The Gryffindor Common Room was quiet, still, and at first glance empty. The younger students had evacuated during the day, and the surviving older students were in the dorms packing up everything for the trip home the next day. The battle of Hogwarts had ended, Voldemort was dead. Yet a stillness fell upon the whole castle: the stillness of mourning. Among the Gryffindors Colin Creevey, the one underage wizard to stay for the battle was dead. Former Gryffindor and in the opinion of many the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher they had had, Remus Lupin was also counted among the dead. Another was one of Gryffindor's most famous miscreants, the beloved Fred Weasley. The other deaths wouldn't be known until morning, and people feared for those whose beds were empty, not knowing if they had left or stayed.
Yet there were indeed people in the Gryffindor common room, however still and silent they were. In one corner a lanky red-headed boy was holding a fluffy haired girl. Near the door a black haired youth with a skinny lightning bolt scar across his forehead was sitting with his head bowed, his elbows on his knees. A glance to the clock above the fireplace told Harry Potter that it was just after five in the morning, yet that was as good as telling him that there were gnomes in the greenhouses: it didn't seem to matter anymore.
Finally, what seemed a lifetime later, the portrait hole opened, and in walked a girl with flowing red hair, a tear stained face, and glowing brown eyes that were locked on Harry. He stood up, opened his arms, and felt Ginny rush into them. Hugging her reassuringly, he heard a rustle behind him that told him that Hermione and Ron had stood up to see who the newcomer was. Upon seeing Harry and Ginny holding each other there was the sound of whispers through which Harry caught "privacy" and "they better not". Ignoring the sound of his two best friends behind him, Harry looked down at Ginny, who was giving him that look. The look told Harry that she understood, that he needn't say anything, not about Fred, Colin, Remus, or any of the others. So he chose a topic as unrelated as possible.
"Did your parents go back to the Burrow?" He asked, trying to sound as casual as possible. Ginny nodded, looking up at him. "They, Percy, Bill, Fleur, and George all went back with F-, with the body." She whispered, hiding her face to his chest. A wet feeling through the thin fabric informed Harry that the one thing he never wanted to see happen was happening: Ginny Weasley was crying. Buckling slightly at the thought of emotional pain going through her, Harry slipped a finger under her chin and raised her face to where he could see her. Tears glistened in her eyes, and he squeezed her tighter up against him.
"Ginny…don't…he's on to the next great adventure!" He said, thinking of the description Dumbledore had given Harry in his first year at Hogwarts. At the word "adventure" a ghost of a smile reached Ginny's lips, something Harry was trying his hardest not to look at. However, his own private war was taking place in his head.
You bastard don't you dare take advantage of her…
They're quivering…and kissing those lips quivering like that…
She's in emotional pain! Don't you dare try anything with her now!
But it might bring her some relief!
Don't you even think about it anymore.
Harry distracted himself by glancing over at Ron and Hermione, who were nestled over in their corner, hopefully not registering Harry and Ginny's whispered exchange. Ron was looking out the tower window, stroking Hermione's hair in the process. Glancing at Ginny's blazing red hair; Harry decided that mimicking that action was less than safe at the moment.
Finally Ginny broke the silence. "I suppose so." She said resignedly, turning her face away from him and moving to wipe away her tears with her arm. Harry instinctively caught her arm before it reached its target, his other hand coaxing her face back towards him. Her expression showed confusion at first, but upon seeing his face, something else. Harry would hazard to give it the title desire. Slowly she disengaged her arm from his hand, and slid both hands to his shoulders. Harry's other hand reached her face as well, his thumbs clumsily whipping at her cheeks. Tears still dripping silently from the big brown eyes he was locked with, Harry leaned in and softly pressed his lips to the inner corner of her eye. Ginny's arms glided around his torso, pulling her as tight to him as possible. Slowly and surely, Harry traced the bottom of her right eye with his lips, and then her left. With several of the same feather light kisses he made his way down her cheek, finally pressing against her quaking lips. He meant for it to be innocent, meant for it to be a gesture that he cared. He meant to pull his lips off of hers as quickly as he had pressed them there.
Ginny, however, seemed to have different plans. Her arms moved up and closed around his neck, pulling his face as close as possible down to hers. Her lips moved with a frenzy, moving all over his and finally opening over his, slowly edging her tongue into his mouth. Harry reacted without thinking: kissing her back, opening his mouth with hers, giving a friendly greeting to the tongue that had made its way into his mouth. Yet his brain got in the way, and finally he ended the kiss tenderly, with a quick peck to clear away doubts. Ginny grinned up at him ruefully, dropping her eyes to the floor quickly as though ashamed. Harry rubbed her forearms reassuringly, and her eyes met his again, soft smiles on both faces.
Yet even as she smiled, Ginny's eyes closed and her mouth opened, her hand reaching up to delicately shield her mouth as she yawned, moving her face away to hide this fact from Harry. Not deceived, Harry glanced at the clock. It was nearly five thirty. His arms closing around her waist, he rocked her side to side playfully.
"It's late." He said, looking down at her. "And we've got to get on the train in the morning and then make our way back to the Burrow. It'll be a long day. We both need to rest."
"Yeah, you're right. And I think Ron and Hermione have already beaten us to that." She said with a soft giggle, which quickly turned into another yawn. Harry followed her eyes over to the corner where Ron and Hermione lay slumped over on each other.
"Here…you sleep on the sofa by the fire." He said, gesturing to the sofa a ways behind where they stood. Walking her there, he conjured her a green blanket and pillow, setting them out for her. She lay down on the unusually wide sofa, giggling slightly as he made a fumbled attempt to tuck her in, and finally gave up. He kissed her good night, whispered "Sweet dreams", and started walking towards an arm chair.
"Harry?" Came Ginny's voice from behind him, sounding tinier than usual.
"Yes?" He asked gently, turning back to face her. The dwindling firelight crept across her face strangely, making her appear as though a human fire herself. A small human fire.
"Stay with me…please?" The plea in her voice caught at Harry's heart, and it was all he could do to nod.
"Of course." He managed finally as she stood back up to let him lay on the back of the couch. She too got back on the couch, her back to him. His right arm slid over her tenderly under the blanket, and he felt her relax a little at his touch.
"Thanks," she whispered quietly, and he pulled her tighter to him instinctively. His hand found hers, and lightly held it with a small squeeze.
"Goodnight, Harry." She said, pulling their hands up to her mouth and pressing a kiss against his.
"Goodnight, Ginny." He said, kissing her on the head. Sluggishly black crept around his vision, and his eyelids fell. Before he knew it, he was asleep.