A/N: A short one this time. This takes place during the "Sectum Sempra" chapter in HBP.

P.S. Warning: Fluff ahead!

P.P.S. As always, thanks so much for all the lovely reviews. I do hope you guys like this one.

CHAPTER 7: By the Light of the Sun

Spring serves a purpose in this life… in this world.

There is a deep blue river that flows near a wide-open field that grows near a great stone castle. In this river lives a teeming ecosystem, so full of life and energy that to swim in it is to see a whole new world. On its banks grow a multitude of flowers of all colors, flowers that young Hogwarts students in love often pick to give their lovers. Further away from the river, a small grove of trees gives their shade to those weary enough to seek their shelter. It is beautiful and often called idyllic, and it is a constant reminder of the wonders the world has to offer.

But once a year, life seems to depart from this paradise. Once a year, the fish and insects and other strange creatures that dwell under the surface have to leave their homes and their shelter, forced away by an inhospitable ice. Once a year, the flowers that grow on the banks perish, forced down into the ground by the weight of a million snowflakes. And once a year, there is no shelter to be found under the trees, for the leaves that shade the tired and weary shrivel and fall… victims of icy winds and terrible, terrible cold.

Locked in winter's grip, the river becomes peaceful and cold… but lifeless.

And so it stays for days and weeks and months; it stays an icy graveyard, a cold and inhospitable landscape, bleak in its appearance and a reminder that everything and everyone dies. Those who brave the journey to its banks, straying from the warmth of the great stone castle, find nothing but ice and more ice… no more flowers, no more fish, and no more leaves. It is a place trapped in a prison of slumber.

But then spring comes and slowly, ever so slowly, wakes the world up once more.

As the temperatures rise, the ice that covers the river begins to crack and shift. The snow, inches thick, begins to melt and run, their waters flowing downwards to meet the ever-rising water of the river. And as the ice itself breaks apart to be swallowed in the warm rush of the newly freed river, it symbolizes hope… hope that everything changes and nothing, not pain, not ice, and not the darkness can last forever.

The trees, spurred on by the warm winds and sunlight, shake off the icy crystals that blanket their branches. In their place, new leaves begin to grow and the birds, long kept away from their homes, rebuild. In this, spring reminds us that renewal… rebirth… is not just possible, but a fact of life. And when nature or some other dark force strikes us down, we can rise again.

And when the ice and the snow clear, when the river and the water flows, and when the trees and their leaves nurture and protect, there is something that rises from the ground, blooming in vibrant colors and fragrant smells. The grass, the lilies, the roses… so many things spring to life where once there was none, pushing their way through hardship and adversity, fighting past darkness and cold, and triumphing over death to achieve an existence that was once only a dream… an existence that symbolizes growth and maturity and life.

Two souls have, separately, been to this river before. Two souls have drunk from her, inhaled the scents of her roses, swam in her confines, and rested under her trees. Two souls have seen this endless cycle of death and life over and over again, each lost in thoughts inscrutable to anyone else. Two souls have wandered down her length, each mired in their own struggles and hardships, lost in a tangle of confusion and despair.

Two souls, each distinct from each other, have seen what spring can do. And now, as spring reaches the zenith of her rebirthing of the world, two souls will meet under a banner of sunlit days to discover, for themselves, the true power that renewal and hope hold over darkness and despair… and to discover, for themselves, the true meaning of that most elusive of emotions, Love.

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Ginny Weasley streaked through the air, one arm gripping her broomstick tight and the other outstretched with rigid determination. She squinted in the glare of the sunlight, doggedly focused on that one, golden glint just meters away.

Her fingers trembled in anticipation. She almost had it…

Suddenly, a lithe blue-garbed form streaked in front of her, cutting her off from her goal. Cho Chang briefly looked back and scowled at Ginny before stretching her own arm out.

Ginny smiled grimly. A challenge, was it? Good… she longed to kick this girls sniveling little behind six ways to Friday. She gripped her broomstick tighter and leaned forward, urging it faster. She couldn't match Cho's speed for very long… but she definitely had the advantage of being the better flyer.

On they sped after the Snitch, each splitting their attention between the bright golden ball and each other. The Snitch flittered and danced as it mercilessly taunted the two girls, twisting firs this way then the other.

Cho was getting closer. She swiped at the Snitch and missed. Below them, a Ravenclaw chaser had scored an all important goal, cutting into the score line by ten points.

Ginny frowned now… this was getting too close. She had to end it now while the goal difference still favored Gryffindor's chances for the cup. "C'mon Ginny," she muttered. Harry would have had it by now…

She couldn't help thinking, peevishly, that Cho would have loved it if Harry were here, wouldn't she? Oh yes… she'd abandon the chase for the Snitch and just try to rub up against him…

She blushed and shook that thought off. Focus…

Cho was getting closer again. This time, Ginny saw, she would get it if Ginny didn't do something.

So Ginny lay herself flat against the broomstick now, clearing her mind of every thought but one.

Faster.

With the wind whipping her hair back, cutting into her face with waves of force, Ginny barreled through the air and waited for just the right moment… just the right speed…

And finally she saw her chance.

With all the balance she could muster, Ginny leapt up onto her broomstick, one foot perched perilously on the front edge, the other one gently guiding the back part. She reached her hands out to steady herself for a moment…

And then she flung herself at Cho's broom.

Her momentum carried her over Cho's head and she landed gracefully on the front edge. Without looking back at Cho's surprised squeal, she then leapt forward again, the force of her leap pushing the broom handle down. She grabbed the Snitch in mid air with one desperate lunge.

As Cho's broom carried her down, Ginny's own Clean Sweep zoomed in to fill the space. With a smile, Ginny landed brightly on her own broom and raised her hand in triumph, the Snitch struggling to escape.

A massive roar rose up out of the crowd, and Ginny felt a warm rush blaze its way through her.

She'd done it.

But where was…

As her team rushed in to mob her, she sped through them and desperately scanned the crowd. There was Hermione beaming at Ron… there were Cormac and Lavender scowling at Ron… there was Professor McGonagall crying into Luna's shoulder…

Where was…

Seamus was there, Hannah Abbot, Parvati Patil…

Her feelings of elation ebbed away from her as she sank down to the ground.

He wasn't there.

He hadn't made it in time after all… even though he had promised her.

"Ginny! You were wonderful!" As she landed on the ground and pocketed the Snitch, Dean suddenly ran up to her and wrapped her up in a fierce hug. "You won it! You won it!"

She tried to shove him away, but he clung to her.

"Hey Ginny," he said. He had that hungry look in his eyes again. "Maybe…"

"No Dean," she said, her voice flat and still. "No."

And without waiting for his reply or for the rest of the team to come down, she stalked off into the changing room, all her triumph washed away by hurt and anger. She slammed the door behind her and it cut off the sounds of celebration ringing out on the pitch.

Gryffindor won. Hooray.

She angrily threw off her outer Quidditch robe and kicked it into the corner.

Why hadn't he come? He had promised her, hadn't he? He said that, sure, he had detention, but he would do anything and everything in his power to force Snape to let him out in time to celebrate with her… er… with them.

She sighed and continued to disrobe before hopping into the shower.

She supposed he really didn't want to after all, eh? Empty promises and abandoned hopes… was that all he could give her?

She closed her eyes as a gentle stream of hot water poured over her. She raised her hands and ran them through her hair, feeling the dirt and the grime wash away.

She opened her eyes.

What was wrong with her? She felt tears begin to sting her vision, and her breath hitched in her chest. She was being unfair again.

The water cascaded around her.

Yes… she was. Of course he didn't mean to not come. He wanted this more than anyone… even more than her.

She closed her eyes again and pictured his face… his bright green eyes that sparkled like the sea; his jagged scar, raw and powerful in the light; his smile, so gentle and kind that she felt nothing could harm her as long as he smiled at her…

No… if he could have… he would have come.

She opened her eyes and rubbed her face in the warm water.

She wasn't angry with him… not really. If she was angry at anything, it would be at the injustice of it all. He should have been the one snaring the Snitch. It was his place. Not hers. His. They should have been on the pitch together… the two of them… it should have been him caught up in the enthusiasm of winning… it should have been him, not Dean, who was so happy that he wanted to hug her and to… to…

She blushed furiously.

Yup. There it was. She had pictured that moment in her head so vividly over the past few weeks. That one moment of triumph when both she and Harry would have been so happy, that to proclaim their love for each other would have been the only natural thing to do.

She giggled and shut off the water.

As she began to dress, she lamented the numerous girly magazines she read in preparation for that moment. There really wasn't any "perfect" moment, was there? Nah… life was so unplottable… so chaotic… that it was foolish to try to pin all of one's hopes on these things.

And she was nothing if not foolish.

Fully dressed once again, she smiled to herself as she stepped out of the changing room.

Love wasn't like that. Feelings couldn't be plotted. There was no perfectly planned moment… the perfect time to tell someone how you feel about them is the moment you realize it is true.

But she already had made that realization… didn't she? Sure she did… she just kept denying it.

Perfect moment indeed.

She blushed again when she realized that the perfect moment would come the minute she saw him. Yeah… in front of all the other Gryffindors, she would walk calmly up to him and calmly ask him out.

Then they'd take it from there.

As she made her way up to the Gryffindor common room, where the party was to take place, she knew that he would get there eventually. And as for celebrating… well, they'd have plenty of time for that when he did.

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Half an hour later, the party in the common room was in full swing. Someone had managed to unearth a large "Gryffindor" banner and displayed it across the entire far wall. Red and gold streamers hung down the rest of the walls, catching the light streaming in through the tall windows. Someone had conjured up a cake, presumably Hermione seeing as it was entirely sugar free. But nobody cared… everyone was too caught up in raucous singing and joyous dancing, and the large silver cup was being passed around to each and every one in turn. Everybody was happy… happier than they had been in recent weeks.

But Ginny wasn't really paying attention.

She sat curled up in a big easy chair by the window and stared out at the vast hills and forests that lay below. As she tuned out the noise and the celebration and the smells of the food, she could almost hear the silence of the trees as they swayed in the wind; she could almost smell the fragrant pines and the rich oaks; she could almost feel the peace that one gets from sitting sheltered under the arms of a great tree.

Almost.

She smiled cordially at everyone who congratulated her, but waved them away when they tried to speak to her.

Her mouth felt coated in fungus. Her stomach clenched and unclenched with the regularity of a clock. She trembled and couldn't breathe for long, long moments. Agonizingly, she felt herself blushing every few seconds, like a baby who just realized that her arse was covered in… well…

She was scared out of her mind.

What was she thinking? She wasn't ready to face him yet, was she? Just because she won the cup for her team… what gave her the right to expect him to still be in… to still… well, to still like her? She had waited too long… hadn't she?

Curse her and her indecisiveness! She should have told him long ago… the second he gave her that Veela pendant! And now… now she bet it was too late. Wasn't it? Yeah… he had given up on her.

He wasn't there yet…

Where was he? Oho… maybe he had gone to comfort that whiny Cho Chang. Yeah, that was it, right? She had waited too long and he had lost patience with her. Besides, why would he wait for her anyway? He probably thought she was too young… too silly… too much like Ron with long hair…

At the moment that Ginny almost began to pull her hair out, Hermione Granger sat down in front of her. Ginny started and gave a little jerk, but quickly turned away. Hermione stared at her for a moment, her head cocked as she thoughtfully chewed on a piece of cake.

Ginny pursed her lips.

Hermione smiled. She reached over and gripped Ginny's knee. "He'll be here" was all she said. And with that, she leapt up to look for Ron.

Ginny leaned back in her chair and gazed out the window again.

He'll be here.

Stop being silly.

Breathe.

Focus.

She closed her eyes and took deep, cleansing breaths. She was being silly. She was being scared. But that wasn't her, right? She was through being scared.

As she felt her emotions and turbulent thoughts settle, she began to breathe much easier and think much clearer.

Harry was coming.

A peace came over her then… a peace born out of calm and control. It washed over her, draping her in a blanket of comfort.

He was coming.

She smiled in her reverie and opened her eyes. She would be at peace when he arrived, she promised herself that. There was no reason to be scared or frightened or nervous. There was no need at all.

It was just Harry…

It was just the one she loved.

And then Ginny did not need to hear the sudden rise in volume in the room. She did not need to hear Ron's sudden shout or Hermione's sudden squeal. She did not need to hear the portrait door opening or hear anybody screaming his name.

Through the tumult, through the party, through the chaos… she could feel him.

She closed her eyes and savored for a moment the sensation of Harry Potter stepping into her world. With a smile lingering on her lips, she then stood up and looked towards the portrait hole.

And there he was.

At that moment, everything fell away from her. All her nervousness, all her tension, all her confusion… all laid to rest, replaced by a blinding light of emotion that no darkness and no shadow could touch.

Harry was here.

She began to run to him, brushing past person after person and yet not feeling them at all.

And then she became aware of everything in the room, burning the image into her mind so as not to forget it as long as she lived. The light from the afternoon sun was bright and powerful; it streamed through the windows and shafts of dazzling potential, filling her world with radiance and beauty. There was Ron, a broad loopy smile of his face, himself turning to run towards his best friend. There was Hermione, a brilliant smile on her brilliant face, casting a knowing look at her. There was Romilda Vane, inching towards Harry…

And there was Harry…

At that moment, time stood still. To her, nothing moved, not the people around her, not the air they breathed, not the light playing on the walls… and it was only them, her and Harry. Nothing else mattered.

His eyes sought hers. They flashed with a brilliant dark fire born of a feeling deeper and greater than anything else in the world. They stirred in her a fierce rush of joy that rose form the very tips of her toes into the very depths of her eyes.

He began to reach for her.

She knew then what she would do. It was quite simple really… she would ask him out. That was all.

A great flame blazed within her, a burning flare of triumph and ecstasy that had nothing to do with Quidditch or cups and everything to do with hope and renewal, with passion and ardor, and with tenderness and devotion.

She knew what this feeling was… she had felt it from the moment she gazed into those deep green eyes.

Just ask him out.

She trembled and felt that she would fall at any moment, stumble away from the world and never be found again…

Just ask him out…

And then she did fall… right into his waiting arms.

Electricity poured through her, every fiber of her being came alive in a shock of longing and yearning. He was so real… so alive… so full…

And then, a light so primal and ancient filled her. She became aware then of the distance that stood between them… a gaping chasm of division forged by loneliness, by doubt, by humanity, and by confusion. But it did not matter.

As the fire of her love for him filled her, the world fell away. Her entire being became so unbearably light that she knew, then and forever, that all she had to do was lean in and that distance… that chasm… would be gone evermore.

And so she did… and the room, the world, the universe, and life itself held its breath in wonder and anticipation.

She kissed him.

And there was nothing else in the world. There were no more wars, no more birds, no more trees, no more people, no more hate, no more anger… there was just them. His lips were soft and moist. His touch was tender and compassionate. His soul filled her entire world, and she willingly lost herself in him for as long as she could.

And she knew then that all of her fear and all of her anger and all of her fatigue… they all had lost their power over her forever. She was complete now… she was whole. She would never let this go. Ever.

She kissed him.

She loved him.

After several long moments… or it might have been half an hour… or possibly several sunlit days… they broke apart.

Ginny felt tears begin to form, but she didn't care. He had seen her cry before for every sad thing. Let him see these tears for once.

When he smiled, she felt that she would burst. She felt so full… so much power. She smiled back and suddenly felt shy.

He glanced around them.

She didn't care. She didn't care about Ron, about Dean, about Romilda…

She didn't care.

And then he grinned down at her and gestured wordlessly out of the portrait hole. A long walk in the grounds seemed indicated, during which… if they had time… they might discuss the match.

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Harry Potter did not know what he was feeling.

As he and Ginny stepped through the portrait hole, the world seemed so alive… so sharply in focus that nothing and everything was out of place. The light was never this harsh or never this perfect. The shadows were never this bright or never this dark…

The hand he held was so soft and so tender in his clammy grip, and it was so warm and giving…

He turned to look shyly at the fiery figure beside him.

She stared back at him with eyes so deep and so rich that nothing could touch them.

Was this a dream?

He reached out and stroked her cheek, marveling at the softness of her skin… at the way her eyes closed in pleasure and anticipation. Her lips parted.

Was this a dream?

He leaned in, closed his eyes, and kissed her.

Her lips were soft and honeyed, moist against his and electric to the touch. She tasted of life and love, and she smelled like summer.

She whimpered, just a bit, as he ran his hand through her hair.

He pulled back and she whimpered again.

She opened her eyes, and he felt that he would lose himself in their languid softness.

"So," he whispered. There was nobody else in the hall… just them and their shadows. "Does this mean we're together?"

She smirked and punched him, lightly, on the shoulder. "What do you think?" she purred.

He gulped.

"I… I thought so…"

She sighed happily, hooked her arm to his, and settled her head against his shoulder as they set off down the hall. Harry wondered again at this unexpected turn of events. He could feel her heart beat… he could hear every breath she took… she put most of her weight against him, and yet she weighed nothing at all…

He hugged her close.

"I love you," he said plainly.

"I love you too," she said softly.

As they stepped out into the courtyard, they were greeted by a warm current of air that caressed them and embraced them. The world was so new… so fresh… so…

"Eclectrickan." She said suddenly in a low voice.

"What?"

"An Eclectrickan." She looked up at him and smiled dazzlingly. "If I were a muggle, that's what I'd like to be. I've always been fascinated at how muggles can survive without magic… dad says that eclectrickans are the reasons muggles have such wonderful gadgets!"

Harry gave a long, loud laugh.

"Oh, Ginny," he said.

She scowled, just a bit. "What? What's so funny…"?

"They're called 'electricians', Ginny. And they don't exactly… cause… those things. They just… fix them."

She bit her lip and blushed a little. "Oh… okay." She settled against his shoulder again as they made their way down to the lake.

"What about you?"

"What?"

"What would you be?"

He wondered why they were having this conversation. He wanted to talk to her about them, about life… about…

Well, he wanted to kiss her again, really…

"Well, I suppose I'd like to be a… a… well, whatever you want me to be."

She stuck her tongue out at him. "Cop-out. I'm serious Harry, what…?"

He shrugged. "I never really thought about it, Ginny," he said. "Why do you want to know anyway…?"

She cut him off by placing the tips of her fingers on his lips. "Because, Harry," she said patiently. "We've known each other for quite sometime now… but I want to know more. I want to know everything…"

She turned to face him and cupped his face with her hands. He saw a yearning hunger that surely reflected his own.

"Everything…"

He kissed her softly… gently…

"Don't worry Ginny," he whispered. "We have all the time in the world to find out these things…"

He pulled back and placed one palm fondly against her cheek.

"I promise to spend my whole life learning about you… a lifetime of sharing and living…"

He leaned in again…

"Oh my god," he moaned. "I can't stop kissing you…"

She sighed.

"Don't… don't stop…"

And they kissed again, there, as the light of the day soon edged closer to dusk. As they pulled back from each other, Harry noticed a single tear crawling down her face. But this was a tear he had never seen before… a lone solitary tear that symbolized joy and happiness, not pain and suffering.

He relished it.

And so they walked on down to the lake, each taking turns pointing out their favorite rock, their favorite tree, their favorite bird, their favorite cloud… and they lost themselves in each other's presence, yearning and learning from each other as only lovers could.

When they reached the lake, they sat side-by-side and stared out across the vast watery expanse. The sun, now a bright golden orange hovered just above the surface, and it was larger than either of them had ever seen before.

The warm spring winds gave way to the cool night air, and Harry shuddered as Ginny laid her head on his shoulder.

"When did you know?" she said plaintively.

"Know what?"

"That you loved me."

He looked at her in mock amazement.

"Do I love you?"

She punched him again. "Of course you do."

He smiled and kissed her tenderly. "Of course I do."

Her eyes were closed and her lips were hungry.

"Say it," she whispered when they pulled apart. "Say it again and again and again and don's stop until the world ends…"

"I love you," he said hungrily as he kissed her on her nose, on her cheek, on her lips, on her forehead, on her hair… "I love you, I love you, I love you… and I will keep loving you until there are no more stars in the sky, until the earth passes into a sea of nothingness, and until my soul gets ripped apart into a million atoms. And then I will find a way to love you again…"

"Oh god," she whispered in between kisses. "We're not going to become one of those super mushy couples who gross everyone out, are we?"

He chuckled. "God… I hope so…"

She giggled. She pulled away from him for a moment and stared deep into his eyes. This was right, he felt. Nothing could ever destroy this… here… what they have. Nothing could come between them. He would never let this go.

"Harry," she whispered. "I love you so much. With every ounce of my soul, I promise to love you and keep loving you until the concept itself ceases to exist. I will never leave you. And I will never fail you."

He hugged her close then as the sun dipped below the horizon.

"That day at the station," he whispered.

"What?" she said dreamily.

"That day in the station… when you were ten and I was eleven. Do you remember?"

"Yes…"

"I think I knew on some level. I think I knew."

She smiled up at him shyly.

"And when I heard you singing that night by the lake over the summer… I may not have known for sure… but my heart did. I just didn't listen."

She stroked his cheek.

"Wanna know when I fell for you?" she said softly.

"When?"

His heart pounded as she licked her lips and a hungry expression entered her eyes. "Why don't you guess…"

And then she was kissing him.

He drew his arms around her and, as one, they stretched out onto the soft, soft grass.

And they were done talking.

High above, the stars twinkled into existence, bringing with them a song of passion and fire… a song that nobody could hear but everybody could feel. It was a song of birth and of love, of renewal and of hope, of Harry and of Ginny…

And as the world fell once again into the grip of sleep and dreams, Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley paid no heed to anything but each other, and the two hearts that slowly, and irrevocably, beat as one.

And, strapped around Ginny's slender neck, the Veela Pendant began to glow a bright fiery red, symbolizing what they had known all along. It blazed in truth and it blazed in certainty, and it would stay red forever and ever, whether they were together or not.

But neither of them paid attention to it.

Neither of them had to.