Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

Chapter One: New Beginnings

The unexpected death of Albus Dumbledore had gripped the wizarding world in a way that seemed almost unfathomable to Hermione Granger. She had never – not even in her wildest fantasies of magical beings, witches and wizards, dating back to when she was but a mere child – seen so many extraordinary things and, moreover, people, all gathered together.

It was the type of event that should be brought about by happy times, perhaps the permanent defeat of Voldemort. It should not have been the honoring, the burial, of the greatest wizard to ever live.

Who could protect everyone, specifically Harry, from Lord Voldemort? Dumbledore was the only one that he ever feared and now, he was gone. And not just on a mysterious leave of absence that caused excited whispers to make their way along the corridors and throughout the Great Hall when teachers weren't around. He wasn't coming back.

Albus Dumbledore had been murdered. Hit with the Avada Kedavra curse, no less.

If that wasn't enough to make Hermione utter a gut-wrenching sob and wish that this madness would just end, Snape had been the one to utter that fatal spell. Severus Snape, the one whom Professor Dumbledore "trusted completely". Snape, the professor who had been gunning to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts for longer than Hermione had been alive ... the one who had been branded with the Dark Mark. He was the greasy man who not only hated James and Sirius, but contributed greatly to both of their deaths.

The man who had been inside the Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, the man who had been entrusted with the daunting task of teaching Harry Occlumency, was a traitor. He worshipped the 'Dark Lord'.

Hermione was, no doubt, a clever witch. How could she not recognize the signs? Why didn't she listen to Harry? Hadn't he said from day one that Malfoy was planning something, and that Snape was likely involved and assisting him?

But no, Hermione wouldn't listen. She was too busy with important things to deal with Harry and his ramblings. She was too far up on her high horse, after being correct about the Department of Mysteries, to even consider that she wasn't right this time around. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And Hermione's ego was as big as they came.

She knew she mustn't blame herself, that it wasn't her fault that Dumbledore was dead, or that Malfoy and Snape had gotten away. She wasn't responsible for anything, but that didn't keep the thoughts from creeping into her head.

"The Half-Blood Prince," why didn't she figure it out sooner? She correctly brewed a Polyjuice Potion in her second year at Hogwarts! She helped get past that three-headed dog, she solved the mystery of the Basilisk ... she got an "O" on all but one OWL! This should have been easy for her!

And now, Hogwarts was closing, perhaps forever. Harry was going off to find the remaining Horcruxes. Ginny was nursing a slightly broken heart, and Bill was nursing wounds from a werewolf. There was nothing she could do about it.

Draco Malfoy was out there somewhere, considering himself Voldemort's most faithful follower ... or was he being punished for not being able to kill Dumbledore himself? Was he being tormented, was he feeling Voldemort's wrath because Snape had to do the Killing Curse for him? She prayed that, wherever Malfoy was, he was being tortured until the welcome release of death was upon him.


The trip home, which happened much earlier and under much darker pretenses than anyone had expected when they made the journey in September, was unusually quiet. The compartment holding Ginny, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville and Luna was not filled with the usual sounds of laughter and swapping of treats, so much as it was filled with a deafening silence, the occasional sniff and the low croaking of Trevor, Neville's toad.

They had loads to say to each other, most importantly goodbye, but everyone refused to be the first to speak. They were all hesitant to break the silence, and Ginny found herself praying that she would get an invitation to join 'the Slug Club' for a farewell cup of tea.

She did not want to be there.

She didn't want to deal with Luna, absentmindedly twiddling her thumbs because she didn't have the heart to pull out her issue of The Quibbler, which was no doubt already full of crazy stories about how Dumbledore was killed by a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.

She didn't think she could put up with much from Neville, either. Her patience was wearing thin, and even dear, sweet Neville was eligible to receive a Bat Bogey Hex if he wasn't careful. She might've done it by now, if Hermione hadn't cast a silencing spell on his stupid toad mere seconds before she pulled out her own wand.

Hermione, while earning points for putting an end to the incessant croaking, had been driving her absolutely mad. She hadn't dragged Ron off to do prefect rounds, for obvious reasons, and it was killing her slowly. Enforcing rules was Hermione's favourite pastime, apart from reading Hogwarts: A History, and she couldn't do either at that present moment. If any of them had been conversing, she would've begged Hermione to just whip out her book and stop shifting in her bloody seat.

Ron was staring blankly into space, but that was to be expected. He was obviously bored out of his mind, and was most likely daydreaming about snogging, or something disgusting like that. His stomach gave a loud grumble, effectively cutting through the silence of the room, and Ginny decided that perhaps her brother was wondering whether or not the food trolley would come by, instead of that slag, Lavender Brown. Nonetheless, she didn't want to be around him at the moment.

She most certainly did not want to sit beside one Harry Potter, who would no doubt be spending the majority of his summer at The Burrow, with her, presuming he didn't start his heroic "vanquish He Who Must Not Be Named" flight just yet. He had just, however unintentionally it had been, broken her heart. She knew he had every reason in the world to not be with her, and that he was being brave and noble, and she should be thankful that someone of his caliber even looked at her. She was poor and had big, yucky freckles all over her skin. He was famous and, unless some miracle occurred, most likely going to suffer the same fate as countless great wizards (Professor Dumbledore, included) before him. But, no matter what their futures held, she desperately wanted him to want her, to tell her that he was crazy when he broke up with her and that he needed to be with her.

Ginny was about to get up and visit Dean, hoping his compartment would be a little more lively, when she resurveyed her surroundings.

Her brother was now staring, absolutely love struck, at Hermione. She looked his way and caught his eye, rousing a smile from his otherwise sullen face, and causing his ears to glow bright red in the process. Ron casually stretched and inched his way closer to the busy-haired girl, while Hermione shifted to get comfortable, successfully sliding about a foot closer to Ginny's git of a brother. Could they be any more horrendously obvious?

Luna had finally given in and pulled out a copy of The Quibbler, which she flipped through rather violently before stopped on a specific page and turning it upside-down. Neville yawned, causing his grip to loosen to Trevor, who sprang free and had to be cornered by Harry, Neville and Ron before he could be caught again, looking unhappy as ever as he moved his mouth soundlessly.

Ginny then threw a quick glance at Harry, who returned the glance and offered her a small, uncertain smile. She smiled back, though she didn't feel like it, and briefly wondered whether she would ever be able to genuinely smile, laugh, or jump for joy ever again. Harry put an arm around her, pulling her closer to him, and she smiled once again. It was still uncomfortable and foreign on her face, like her skin was pulled far too tight to accommodate the smile creeping its way across her visage, but not as severely as it had previously felt.

Looking around at her friends, she couldn't help but feel her heart lift slightly. Luna had slowly drifted off to asleep, her head on Neville's shoulder and her magazine face-down in her lap. Neville had a faraway look in his eyes, but a tinge of colour creeping to his cheeks, most likely due to his contact with Luna. Hermione and Ron's shoulders were now touching, though they acted as if they hadn't moved even an inch from their previous spots. Harry, the boy who had broken up with her not three hours before, had his arm idly draped over her, his thumb running small circles on her shoulder.

They were an odd bunch, she wouldn't deny it, but she didn't care. To Ginny Weasley, there was no place in which she could possibly find better company, than where she currently was.

Nobody uttered another sound until they were about twenty minutes from their destination of King's Cross.

'D'you reckon this'll be our last time coming home from Hogwarts?'


Harry had not considered it – truly considered it – until Ron spoke up.

'D'you reckon this'll be our last time coming home from Hogwarts?'

Sure, he had thought about no longer having to deal with classes and homework and Filch, but he never fully comprehended what he was losing.

Harry would no longer get to play and watch the Quidditch games; no more seeing Dobby, the house elf. He would never again walk through Platform Nine and Three Quarters or hear Hagrid calling 'firs'-years over 'ere ...'

There would be no Sorting Hat ceremony, no amazing feasts or late night runs to the kitchen under the protection of his Invisibility Cloak. The Marauder's map would be of no use to him. No Hogsmeade weekends, no secret DA meetings, no parties in the common room.

He would miss it.

He would miss the cold air that snuck in through the castle walls, the Fat Lady outside Gryffindor common room, the staircases that moved on their own accord. He would miss visiting Hagrid's Hut and the crazy, dangerous trips to the Forbidden Forest – ones that he took more often than he should have, being that it was "forbidden."

He was leaving behind beloved teachers and friends, many of whom he may never see again. Many of whom might not survive the summer.

It was all too much for Harry to deal with, having just sat through Dumbledore's funeral. Of course, that wasn't all he had done. He had ended things with Ginny, and unwittingly vowed that he, Ron and Hermione would track down the Horcruxes together.

What was he thinking? He may have just agreed to lead his best mates to their deaths. And even if they did survive, there was no doubt in Harry's mind that they would follow him all the way to the Final Battle, in which he – and he alone – could defeat Voldemort.

How many lives would be lost? Ron and Hermione had sacrificed themselves for him countless times in the past, and had made it no secret that they would do it again.

'Harry, come on. For all we know, you're probably the one who can defeat You-Know-Who. I can't, Hermione can't ... I bet even Dumbledore can't. It's up to you, and if I need to – to ... you know ... then I will,' Ron had said after the battle at the Department of Mysteries, when they were alone in the Hospital Wing.

He couldn't express to Ron how touched he was at that moment. Harry had told him that it was unnecessary, and that it would never come to that. Ron had just shrugged, and after seeing the look of fierce loyalty and determination in his eyes, Harry vowed to himself that he would never let Voldemort anywhere near Ron or Hermione from that moment on.

He intended to keep that vow, which meant he had to find a way to keep them from being present in the Final Battle. He would Stun them, throw his cloak over them and hide then under a bed at The Burrow, if he absolutely had to.

There was a pattern for people who wanted to help him: they ended up dead. It happened to everyone he has ever loved because Voldemort knew how he felt for them. He knew, and he killed them, so he could weaken Harry. But Harry was through with being weak. He wouldn't let Voldemort kill anther person that he loved. Voldemort had already taken too many, and now it was time for him to pay.

'Dunno,' Ginny mumbled from beside him. 'I hope not. You lot might be okay to leave Hogwarts, but I haven't even finished all of my OWLs yet.'

'It'll feel too weird there, without Dumbledore,' said Neville, coming out of his reverie.

'Yes, but we mustn't quit school. Dumbledore wouldn't have wanted that,' Hermione enforced.

'Yes, but we might not have a choice, Hermione,' argued Ron. A silence fell over the compartment and its six members as they considered this.

Harry looked at Ron and Hermione, who had moved apart slightly, Neville, Luna, who had stirred moments before Ron spoke, and Ginny, the girl in his arms. They were his friends, each a piece of the puzzle. Ron and Hermione, his very first friends ever ... without them, he would have been dead in the first year. Neville, the boy could have been in his shoes, if only Voldemort had picked Frank and Alice Longbottom instead of James and Lily Potter. Luna, the girl whose sanity was questionable, yet could see the Thestrals and hear the voices behind the veil, just as he could. And Ginny, the only person who made him feel utterly happy and completely understood, no matter what crazy thing was happening around or inside of him.

It only seemed fitting that, if this truly was their last ride, he spent it with them. They (or at least he, Ron, Hermione and Neville) spent their very first one together. It was a nice way to bookend their Hogwarts experience. It felt like just yesterday they were anxiously making their way to their new school, and now, six short years later, they were leaving. Harry's heart would ache for Hogwarts and the fact that he couldn't return, but knew that he wouldn't, even if everyone else did. He had a job to do – he owed it to Dumbledore.

The train slowed and gradually came to a halt. They looked around at each other, wishing that they didn't have to get up and go their separate ways. Harry hugged each of them, even Ron and Ginny, who he would no doubt be seeing within a few weeks. After exchanging hugs and promises to write to each other, something they've never done before, they collected their things and got off the train.

And then, for the very last time in his life, Harry Potter went home to number four, Privet Drive.


As Ronald Weasley watched his best mate stalk off with those Muggles (moments before getting on the train, Harry had told Ron and Hermione that he really should go back there alone and they reluctantly agreed), he sighed and then turned to his mother. His father was off talking to Hermione's parents, looking absolutely thrilled and fascinated. They hugged hello, even though he had seen his mum at Dumbledore's funeral, just hours ago.

Mr Weasley, followed by the Grangers, came over with a smile across his tired, freckled face.

'Good news, good news! Hermione will be coming directly to The Burrow, to stay for a little while,' Arthur said.

'Mum doesn't think I'm safe at home, since they don't know magic, you know. I told them that I can do magic now without getting in trouble, but they still think you can protect me better than they or I could,' explained Hermione. 'I hope I'm not putting you out, Mrs Weasley.'

Ron's mum beamed and said something about how it was no trouble at all, but Ron wasn't really listening. Hermione, of all people, didn't need protection. She was the most capable witch his age, maybe even more capable than some of the older ones, too. But if her parents thought she needed protecting, Ron would be the one to protect her. Not Harry, not Vicky, who was off in Bulgaria somewhere. He, Ron, would keep her safe.

When they got to The Burrow (Ron tried to convince his mum that although he hadn't technically passed his test, he could still Apparate there, but she wouldn't allow it), the Grangers stayed for dinner. All the Weasley members (excluding Percy, of course), Tonks, Lupin, Fleur, Hermione and her parents had a big feast in the backyard.

Ginny seemed uncharacteristically quiet, but only Ron seemed to notice. He caught her eye and smiled, but she only nodded in return. Was it Harry? He'd kill Harry, best mate or not, if he had hurt his baby sister. Or maybe she was just upset over Dumbledore?

After dinner, the twins tried to organize a game of Quidditch. The Grangers, much to Ron's amusement, looked rather scared when Fred and George brought out the beaters' bats, but said nothing. Ginny, still in her weird mood, looked around and said, 'Y'know, I don't think I feel much like playing ... perhaps I'll just go up to bed.'

As she scurried off into the house, Ron and Hermione exchanged looks. After much prodding from her, Ron ran inside after his sister. He climbed up the sets of stairs and stopped outside her bedroom door. He knocked but she didn't answer.

'Gin? Gin, it's me, Ron ... can I come in?' Ron asked. When she still didn't answer, he turned the handle and went inside. He found Ginny, his only sister, the girl who was so vibrant and full of life, in a ball on her bed, crying so hard that she was shaking.

He had never particularly been there for Ginny. Even when she was little, she could hold her own, so he never had to protect her from Fred and George. When she started off at Hogwarts, she seemed to have a lot of friends, so he didn't hang out with her much. He always thought that maybe, if he had been there, she wouldn't have needed that bloody diary, and she wouldn't have been pulled into the Chamber of Secrets.

After that, he spent more time with her. She participated in DA meetings, and joined the Quidditch team. She followed the others to the Department of Mysteries where, much to his mix of pride and embarrassment, she fought much better than he did against the Death Eaters. He didn't protect her there; she was the one who protected him. She Stunned anyone who tried to hurt him while he wrestled helplessly with the brains and stayed with him while he healed in the Hospital Wing.

It was his time to finally, for once, just be her older brother. It was time to love her and give her a shoulder to cry on, because she definitely needed one.

Without another word, he walked over to her, wrapped his arms around her, and they stayed that like until Hermione came in a few hours later, ready for bed.


The return to the Dursley house was bitter-sweet for Harry. He couldn't have been happier to know that he was officially free to leave – forever – after this short visit, but he was also uneasy because he knew that he was no longer protected from Voldemort in doing so.

He talked to Ron often, sending messages through Hedwig and Pig. Every letter contained information about Dementors and what was happening in the wizarding community, although Harry had read it all in the Daily Prophet. Harry was dying to know about the Order, and what they were doing, but he knew he couldn't ask incase the letters were intercepted. Finally, after nearly two uneventful (but not completely miserable) weeks at the Dursley's, he owled Ron and told him that he was ready to go to the Burrow. Arthur Weasley sent an owl saying he would pick him up the following day at six in the evening.

Harry hastily packed everything he owned on the next morning, a beautiful, sunny Wednesday. This was the day he would leave the Dursley house. This was the last time he would see his aunt, uncle and cousin ever again. This was the day he had been waiting for since he arrived on their doorstep, sixteen years ago.

At half past five, he brought his trunk and Hedwig's cage downstairs into the living room. He made sure everything he owned was in it, since he would never be coming back to retrieve any forgotten items.

'So,' said Uncle Vernon, 'is that, er, Dumbuldey man coming to get you again?' At the mention of Dumbledore, Harry felt his chest tighten uncomfortably. He was so caught off guard that he didn't even have time to enjoy his uncle's shifty eyes and uneasy expression.

'Dumbledore? No,' Harry whispered. 'He – he's dead.'

Aunt Petunia now emerged from the kitchen, clearly having heard the exchange, looking nervous. 'What do you mean, dead?' she asked.

'I mean,' said Harry, irritably, 'that he died and it's therefore impossible for him to come back.'

'But ... what will happen now?' asked Aunt Petunia, her voice quivering. Harry had never, not once, seen her look so afraid. Did she perhaps understand how powerful Dumbledore had been, and how bleak things looked now that he's gone?

'Petunia, dear, what do we care what happens to their lot?' Uncle Vernon asked airily, waving a dismissive hand at his nephew.

'Because, Vernon, this has a lot to do with us, as well. Haven't you noticed strange happenings going on this past year?' Aunt Petunia sounded desperate now. 'The fog, all the murders, and that bridge collapsing last year?' She turned her attention back to Harry. Harry had only once before heard her talk about the wizarding world with actual concern and a little bit of knowledge. It was two years ago, when he and Dudley had been attacked by Dementors.

'It's okay, I'm taking care of it,' said Harry.

'What do you mean you're taking care of it, boy?'

'The one causing all this trouble, Voldemort ... I'm the only one who can defeat him. Dumbledore and I had a mission before he died, and now it's up to me to complete it,' he explained. Her eyes went wide.

'You – you have to do it? You have to ... kill him?' Could that be fear in her voice, or was Harry just mistaken? 'He was the one who ... who killed her.'

'Yep,' he said curtly, slightly bothered by the fact that his aunt couldn't even bring herself to say her sister's name. Aunt Petunia strolled over to the couch and sat down beside Uncle Vernon. By the look on her face, she wanted to know more.

'But you'll be killed!' she exclaimed. Was that apprehension Harry heard?

'You never know. I've fought him before,' Harry explained. Aunt Petunia looked positively dumbstruck. 'A bunch of times, actually. Nearly every year since I started attending Hogwarts.'

Harry knew he had her undivided attention when she didn't cringe and tell him to keep his voice down when talking about that crackpot school of his. Uncle Vernon was absentmindedly staring at the TV, though Harry was sure he was taking in every word of the conversation.

'But you had that Dumbldore fellow back then, didn't you?' asked Aunt Petunia. Harry shrugged.

'Well, sometimes. Not the first year, when Voldemort possessed one of my teachers and tried to have him kill me. Not in my second year, when a Basilisk – it's a giant snake – bit me and tried to murder both me and my ... er, my friend's sister,' Harry said. 'And not fourth year, either, when I was transported to a graveyard and had to duel Voldemort after he murdered one of my friends,' he continued. She looked as if she might be sick, just hearing about the things her nephew had faced. Good, Harry thought, now maybe she'll understand that there are things out there that are more important than her garden and the bloody neighbours. 'Then there was fifth year – that was when my godfather died – and Dumbledore didn't show up to that fight until it was almost over. And even when he was there, Voldemort still managed to possess me for a bit. Oh – and five of my friends almost died that time, too. Then this year, a bunch of Voldemort's supporters broke into my school and almost killed them all again.'

'You – you've done all that?' whispered Aunt Petunia. 'All that has happened to – to you?' Harry nodded and shrugged.

'Yep,' he mumbled. The room fell silent for several moments; the only sound that could be heard was coming from the TV, which had been turned down considerably since the start of the discussion.

'And now you're going to fight this Vomeldort thing again?'

'Voldemort,' Harry corrected. 'And yeah I am, but not right now. First, I'm going to my friend Ron's house for a little vacation. But, since Hogwarts'll probably close down, I don't have any school to worry about,' he explained. 'And after I finish collecting everything I'm looking for, I'm going to hunt him down and end this, once and for all.'

Any colour left in her face previous to that last sentence drained away as Aunt Petunia gaped at Harry. Uncle Vernon must have forgotten that he was pretending to be deeply immersed in his TV programme, because his head snapped over in Harry's direction. Aunt Petunia stood up and took a step toward him, and Harry noticed that her hands were shaking slightly.

'Your mother she – she would be proud,' whispered Aunt Petunia.

'I like to think so,' replied Harry with a soft smile. He and his aunt – he and any member of this family – had never had a proper conversation in his life. They had never expressed any emotions toward Harry (unless you count blinding anger) and they had certainly never spoken about his mother in a nice way.

Aunt Petunia's eyes swept over Harry, who was now taller than her, and her chin quivered. Was she crying over him? Was she crying because she had only now realized it was his destiny to kill Voldemort? Or perhaps she was crying over her sister, the one she had only pretended to hate?

There was a loud Crack! and Arthur Weasley appeared in the Dursley's living room, a foot away from Harry. Uncle Vernon gave a small start, but Aunt Petunia remained unfazed. She was still gazing at Harry.

'Hello, all. So sorry to barge in like this ... Harry, son, are you all set?' Mr Weasley asked. Harry nodded, not taking his eyes off of his aunt. Mr Weasley looked around, examining the Muggle settings, but said nothing. He had learned, over the years, that the Dursley's weren't the most accepting of the wizarding world, and it was best not to rile them up.

Uncle Vernon arose from his place on the couch and stumbled over to where Harry and Aunt Petunia stood. He reached his hand out, waiting for Harry to shake it.

'Well, goodbye, then. You – er – take care of yourself, Harry,' he said slowly. Harry looked at his uncle and considered the strange look in his eyes. Every time Harry imaged this scenario in his mind, his uncle was dancing around the room, absolutely giddy that Harry would be gone. He wouldn't care what happened to Harry, as long as his bothersome nephew was out of his hair. But now, Uncle Vernon seemed to care – or, at the very least, seemed to realize the enormity of everything Harry had before him. He looked genuinely ... something, and it wasn't just because Mr Weasley was standing there holding a wand. He clapped Harry on the back and backed away.

Dudley chose that moment to enter the living room, giving a small yelp of fright upon seeing Mr Weasley. He looked at Harry and said, 'So, you're going, then?' Harry nodded. 'Oh.' He gave a small movement that looked similar to a slight wave, and Harry returned it wordlessly.

Aunt Petunia stepped a little closer to where Harry was standing, and in a move Harry never would have expected, she half-hugged him. 'Be safe,' she whispered.

When she pulled away, Harry looked at his uncle and was shocked to see that he didn't look absolutely outraged that his wife was showing affection for Harry. He felt a funny, strange sensation in his chest. Was he going to miss them? He didn't think it was possible, after every rotten thing they had ever done. But somewhere deep inside, during this conversation with his Aunt Petunia, he developed a tiny fondness for her. Or, at the very least, he loathed her a little bit less.

Harry turned to Mr Weasley and picked up Hedwig's cage.

'How're we getting to The Burrow, Mr Weasley?'

'We're Flooing there. You can't Apparate yet, right?' asked Mr Weasley.

'Right. I wasn't of age, so I couldn't go when Ron and Hermione took it,' Harry explained.

'Very well, then,' said Mr Weasley. 'Have you said your goodbyes?'

Harry nodded. An hour ago, the thought of saying goodbye to the Dursleys was laughable. He had planned on slipping away without uttering a single parting word with them. But now, as Ron's father grabbed his trunk and ushered him into the fireplace, he threw one final glance at them. He nodded at his Uncle Vernon, the short, round man whose face wasn't as purple today as it normally was. His eyes momentarily came to rest on Dudley, his childhood bully who was as large as ever. Then he caught sight of Aunt Petunia, his only remaining connection to his mother. She was his last surviving relative, the one who took him in all those years ago.

Had he ever said thank you? Of course he hadn't. He couldn't stand any of them up until ten minutes ago. Perhaps it's because he was on slightly better terms with them now, but Harry finally realized all that they'd done for him. While they never bought him anything new or even so much as smiled at him in the past, they had given him a place to live, some food to eat, and clothes to wear. And while none of these things were exactly wonderful, they had kept him alive.

'Thanks,' he mumbled. He was about to repeat it, slightly louder, when he saw Aunt Petunia nod slightly in recognition. She smiled at him, and mere seconds before Mr Weasley yelled 'The Burrow!' and they were spinning around in the flames, Harry could have sworn he saw a tear run down his aunt's cheek.


The welcome wagon for Harry when he arrived at The Burrow was the usual clan on Weasley's (and Hermione, as well) but one was missing. After being greeted by the entire elder Weasley members and having Charlie tell him he'd only arrived earlier that morning, he approached Ron and Hermione.

'Where's Gin?' asked Harry.

'She's, er, in her room,' said Ron.

'She hasn't been herself lately, Harry,' Hermione added. 'She's either out here, moping around, or she's in our room, shutting herself away from everyone.'

Ron gave Harry a pleading look. 'Go talk to her?'

Harry nodded and climbed the stairs to her bedroom. He knocked, but Ginny didn't answer. He opened the door and hesitantly walked in. His eyes scanned the room, and found Ginny on her bed, her back to him. He crept deeper into the room, shutting the door slightly behind him, and sat on the edge of her bed.

As he reached out to stroke her hair she mumbled, 'Sod off, Ron. I told you I'm fine.' He leaned down and put his lips to her ear.

'Such a pretty girl shouldn't say such rude things,' he whispered.

She spun around to face him, a smile already cemented on her face. Her eyes were slightly red and her cheeks were tear-strained, her hair was disheveled, and Harry thought she looked beautiful.

Without thinking, he bent down and kissed her.