Disclaimer: HP isn't mine.
Beta'd by Nimbirosa, Wren Truesong, and dress-without-sleeves. DWS insists that horcrux be capitalized, but I say: bring on the lowercase, baby. And I was going to post this in the morning, but I wanted to wake up to a nice inbox full of reviews. Hinthinthint. And now I'm going to sleep.
She gave up waiting for him to return after the first few months. It took her a while, but Ginny finally accepted that he wouldn't come back until he'd won the war and defeated Voldemort once and for all.
And he would win - of that, she had no doubt. Harry wasn't the sort to let himself lose; it was one of the reasons she'd believed him when he told her the Sorting Hat had tried to put him in Slytherin. He didn't lose, and he always survived.
He'd survive this time too.
But he wouldn't come home, wouldn't come back to her, until he'd ensured everyone else's survival. And that was why he'd been put in Gryffindor.
Despite that, though, there were nights like tonight when she couldn't sleep, and she'd pull a chair up to her open window and stare out at the stars and the moon, imagining she could see him walking through the gardens in the dark. She'd see him clearly in her mind's eye, striding up the front walk with Hermione and Ron, smiling triumphantly. Or perhaps he'd be too weary to smile, but when he saw her his eyes would light up and the tiredness would melt away. She'd run out of her room, down the stairs, and throw open the front door; she'd grab him in a hug, kiss him, let him lift her up and twirl her around.
Sighing, Ginny glanced away from the gardens and up at the moon. A shadow seemed to flicker across it, then another...
Her eyes narrowed in concentration as she tried to make out the shapes of the shadows. Broomsticks?
Yes, brooms. Two of them, and headed straight for the Burrow. She could barely make them out in the darkness, but it was unmistakable.
Her heart began to pound. It could be an attack...but only two brooms? The Burrow was pretty heavily fortified, especially after the attack at Bill's wedding. But the Order always floo'd over; she couldn't remember the last time any of them had ridden a broom to the house. Other than Tonks, but she was...well, Tonks.
One of the brooms began speeding, and very faintly, Ginny heard a cry of alarm.
"Ron! Slow down!"
She froze. That was Hermione's shrill screech; she'd heard it thousands of times before, whenever Ron did something particularly stupid.
Make that millions of times, then.
Squinting, she studied the broom in front. Two riders...Ron and Hermione were home. Her brother was back, as was her best friend.
And the other broom...
The rider had to be Harry.
Her mouth dry, Ginny watched silently as Ron landed his broom in the daisy patch. Hermione immediately began scolding him again - "They were so pretty; you're always so careless; couldn't you have landed in the grass?" - when Ron twisted around and kissed her full on the lips.
Ginny's eyebrows shot up, and her shocked silence ended with a deeply relieved, "Finally!" She spoke a little too loudly, and her brother and best friend froze and turned to stare guiltily up at her.
"Ginny?" Ron said, and she was certain that he'd gone red, though she couldn't tell in the scant moonlight. "What're you doing up at this hour?"
"Oh hush, Ron," Hermione said crossly. "You were making enough noise to wake all of England."
"I was making noise?" Ron demanded, eyes narrowing. Ginny blinked as the two apparently forgot entirely about her. She couldn't help feeling rather offended; she hadn't seen either of them for nearly a year, and she hadn't even gotten a 'hello'. "You're the one who's been nagging me all night! 'Not that way, Ron', 'higher, Ron', 'not so fast, Ron', 'don't go there, Ron'..."
"I don't really want to hear about your nocturnal activities with Hermione, Ron," Ginny interjected with a grin.
Hermione's eyes widened in mortification. Ron sputtered indignantly.
"Where's Harry?" Ginny demanded before either one could recover, figuring that if they weren't going to greet her politely, then she'd be just as rude.
"Oh, that's nice," Ron snapped. "You see me for the first time in a year, and I get innuendo and 'where's Harry'."
"He's coming," Hermione said wearily, rolling her eyes. "I think he's a bit nervous, really. He's taking a few minutes to calm down, gird his loins and so on."
Ginny pondered his loins for a few blissful moments, then shook herself out of that admittedly pleasant reverie. "What on earth is he nervous about?" she asked, brow furrowed. "I'm assuming Voldemort is gone; you wouldn't have come back if he weren't-"
"Oh, he's gone," Ron said, his voice smugly satisfied. "We kicked his arse. Without his stupid whorecups-"
"Horcruxes," Hermione corrected him in a tired tone that lead Ginny to believe they'd had a similar exchange several times before.
"Right, those - well, without them, old Voldie didn't have a chance."
Hermione snorted. "We very nearly died, Ron."
"Well, yeah, but Voldemort did die, and we're still alive. Ergo, we kicked his arse."
"I think Hermione's rubbed off on you," Ginny said thoughtfully, bemused by her normally dense brother's use of a relatively esoteric word. "In more than one way," she added wickedly.
Really, the reunion wasn't anywhere near as touching or glorious as she'd expected. On the other hand, she'd already thoroughly humiliated her brother, so she figured it was a fair trade-off. Plus, the news that Voldemort was dead was enough to brighten any situation.
Not that she'd doubted for a second that Harry could do it. Nope. Not even for a second.
Well, maybe a second. Or two. Maybe.
"And what are these whorecracks you mentioned?" Ginny asked, her neck starting to ache from peering down at Ron and Hermione. "Voldemort couldn't survive without drug-addicted prostitutes?"
"Horcruxes! And they've nothing to do with - with prostitutes. Or drugs," Hermione snapped, glaring at Ron.
"It wasn't me!" he protested. Hermione sniffed skeptically.
"You're the one who started this silliness, Won-Won," the bushy-haired girl pointed out.
"We agreed not to ever use that name!"
"Oh, sorry, perhaps you'd prefer Ronzil-"
"Hey, remember me? And the whorecracks?" Ginny prompted, a little annoyed that they were back to ignoring her.
"Horcruxes," Hermione repeated, a touch sullenly, "are items imbued with part of the spellcaster's soul, which allow him or her to live after his or her physical body is destroyed."
"Neat," Ginny said, impressed. "I want one."
"You have to kill someone first," Hermione said disapprovingly.
"...well, Ron has outlived his use."
"Anyway," Hermione interrupted self-importantly, "Voldemort had six horcruxes. We had to find and destroy them all. Then Harry dueled Voldemort and won."
"It's amazing, how you can make the greatest event of this century sound as dry and musty as something out of one of your textbooks," Ron muttered. Ginny snickered. Someone else snickered, and Ginny looked up to see Harry hovering outside her window, still on his broom. He noticed her looking, and immediately got a hunted, wary look in his eyes.
"Oh. There you are," she said stupidly.
"Er. Yeah," he replied, swallowing. He really did have a lovely neck. And gorgeous eyes. And-
"Where's your scar?" she demanded, staring.
"It was a horcrux," Harry said with a nervous shrug. "Um, a horcrux is-"
"A drugged prostitute, I know," Ginny said. Harry blinked. "So the scar's gone for good?"
Part of her - no, most of her - wondered what the hell she was doing. She should be yelling at him for risking his life and going away, or kissing him, or something. Anything other than talking about prostitutes.
Oh god. What if he'd found someone else?
"Yeah. I mean, unless someone else curses me with the Avada Kedavra, feels it begin to rebound, and quickly places some of his essense in my forehead to stop from dying."
"Right. Good. It was ugly, anyway."
They stared at each other dumbly for an agonizing few seconds, and the awkwardness began to make Ginny's skin creep. He'd killed Voldemort. He'd killed the most powerful Dark Lord in history. There was no way he'd settle for someone like her now. Hell, he probably had a whole string of girlfriends.
Her eyes narrowed to angry slits. Harry's eyes widened in fear.
No way were some stupid vapid blonde horcruxes moving in on her territory. "You're taking me out," she growled.
"What?" he squeaked.
"On a date," she snapped. "Tomorrow night. And you're paying for everything. And then we're going to kiss goodnight, and you're going to buy me hundreds of flowers in apology for breaking up with me. And then you're going to buy me chocolate - lots and lots of chocolate - to make up for leaving me behind while you and my brother and Hermione went gallivanting off to save the world."
He blinked again. Ginny was starting to fear he'd lost all traces of intelligence and personality along with his scar, when finally she got a reaction.
Harry grinned. And then he laughed and edged his broom closer to her window, leaned towards her, and kissed her.
And it was roses and chocolates and shooting stars, and...garlic?
She pulled back very suddenly and coughed. "Merlin, Harry, what did you eat for dinner?"
"Go. Brush your teeth, then get back here. I'm not snogging someone with garlic-breath."
She heard a low groan, and looked down to see Ron clutching his stomach and making gagging sounds. Hermione had buried her face in her hands and was muttering what sounded like, "Why am I dating him? Good kisser, that's right. And freckles. I like the freckles."
"You know," Harry said dryly, "this isn't exactly the reception we'd expected."
Ginny couldn't help laughing, and tears filled her eyes. Voldemort was dead, Ron and Hermione were alive and together...and Harry was here, and apparently quite willing to pick up where they'd left off.
Garlic breath be damned, she thought, and leaned out of the window to kiss him again.