A/N: I'm still alive! this is basically part of chapter 9 that's been floating around my computer for awhile. I hope to have the rest of the chapter up in a couple of weeks, when school ends, but I just wanted to give something to those of you who are fans of this series. Thank you so much for supporting me, despite my lack of updating!!

Chapter 9:

Ginny took a deep breath as she came to a stop outside of the large doorway. She knew she needed to do this, but it felt so strange after all of this time. It felt so strange to be reaching out to anyone. She turned sideways, thinking about leaving, before she steeled herself. You can do this, she told herself savagely, they didn't put you in Gryffindor on a whim.

Resolutely, she raised her hand, and firmly knocked on the wooden surface, half hoping for no answer to her summons.

"Can I help-" Padma gasped, seeing who was standing in front of her, "Ginny."

"Hi." Ginny smiled hesitantly, not quite sure of the reception that she was about to receive from her greatest friend. She smoothed a hand over her hair self-consciously as Padma continued to look at her incredulously.

"Ginny." Padma repeated, before blinking, "Come in…"

Ginny sat down on one of Padma's armchairs, tucking her legs under herself in a familiar sort of way that was unhindered by the tension in the air. She stared at the fire for a moment, thankful for its warmth, before her bright eyes sought Padma's in the semi-darkness. She took in the white nightgown silently for a moment, before speaking, "I'm sorry if I disturbed you."

"Not a worry." Padma breathed, seating herself opposite, really taking in Ginny's appearance. She definitely looked different… as if she had been ill for quite some time, but not.

Ginny's skin was almost unnaturally pale and smooth from a lack of sunlight, but she had gained enough weight to have lost her athletic, coltish frame. Her hair was also the darkest Padma had ever seen it, again from lack of sun, but it seemed to suit her. She could now be termed quite voluptuous, and it was strange to see her in that light.

"I…" Ginny looked off into the distance for a moment before refocusing on the Ravenclaw, "I needed to talk to someone…"

Padma felt warmth unfurling through her at the quiet statement, and schooled her features into an expressionless mask, "Oh?"

Lacing her fingers together on her lap, Ginny took a deep breath. She had not expected Padma to make this incredibly easy for her, "I'm sorry."

They stared at each other for a long moment, the only sound in the room the crackling fire in the grate.

"I'm sorry." Ginny carried on, as if there had been no pause, "I cut you out when I… when everything happened, and I shouldn't have."

Padma nodded in silent agreement, watching Ginny's pale face intently.

"I didn't deal with this right." Ginny completed, moving her gaze down to stare at her fingers.

"Damn right." Padma spoke, three months of sadness and anger behind her words evaporating even as she spoke. "We're friends. Not just for the good stuff. The bad stuff is just as important."

"I know that." Ginny looked over at her, blue eyes flashing for the first time since she had stepped into the room. Padma watched her, her features not betraying anything of her feelings.

"You do?" She arched a dark eyebrow skeptically.

"I do." Ginny's eyes narrowed, before she composed herself once more, "Look, I know I was wrong. And I'm apologizing."

"What about George?" Padma pushed further, "What about Blaise? What about Draco?"

Ginny stared at her, her face drawn as if in stone, "I'm going to apologize to them as well."

"Do you realize why you're apologizing?" Padma's voice was quiet enough that Ginny had to sit forward slightly to hear her.

"For being so withdrawn."

"Not only that." Padma crossed her legs, and sat back, "For acting like you were the only one in pain."

"It was my baby!"

"Not just yours…"

Silence reigned again as Ginny got control over her temper. She knew Padma had a point, but she didn't like the feeling of her rubbing her mistakes in her face. Taking a deep breath, she continued grimly.

"I need to know whether I've got your forgiveness."

Padma sat silently for a long moment, considering the question carefully, "I understand your reasons, but I don't know if I forgive you yet. I don't know how long it will take me to forgive how you treated all of us, not just Draco and Blaise."

Ginny's chin wobbled, almost imperceptibly, "There's no hope?"

Padma leaned forward, lacing her fingers in Ginny's, "I did not say that. I simply mean that our trust has been shaken by you being unable to see beyond yourself, and it will take some time to fully repair that.

You also need some time to forgive yourself. None of this was your fault, and you should not feel guilty that you were exploring your options before. That did not have an impact on what happened."

Ginny nodded, her head bowing forward. Hearing Padma stand, she looked up wearily to see her take the seat beside her. Padma's arms were hesitant, but somehow, Ginny found herself enfolded against her friend.

Murmuring words of comfort in a foreign tongue, Padma rocked Ginny gently, as her mother had often done to her as a child.

Ginny, for the second time in a few days, felt tears trickling down her cheeks. This time, though, it wasn't painful. She felt safe, and she felt comforted, despite Padma's words.