This is it, guys. The final chapter. I was only going to write an epligoue, but then I realized that epilogues are dumb. So I just settled for writing another chapter. I have a feeling that no one is complaining. This story has been so much fun to work on. I'm really glad that I received such positive feedback about it, too. You are all wonderful for boosting my ego. (Though it's questionable that I needed one.) Hope you'll stick around - I have some more story ideas up my sleeve.

Chapter Fourteen: Music Box

I never…

Ginny sat in the backseat of her father's car and stared out at the countryside, letting her thoughts wander far beyond the road and the trees that lined it. They were going to the train station to pick up the brunette that had snagged Ginny's heart the summer before and never let go.

Neither of us let go, Ginny thought to herself, noticing the smile appearing on her lips from her reflection on the car window. Despite everything - we always held on.

It amazed the redhead how far they had gotten. After the kiss on New Year's Eve, the Weasley family had surprisingly reacted quite well - even Fred, though the boy still ached from a bruised ego and a cracked heart for a few more months. Ginny had thought that that was as far as it would go, that their "declaration," as Ginny thought of it as, would only stay among her family. But the brunette had surprised Ginny again by not only holding her hand the entire train ride to the castle, but also kissing her in the middle of the Great Hall during dinner, a sweet, honest smile on her face.

From there, of course, the "news" of their relationship had spread like wild fire through the houses. Most of their housemates reacted positively, and their openness of the situation also caused Lavender and Parvati to slowly creep out of the shadows (though that certainly wasn't as large-scale a scandal as the "love triangle" that was being boasted by the situation between Ginny, Hermione, and Fred). Other classmates took it upon themselves to make being together as difficult as possible, to the point of removing points from Gryffindor house if they so much as walked together in the hallways.

Fucking Malfoy and his cronies, Ginny thought darkly, frowning to herself - before grinning again, devilishly, at the thought of how Ron and Harry had gotten back on them. Transmuting him into a ferret had been a very just payback, and the month-long detention with Snape had been, in their words, very much worth seeing the look on his face as they got him with the double wand blasts. Even Hermione had gotten a laugh out of it.

After that, things had gotten a little easier, but Ginny - and Hermione - were both happy to be done with school and off on vacation. It had been almost three weeks since they had seen each other; Hermione had spent them with her parents, traveling to France to visit Hermione's uncle and the French Wizarding world. Though they had certainly Owled back and forth during those weeks, Ginny was anxious to be in her arms again…

"Ginny, dear, aren't you going to get out of the car?" her mother asked amusedly, smiling at Ginny's obliviousness.

Ginny blinked back to reality quickly, and saw the parking lot of the train station surrounding her. Excitement bubbled and swelled in her heart, overflowed her veins and sent her out of the car and walking towards the platform, a few steps ahead of her parents. The train wasn't going to be arriving for another ten minutes, but she wanted to be prepared, ready and waiting to encircle Hermione in her arms before the brunette had even finished getting off of the train. She daydreamed happily about what she would say, how they would take each other's hands and Ginny would offer to carry her trunk for her and after a few moments of argument she would simply take it before Hermione had a chance to take it first, and they would walk together to her parents and snuggle in the back of the car - tamely, of course, because her parents would be in the front seats - and Ginny would ask her about France and her family and everything would be perfect.

In fact, she became so immersed in her own daydream that she didn't notice Hermione walking towards her until she saw that familiar shy, knowing smirk and those sparkling amber brown eyes staring straight into hers.

She didn't do anything but react. Her arms were suddenly wrapped around Hermione and she was filling up to the brim, feeling tears of something wonderful stinging sweetly behind her eyes. When she pulled away to get a good look at the brunette, she noticed that her eyes were sparkling suspiciously as well.

There were pleasantries between Hermione and her parents, but she didn't hear them. Ginny found herself captivated by Hermione's mere presence. She had no idea what else was going on around her. It didn't seem to have much purpose, now.

Much to her delight, they did snuggle in the back of the car, and Hermione whispered to her about France and her uncle. Hermione talked about eating in French cafés and drinking wine with dinner, and admitting (with a blush) that she had gotten a little drunk only after two glasses. Ginny laughed and just held the girl closer.

"I ran into Fleur Delacour," Hermione mentioned suddenly, and Ginny froze slightly. "You remember, the female who participated in the Triwizard Tournament with Harry."

Ginny nodded; she also remembered Hermione, her brother, and every other male student at Hogwarts staring at her like she was a goddess come from the sky to bless them. Hermione didn't still find her attractive, did she? Ginny fought down the insecure panic that was clawing at her skin. After all, Hermione was here, with her, not with some part-Veela wench.

"She was just as stuck-up as I remember her being," Hermione continued when Ginny didn't say anything. "I didn't much like talking to her." The brunette wrinkled her nose slightly. "Not like I ever really did. She's far too aware of how beautiful she is, and she used it for her own selfish purposes." She smiled at Ginny; Ginny felt herself calm and become settled again. Everything was fine.

They sat through a family dinner and while Hermione retold her trip to the rest of the Weasley's, Ginny was happy and somewhat amused to hear Fred mutter to her about his crush on Angelina Johnson and how in the world should he handle it?

"After all, she could be a lesbian," he whispered to her. "I mean, she is the Quidditch captain. I don't think I could handle that kind of rejection again."

Ginny hid her laughter with her napkin and simply shook her head at her brother before replying. "Don't worry," she whispered, "I saw her swooning over Viktor Krum last year. Though she might be bisexual - but that still means that you have a chance."

He grinned at her and went back to eating. Ginny turned her attention back to Hermione, and simply gazed for the rest of the meal.

"I have a present for you," Hermione proclaimed once they had arrived to Ginny's room, and Ginny groaned begrudgingly. She absolutely hated presents. She hated it when people tried to give her something, because she didn't have anything to give in return. Maybe Hermione would change her mind, take it back, keep it for herself…

But she didn't. Hermione, beaming, placed a small wooden box in Ginny's open palms. It was made of cherry wood and gleamed with a high polish. Ginny ran her fingers across the surface, feeling the carved flower vines design around the edges. It was gorgeous. There was no way she could accept this.

She opened her mouth to tell Hermione just that when Hermione cut her off. "Open it," she coaxed, gesturing with her hands.

Ginny frowned at her, still upset at having a present, but did so. The latch came undone easily and the lid flipped open on its own. Ginny looked inside and found only what it was: an empty box. She was about to open her mouth again to ask what she was looking at, when the empty air in the box glowed a light blue, and music began playing lightly.

"Coming out of my cage and I've been doing just fine.
Gotta, gotta be down because I want it all.
It started out with a kiss,
How did it end up like this?
It was only a kiss, it was only a kiss."

"What is this?" Ginny asked, perplexed. The song continued and Hermione didn't answer. With a sigh, the redhead simply did as was inferred by Hermione's lack of answer and continued listening.

"Now I'm falling asleep and she's calling a cab
While he's having a smoke and she's taking a drag.
Now they're going to bed
And my stomach is sick
And it's all in my head but
She's touching his chest
Now, he takes off her dress
Now, let me go.
'Cause I just can't look
It's killing me
And taking control."

"Hermione," Ginny whispered, staring at the brunette with uncertainty. The lyrics, as she heard them, sounded almost exactly like what had happened to them. What she had been feeling. Why would Hermione give something like this to her?

"Just listen," Hermione replied simply. Ginny frowned, but did so, hoping that Hermione would explain herself once it ended.

"Jealousy, turning saints into the sea.
Swimming through sick lullabies.
Choking on your alibis.
But it's just the price I pay,
Destiny is calling me.
Open up my eager eyes…"

The lyrics repeated again; Hermione reached over and shut the box gently, and it stopped, leaving them in silence. Neither moved. Ginny was far too surprised and confused to say anything; thankfully, Hermione broke the silence for the both of them.

"It's a music box," Hermione explained in a light, almost casual voice. "Well, a magical music box. Non-magic music boxes have melodies that play after you crank the key in the back of it. This, I found in France. The song I heard on the way back to my house in England, on Muggle radio." Hermione breathed deeply. "It - reminded me of you. And us. And what happened. The owner of the shop told me I could record any song into the box, and it would magically keep. Eventually, the song will fade and start skipping, but all you have to do to fix it is talk into it. It takes the strength from your voice and adds it to that of the voice that was originally recorded." She smiled lightly at Ginny, who swallowed and smiled gently back, still shaken slightly.

"Do - do you like it?" Hermione asked hesitantly, after a few minutes of more silence.

Ginny grinned suddenly and set it down on her bedside table. "I love it," she replied, before pouncing on the brunette and pulling her into a three-weeks-worth-of-not-seeing-you kiss. It didn't take long for their clothes to become nothing but crumbled heaps of cloth on the floor. Ginny poured everything into kissing, touching, loving Hermione, teasing her thighs with her fingernails until Hermione was squirming impatiently under her, before finally giving in and rubbing her fingertip into the sensitive flesh between her legs.

They did this all night; making each other come to the point of not being able to see, not being able to move. Their bodies became hypersensitive bundles of sweat-slick skin that carried their fast-beating hearts. Ginny couldn't remember every being happier.

When they finally couldn't make love anymore, they curled up together under the sheets and simply reveled in each other's eyes, the curve of their cheekbones. Hermione's eyes closed sleepily first; Ginny smiled, and leaned close to her ear.

"I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too," Hermione half-mumbled, half-whispered back, before falling completely into oblivion.

Ginny's last thought before following her into dreams was that it could only get better from here.

'Cause I'm Mr. Brightside.