A/N: Little one-shot that was written some time between five in the morning and seven in the morning, when I finished my third re-read of DH and got ambushed by a plot bunny. Please remember that I didn't actually sleep that night before. Anyway, this is just a little idea that popped into my head-- and ya'll gotta admit, DH was pretty H/G-less. Was I the only one screaming for Harry to say something when he passed Ginny in the scene where he's walking to his death? Yeah, anyway. This is just a bit AU, but it all carries on a la canon afterwards anyway. Disclaimer's obvious: All characters belong to JKR, and the line at the end does as well.
WARNING! Please don't be stupid and read this if you haven't finished DH!
She was so close, and yet still so far away. He stood there, staring at her, invisible, while she comforted the nameless little girl, doing what she did best.
He could see the Ginny he had fallen in love with. The kind, stoic and strong redhead was only a few feet away… a few feet and an entire universe.
Harry didn't want a fuss, but he desired Ginny so much… she was his Ginny. He didn't want any tearful farewells or angry rows, but he just wanted her to know how much he loved her, how sorry he was that they had only lasted a few months. Even after he was gone, he wanted her to understand and remember him, remember the months of bliss they had spent together. To remember all that, but to carry on with her life afterwards. Ginny was tough; she would make it.
Before he could talk himself out of his decision, he pulled off the Cloak. "Ginny."
She jumped and gasped, the hand which wasn't around the shoulder of the little girl flying to her mouth. "Harry!" she said, shocked, scrubbing at her eyes with her sleeve. "Why're you—"
Ginny didn't get much further. Harry had dropped the Cloak into a heap on the ground, and drawn her to him tightly. She was stiff at first, most likely surprised, but eased up and put her arms around him just as tightly.
"Don't ask me," he said roughly into her hair. "Just hold me…"
"Oh Harry," she whispered. "I'm here, I'll always be here…"
Always. For life.
How short his life seemed, especially now, now that he knew…
"I know," he said quietly.
The injured girl had faded into the background, whether he just wasn't noticing her or she had simply fallen silent, Harry couldn't tell. His attention was fixed solely upon the beautiful girl in his arms, from whom he could still detect a whiff of the flowery perfume. She fit so perfectly in his arms, and she was going to be the last friendly face he saw, the last friendly person he touched, the last friendly voice he heard…
It felt right, Harry reflected. Maybe this was how it was meant to be.
"Do you remember last year," he whispered, staring over her head at the glistening patch of water which was the lake, "remember when we would walk around the lake, and just talk?"
"All those times we weren't studying or in detention, right?" Ginny said laughingly, turning herself around in his arms to look at the lake as well. "Yes, I do. And when the Giant Squid came up, he'd wave his tentacles at us as if telling us to go away…"
"I still think he just wanted us to tickle him," Harry murmured, smiling in spite of himself. This was how he wanted to spend his last few minutes; with his arms around Ginny, who was leaning back into him with so much trust…
"So you always said."
She was amazing; even after she'd gone through so much pain, so much loss, there was still a wan tone of amusement in the background, strong, resolute, refusing to deny that good times had existed. Refusing to let the pain rule her life.
"So I still do."
He had to leave soon, any longer and he wouldn't be able to walk away at all. But as he tried to loosen his arms, she whirled around and grabbed his wrists, staring at him with a fierce intensity.
"Don't leave me again, Harry Potter," she said in a low voice. "I waited for you for years, and finally, last year, I thought I was rewarded. But you left me, at the funeral… you left me. And at the wedding, you left me again; you disappeared into nowhere, and I had no idea where you'd gone." Her brown eyes were burning into him, he couldn't look away; he was lost in them, they were all around him… "Do you know what's been happening to me, since you went? My love, my brother and my best friend, on the run; and me, with no idea where you all were and what was happening to you. I'd hear something on the radio, or read something in the newspaper, and I'd cling to those nuggets of information desperately, with no clue whether they were true or not. You'd come back into my life and breeze out again, and I'd be left hopeless in your wake, knowing that you're doing the right thing but wanting you back with me anyway; knowing that you could do it but still terrified for you… I had to go through all of that, every day, every second, in my mind, and still put up a mask around people, pretend to be strong, and help the others…"
"No," Harry said finally, shaking his head and moving his hands, so he and Ginny were standing with their flat palms pressed between them, as though there was an invisible fence they were both pushing against… "No," he repeated. "That isn't a mask, Ginny." His left hand slid from her right hand, up her arm and around her back. "It's just you. Purely you." Both of her arms were snaking around him again, and he gazed into her eyes. "And," he said, his right hand going down to his pocket while both of their eyes were on fire, "that's why I love you."
Barely after he had finished talking, his mouth was on hers, and he was kissing her.
It was more passionate than their first kiss after the Quidditch match, more stunning than his birthday kiss in her room, and altogether better than all their previous kisses combined… But it was his last kiss, and he knew it, so maybe he was just treasuring the moment even more than the rest…
"I love you too," she said breathlessly back, their faces still millimetres apart; he could feel her lips brush against his when she spoke. Her hands were roaming his back, going up to his neck occasionally, even through his hair. "I love you so much…"
She closed the difference between the two of them again, her eyes closing. Harry's left hand was finger-combing through her hair, tangled and singed from the recent battle, and his right knuckles were running up and down her spine.
"I love you," he whispered again into her lips, "and I'm sorry. Stupefy."
Before her eyes could shoot wide open in shock and surprise, she crumpled, still in his arms. Supporting her weight with his left arm, he returned the wand in his right hand back to his pocket before lowering her to the ground, where she lay as though she was sleeping. "I'm sorry," he repeated, kneeling at her side, stroking a stray tendril of hair off her face. "You'll understand why some day."
Harry couldn't tell if the little girl was saying anything as he picked up his Invisibility Cloak. He couldn't see anything except from Ginny, lying peacefully on the grass, her mouth still hanging open slightly…
He stood there, for almost an eternity, it seemed, before he threw on his cloak, flung one last glance behind him, and fled into the Forest.
Feeling rushed into Ginny, but it confused her. What was she lying on? Why was she so cold?
She opened her eyes and immediately got her answers. She was lying on grass, part of Hogwarts' lawn next to the Forest, and it was still night time.
Neville's face condensed into view, looking white and far older than his age. "What happened?"
What did happen? Her brain was sluggish in replying. She blinked—
—and the moment her eyelids met, everything came rushing back.
Ginny sat up in a flash, gasping, looking around frantically. "Harry!"
Neville blinked. "Harry happened?"
"No—well, yes—but…" she couldn't see him anywhere. Oh, what had he done? "Neville, do you know where Harry went?"
"I bumped into him walking in this direction from the castle around fifteen minutes ago…"
"Was that Harry Potter?" asked a voice, and Ginny saw the little girl she had been trying to help before Harry got onto the scene. "That man who was here?"
Ginny and Neville exchanged glances. "Yes, he was."
"I think he went that way," she said, pointing towards the forest. "I couldn't see him but the grass was moving."
"No…" Ginny moaned. What had Harry done? Had he given up?
"He wasn't handing himself over, Ginny," said Neville. "He promised to keep fighting. Come on, let's get her up to the castle," he said, scooping the little girl up into his arms and standing up. "Ginny," he repeated when she didn't move.
She tore her eyes away from the dark trees with an effort, and her mind away from the memory of what had happened between herself and Harry with a greater one. "Let's go," she said roughly to Neville.
The walk up to Hogwarts was silent. What was Harry doing? Ginny agonised over the question. He wouldn't hand himself over, he couldn't… but he had apologised, then Stunned her. Why? It seemed as though he had given up already, and he hadn't told her what he was doing.
They reached the castle, and Neville gently laid the injured girl on the floor in the Great Hall with the dozens of others waiting for medical help. Ginny saw Ron and Hermione over by her family and went to join them, wanting to share what had happened, to ask if it had been part of the mission they were on, if they were in on Harry's plan…
Just as she opened her mouth to ask, though, another voice came out of the air. A high, cruel voice underlined with victory, which snapped her world in two for the second time that day.
"Harry Potter is dead."
A/N: But you all know what happens anyway, so I don't feel terribly evil for cutting it off there. It just seemed the best place to do it... I did actually write a bit more carrying on, but it got a bit tedious, seeing as it's basically just the last chapter of the book. And if you haven't actually read DH... BAD READER! I warned you at the beginning!
Anyway. Review? looks cute and pleading