A/N: Harry Potter and his whole world belong to J. K. Rowling. I'm just playing with her characters for a while.
This is the last chapter in my promised fluffy story. Please R/R and tell me what you thought!
V. Finding the Way Home
Ginny circled the pitch lazily, her eyes scanning the overcast sky for a glint of gold. When she finally spotted it, she was tempted to look the other way and let the game go on. As long as she was in the air, and focused on finding that little golden ball, there was no room in her brain for any other thought.
But the Hufflepuff Seeker had noticed the Snitch as it circled around Madam Hooch, who was doing her absolute best to ignore it. Ginny leaned low and shot forward at the same time as the Hufflepuff, and Madam Hooch, at last able to acknowledge the tiny ball fluttering around her, dove low to get out of the way.
Ginny knew without a doubt that she would get to the Snitch first; after all, she was riding the latest version of the Firebolt, which Fred and George had given her in an attempt to cheer her up. Indeed, the Hufflepuff was still a dozen feet away when Ginny closed her fingers around the cool, metal ball. She felt no thrill at her victory, feeling the old terror awakening at the back of her mind.
She hadn't heard from Harry in over four months.
Every day, the Daily Prophet would print the latest Harry Potter Sightings, and Ginny prayed that he wasn't really making himself that visible. Of course, the largest part of her didn't believe a word the Prophet printed these days, as at least once a week they would report that this wizard or that had witnessed Harry Potter lying dead in a field, or going down while battling twenty Death Eaters. Then a few days later, they would print a small, quiet retraction on the back page, and Ginny would be able to breathe again.
The first time she'd seen one of those stories, she'd become hysterical over her morning cereal. It had taken three of her classmates to restrain her until McGonagall rushed down from the head table to escort her to the hospital wing. Remus Lupin himself had gone to speak with the so-called witness, only to discover that the person in question didn't exist at all. A little more searching on Remus' part had revealed the story to be a complete fabrication, which Ginny didn't really believe until she saw the retraction in the paper two days later.
Harry had promised he'd come back, and Ginny meant to hold him to that promise.
Her teammates crushed in around her, cheering gleefully as they floated down to the ground, where the rest of Gryffindor met them. She shouldered her broom and slipped away from the celebration, retreating to the quiet of the locker room.
When she emerged a short while later, showered and dressed in her regular robes, a light, misting rain had begun to fall. She smiled weakly at Colin, who was waiting for her outside the entrance to the pitch.
"Your appreciative public is looking for you," he grinned, pointing to crowd of younger witches talking with the rest of her teammates on the front lawn of the castle.
Ginny grimaced and began to make her way over to them when she heard a young girl cry, "Ooh, how pretty!" She glanced in the direction the small Gryffindor indicated.
Her breath caught in her throat as she spotted the silvery otter streaking across the grounds to the castle. The Patronus disappeared through the stone walls, and Ginny blindly threw her broom at Colin, taking off for the castle at a dead run.
"Ginny!" Colin shouted after her. "What's going on?"
But she didn't know. All she knew was that was Hermione's Patronus, and it filled her with a sense of dread. She skidded to a halt in the Entrance Hall, not sure which way it had gone. She paused, filled with indecision. Who would Hermione call for in case of an emergency? Remus? Possibly. McGonagall was more likely, and Ginny charged up the steps, hoping that the headmistress was in her office. She made it to the third floor before she heard the shouting and pounding of several pairs of feet coming down the steps towards her. She stopped and waited, and in a moment, Professor McGonagall, Lupin and Tonks appeared, breathless and flustered.
Without a word, Ginny turned and followed them back down the stairs, determined to follow them wherever they went. She didn't think any of them were even aware of her presence as they rushed down the front lawn towards the main gates. As they cleared the castle boundary, however, Tonks turned to her.
"Wotcher, Ginny," she said, before grabbing her arm and spinning away from her.
Ginny was startled by the sudden Apparation, but quickly regained her bearings as they appeared in a destroyed graveyard, where the rain was pounding down. She looked around, horror struck. Here and there, jagged edges of destroyed marble headstones jutted out of the ground. The rain was washing away the blood that splattered several of them. She swayed a bit against Tonks as she saw a still, black robed figure lying broken on the ground, and then another, and yet another. She brought a shaky hand to her amulet and closed her fist around it. It flashed in her hand and glowed brighter than she'd ever seen it, burning her chest through her robes.
"Where? WHERE?" Remus shouted, looking around wildly. He began to run from body to body, looking at each face before moving on. Tonks gave Ginny's arm a quick squeeze and took the other side of the graveyard, repeating the same process.
Professor McGonagall stepped forward, her eyes transfixed on a spot at the center of the destruction. Ginny followed her gaze and felt her heart stop.
Voldemort's eyes were rolled back in his head, his scaly, snakelike face frozen in a pained scream. His legs and arms were twisted at odd angles from his body, and – Ginny swallowed painfully – a fresh cut the shape of a lightening bolt was carved into his forehead.
"Oh God," she gasped, tearing her eyes away and running to the next nearest body, rolling it over.
Snape's lifeless eyes stared through her, unflinching at the raindrops pelting his face, and Ginny cried out, backpedaling away. She looked beyond him, and saw another figure, and crawled over. But she caught a glint of white-blond hair and turned away quickly, not wanting to know nor caring which Malfoy had fallen in the fight.
A hand closed on her arm and she looked up, her eyes wide. "He's not here!" she cried as Professor McGonagall lifted her to her feet.
"Portus," McGonagall said, tapping her wand on a Galleon before placing it in Ginny's hand.
"But – " Ginny began to protest, even as she felt the familiar tug at her navel. She crashed to the wet ground outside the Burrow, and stayed where she was, half of her body submerged in a particularly deep puddle. She rolled onto her back and blinked as heavy raindrops glanced off her face.
"GINNY!" she heard her mother scream as the back door banged open.
She felt hands pulling her upright, feeling over her body for injury. A hand closed on her chin and tilted her head up, and in a daze, she met her mother's frightened look.
"He wasn't there…"
"Ginny?" Her mother waved a hand in front of her face. "Ginny!"
"He promised he'd come back to me," Ginny mumbled, looking through her mother.
"Oh, Merlin! ARTHUR! Come quickly!"
There was a deafening pop and Ginny blinked, feeling a change in the air. Through the rain, she made out the blurry shapes of three slumped forms on the ground behind her mother.
She shoved her mother away and scrambled to her feet. One of the figures slowly sat up, and Ginny saw Hermione's wild mane of hair streaming down her back, soaked with rain.
"Over here!" Hermione croaked, struggling to stand up between the other two huddled figures. "Over here!" she cried again, her voice breaking.
How Ginny made it so quickly to Harry's slumped form, she didn't know; she could have flown and not known it. She knelt, rolling him onto his back and putting her ear to his chest, searching. She listened, growing increasingly terrified, until she heard it.
A faint beat, and then another. Ginny sobbed in relief.
Then ever so gently, she felt fingertips brush against her wrist, searching for her hand. Tears spilled from her eyes and blended with the raindrops melting into his ripped robes. She closed her hand around his, feeling a faint vibration in his fingers.
"You promised me you'd come back," Ginny whispered.
"I'm here," he answered faintly.
"Where did you go?" Ginny cried. "I was there – at the graveyard – but you weren't there!"
Harry mumbled something unintelligibly.
"Where did you go?" Ginny wept, kissing him through her tears. "I was so scared!"
"There were still Death Eaters fighting – after," Hermione gasped shakily, sinking back to the ground. "Ron – Harry…they're – I had to Apparate all of us. I've – I've never side-Apparated with anyone. I couldn't take them very far the first time."
"Ronnie?" her mother cried, splashing down next to Hermione.
Ron shielded his face weakly, mumbling something about the "bloody rain".
Ginny looked down at Harry, and noticed his other hand clenched tightly around an object. He lifted it to his chest and placed it there, his hand shakily reaching for Ginny. She bent lower, closing her eyes as his fingertips explored her face.
"So tired," Harry groaned, flinching as the raindrops hit his face. Ginny held a hand over his face, trying to shield it from the storm, and her eyes fell on the object on his chest: his compass, cracked and slightly charred, but the arrow still pointing back at her.
"You found your way home," Ginny said wonderingly, bending to kiss him tenderly.
Harry moved his lips weakly against hers, and then his hand went slack in hers.
"Harry?" Ginny whispered, terrified of his sudden silence. But his chest continued to rise and fall, and she could feel his pulse in his fingers. She leaned over him once more, determined to protect him from the rain, and anything else that threatened him ever again.
It was three days before Harry's eyes fluttered open again. Ginny made sure she was the first thing he saw.
"Morning, sleeping beauty," she greeted.
He smiled sleepily. "C'mere," he yawned, holding out a steady hand.
Pleased to oblige, Ginny kicked off her sandals and slid into the bed next to him.
Harry wrapped his arms around her and nestled his face against her chest. He hummed happily as Ginny snuggled in next to him, one hand automatically going to his hair.
"How did I get here?" he asked after a moment.
"Hermione brought the three of you back. You don't remember?"
"The last thing I remember is Voldemort falling down. Then everything is really hazy." He traced her fingers with his, sending a ticking sensation running up her arm. "Was it raining when I got here?"
"Pouring," Ginny affirmed.
"And you were here. Why weren't you at school?"
"Doesn't matter," she whispered. "You found your way home; that's all that counts."
Harry was quiet for so long, Ginny thought he'd drifted back to sleep. "I never want to leave again," he said at last.
"Alright," he said, leaning in to kiss her. His lips brushed against hers hesitantly at first, slowly tracing the rise and fall of her lips. "I won't."
She smiled, feeling his hands start to wander down her body. "Isn't it your turn?" she said teasingly.
Harry made a pleased noise in his throat. "How about we take a turn together?" he suggested.
Ginny grinned against his lips. "You've been waiting to use that, haven't you?"
He laughed quietly. "Guilty as charged," he confessed, rolling her head to the side so he could follow the line of her jaw back to her ear with his mouth.
"Are you sure you're up for that right now?" Ginny asked, snaking a hand up his shirt, tracing small circles on his chest.
Harry suppressed a snort and pressed his body against hers, and Ginny understood what was so funny. He appeared to, indeed, be up for it. She pulled out her wand and pointed it at the door, which clicked quietly as the lock engaged.
Harry grinned goofily and repositioned himself over her, covering her body with his. In between kisses, he sleepily said, "You're brilliant."
"You keep saying that," Ginny chuckled, twisting her fingers through his nearly shoulder-length locks.
"I mean it," he murmured, nibbling lightly on her neck. His hands tugged at her shirt, and she slipped it up over her head, smiling at Harry.
"Red…" Harry said, awed, staring at the barely-there, lacy red bra she was wearing. "Brilliant," he repeated, sounding much more awake.
She giggled nervously and reached for the hem of his shirt. Harry leaned it to kiss her, and she felt his fingers brush against hers as he pulled his t-shirt up. There was a mad rush of fabric, and the shirt disappeared. She got a glimpse of it as it hit a far wall, and then Harry filled her sight again.
"Wow," Ginny whispered. Harry snorted and fell upon her again, and his bare chest burned hot against her skin. His fingers trembled slightly as he hovered over her bra. Ginny jumped slightly as she felt the clasp in the back give way; she hadn't even felt Harry slide his hand under her back.
Almost reverently, Harry slid the straps off her shoulders, and Ginny caught a flash of red as her undergarment joined Harry's shirt in the corner of the room.
"You're getting good at that," Ginny joked, enjoying Harry's hot gaze as it roamed up and down her body. She slid her hand between them, feeling for the waistband of Harry's pajama bottoms. He reached down and his hand closed around her fingers, giving them a quick squeeze.
"Are you sure?" he asked. She grew still, looking into the depths of his green eyes, which were glassy with desire. A faint wrinkle of concern marred his forehead and he bit his lip. She could practically hear his thoughts, begging her to say she was sure, asking her to tell him that this was alright, that the time for waiting was over and they could start living without the fear of death and pain looming just over their shoulders.
Or maybe that was what she needed him to say to her.
After a minute of silent contemplation, Ginny tilted her head and captured Harry's mouth with her shaky lips.
"I'm always sure, with you," she answered. The look of joy on his face almost undid her, and he laughed, his eyes lighting with anticipation.
And the moment came, a short while later, and his eyes locked with hers.
Harry was gentle, and hesitant, and he bit his lip when she squirmed at the pain. "I'm sorry," he whispered, kissing a tear off her cheek.
"It's good," she gasped, clinging to him, waiting for the wave of fire to recede. He waited until she moved against him, and she nodded.
He started again, and Ginny continued to cling to him, wanting to be as close as she could to him. She felt like he was consuming her, and a warm feeling overtook her body. He whispered incoherently in between kisses, telling her she was lovely, she was amazing, and he loved her and wanted to be with her forever. She felt him shaking, his breath coming in choked gasps, and he pressed his lips against hers.
Afterwards, he slowly sank onto her, trembling. "I love you," he choked again, taking great heaving breaths against her neck.
"I love you, too," she replied, wrapping her trembling legs around his hips, wincing a bit as her muscles stretched.
They clung to each other in silence. Ginny synchronized her breathing with his as it grew slower and steadier. Harry gave a great sigh; his sweat slicked skin slid against hers.
Harry grunted in response, his body growing slack against hers.
She turned her head to look at him and grinned ruefully. He'd gone back to sleep. If he hadn't just defeated a Dark lord, she might have been offended.
But instead, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. His skin touched her skin; all over her body she tingled. His soft inhales and exhales brushed against her neck and she listened to the impossibility of his sleeping breaths, when she'd feared she would never hear them again. Careful not to disturb him, she brought her hands up around him and began to touch his arms, his back, any part of him she could reach, relearning the feel of his body.
The amulet grew warm between them, and Harry began to stir from his doze. Ginny shushed him as he shifted, helping him roll off her, and holding still as he snuggled up to her side, drawing her closer to him.
Exhausted from her three day bedside vigil, Ginny felt her eyes droop heavily. She relaxed against Harry, letting them shut. She knew when she woke up, that he would still be beside her, be it tomorrow, or the day after, or a hundred years from now.
She knew, no matter what, that Harry would always come back to her, in the end.