Author's note: Well, this is it, the epilogue. Err, I hope people are still reading my story and enjoying some of it.
Disclaimer: Plot and original characters are mine. Otherwise, everything is JKRowling's.
Ginny was allowed to leave hospital wing three days after her conversation with the Headmaster. Her chest was sore, but the bleeding had ceased and healed a full day before she had been discharged. The only thing that remained painful was the curvy, 'S' shaped scar on her bosom. None of the ointments and potions that Madame Pomfrey had were able to clear it. Ginny didn't mind so much in the end, realizing that it was proof of her bravery. Of the sacrifice she knew she was capable of making if need be.
Dragging her unruly hair into a ponytail, and glancing one last time at Ashlyn's still occupied bed, she left the infirmary.
And bumped into Harry Potter the first corner she turned.
They both bounced off each other and landing unceremoniously on their bottoms. Harry seemed surprised to see her, and said, "Ginny? Where have you been?"
Blushing to the roots of her hair, she was sure, Ginny got to her feet shakily. She didn't know how to answer his question, so she told him the first thing that came to mind, "In the infirmary! I had, uh, cramps!"
She clapped her hands over her mouth, realizing her amazing and mortifying error a second too late. There was a very long, long moment in which neither of them said anything. Ginny wanted to be anywhere other than there. Why the heck did I have to say that to him of the people in this school!
He finally cleared his throat, seemingly very embarrassed, "Uh, I've got to go now."
"Me too," she squeaked and darted away down the corridor, cursing herself for being so completely stupid and for not thinking before she answered people. But not just any people, it was always Harry she had to look like a fool around! He would always see her as such an idiot if all she could do around him was twitter and say the most inappropriate and random things.
She was sprinting past the Great Hall, when a familiar face caught her eyes inside. It seemed to be the end of lunch as many students were slowly filing out of the room. Ginny brought her dash down to a jog and headed over to Blaise.
"Blaise, wait up!" she called, waving her hand as she neared him, her earlier embarrassment forgotten.
He twisted around to look at her, and smiled uneasily, "Believe me Ginny, with your hair, you really don't need to wave."
She reached his side giggling, and bent forward to catch her breath. It was at that point she saw who was with Blaise. Draco Malfoy sneered at her and crossed his arms haughtily. "So, to what do I owe this most unpleasant interruption, oh one-who-almost-got-me-killed? By the way, how's the detention treating you?"
"Shut it, Malfoy. I'm not here to talk to you," she said, trying not to think of the impossibly long detention Snape had given her. Of course, Snape had claimed it was for Ginny being out after lights, but in reality it was for putting Malfoy's precious little neck at risk with Riddle. Pfft, it's not like I asked him to be there! I can't believe Snape played favoritism like that! Well, maybe I can… Ginny rubbed at eyes and to stop thinking about the nights of torture she would have to endure, and looked at Blaise. At his soft smile and for his sweet demeanor, her eyes misted. "Blaise, how are you doing? I-I hadn't a chance to thank you f-for what you did the other night…"
He smiled at her and shrugged his shoulders, "What are friends for?"
Malfoy pretended to gag behind Blaise's shoulder. Ginny resolutely ignored him, and concentrated on Blaise instead. Knowing that her eyes were watering, for a reason she couldn't quite admit to herself, she said, "I'm happy to hear you still feel that way!"
"But you know, you did thank me," he said quietly, a blush creeping across his cheeks.
"That's enough!" Malfoy flushed as he jumped between Ginny and Blaise, holding his arms out to distance them. He focused on Blaise as he complained, "We do have exams to study for, Blaise! Now leave this tramp and let us go!"
Ginny grit her teeth at his crude word, but to her surprise, she saw Blaise smile and pat his friend on the back, saying, "Oh, you know you don't mean that!" She felt her mouth slack, Of course Malfoy meant that!
But Malfoy's complexion seemed to acquire a green tint to it as he gazed helplessly at Blaise. In what would have been a dangerous manner if he hadn't looked so seasick, he hissed quietly, "What are you implying Blaise?"
"Oh nothing," Blaise smiled and sidestepped his friend to reach Ginny. "So, I'll be seeing you around, Red?"
Ginny's eyes dropped at the nickname, and Blaise's face paled as well. Closing her eyes for a second, she sighed and said, "Err— no, don't worry, you can still call me that…I mean, just because Riddle used to call me that doesn't mean you shouldn't."
He nodded his head, and did something very peculiar. He hugged her. She had just enough time to realize his arms were around her, before they were gone. This action had been the last straw for Malfoy, who then dragged Blaise off to the Dungeons in a very brusque fashion. She just stood silently in their wake, unsure what the hug had meant. Blaise and I are friends, he must have meant the hug to be taken in that way…Friends, yupp.
She shook her head as if to clear it, and quietly moved towards the staircases that lead up to Gryffindor tower. As she entered through the portrait hole, she saw Fred and George turn to see who it was. Their faces simultaneously broke into smiles, then frowns, then smiles again, and they rushed over to tackle her in an embrace. She was bombarded about why she had been in the hospital wing, why did she have on such odd clothes, whether she felt ill and how Harry had said something about clamps when they had seen him.
"Did he mean bad clams, you think Gred?" George asked over her head, as she was squished between the twins in a double hug. She tried to mumble out something about her lack of breathing, but came up with a raspy sounding exhalation instead.
"Clams? I doubt it, unless he'd been talking about some of our stuff," Fred answered seriously, then gazed happily down at Ginny. His mouth twitched as he looked at her red face, before telling his twin that maybe they should release her for a bit. "Anyhow, so was that why you were really down there?"
"We started to worry after a while, you know. Thought something had happened to you—"
"—hadn't seen you for days—"
"—didn't hear anything from anyone, though—"
"—and then you suddenly show up in the halls—"
"—bumping into Harry while you're at it—"
"—so we figured you can't have been that bad off—"
"—if you still managed to embarrass yourself in front of him, like always," George finished, a wide smile reaching to his ears.
Ginny's mouth fell open, "And what is that supposed to mean?"
"That we're happy to see that you are well, dear sister, is all," Fred said clapping her on the back, causing her knees to bend forward. "Oh, watch it there. Anyhow, we were about to write Mum—"
"You didn't did you?" She realized her voice may have sounded a bit edgy and suspicious, because the twins each gave her a curious look.
"Nope, thought if it was anything important that Madam Pomfrey would contact Mum and Dad herself. Besides, we've had a few things to work on lately…" George said trailing off.
"Turns out we have our O.W.L.s this year," Fred said, laughing and shrugging his shoulders. "Too bad we really didn't care to listen to the last few months of review and practice for the exams."
Ginny laughed with them with them at that, but still found herself a bit worried for the twins. Of course, she did have an amazing amount of faith in their future joke shop. They had already promised her a summer job if their mother would allow.
"So, as long as you're all right…?"
"I'm fine, I just had some chest pains," she assured them somewhat honestly and started to the girl's dormitory, wanting nothing more than to get into her own clothes and to relax. Walking up the stairs she passed a very teary-eyed Hermione, who was weighed down with at least ten textbooks in her arms. She might not have even seen Ginny if she hadn't lost control of her studying material and knocked into her. Ginny bent down to help pick up the books.
"Oh gosh, Ginny!" Hermione said, her mouth making an 'o' shape. "I'm so sorry, I could hardly see where I was going."
"It's no trouble… where are you heading with all these?"
"Just to the common room, I thought I could manage the trip without magic, but I suppose I was wrong." She straightened back up, trying to arrange the books in her arms in an advantageous way to carry them. "So, anyhow, I trust you're feeling better? That's good…I b-better go. I have so much work to do!"
Ginny cocked her eyebrow, at a lost at how Hermione had brushed her off. She just hung her head and continued to her room.
Getting back into the swing of classes was hard enough after a two-day absence, but with the coming final exams, the pressure was even harder. Seven out of eight of her professors were at least slightly sympathetic, but it seemed Snape could care less about her Potions work. During the last class of the year, all he had to say to her was 'I'd be prepared for a poor mark on the exam if you do not get this potion up to par, Miss Weasley." Which she later laughed at, relieved, because she had found the exam almost pleasurable with its ease. Ginny supposed that all the extra credit work she had submitted during the year had boosted her grasp on the concept of Potion-brewing. The exams for Latin, Charms, and Herbology had gone very well, she thought. History of Magic and Astronomy had been tedious, but she felt the marks would be equivalent to what she had been consistently receiving throughout the year. McGonagall's test was tricky, and would probably be her lowest mark. And the result of D.A.D.A. test was likely to outshine all of her other grades. Professor Lupin was one of the cleverest teachers she had ever known to exist, and she completely loved his interactive exam. He had given her a bright smile when she finished and congratulated her on receiving full marks.
Walking up the grounds to the Castle, she couldn't bring herself to stop smiling. In very high spirits, she decided to visit Ashlyn, who had spent the past two weeks in the infirmary. She reached the hospital wing and knocked until Madam Pomfrey finally answered it. Seeing who it was at the door, Madam Pomfrey's face dropped, "I'm assuming you're here to see your friend, yes?"
Ginny nodded her head happily.
"Well I am afraid to say that she is no longer with us."
"What do you mean?" Ginny held a hand to her mouth, which had opened in surprise.
"I mean, she left to St. Mungo's this morning. Tonight is the full moon, and with the insistence from her parents, she was moved to a more secure facility," she said, giving an almost sympathetic glance to Ginny. "It also seems, that she will not be returning to Hogwarts next year. We are not prepared to handle her affliction, at least not this next term."
"Oh, I see. Thank you, Madam," Ginny's shoulders sank as she walked away. She had never gotten the chance to speak with her friend after the night with Riddle.
"Ginny?" she had been about to ascend the stairs back to the tower, when someone called her name. It was Luna Lovegood.
"Hey Luna," she trotted over to the Ravenclaw, smiling. "Just finish your exam?"
"Yes, it went well. But, I also wanted to show you something," she said, holding out a magazine that read The Quibbler across its front cover. "You remember the article on Hybrids? Well, it looks as if Dad's published it early. Flip to page 26."
Ginny did as she was told, and opened up to a picture of a beautiful man with long silvery hair. In catchy letters over his photo, it said, "He's part Veela, and his wife was a werewolf…and now 'I'm just trying to find the child that has been lost to me for over a decade'…". She looked up at Luna, incredulously. "You don't think— but Ashlyn's never mentioned she didn't live with her biological parents…"
"She might not know, or maybe she does," she said vaguely, taking the magazine back. "The similarity between this man's features and hers, however, makes me think that she could be related to him."
"That would also explain why her parents just forgot to mention that she might have --difficulties-- as she grew up," Ginny said, frowning.
"I was just going to show this to her, would you like to join me?" Luna asked. "I realize it might be rather blunt but—"
"You can't see her. She's gone. Ashlyn was taken to St. Mungo's earlier today. That's what Madam Pomfrey told me a few minutes ago. And on top of that, she said that Ashlyn wouldn't be returning next year." Ginny rubbed at her eyes distractedly.
Luna's face paled slightly, and she said 'Oh' in a very disheartened manner. "I was beginning to consider her as a friend. It's sad to think that I may not see her again."
"Don't say that," Ginny said sulkily, not wanting to admit that fact to herself. "There's always a chance she'll come back."
The Ravenclaw allowed a small smile at the hope, and said, "Nothing is impossible, I know."
There was silence for a while, and Ginny took to looking at Luna's fingernails. They were healing slowly, the pinkness beginning to peak through the black, burned coloring they had taken on after Riddle's spell. With a knot in her stomach, Ginny knew that she and Luna would always have some sort of connection because of that night. They all would. Even Malfoy, and she frowned at the thought.
"A Wrackspurt, is it?" she heard Luna's voice floating into her thoughts, and Ginny snapped her head up and apologized. "No worry, there are always a few roaming around this castle. They just flow in through your ears and make your mind fuzzy."
"Oh. Oh! Yea, I guess they can do that, huh?" She had no idea what Luna was talking about.
"Ginny, what happened with Tom Riddle… that could not have been avoided."
Ginny's mouth fell slightly, "But, Luna…"
"It was something that needed to be resolved, and I for one, do not regret being there with you. You did not ask for that to happen to you, it just worked out that way. Stop blaming yourself, after all, you acted bravely."
"Th-thank you, Luna," Ginny said, the feeling behind the words extremely genuine. "You were amazing too, and I'm glad I had your support."
They both were quiet for another moment. Ginny suggested, "So, on the train ride to Kings Cross, we'll sit together?"
"That would be nice," Luna said sincerely.
The next morning, after organizing her books, folding her clothes, gathering her stuff, and packing her trunk, Ginny made her way down to breakfast at around ten. The Hall was near empty, only a few straggler's not taking full advantage of the beautiful day outside and the Hogsmeade visit. She was sitting alone at her house table when she saw a group of older Gryffindors enter. They appeared to be very upset about something, and the name Lupin seemed to be the topic. Ginny got up from her seat, acting as if she were finished with her meal, and very slowly walked past where they had sat down.
"Heard he's resigned—"
"—Oh no! He was my favorite teacher!"
"Yea, and last night he was our favorite lycan—"
"So, it's true? He really is a werewolf?"
"Yea, everyone knows about it…"
Ginny didn't stop walking until she had excited the Great Hall. How could I have not heard? She couldn't believe that he was leaving! Making up her mind, she ran to his office as fast as she could. Reaching his door, she gathered her breath before knocking on it. She could hear him bustling around inside, but he paused at the tapping, and called, "Yes, come in!"
"Professor?" Ginny poked her head inside shyly, only now realizing that she didn't know what she wanted to say to him exactly.
"Oh, hello Ginny," he said, looking happy to see her. "Please, come in."
She did so, closing the door behind her lightly. Her mouth moved before she could even make out a clear sentence, "You—leaving? Don't! Why?" and he laughed at her choppy words. Ginny blushed and cleared her throat quietly, then said in a little voice, "I mean, please don't go."
He had been filing papers into his briefcase, but stopped to look at her with a vague smile playing at his lips. "I'm afraid that I must. It would be very unwise of me to stay at Hogwarts after what happened last night."
"What did happen?"
He sighed, swept a lock of hair out of his face, only to have it resolutely swing back down his forehead, and said, "I am werewolf, Ginny."
The words didn't have that much of an effect on Ginny, after all, one of her best friends shared a very similar condition. She said stubbornly, "So?"
He didn't laugh this time, but gave her a funny look. "I might've expected that from you. But you must understand, last night I was…loose, and not myself. I could've hurt, or even killed, any one of you. It's for the best that I leave Hogwarts."
"Did you hurt anyone last night?"
"It was very fortunate that I did not. That chance is not one that I would gamble with again, though." He emptied another one of the drawers of his desk as he told her this. Ginny resisted the urge to take the drawer from him and start stuffing his things back into it.
"I-I…" she started, but again found the words she wanted to say very elusive. Lupin glanced at her from the corner of his eye. "So, that's it? You're leaving for good?"
"Yes, although if I could have it my way—"
"But you can, Dumbledore can work it out for you to remain here!" she said stepping forward and flapping her arms out of frustration.
"This was my choice, Ginny. I'm used to this happening, actually."
"Well, I'm not used to you not being here!" she hoarsely, wanting to shake reason into him. It hit her that she was almost crying out to one of her Professors, and whispered dejectedly, "You were the best teacher I've ever had."
At that, he stopped emptying drawers, which he seemed to have an indefinite amount of, and looked at her fondly. "Don't say that, Ginny. There are many great teachers at this school. Though, I will admit to being a bit more qualified than my predecessor."
Ginny didn't smile at his joke, but stared at the floor instead. Many people she had considered close happened to be leaving her. An image of Sirius came to the surface of her mind, and she cried out softly.
Lupin had obviously heard her and stepped around his desk to walk over. He placed a warm hand on her shoulder and knelt down to eye level with her. "Why are you crying?"
Bringing a hand up to her eyes, she wiped away the few resilient tears that had escaped her lashes. She brought her head up and smiled at him, ignoring his question, she declared, "We'll see each other again some day."
"I have a feeling that we will," he tightened his grip on her shoulder reassuringly before standing straight again. Lupin's eyes rested briefly on her neck and his expression turned very thoughtful for a second, "In the beginning of the year— in the carriage, actually— I meant to ask you something…"
Ginny nodded her head, waiting for him to continue.
"The necklace you wear, who gave it to you?"
This was an unexpected question, and immediately her hand flew up to the pendant secured around her neck. Ginny hesitated, fingering the silver miniature of a sword with a snake wrapped around it. "Last year, I just sort of woke up with it on, and I hardly take it off…but as for who gave it to me, I always suspected it was Riddle."
"Why do you wear it?" he asked, his eyebrows drawing together slightly.
"It was the first gift I had ever received from someone outside of my family; I thought it was something special. It still is, really, just not in the most favorable way, I suppose," she said, her voice very soft. She bowed her face, hiding her eyes behind her bangs. "At the time, I felt that he was one of the very few people who cared for me."
"That's not true."
"It's not, is it?" she looked up at him and smiled, "I don't need any affection from some diary now, because I know there are other, sincerely good and kind, people who care for me. That's a great feeling."
He nodded his head, and his expression softened to one of contentment.
They stood in the stillness of the classroom, each listening to the summer noises wafting through the open windows. It was very relaxing, she thought, and hadn't felt so at ease for months. At least since, with a slight jolt in her stomach again at his name, since the last she had been with Sirius.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye, Professor," she said faintly, turning to leave. She heard him repeat the word to her, and at the door, she added, "Until we meet again?"
"Until then," Lupin smiled, and for once, she felt true warmth behind it. Ginny did not close the door as she left.
I hope your summer is going well!
I met my father for the first time the other day, and I can't explain to you the feeling. It's odd, yes, but at the same time very fulfilling. Learning about my real parents is comforting, even though my mother has passed. It turns out that she gave me to Mum and Dad before she died. She and my father had been separated by unforeseen forces right after I was born, and for some reason she needed to give me up. I wonder from what. But, at least I know that she only did it with my best interests in mind…I thank her for it, but still wish I could have known her. It's strange to think she had to give me up…
Enough with the heavy stuff, though!
Oh yea! You won't believe this, but I have a tutor! And guess who it is?
Professor Lupin! It turns out he's a werewolf! I couldn't believe it myself. I mean, he always seemed so normal, if not a bit pale sometimes. But, it makes me very hopeful for my future. He thinks I'll do just fine…At least, once I can control the random fire eruptions on my hands —which is just another side-effect of being a hybrid wolf and veela…
Speaking of veela, my father says for me to say 'hello' to you! He's really excited to learn all about my friends and Hogwarts. He also says your father 'is a good man', but I don't know what he means exactly. Maybe they knew each other? Heh, oh well.
Have a swell time at the Quidditch World Cup! (I won't be able to go, unfortunately it runs into that night of the month for me). And when you get back to school, say hello to everyone for me! Besides that git, Malfoy. Well, OK, maybe even him too…
PD. Did Snape really give you such a large detention that it will run into next year? That's crazy, and all because you almost got his favorite (bratty and annoying) student killed. Pfft, personally, I wouldn't have minded if he had snuffed it. My sympathies to you, love.
PPD. Oh, and since you'll be at the Quidditch World Cup, you might see Oliver Wood, in which case I ask you to get his picture for me. Please? Just a little one? All right, all right, I'm stopping now. But if you could have him sign it too…
Author's note: If there were any unanswered questions, then that's because 1) they'll be answered in part two, 2) it never occurred to me to answer that question because a) I'm stupid like that. And poor Ginny, especially when it comes to Harry!
So, was it satisfying? Disappointing? Pointless? Annoying?
Review and tell me! Even if you hate the story/the author/puppies/anything! I really adore all of my readers so much, that I would love to hear from all of you!