The Last Weasley at Hogwarts. She didn't want to believe it. It couldn't be true. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not yet. It was too soon.
When they had left after the wedding, they had said that they didn't expect to go back to Hogwarts next year. But then McGonagall delivered a parting letter from Dumbledore's will, and they changed their minds. They wrote that they would arrive home two weeks before term started.
But they never came.
All week she waited for them, but they never showed up. They didn't write to say why they were late. They didn't contact any one at all.
After three days of no news from the trio, her dad met with the Order to try and find out where they might be. Her mother went around the house with silent tears streaming down her cheeks as she cleaned.
Ginny spent most of her time in her room. Sometimes she cried for them, other times she raged and screamed in frustration, and other times she sat by the window, hoping to see them walking up the path towards the Burrow. When she couldn't bear to think about them any more, she would try to do some of the homework McGonagall had assigned before the end of term; but usually she lost her concentration and ended up throwing her book across the room in frustration.
And now, two weeks later, here she was at King's Cross, her trolley loaded with all her belongings, being escorted by her mother and father. Her mother was holding together well, but she knew that as soon as her mom said goodbye she would break down in tears again. Her father was very pale and grim-looking; the search for the trio was not going well.
They crossed through the magical barrier at Platform 9 and ¾, and saw the Hogwarts Express gleaming in front of them in the bright sun. Her father helped to load her trunk on the train, and then her parents took her aside to say goodbye.
"Ginny," her mother said, and Ginny could see the tears threatening to fall.
"Ginny, promise me you'll write us everyday," her mother said. "I need to know that you are safe."
"I will mum," she said, "I promise."
Ginny hugged her mum tight, and when she pulled away she saw a few tears escape and trail down her mum's cheek. Ginny gave her a sad smile and turned towards her dad. His long arms engulfed her in a warm and comforting embrace.
"Stay strong, Ginny," he whispered, "Stay strong and stay safe."
Stay strong. Her father had repeated those words to her every day since the trio had left. Staying strong had become a lot harder than she would have ever imagined. But she kept at, because she refused to lose hope.
Ginny nodded her head against his chest and pulled away. She took one last look at her parents, and then turned and boarded the train. She watched from the window as her mother wept into her father's shoulder and waved back to them until she could no longer see them.
With a sad sigh, Ginny turned and gathered her things to go find a compartment. As she walked by the doors she saw many groups of students sitting together, muttering darkly about the war and the latest attack. After the first few compartments, she started to see less and less people, but that didn't surprise her. She figured that with Dumbledore gone and a war raging across the wizarding world, not many parents would want to send their children away for so long.
At last, Ginny found a completely empty compartment and settled herself in. She had bypassed the compartment with her fellow sixth year dorm mates, because she didn't feel like talking much right now. They were nice girls, but she knew the minute she went to sit with them she would be bombarded with questions about her summer, which would lead to questions about Harry, which would mean explaining their break-up and his disappearance. Ginny didn't even want to have to think about that right now.
A few minutes later, her compartment door slid open, and a round-faced boy's head appeared.
"Hey Ginny," Neville greeted, "Do you mind if I sit in here?"
"No, come on in," Ginny said.
Neville came in and was soon followed by a dreamy-looking blonde-haired girl clutching the latest copy of the Quibbler.
"Hello Ginny," Luna said, "Mind if I join you?"
Ginny nodded and turned her head to continue staring out the window. She really didn't want to talk to anyone, so hopefully Neville and Luna were just going to let her be.
"How was your summer, Ginny?"
"It was…fine," Ginny answered. Her summer really had been far from fine, but she didn't want to go into the details.
"I saw the marriage announcement for your brother in the Daily Prophet," Neville said, "That's great news."
"Yeah," agreed Ginny, "Great news."
"Are you feeling ok Ginny?" Luna asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Ginny lied.
"Are you sure?" Luna asked. "Cause you seem as if you're suffering from a Mistem Infection."
"A Mistem Infection," Luna explained. "Mistems are tiny creatures that attach themselves to your feet whenever you're in a lonely state of mind. You must have a really bad case, Ginny. You should ask Madam Pomfrey for some willow wisps when we get to school, they're the only things that get rid of mistems."
"Thanks Luna," Ginny smiled, "I'll do that."
Ginny heard a small cough and saw Neville looking at her as though he was afraid to say what he was about to say. He hesitated, but then asked, "Where are Harry, Ron and Hermione?"
Ginny's smile soon left her face and she looked down at her hands. How could she tell them that Harry Potter, 'the Chosen One', had gone off searching for Voldemort with his friends and hadn't returned?
"I don't know where they are Neville," she whispered. "They were supposed to be here by now."
Both Neville and Luna seemed discomforted by this news, but they acted as though nothing had happened and quickly changed the subject to talk about their own summer and their worries for the coming school year. After the conversation died down Ginny returned to staring out her window, praying that wherever Harry, Ron and Hermione were, they were safe.
The train soon arrived at Hogwarts and Ginny, dressed in her school robes, exited the train onto the platform to the familiar sound of, "Firs' years! Firs' years come with me!"
Ginny smiled and went over to greet Hagrid.
"Hi Hagrid!" Ginny said.
"Ginny! How've yeh be'n?" he asked, "Hope yeh had sum fun durin' the break. Hey, where're Har-?"
"They aren't here, Hagrid. They haven't come back."
For a moment Hagrid looked as if someone had told him that dragons weren't real. "Not comin' bac'? But McGonagall told 'em tha' Dumbledore wanted-"
"They were planning on coming, or I thought they were," Ginny said, "but we haven't heard from them in over two weeks."
The part of Hagrid's face that could been seen through his wild black hair went very pale. He bent down towards Ginny with a worried look on his face.
"Yeh haven't heard from 'em at all?" he asked.
Ginny shook her head.
Hagrid seemed to be at a loss for words.
"Well, I better catch the carriages…."
"Yeah, go on, don't want ter be late now," Hagrid agreed. "An' Ginny? Don't worry about 'em, they'll show up, I'm sure o' tha'."
Ginny nodded and left to go grab a carriage. Neville and Luna were nowhere to be found, and with the amount of students missing this year, Ginny was able to get a carriage to herself. As the carriage rolled towards Hogwarts, Ginny felt tears slide down her cheeks, and she was very grateful for the privacy of her own carriage. Sometimes, she needed a little break from staying strong.
The Great Hall looked as magnificent as ever, with the cloudy sky reflecting Ginny's somber mood. She took a seat next to Neville in the middle of the table and waited for the Sorting to begin. McGonagall was seated in Professor Dumbledore's old seat, and soon Professor Sprout entered with a small bunch of first years trailing behind her. As soon as "Zolden, Jasmine," was sorted into Ravenclaw, Professor McGonagall stood up and the hall went silent.
"Welcome back to a new year at Hogwarts," she said. "We are glad to see the safe return of our old students, and welcome the new students to our home. I have a few announcements for you, but first, let us eat."
Instantly the tables in the Great Hall were filled with hundreds of dishes and mouth-watering meals. Ginny helped herself to a bit of everything (in Ron's honor) and ate in silence while listening to the happy chatter among the rest of the students.
It seemed impossible to Ginny that anyone could be in a good mood now. How could they be happy when there was a war going on? Then again, none of her classmates were missing a brother, a best friend, and a (ex) boyfriend at the moment, so maybe they really were rather happy. Ginny angrily wiped away another tear and stabbed forcefully at her kidney pie. She wanted to be happy too, but she didn't know if she would be able to manage that now. Right now, it took all of her energy to just continue staying strong.
After everyone had finished eating, McGonagall stood up and the hall grew silent.
"I hope you have enjoyed your feast," she said. "And now, I have a few announcements. As you all know, we are in the middle of-"
But Professor McGonagall never said what exactly they were in the middle of. She was staring straight ahead with a look of pure incredulousness on her face. Ginny and the rest of the hall turned to see what McGonagall was looking at, and they let out a collective gasp.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione had arrived.
They were very bloody and bruised to be sure, but they had made it. Harry seemed to be leaning on Ron and Hermione for support; his right leg was badly injured. Yet Ginny didn't care about any of this. Harry, Ron and Hermione were here, and that was the only clear thought that ran through Ginny's head.
Ginny was the first to recover from her shock at seeing the trio and immediately got up and ran towards them; a hard, blazing look on her face. Her eyes met Harry's and she threw her arms around his neck and held him close. She felt Harry return the hug, and soon tears were leaking from the sides of her eyes. Ginny pulled away and looked at Harry. His face was pale and covered in scratches, but at the same time he seemed extraordinarily happy to see her. Ginny put her hand on the side of his face and wiped away the blood and dirt from his cheek.
"Don't you ever scare me like that again, Harry" she whispered. "I didn't know where you were or if you were ever coming back or if you were in danger or-"
At that moment Harry's lips came crashing down on hers and all thought of previous reprimands vanished from Ginny's mind as she melted into his kiss.
Harry slowly pulled away and met Ginny's gaze with emerald green eyes filled with love.
"I missed you, Ginny," he said.
"Me too," Ginny said. "Welcome back, Harry."
Harry smiled and captured Ginny's lips in another kiss, a kiss that told Ginny that they would never be separated again.