The stillness of the night often disturbed Ginny, and that night was no exception. The stars were just as bright as normal and the day had been quiet and uneventful. There was nothing to be keeping her up at 2:32 in the morning.

Except Harry.

Every night, Ginny lay awake and wondered where he, her brother and Hermione were, and if they were safe. It had been ten months since they had left, sending word back to The Burrow and to Ginny directly at Hogwarts every so often, and Ginny hadn't seen any of them since Fleur and Bill's wedding in the summer.

She had enjoyed such a brief time of kisses and smiles that, when she looked back on it, it seemed like a dream. Though the time they had spent together was overall troubled, Ginny could not forget the way their first kiss had felt, or the way Harry's hand had felt on her shoulder when he would wake her from her chair by the fire and take her book from her, telling her it was time to go to bed.

Harry had asked her to wait for him, though they both knew she would have anyway. He had placed the thin golden bracelet on her wrist and kissed her goodbye on the very patio Ginny was gazing at through her window. The broken gray stones seemed so much darker now than they had last August.

But now the whole world seemed devoid of light. It seemed to Ginny that all the people's fear was taking away every bit of happiness or even comfort that there was to be had. Now that the war in the wizarding world had finally reached its peak, people were running about wondering if their loved ones were the next to be hunted.

Perhaps that was why Ginny was remarkably calm. She knew hers was being hunted. Everyone knew hers was being hunted.

Finally giving up on the idea of sleep, Ginny sat up in bed and wrapped her arms around her legs. She tried to conjure an image of Harry in her mind, trying to see him sleeping peacefully in a hotel room somewhere in the country, finding comfort for the night before he continued his search. She fingered the bracelet on her wrist. She hadn't taken it off since Harry had put it on her. She didn't dare. What if he died and she had lost the last gift he had given her?

Carefully, she reached into the drawer beside her bed, turning on the lantern on the table. She pulled out an envelope with familiar handwriting spelling her name across the front and gently removed its contents as though she were handling something valuable and fragile.

Harry's last letter that she had received during her last days as a 6th year at Hogwarts went where ever she did. It had stayed in her bag through exams, in her pocket on the ride home and beside her bed when she slept. When ever she felt scared or unsure, Ginny would find a quiet place to read her letter until she felt like everything was going to be all right.

In the flickering lantern light, Ginny read to herself the words she all ready knew by heart.

Dear Ginny,

I can't tell you where I am. I wish I could, since you deserve to know. I know that you would have come with us, and I know I promised you an explanation, so I'll give you the best one I can.

Its not that I don't have faith in you as a fighter. You'll make a fantastic auror one day and you and I both know its true. I didn't want you to come because I know that this entire fight hinges on me, and I know that if I know you're safe somewhere that I can come back to, I'll have the strength to keep going when it gets too tough, and I know it will.

I think about you all the time. Its hard not having you here, I'll admit, especially when I see Ron and Hermione hold each other after every task we face and I stand there, unsure of when I'll see you again. Please know that when ever you think of me, you can be sure that at the same moment, I'm thinking of you too, and know that every step I take toward ending all of this is not a step towards victory as everyone else sees it. To me, it is just a step closer to the time when we can lay by the lake and sleep in the sunshine again.

I'll come back to you as soon as I can. I promise. Everything is going to be all right.



Ginny read the letter twice before folding it up just the way Harry had folded it when he sent it to her --- crooked --- and slid it back into its envelope. Though the comfort reading those few words gave her was only temporary, it was all she could ask for.

Finally, it seemed that sleep was going to overtake her, and she slid down on the bed, resting her head back on her pillow. Her heavy eyelids closed and her hand still clasped the letter as she fell into a dream about the time when she and Harry would sleep in the sunshine once more.

It was still dark when Ginny awoke to the faint sound of voices downstairs. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and brushed her red hair from her face. She was certain she had heard...

"Shush. You'll wake everyone," came another voice. Ginny sat up straight.

Wait another moment, she told herself, wait... just to be sure...

"Right... right..." came the tired voice she had been sure she had heard first. Within seconds she was out the door of her room and scampering down the stairs. She was only slightly aware of the voices getting closer and more defined. Ginny was in a bubble all of her own, and it was full of hope.

When she turned the corner into the kitchen, the sight that met her eyes was exactly what she had hoped for.

Hermione was standing beside Ron, taking off her shoes, while Ron steadied her, kicking his own under the table. They both looked exhausted, and their clothes were dirty and tattered. Ron's hair was longer than usual, and Hermione's was falling out of its braid. They were both thinner, but not unhealthy looking. Harry had promised that he wouldn't let them get sick...

"Ginny," came Ron's voice. Hermione looked up through the curls of her hair that were falling gracefully into her eyes, which brightened immediately.

"Ginny --- oh, its so good to see you," she said quietly, obviously trying to keep their entrance a secret for as long as possible. But Ginny didn't care if the whole family came down and started screaming. She looked over their shoulders anxiously.

"Where's Harry?" she asked. She knew it wasn't nice and that she should be hugging them and crying, showing how happy she was to see them, but she had to know.

"Ginny, Harry's ---"

But Ginny didn't hear the rest of what her brother was going to say. She felt a pair of warm and familiar arms wrap around her from behind, both gentle and fierce at the same time. The embrace was something that Ginny had fought so hard to remember and keep fresh in her mind over the past year that it would not have surprised her at all if it had indeed been just her imagination. But the warmth she couldn't imagine no matter how hard she tried.

"Harry," she breathed, relief flooding her words. She had known all along that Ron and Hermione would return, the only question had been when. But Harry...

She turned to him, her face buried in his chest. Seeing his face didn't matter, nor did hearing his tale, which was sure to be fascinating and terrifying. The only thing that mattered in that moment was feeling him close.

"Ginny, I've missed you," Harry said, his deep voice so close to her ear that she could hardly stand it. She turned her face, tear streaked and flushed, to face him, but found herself meeting his lips instead.

He was warm --- so warm that it was hard to believe that he had been out there in that world where all the fear had taken away the happiness and comfort. She kissed him back passionately, letting her mind go blank and her fears fall away. Ginny's hands found his sides and she wrapped her arms around him, pressing herself against him as much as she could.

Finally, when they broke apart, Ginny looked into his eyes, their light hardly able to be shielded by his glasses. She knew instantly that it was over, and that everything they had been afraid of had fallen away. What ever he, Ron and Hermione had done in the past months had led them to an end, and they had finally been able to come home.

"Its all over, Ginny," Ron said from behind her, "The Prophet will tell everyone tomorrow... everyone that doesn't know by now, that is. Word travels fast ---"

Ron was cut off by the tight, one armed hug Ginny gave him. She kept one hand firmly in Harry's as she hugged her big brother, still crying. She was glad to see she wasn't the only one moved to tears by the homecoming. Hermione's eyes glistened as she hugged Ginny as well, then turned to Ron.

"Come on, Ronald. Lets go sleep for a bit before you're family wakes. They'll want to hear everything and I haven't got the strength to tell them without some rest," she said. Ron kissed Ginny's forehead before disappearing up the stairs with Hermione, both pairs of feet dragging slightly as they moved.

Ginny turned back to Harry and she saw how tired he was in his eyes. The exhaustion was unmistakable. What ever battle he had fought had been won recently, and they were still reeling from it.

Ginny blushed as Harry wiped away her tears with his thumbs, his hands cradling her face the way they always did in her dreams. She felt so small compared to him with his broad shoulders and his way of towering over her. But in all her smallness, she felt safe.

"Harry... I was so afraid..." she admitted, her little hands roaming over his back as she folded into him again. His robes were as torn and worn out as she felt as she finally released all the anxiety that had built up while wondering where they were and if they were safe.

"There's nothing to be afraid of now. And if there ever is again, I'm here to look after you," he said. With those words, Ginny burst into tears, hiding her face against his chest again. She cried in all her relief and for all the good witches and wizards who had died so that Harry, the boy --- no, man, in her arms could face evil its self, and simply pray to survive. She cried for all the time she had lost with him, and for all the days they had to come.

"Happy tears?" he asked her. Ginny chuckled despite herself.

"And sad ones. And ones I can't figure out. I just missed you so much," she said, looking up at him. A small smile crept over his lips and suddenly Ginny felt him kiss her again, and she was swept away into their own little world.

The silence in the house that was unsettling only a few hours ago was welcome as Ginny unclasped Harry's robes and helped him take them off. She noticed that he was wearing one of the sweaters her mother had knitted for him and smiled. They had a hero in the family. Three of them, in fact.

"Are you hungry?" Ginny asked him as he pulled his wand from his pocket and shook his shaggy hair out.

"No," he told her, placing a hand on the small of her back, "I'm just so tired."

Ginny noticed that he was nearly unstable on his feet, so she led him to the couch, where they both sat down.. Harry sank into it as though he would dissolve and sleep there forever. But though his eyes were shut, Harry continued talking,

"Everything's been okay for you, hasn't it?" he asked. Ginny nodded, folding her legs under her.

"Its fine. I've just been worried about you," she said, taking his hand. He held hers tight and looked around the room. He seemed pleased that nothing had changed. Slowly, he stretched out on the couch, laying his head in Ginny's lap. She smiled softly at him and carefully removed his glasses, hooking them to her shirt.

"Ginny?" Harry said, grogginess settling into his voice as she began stroking his hair.


"I love you."

Ginny grinned and kissed his cheek, running her fingers through his dark hair idly. She whispered in his ear softly as his breathing slowed, "I love you too".

Within moments, Ginny knew he was asleep. Harry looked so peaceful and content as he laid there. Ginny wondered if he was dreaming as she sat there and watched him sleep. She knew that in an hour or so her family would wake and discover that the trio was home. She knew that they would wake Harry, Ron and Hermione and mercilessly beg for their story. She knew that reporters would find them, as would the ministry, and questions would be asked.

But for now, I'll let him sleep, Ginny thought as she studied each and every inch of Harry's face. She didn't want to forget how he looked in that moment --- so tired, but so pleased with what he had accomplished. He had saved so many lives, but Ginny knew which ones were most important to him, and she was glad to know she could count herself among them.

With a silent prayer for a happy life with him, Ginny closed her eyes, willing herself to find some rest in the comfort that Harry's presence brought to her. Simply knowing he was there was enough to make her feel safe and loved. As she began to drift off, Ginny thought of the first time she had seen Harry at King's Cross when she was ten. She could still see him looking around, so confused, with the steam billowing from the engine behind him, his green eyes searching for something he wasn't sure existed. She hoped that the doubt he had felt then would never return about anything. As she sat there, feeling Harry's gentle breathing under her hands, Ginny drifted off, finding real comfort for the first time in so long that she could hardly remember.