A/N: Doubtless this is full of cliches, but I started it months ago, saw it in my notebook as I worked on chapter eight of 'It Had to Happen in Snape's Class', and decided to finish it. It's probably a little rough, because I didn't send it to a beta, but I hope you enjoy it just the same.
The Final Battle
"STUPEFY!" Ginny Weasley snarled before the Death Eater could send her to her knees in another bout of excruciating pain. She didn't bother with pulling off their mask to identify them; there were two more behind her. They were soon taken care of as well; two unidentified allies – she knew they were friendly by the patches crudely sewn onto their robes picturing a phoenix surrounded by a burst of flame, identical to the one her mother had hurriedly attached to the Hogwarts robes she was still wearing – had helped her take down the two oafs in minutes.
Free for a moment from direct combat, Ginny looked at the battle raging around her, searching for glimpses of ginger hair glinting in the horribly bright sunlight. She thought she could see her father fighting beside his coworkers from the Ministry, but she could not see any of her brothers. She knew her mum was safe inside Hogwarts, helping Madam Pomfrey and sending the critically injured to St. Mungo's via portkey. She scanned the chaotic mob again, searching the mass of bodies for friends and fellow students. She could easily see Hagrid and Grawp; they towered over everyone and everything. A group of old Dumbledore's Army members were in a cluster over to the side; before she ran over to join them, she looked around once more, this time searching for messy black hair, but neither him nor Voldemort were to be found.
The battle raged on; Ginny lost track of time as she fired hex after hex. She had been back and forth between the castle and the grounds three times already, helping the injured back to the castle and grabbing a couple of bottles of Strengthening Potion from a house elf the second time. Ginny thought that it was both a blessing and a curse that Voldemort and his followers had appeared on the Hogwarts grounds; on one hand, they had ready, if limited access to the hospital wing and fireplaces. On the other hand, it had been pure pandemonium the minute the Ravenclaw Quidditch team had came flying full speed into the castle, screaming about You-Know-Who and Death Eaters on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. All first through fourth years had been locked into their respective common rooms, guarded by fifth year prefects. The older students had had a choice. Most had joined the fight, and the Order had shown up within minutes, followed shortly by the Ministry. Half an hour later Ginny had seen Harry, Ron, and Hermione racing toward the mass of fighting people, wands at the ready. It had been complete chaos ever since.
In the distance, Ginny could see Hogsmeade, up in flames, and three Dark Marks hovering ominously in the afternoon sky. With a shiver, she remembered someone yelling about Inferi and Dementors in the village.
Hiding behind a tree, Ginny downed part of a potion and stuffed the vials into a pocket in her robes. Taking off in a run, she promptly cast the Bat-Bogey Hex at the nearest Death Eater before Stunning him from behind.
"Thanks, Ginny!" It was Remus Lupin, looking haggard and bleeding from a nasty cut that ran the length of his face. He gave her a quick, meaningful look before disappearing into the mob, and Ginny continued on.
There were not nearly as many people up and fighting as there had been at noon when the fighting started. Bodies littered the ground, both friend and foe. Pushing her worries to the back of her mind, Ginny charged into the battle once more, the blood pounding in her ears.
The sun had begun its descent in the west when Ginny noticed the silence spreading through the crowd. Some people were still furiously finishing their battles, while victors of others paused and looked around, obviously disturbed by the unsettling quiet. Ginny would never forget what happened next: a terrible, bloodcurdling shriek, a bright flash of red light, then another scream, shouting, "HARRY!" that sounded vaguely familiar…
Oh, God. Hermione… and Harry. Ron, of course, would be there as well. Ginny ran, sprinted faster and harder than she ever had before toward the cluster of people gathering in the distance, dodging curses and hexes as she made her way past the living, dying, and dead.
Other people were following her, following her towards the spot where Harry and Lord Voldemort had met. Someone had won… the only question was who.
Finally, Ginny reached Dumbledore's tomb; a crowd of people was grouped around it. She shoved them aside, not caring if they were Death Eater or ally – she had to know. After all he had been through… please, please, please let him be alive, she thought desperately. She pushed past the last person in front of her and let out a startled cry, her breath catching in her throat.
Voldemort was lying on the ground to her left, eyes open and staring blankly: he was clearly dead. To her right, a blood-spattered Hermione and an equally bloody Ron were hysterically trying to revive a terribly pale and unconscious Harry, who was flat on his back and covered in blood as well. His face was almost indistinguishable as blood leaked from his scar, nose, and the nasty cuts that marred his face.
Ginny dropped to her knees beside them, tears falling down her filthy face. "What happened?" she asked urgently.
Hermione was sobbing as she frantically tried to mop up Harry's blood with her already blood-soaked robes. Ginny hadn't noticed the blood shining through Harry's dark green shirt. "Oh, God," she half-gasped, half-sobbed. Ron was shakily rattling off healing charms, obviously spent but going off of terror-induced adrenaline.
"Someone go get a Healer! Anyone!" Ginny shouted, taking Harry's limp hand in hers. "Come on, Harry, please don't give up now! Don't leave me. You've gone too far to back out now!" Losing her head completely, Ginny took Harry's limp form by the shoulders and shook him. Hands instantly grabbed her and pulled her back. As she wrestled herself out of their grasp, she felt a large wet spot on the front of her robes. Knowing she had not been injured that badly, Ginny reached a hand into her pocket and felt shards of broken glass cut at her fingers. If only the bottles of Strengthening Potion had stayed intact…
"No! He's stopped breathing!" Ron's voice echoed across the eerily quiet grounds and in Ginny's head. She whipped out her wand and began to fire off every healing spell she knew but to no avail. Suddenly, Hermione pushed her out of the way, bent down, and covered Harry's bloody lips with her own. Ginny could see Harry's chest rise and fall with each breath Hermione gave him. She had heard about this technique in Muggle Studies, and she prayed to any and every divine being that it would work. Harry could not die just when his life could begin.
Then, all of a sudden Harry was gasping and choking, sucking in air, his body shaking madly.
"Oh, thank God," Hermione sat back as Harry settled into breathing steadily but shallowly.
"Move! Move out of the way!" It was Lupin. "I've got a Portkey." Lupin, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny secured Harry between them and grasped the broken tree branch. "Three... two… one." The battered group vanished from the Hogwarts grounds in a swirl of light and color.
St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries was almost as chaotic as the Hogwarts grounds had been. Occupied beds were everywhere, even in the waiting room; Healers and their aides were rushing around from patient to patient and people were constantly going in and out of the fireplaces and appearing everywhere as they Apparated and Portkeyed in the injured and dying. Everywhere, people were moaning in pain until someone gave them Dreamless Sleep potion; more injured filled the waiting room chairs and were propped up against the wall clutching at their various injuries.
A frazzled looking female Healer took one look at Harry, levitated him onto a gurney, and whisked him away and into the bowels of the hospital without a word, leaving Lupin, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny standing there, shocked and worried, in the midst of the bustling room.
Hours later, Ginny found herself being shaken awake. She was sitting alone on the floor, leaning up against the wall. She looked up at Hermione. Her friend had washed her face and had had all of her minor abrasions healed, and her eyes were bright with excitement, a huge change from mere hours ago, when anxiety and terror had covered her face like a mask. "What is it?" Ginny asked, instantly awake. She wondered how she could have fallen asleep.
"It's Harry! He's going to be okay!" Hermione said, a smile spreading across her thin face.
Ginny released a breath she did not know she had been holding. He was going to be okay. Looking around and seeing no one else she recognized, Ginny asked where Lupin and Ron were.
"Ron's with Harry, and Lupin went back to Hogwarts; he came back to tell me that your brothers and parents were okay. Bill, Fleur, and your father are around here somewhere, and the rest of your family's back at Hogwarts." Hermione replied, tugging on Ginny's arm.
Ginny stood up on shaky legs and followed Hermione down hallways, the normal hospital protocol of signing in with the front desk thrown out the window. The hospital was so crowded that the young man who had just defeated the Dark Lord was lying in a tiny cot in one of the crowded hallways of the Dangerous Bites ward. Ron was administering an aquamarine-colored potion to Harry, who was still unconscious as well as shirtless; bandages were wrapped thickly around his chest and head. Ron made sure Harry had swallowed the potion before placing a plastic breathing mask back over his mouth and nose. Ginny knew it was similar to its Muggle counterpart. The only difference was that it was not connected to a tank of oxygen; the oxygen was supplied magically on the inside of the mask.
Ginny grasped Harry's limp hand. "How's he doing?" she asked.
"He's going to be okay," Ron said, rubbing his face tiredly. "But he'll be in for a long recovery."
"He's alive," Hermione said softly. "That's all that matters."
After a few minutes of the three friends standing there quietly, lost in their own thoughts. Then Ron sat down on the floor with a heavy sigh, leaning against Harry's gurney and the wall and promptly fell asleep; Hermione joined him soon after. Ginny stayed there right by the cot, both because the hallway was busy with the activities of a hospital in chaos, and because she knew she was never going to leave Harry, nor let him leave her ever again.
Over the next two days, Ginny and Ron were united with their family; the only member whose fate they had not yet learned was Percy's. Though Ginny did not want to lose her brother, estranged from the family as he had become, she knew that had he been alive, he surely would have at least let them know that he was alive and well.
Her brothers and father were all okay; amazingly, none of the injuries they had received had been critical.
Harry remained unconscious through the rest of the week; he slept through being moved into his own tiny room and the reporters that tried repeatedly to get into his room for pictures and interviews. He even slept through the explosion that was Ginny's mum after she learned that Ron had married Hermione nearly a month ago. She had yelled for a good twenty minutes before grabbing the two teenagers tightly in one of her encompassing hugs.
The day the Boy Who Lived finally woke up, Ginny was sitting on a chair at his bedside, listening to Lupin and Charlie as they discussed the steps the Ministry was taking in the aftermath of the war and the clean-up of Hogwarts when she felt Harry shift. She looked up at his face. His bright green eyes were open for a split second before they shut tight the next.
"Harry?" she asked, relief flowing through her body and lifting the weight of worry off of her shoulders. Throughout the entire week she had still feared that he would end up dying anyway. But he was awake now, and Ginny knew with a certainty she could not explain that he would really, truly, be fine.
But she could not say he was at the moment; he was beginning to breathe strangely and had not reopened his eyes. "Harry? What's wrong?" Both Lupin and Charlie, who had been hurrying over to the bed, relieved grins on their faces, suddenly paused at her words.
"It… hurts to breathe," he whispered, his breathing becoming even more labored. The Healers had told the Weasleys to expect this; they had only taken off Harry's breathing mask only yesterday.
"Harry, I'm going to get you some water," Ginny said calmly, pulling her hand out of his now tight grasp and pouring him some water from the pitcher on his bedside table. She helped him sit up and sip at the water, and then lie back down. He promptly fell asleep, but not before taking hold of her hand once more.
Ginny, Lupin, and Charlie all looked at each other, none of them saying a word, but all of them thinking the same thing: It's going to be a long recovery, but at least he's alive.
Harry left St. Mungo's two weeks later in the dead of night; the paparazzi were, thankfully, completely unaware. The Weasleys took him back to the Burrow, where he stayed in the front room. He was too weak to make it up to Fred and George's room for the time being, so Mrs. Weasley and Ginny had set up the room so that Harry could convalesce comfortably.
After all of the Weasleys but herself went upstairs to their separate bedrooms (for they had all insisted on helping transport Harry), Ginny sat down on the arm of the sofa near his head and ran her fingers through his hair. He smiled up at her sleepily. "Hey, Ginny."
"Go ahead and go to bed, I'll be fine," he said, suppressing a yawn and wincing. The Healers had said his lungs would still be tender for another week or so. They had also said, several times, that he was lucky to have survived the curse Voldemort had placed on him.
"No, I'm staying. I'm never going to leave you again, and you sure as hell aren't going to ever leave me again either." Ginny said determinedly.
Harry looked up at her sharply. "I didn't have a choice, Ginny. You know I wouldn't have if it were possible."
"But now we do have a choice, both of us. And I choose to stay with you."
Harry's face suddenly broke into a smug grin. "Yeah, I know," he said loftily.
"Know what, Mr. Potter?" Ginny asked, arching an eyebrow.
"That you'll never leave me."
"You've got another thing coming if you think you can boss me around, Mr. Potter," said Ginny standing up and pretending she was upset, though she thoroughly enjoyed their lighthearted banter. "Good night."
Ginny watched in surprise as a cheeky grin spread across Harry's thin face. "You know why I know you'll never leave me, Ginny Weasley?"
"And why is that, Mr. Potter?" Ginny asked unconcernedly, glancing at her nails.
"'Cause I'll have a few redheaded, headstrong brats that'll need watched."
Ginny looked at Harry sharply. His face was now serious, though his eyes betrayed his happiness, trust and love that he felt. Ginny couldn't help it as her face broke out into a wide smile. She sat down on the floor beside the sofa and grasped his hand, listening to the rhythm of his breathing as he slowly fell asleep.