginny out of Harry's grip and pulled his wand out on the real Ron.
"Ron, what are you…"
"No, Ginny." roared, Ron2, looking at his double with a death glare. "I don't know what spell this is, but it can't be good."
The real Ron simply sighed, looking bored with the entire situation. He actually exchanged a look with Harry, their expressions identical in meaning.
"Ron, now, just wait a moment." Said Hermione calmly, looking suspiciously at the real Ron, while putting a hand on the flared up Weasley beside her. "We don't know what's going on here."
Ginny ripped her arm free. "Put it away, prat." She snapped, snatching his wand out of his hand and throwing it back at him.
"Ginny! What the bloody hell are you doing?" snapped Ron2, looking very confused. "And why were you holding Potter's hand?"
"Firstly, I can hold whoever's hand I bloody well want, and there wouldn't be a single thing you could do about it." Snapped Ginny, poking her alternate brother in the chest. "And secondly… I'm not your sister."
Ron2 frowned at her as she took another step back toward this double. "I beg your pardon? Ginny, don't be stupid."
"No, Ron, she can't be." Said Hermione, looking at Ginny suspiciously. "Ginny's up in Gryffindor Tower. No way could she have gotten down here in time."
"Yeah, and they were just about to explain it all before you came barging in." said Harry, folding his arms over his chest. He looked very casual, as if he wasn't at all confused about this situation like the other two were. "Honestly, you can't just walk into a conversation without any invitation, you know."
Hermione snorted. "Hypocrite." She exchanged a smirk with Harry, before looking back at Ginny and the other Ron in front of her. She gave them a long, searching look, before sighing. "I think I know what's been going on here, but I want to hear your explanation." She said.
Ron looked down at Ginny in front of him, silently asking who should be the best to explain it. "Maybe I should do this. You never really understood all this anyway."
Ginny snorted. "Be my guest."
And so, Ron then went into a long, in-depth explanation of the events of the past month, starting from the night when Ginny had come to him wanting to practice dueling, to when they found the mirror, all the way up to right in that very moment. Hermione seemed too shocked to be able to comment, Ron2 was looking blissfully ignorant about everything he was hearing, and Harry looked both impressed and a little outraged all at once. Ginny didn't say anything as Ron went over his explanation, feeling it was better if she simply let him do what he had to.
"We weren't really planning on telling any of you." Said Ron, finishing with something of a relieved sigh. "We were hoping just to disappear and not cause any complications."
Another long silence followed all this. Harry, Hermione and Ron2 were standing in a line in front of them, looking completely dumbfounded.
"Well, er…" said Hermione, blushing. "This rather explains a lot." She giggled, looking at Ron significantly.
He laughed and nodded. "I know, and I'm sorry if you feel… I don't know… betrayed, somehow. It was just really hard to not be friends with you, considering my history on our side of the mirror." He looked at his double and smiled. "So, we good?"
Ron2 laughed and ruffled his hair. "Merlin, I can't believe that I… that I actually…"
"Hated me?" offered Ron.
Hermione laughed and nudged Ron2 beside her. "Bet you feel like a git now, don't you? I told you he was alright."
Ginny ignored them all. Harry was just looking at her, his eyes narrowed slightly. She didn't know what he was thinking at all, and she felt guilty for some reason.
"Harry? Are you okay?" she asked, stepping closer to him.
He didn't back away, but looked at his feet. He had his arms folded and he looked closed. "You lied to me."
"I never lied to you."
Harry shook his head. "All this time, it's been you.' He said with a small laugh. "The entire time I knew you, it always bugged me who you reminded me so much of. But now, seeing you, I understand. You reminded me of Ginny Weasley. I never thought I knew her well enough."
Ginny sighed. "And now?"
Harry looked up at her. "Now, I don't know what I feel."
"Oh, don't be an idiot." Snapped Ron, coming over. Harry looked very surprised to see his sudden input, but Ron looked as though a weight was being lifted off his shoulders. "I know you better than you think I do here, and I'm telling you that you don't feel this way about anyone, the way you feel about my sister."
"Well, wait on a minute!" piped up Ron2, looking outraged. 'Are you telling me that Potter has the hots for my little sister?"
"You know, Weasley, I am standing right here!" said Harry, giving Ron2 a look.
Ron rolled his eyes and took a step backward, casting a glance at the mirror. And, with a sudden jolt of surprise, his eyes widened as he saw someone standing there. Someone very familiar…
"Ginny…" said Ron, tugging on his sister's sleeve.
She looked around at the mirror and felt her knees go weak. "Harry."
"What?" asked Harry, looking around from Ron2 next to him.
But he didn't get his answer, for in that moment, a person stepped through the mirror with a shiver – someone looking very familiar.
Ginny and Ron smiled as Harry Potter, their Harry Potter, straightened up his robes and smiled at them. His hair was tousled in that way that he could never fix, and his glasses were a little askew. He had that old, familiar air of awkwardness about him as he looked at the two Weasleys in front of him, a blush to his cheeks.
"Oh, Harry." Cried Ginny. And in one quick movement, she rushed to him and through her arms around him.
Harry grunted and laughed, hugging her tightly. "Ginny. Merlin, I've missed you." He said, squeezing her tightly. "We've been so worried about the two of you, you know. Waking up that morning with no Weasleys, and no-one to give me my juice in the morning…"
Ginny laughed and pulled back to face him. It was really him! Gryffindor robes and all, it was him. She sighed and kissed him, forgetting completely that four other people were watching. Harry laughed against her lips and kissed her back for a moment.
Ron laughed and caught a glimpse of Harry2 out of the corner of his eye. "Here now, move aside. He's mine too." Said Ron, tapping Ginny on the arm.
Harry laughed as Ginny released him. "Ron, bloody good to see you mate." He said. He stuck his hand out for Ron to take, but Ron brushed it aside and pulled him into a tight, manly hug.
"You have no idea how good it is to see you." Laughed Ron.
Harry smiled and patted his best friend on the back. "You too. Dumbledore just come and got us, telling us that the connection was open again, and that you'd be coming back soon. Well, I certainly wasn't going to miss…"
But he stopped as he finally clapped eyes on the other three occupants of the room. Harry felt his stomach drop as he saw Hermione first, fitted up in her Ravenclaw robes and an absolutely astonished look on her face. Next came Ron2 with the same expression, and finally, came himself.
"Oh, dear." He stuttered.
Harry2 was looking at his double with total shock. Each of them gave each other the old once over, taking in the similarities, yet extreme differences between them.
"Oh, you have got to be kidding me." Said Harry2, locking eyes on the crest on Harry's robes. "Gryffindor? He's… I'm… Gryffindor?"
Harry frowned. "Slytherin?" he said, looking at Ginny. She nodded, and Harry laughed. "Well, er, wasn't expecting that!"
"So, Harry's in Gryffindor in your world?" asked Hermione, looking suddenly quite amused. "Good gracious, a Gryffindor?"
Harry glared at her giggling for a moment. "This is not funny. Slytherin? God, the next thin you'll be telling me is that he's best friends with Malfoy." He laughed.
"What, you aren't friends with Draco?" asked Harry2, looking genuinely curious. "And are you telling me that you and Weasley are actually chums?"
"That's what I've been trying to tell you." Said the real Ron, stepping forward. "Harry and I are best mates in our world."
Hermione's giggled become that much louder at the look of revulsion that crossed over the two alternate boys faces.
"We're actually a little famous, the three of us." Said Harry, looking as though he had just inhaled something. "You know, 'The Golden Trio' some call us. It's kind of weird, really."
"Three?" asked Ron2, looking at Harry. "Who's the third?"
And almost as if waiting for this exact cue, someone else came through the mirror, shivering as though passing through a wall of ice. She only took a second to clap eyes on a certain red-head in front of her, before flinging herself at him.
"Hermione!" Ron laughed as she ran over to him.
Hermione literally jumped on him, wrapping her legs around his waits and her arms around his neck. He let out a grunt and a laugh, stumbling a little with the impact.
"Oh, Ron!" she cried, tears streaming down her face. She was kissing him all over his face. "You're so stupid… why do you always have to touch? God, I can't believe you'd be so irresponsible…I'm so angry with you right now…' she was rambling, at every interval kissing him firmly on the lips.
Ron smiled to himself, running his hands freely along her back. "Boy, if this is the kind of treatment I get, maybe I should go missing more often!"
"No!" she laughed, hugging him tightly. "Don't you dare. I'm never letting you go again! Oh, Harry and I have been frantic without the two of you! What on earth possessed you? Walking through mirrors… you should know better than that! Dumbledore said the most ludicrous things, about you ending up in some alternate universe…"
Ginny and Harry exchanged a knowing smile. She turned around to see the reaction of the others, and only just held herself back from laughing. The other Ron and Hermione were standing there with their mouths and eyes wide open, looking at their doubles open display of affection with complete shock. They were both red faced with embarrassment.
"Ha!" laughed Harry2 loudly, breaking the tension. Everyone looked at him, but he was looking at Hermione2 and Ron2 beside him. "Now that's funny." He said, pointing at their doubles.
"Oh, heavens." Muttered Hermione, getting off her boyfriend and looking at the other trio before her. "Slytherin?" she said, looking at Harry2 in confusion.
Harry2 smiled and pressed his chest out importantly. "Yes, you like? I feel the silver and green compliments my complexion far better than the scarlet the less attractive version of me is wearing there." He said, giving his double a patronizing look.
But Hermione wasn't really listening. She was looking at her double, both of them stunned by the color robes they were donning. "Ravenclaw? Well, that's not as shocking as Slytherin, I suppose."
Hermione2 smiled. "Nearly put in Ravenclaw, were you? I was nearly put in Gryffindor too, but the Sorting hat changed its mind."
"You never told me that." Said Ron2, looking at her.
"There's a lot I don't tell you, Ronald." She said, giving him a smirk.
They all went there separate ways for a moment. Both Harry's began talking to each other, trying to gauge just how different a house made one person. The Ron's and Hermione's began discussing their relationship statuses ("Lavender brown!" Ginny heard the real Hermione cry suddenly), but Ginny opted to stick with her two boys. Their conversation was most amusing.
"You and Malfoy are actually friends? You're not just yanking my chain?"
"Hey, if you can be friends with Weasley, I can definitely be friends with Draco, thanks very much. But, just out of curiosity, does being in Gryffindor mean you also inherit bad fashion sense? Because if it does, then I'm even gladder I got sorted into Slytherin."
"And if this is the sort of person Slytherin made me into, I'm even more gladder than you are that I got put into Gryffindor."
Ginny laughed and put an arm around Harry's waist at the look of annoyance on his face as his double simply smiled good-naturedly at him. "He's not that bad, you know."
"Why, thank you Weasley. I mean, Cassie. I mean…" stuttered Harry2. He laughed and ruffled his hair. "Hell, I don't even know what to call you."
"Just call me Ginny, okay?"
He nodded and smiled at her and his double, looking at them appraisingly. "You were right; you didn't lie." He said. "When you said you were in love with someone else… this is what you meant."
Ginny nodded. "I didn't know if you knew this part of yourself yet." She said, tapping her Harry on the stomach.
"Hang on, wait a minute." Said Harry, looking at her. "You two didn't… er, you didn't…"
"Well, yeah, of course we did!" said Harry2, beaming. "She's been spending the past month with Witch Weekly's Most Eligible Bachelor and, well, she is only human."
Harry glared at him. "You really revel in your arrogance, don't you?"
"It's a tough job being handsome, something you wouldn't know much about apparently."
Harry looked like he very much wanted to snap back, but instead looked down at Ginny beside him. "We should really get going. I don't know how long this connection lasts for. Dumbledore doesn't even know Hermione and I came through, you know."
"Oh, okay." She nodded.
"Wait!" cried Harry2 as his double went over to the others. "You're… you're leaving?" he asked her.
Ginny smiled. "I can't stay here, Potter. This isn't my world. I have my own one to get back to, where I can be myself."
Harry2 frowned, but was pushed aside as the real Hermione came over to her and hugged her. "Come on, let's go. We only have a short time left." She let her go, waved to the others and stepped back through the mirror in the other room.
Ron smiled at her, looked back at his double and winked. "You take good care of her now. I don't want to hear anymore reports about all this denial you've been having."
Ron2 laughed and put an arm around Hermione2. "Don't worry, we'll be fine."
Ron smiled, gave Harry2 and smile and walked through the mirror.
Harry sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets, looking at Ginny. "You ready to go?"
She nodded. "Yes, just give me a minute, okay?"
"Okay. See you guys later!" said Harry, giving the other trio a wave. And he too, stepped through the mirror.
"You know, Potter, I think you as a Gryffindor makes a good change." Said Ron2, giving Harry2 an actual smile. "That one wasn't really as pig-headed as you were."
"Yeah, shame." Said Harry, giving Ginny a smile.
Hermione rolled her eyes, hitched up her Ravenclaw robes and grabbed Ron's arm. "Come on you, they need privacy."
"But, Potter and… my sister…"
Ginny giggled as Hermione dragged Ron out of the room, but sobered up as she found herself alone with Harry. She looked at the mirror – the others weren't there. She could feel him get closer to her, but she didn't move away.
"Don't look at me like that." She said.
"Like you're undressing me." She said, giving him a look.
Harry smiled and shrugged. "I'm a seventeen year old male – sue me." He reached out and rubbed her arms. "I still can't believe its been you all this time. Ginny Weasley, my arch rivals little sister."
She smiled. "It's always the one you least suspect."
"And now you're leaving me." He said, looking into her eyes. "You're leaving, for good."
"Harry, I'm not going anywhere." She said. "I'm still here, up in Gryffindor Tower, right this minute! I've always been here, and I think that in the back of your mind, you've always noticed. You just haven't done anything about it because of Ron."
"But…' he said, looking disturbingly like the Harry who had just left. 'But, I love you."
She smiled, leant up and kissed him on the cheek. "I know. And, somehow, I find myself loving you too. You're not the Harry I'm in love with, but that can be different for the other me. I'm no different from her… you just have to take the right steps."
Harry nodded and reluctantly let her go. Ginny took a few steps toward the mirror, her eyes locked on him. "Be good, okay?"
He smiled. "As good as can be expected."
She smiled, gave him a wave and stepped through the mirror, out of sight.
Harry simply stood there, staring at the old piece of furniture for what seemed hours. After a while, it glowed a feint green, shivered, and then went back to normal once more. He sighed, guessing that that meant that she really wasn't going to come back.
"I'm sensing some sadness in you, young Harry." Came a familiar voice behind him.
Harry smiled but didn't look around. "Very observant, Professor."
Dumbledore smiled and stood up level with his student. "In retrospect, it does seem a rather peculiar thing to be saddened by. Saying goodbye to a girl who still resides in the castle, just a few floors away?"
"I guess it doesn't matter all that much though, does it? I won't be remembering her anyway, will I?" he said with a sad smile.
Dumbledore said nothing, but simply smiled back at him.
"She may have looked like Weasley, but she'll always bee Cassie McDowell to me." Said Harry. He looked at his Headmaster. "Does that make sense?"
"No, not really."
Harry sniffed in amusement as Dumbledore placed a hand on his shoulder and steered him away from the mirror, towards the door. "Now, Mr. Potter, if you'd be so kind as to come with me – I have some spells to perform."
"You didn't really kiss him or anything, did you, Ginny?"
Ginny rolled her eyes at Hermione beside her. "No, Harry, for the fiftieth time. He was only kidding."
"He's like that, you know." Said Ron to Harry. "It was strange, seeing you act like that. Like… you'd been possessed by the Spirit of Sarcasm or something."
Hermione smiled at the boys over her shoulder as they walked down the corridor, Ginny and Hermione leading them, arms linked. "But still, Slytherin? Kind of strange, don't you think?"
"And you being in Ravenclaw wasn't?" said Harry.
"It was all strange." Said Ginny. "Seeing you both in different houses, watching Ron and Harry snipe at each other like you do with Malfoy, seeing Ron dating Lavender…"
"Yes, about that!" cried Hermione, giving Ron and sharp look behind her.
Ron laughed nervously. "Hey, come on! Give a guy a break, eh?"
They were headed for Dumbledore's office. Hermione, wise as she was, had guessed very early on that they would have to have their memories erased of all this. It was sad, however, to think that they would not have any memories of such a good adventure. But, it didn't matter in that moment. They were all just far too happy to be together again.
"Does it make you appreciate us more?" asked Harry, giving both Weasley's a smile.
"Hell yes!" laughed Ginny, letting go of Hermione, turning around and leaping on Harry. He laughed as she hopped onto his back, wrapping her legs around his waist. "God, I haven't even been able to kiss your gorgeous face for a month! That's more than enough time to consider yourself a nun."
Ron laughed. "Tell me about it. There was never a time when I didn't think of the two of you." Said Ron, taking Hermione's hand and giving it a kiss. "And never again will I complain about being a red-head. Brown hair is just horrible – well, on me, anyway." He added, giving Hermione a smirk.
"I'm going to miss them, though. Strangely enough." Said Ginny pensively "They were so different, it was like making new friends."
"It must have been fascinating,' said Hermione. "Seeing how things might have turned out had certain events transpired differently. Like me in Ravenclaw, Harry in Slytherin…"
"It was, very interesting." Said Ron. "Still, I think they'll be fine now."
"I wonder what they're going to do with themselves now, then." Said Harry, giving her a smile.
Harry Potter whistled to himself as he strolled down the hallways, by-passing students as he headed off out towards the grounds. The day was very warm, and everyone had decided to take their lunches outside to enjoy the sunshine; even Draco was enjoying the sunlight. His pale skin was actually getting some colour.
But, Harry wasn't in search of some sun. He was in search of a person.
He jogged down the steps toward the entrance hall, jumped the last two steps and landed nimbly on the marble floor. He smiled at the nearby gaggle of sixth year Ravenclaw girls, looking at him with that familiar glint to their eye – but he quickly forgot about them as he saw to familiar people walk toward him.
Ron and Hermione were coming down the adjacent hallway, laughing with each other. Ron had his arm around her shoulders and was kissing her temple every few seconds, giving her looks of admiration when she wasn't looking. Harry smiled to himself as he watched them approach. They had (finally!) gotten together only a week before, and were both very happy. Harry was happy for them – not that he would admit it to anyone without a hearing deficiency.
As they approached, Harry and Ron locked eyes over the top of Hermione's head. They simply stared at each other for a moment, before Harry smiled weakly and nodded in recognition. Ron blinked and hesitated, before smiling back and nodding in answer.
It was all over in a second, and the couple walked past him out to the grounds. Hermione had not noticed a thing.
Harry shook himself of the light feeling in his stomach and marched out after them, resuming his search.
It didn't take him long to find her; her hair made her stick out like a ballerina at a rock concert. She was down by the lake with a small group of her girlfriends, laughing, all of them stripped down to the bare minimum of their shirts, ties and skirts from a result of the heat. Harry almost didn't want to approach her, knowing full well what was most likely going to happen when he did this. But, he was determined, and his feet carried him over to her.
Ginny Weasley's laughter died as she turned around from her friends and frowned at him suspiciously. "Potter?"
Harry ruffled his hair. "Er, can I have a word?"
"I don't know, can you?"
He sighed. He didn't know why he had been expecting a different reception from her. After all, he had done nothing by deliberately antagonize her brother for seven years.
He fiddled with his green and silver tie, trying to act cooler than he felt. "No need to get so crabby, Weasley, I'll only take a moment of your time. You'll be back to gossiping and doing your nails in no time."
Ginny's eyes narrowed and she folded her arms over her chest. "You've got thirty seconds – talk."
Harry smirked. "Well, rumor has it that you're quite the little vixen at Transfiguration, and I have practical exams coming up in a couple of months."
"Is that I am a complete dunce at Transfiguration, unlike my poor departed father, and was hoping if I could get some tutoring from you." He said.
Ginny laughed bitterly. "Oh, 'tutoring'? Is that what they're calling it now?"
"As far as I know, that's what it's always been called."
She surveyed him for a long moment with great suspicion, but Harry said nothing more. He simply looked at her expectantly, hoping she couldn't hear his heart thundering against his ribcage in nerves and anticipation.
"You're serious." She said, looking surprised.
"No, actually, that's my godfather. But, I am telling you the truth. I have no skills beyond that of a third year when it comes to the wretched subject, and I really want to do well on my NEWT's." he said.
She glared at him for a moment, before shaking her head. "No, sorry. I'm not interested in helping you, Potter."
Harry winced inwardly, but kept it together, pursed his lips and nodded. "Oh, right. Very well. Thanks anyway, Weasley."
He turned on his heel and began to walk off, feeling as though someone had just whacked him in the stomach with a sledge hammer. It shouldn't have been that much of a shock to be rejected, should it? But, there was a feeling of déjà vu that came with this rejection, somehow.
Ginny watched him go, very aware of the hunch to his shoulders. He seemed genuinely put out that she had refused; something very unusual in itself. Could he really have been telling the truth? Was that all he had really wanted, help with transfiguration?
She rolled her eyes. "Potter, wait!"
He spun around and looked at her. "Yeah?"
She couldn't believe she was actually about to do this. Ron was going to kill her when he found out, but there was something different about Harry Potter lately. He seemed less of a prat, and more of a decent human being. His head seemed to have deflated a little as of late, and he was no longer being deliberately antagonistic. And, aside from all his years as an insufferable sod… he really was kinda cute.
"Is Monday night good for you?" she asked flatly.
Harry smiled and rushed back to her. "You bet it is! Cheers, Ginny, you wont regret this." He said.
Ginny laughed as he gave her a quick hug, a quick kiss on the cheek and began walking off again. "Eight thirty good for you?" he asked.
She shrugged. "I guess so."
He smiled, gave her a wink and walked off again, feeling surprisingly elevated. It was strange to feel that way simply from talking to her, and if he didn't know better, he would have suspected that he was beginning to fancy her a little.
Well, it was rather absurd, really. Sure, the last person he had had this sort of obsession with had been Cassie McDowell, but she had left a week ago with her brother to go back home. Something about her father and him getting a job overseas. Her departure was something of a blur, really. He did remember meeting Dumbledore in the hallway out the front of a room, and him telling Harry that Ben and Cassie had been called away suddenly by Portkey, but that she had said to say goodbye. Naturally, he had been a little upset, but it all seemed to go away the next day when he went down to breakfast and clapped eyes on Ginny Weasley.
But, she wasn't the only Weasley he was treating differently lately either. He didn't know why, but something seemed to have shifted with him and Ron. It was strange and indescribable, but he didn't miss its significance.
Harry jumped out of his thoughts and looked around at the sound of his name being called. He saw Hermione Granger waving at him from over near the main stairs up to the castle. She was leaning against Ron's knees as they sat on the grass, feet bare, and the seemed to be having some sort of picnic.
He smiled and walked over to them, very aware of the cautious look he was receiving from Ron. "Well, isn't this cozy. Weasley, I never saw you as the picnicking type."
Ron's ears went red. "For your information, Potter, it was Hermione's idea."
Harry let out a cough that sounded a little like 'Lapdog.'
"We saw you talking to Ginny." said Hermione, elbowing Ron in the leg. "Ron was getting all worried, thinking you were trying to 'chat her up', as he so elegantly put it."
Harry laughed at Ron's look. "Well, you know, that's all I do on a daily basis, isn't it? Chat up girls. Because I don't have anything better do to, really."
"Off to lunch, then?" asked Hermione, picking out the tomato in her salad roll.
"Er, I guess."
Hermione looked around at Ron and gave him a look. His eyes widened and he shook his head, but he gave out a yelp as Hermione dug her fingernails into his bare foot.
"Well, Potter…do you want to join us?" said Ron, looking as though he'd rather eat Dragon dung than be polite to Harry.
Harry snorted. "That okay by you, then, Weasley? Wont bust a vein trying to be civil to me?"
Hermione rolled her eyes and shifted over on the blanket. "Sit down, Potter, before I bust something of yours."
Ron and Hermione shifted around to allow Harry room. He kicked his shoes off and knelt down getting comfortable. If anyone had been looking at the three of them, they would have either been too shocked to speak, or burst out laughing from the absurdness of what it was they were seeing. A Slytherin, a Ravenclaw, and a Gryffindor, sitting down to eat a picnic lunch?
That feeling went between the three of them as they ate in silence. And while it had always been there, suddenly it seemed ten times stronger. Each of them tried to ignore the vibration, the pull, but finally, after seven years of it occurring, Harry could take it no longer.
"Okay, can you two feel that?"
Ron and Hermione looked up at him. "Feel what?" asked Hermione, looking around as if expecting to see something.
"That! That… I don't know – that vibe." Said Harry, looking at the space between them with narrowed eyes.
Ron quirked an eyebrow and looked around too. "What vibe? I don't feel anything."
The three of them looked at each other for a moment, not realizing once again the triangle they were sitting in. Hermione kept looking around her suspiciously and handed Ron a butterbeer, while Ron took it and passed Harry the mayonnaise he had been trying to reach.
"Oh, never mind." Said Harry suddenly. He took the mayonnaise, exchanged a smile with Ron and began adding the topping to his roll. "Doesn't matter – its gone now."
A/N – The end! Like I said, long and a bit confusing! Thanks for sticking with me on this one chaps and gals, especially after the hiatus I took on it. You all rock my socks with your support. Look for more from me in the future (yes, I have more ideas!).