Hermione sat at the top of the hill underneath the tree she and Ginny had so often sat together reading, talking, laughing, playing, kissing. Tears stung her eyes and she angrily brushed them over, moving her gaze to the lake. The whole countryside was sparkling white, the lake only distinguishable by the dock and slight indentation at its banks. The sky was a clear blue and the sun was shining brightly. You could hear the trees dripping, the sun melting the snow off the branches; though the air was still cool. Hermione pulled her winter cloak more tightly around her, relishing the feel of the cold air cutting into her lungs.
Half the Slytherin house had been expelled for "physical violence". Hermione felt they should have added homophobia, sexual harassment and evil "tendencies". She kicked at the snow angrily leaning forward and bunching a wad of it with her hands into a snowball. Once she'd packed it into a almost rock hard snitch sized ball she had no idea what to do with it. Throw it? But where? She squeezed it hard with her hands, trying to take her anger out on it. Finally she turned around and threw it at the tree where it shattered into billions of flakes of snow, resuming its original form.
"Hey." A person sat down next to her. Harry.
"How're you doing?" he asked poking at the snow with his wand.
"Okay," Hermione said still feeling a cold towards him despite his and Ron's rescue.
"Listen, I feel awful about what happened. In a way I feel like its my fault," Harry explained drawing circles.
"It's not your fault," Hermione stated, "It was mostly Slytherins. Close-minded ass holes that they are."
"I should have been there for you two, supported you," Harry continued.
"Yes, you should have," Hermione agreed still not looking at him.
"I'm sorry," Harry said.
"I'm sorry too," Ron's voice said. Hermione turned around to see Ron trudging up. He sat down on her other side.
Hermione suddenly felt a rush of relief, a rush of gratitude towards the two of them. It felt so great to know that the three of them were friends again that it was as if a huge clenching weight had suddenly disappeared. As if she'd been holding her breath all year long. She put her arms around and put them both one around each of them pulling them a little closer.
"Thank you," she whispered feeling the tears start to slip down her cheeks, wet and hot.
"I can't believe I was such an idiot," Ron said.
"You were a real ass hole actually," Hermione said, her voice cracking slightly.
"I was afraid I guess," Ron admitted, "I don't know. It's hard to understand where feelings come from."
"With you on that one," Hermione said smiling slightly.
"So, uh, can I ask you a question?" Ron asked carefully.
"Sure," Hermione said.
"How long were you two, you know?" he inquired a faint blush creeping up his cheeks, "I mean, was this going on ever since you became friends or was it more recent?"
"Just since the start of the school year," Hermione said softly, remembering the day Ginny had asked her if she'd ever wondered if she was gay. So afraid and shy, she must have felt so alone.
"Ah," Ron said.
"I can't believe this school is homophobic," Harry said, "I had no idea."
"I had an idea, I was one of them several months ago," Hermione admitted, "Ginny helped me find who I truly was."
"You love her." Ron said. It was a statement, not a questions.
"Yes," Hermione agreed.
Harry glanced at his watch, "It's just about time. We should get back up to the castle."
"Yeah," Hermione said her heart lifting as she stood up, brushing snow off her robes.
In the hospital wing Ginny sat wearing her pajamas, flannel pants and a baggy t-shirt, leaning against the headboard of the bed, sipping at a cup of water. Hermione nearly ran over to her hugging her fiercely and giving her a quick firm kiss. Ron and Harry stood at the end of her bed.
"How do you feel?" Hermione asked, her voice barely louder than a whisper. The curse could have killed her had it been cast by a full wizard with truer intent and purer hatred. As it was they'd managed to get her up the castle quick enough for Madame Pomfrey, and a few other Healers that had magically apparated to the school upon hearing the news, to stop the effects of the curse and heal the damage it had done. They'd been "operating" half the night, leaving her in a deep trance for another 12 hours. It was 2:10 now, she'd been due to wake up around 2.
"Never better," Ginny said with a grin touching Hermione's face with her hand, "I have quite a pretty scar though."
"Where?" Hermione asked not seeing anything obvious on her face or arms.
"Back of neck," Ginny said twisting around and pulling the collar of her shirt down. A pink zigzag traced from the middle of her neck down to the tops of her shoulder blades.
"Sexy," Hermione said with a grin, tracing it lightly with a finger.
Ginny turned back around and seemed to notice Harry and Ron for the first time. She smiled at them, her expression saying, I forgive you.
"You have the right to slap me, slap both of us," Ron admitted looking down.
"She has the right to not ever speak to you again," Hermione added.
"Just keep rubbing it in," Harry said with a smile. Both she and Ginny grinned and Hermione felt another burst of happiness. Everyone was friends again. Ginny's parents were arriving in a few hours and Hermione's own parents were coming by train and would be here the next day. Everything was going to be great from now on, Hermione could just feel it.
Ginny leaned forward and kissed Hermione again, her lips softly pressing against Hermione's. Heaven, that's what love was.
A/N: Sorry for taking so long in getting this up! This chapter took a bit longer for me to write as it's the most complicated of them all. And I've been really busy with school, last day is this Friday! Hope you guys haven't forgotten about it yet! This is the end, there won't be any more unless for some odd reason I come with an idea for a sequel, but if I do it probably won't be for many months or a year. I like this one the way it is though, just like this. I'd like to dedicate this chapter to those reviewers who were there since early on in the story and offered great support to me as I was writing, giving me inspiration when writer's block took a hold.