Disclaimer: None of the people, places, or things surrounding Hogwarts and the Wizarding world are my creation; they belong to J.K. Rowling. I own only the plot.
"The train began to move. Harry saw the boys' mother waving and their sister, half laughing, half crying, running to keep up with the train until it gathered too much speed, and then she fell back and waved." - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
"[Harry spotted Ginny two tables away; she was sitting with her head on her mother's shoulder: There would be time to talk later, hours and days and maybe years in which to talk." - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Everything Comes Full Circle
Ginny sat with her back pressed to the window in her bedroom at the Burrow, a book laying open in her lap but her concentration obviously elsewhere as she stared unblinkingly at the floorboards. Hermione, from the second bed across the room, peered at Ginny, concern written in her eyes. She'd lost track of how long it had been since Ginny had last glanced at the book Hermione had loaned to her to keep her mind off of...other things.
Oh, sod it all. Off of Harry James Potter, Hermione mentally corrected in irritation, silently cursing her best friend. She couldn't quite understand what was taking Harry so long to come around where Ginny was concerned. She would have guessed that that particular aspect of his life would be the easiest for Harry to come to grips with after he'd defeated Voldemort the month before. And, judging by the blank stare which seemed to have become a normal expression on Ginny's face, Ginny had also assumed that a faster reconciliation should have taken place. Hermione sighed, placing her own book back down on the bed. She made her way over to Ginny and sat down next to her on the floor.
"How long are you going to give him?"
Ginny's head popped up, her cheeks already tinged pink. "Wha—what?"
"I think you know what I'm talking about," Hermione replied gently. "Do you really want me to say it more clearly?"
Ginny broke eye contact and looked at the floor again. "No," she mumbled sadly. She tossed the book across the room and returned her hands to her lap, wringing them tightly.
"I—I just thought that by now he'd –"
"You weren't the only one," Hermione cut in quietly with a soft smile.
Ginny smiled too. "Thanks." She shook her head. "I don't know what to do. I mean, he just saved the world, you know? He's dealing with that, plus all of the..." She paused, taking a deep breath. Hermione suddenly knew what she was talking about, and tears filled her eyes.
"All of the...funerals?" she finished for Ginny, whose mouth began trembling again.
"Too many funerals," she whispered.
"Yeah." Ginny wiped a tear from her cheek. "You know, Fred would murder us if he saw us sitting here, crying about something we can't change instead of trying to make some kind of joke about it," she mused.
Hermione giggled as she too rubbed a hand over her face. "You're probably right."
The girls lapsed into a momentary silence before Hermione spoke again. "Ginny," she began carefully, "Promise you won't get angry, all right?"
Ginny snorted. "Nothing good ever begins with that."
Hermione blushed. Perhaps that wasn't the best way to start, she thought in contrition. "Honestly, just listen for a moment."
Ginny began toying with the hem of her jeans but remained silent, which Hermione took as a sign to continue. "Look, I know that you've – we've – been waiting for Harry to come 'round for the past few weeks, but I'm beginning to think that you are going to need to be the one to say something first. Which," she added, holding up a conciliatory hand, "Isn't fair, I know, considering the way he ignored you for the better part of the past year. But...he's Harry."
She knew the ending hadn't made proper sense, but Ginny seemed to understand anyway. She stopped fingering the thread on her jeans and looked at Hermione directly. "What would you say?"
Hermione's eyes widened in surprised confusion. "About what?"
"If your ex-boyfriend—"
"But Harry isn't, not really—"
"If the boy who ended things with you," Ginny blazed on, ignoring Hermione's interruption, "Had, during your time apart, literally saved the world and destroyed the most evil monster known to man, but, after that small disruption, didn't seem to be in any hurry to commence the snogging where it left off?
Hermione's mouth had widened into an "o" of surprise and her eyes were as large as saucers by the end of Ginny's speech. She opened her mouth once to reply, closed it abruptly, and then opened it again only to shut it a moment later. "I—I have no idea," she murmured in awe. She looked at Ginny in an abject horror that, had Ginny not been the focus of their conversation, she might have found astoundingly amusing.
"Now you understand why I haven't spoken to Harry properly," she said matter-of-factly and with only a tinge of sadness.
Hermione sighed, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. "I can try..." she began off-handedly.
Ginny's head reared up in horror. "No! Don't do that! Don't do anything out of the ordinary."
Hermione's eyes narrowed. "Ginny, you know I would approach it in an appropriate—"
"That isn't what I meant," Ginny apologized. "I—I just know Harry, and that's not something he would like, mostly because it would make him feel guilty for not speaking to me." She paused. "Which he should, of course, but I suppose I'm letting him slide a bit more than I should."
"How did you and Ron solve everything?" Ginny asked after a few moments of silence.
Hermione cocked her head to the side in confusion. "You don't know?" she asked curiously, even as a faint blush crept across her face.
Glad to not be the center of attention anymore, Ginny sat up straighter and her mouth lifted in a smirk. "Would I be asking if I did?"
"Oh, um, I suppose not," Hermione stammered, looking anywhere but at Ginny.
"Honestly, Hermione? You're going to shy away now, after you just forced me to admit that I've been moping around here because my boyfriend – erm, sort-of boyfriend – can't get his head out of his arse. Not that I want to hear the details of my how idiot brother finally managed to snog you, of course, but—"
"I kissed him."
Ginny's mouth snapped shut, and the hand which she'd reached out to smack Hermione on the arm with froze in midair. "Oh." Then, "I should have figured. Merlin knows Ron can be bloody stupid when it comes to jumping in front of curses meant for those he loves, but when it comes to actually showing that love in other ways, well..."
Hermione shrugged. "I—it wasn't planned the way that it happened," she said quietly. "Not that I would have wanted...I mean..." She trailed off helplessly.
Ginny reached over and laid a hand on Hermione's arm. "But it was perfect anyway, wasn't it?"
Hermione blushed even harder but nodded gratefully. "Yes, it really was."
Ginny watched as Hermione's eyes softened; she was obviously reliving the moment when she'd kissed Ron. She was suddenly filled with the desire to have that – that feeling of acceptance, safety, and excitement – again.
"I should talk to him." She hadn't meant to say the words out loud, but Hermione was nodding and grinning so she must have done so. Ginny stood resolutely and made her way to the door before realizing that she had no idea where Harry was. Glancing out her window, she was shocked to discover that darkness had fallen, and a look at her watch told her that dinner had evidently been served hours ago.
Mum forgot to tell me, she thought sadly, knowing that the reason was the many losses they had endured, but trying not to dwell on it. The last thing Harry needed during their first real conversation in months was Ginny to go to him while sobbing uncontrollably.
"He's out in the garden," came Hermione's voice softly. Her gift of being able to tell exactly what other people were thinking was truly amazing, Ginny thought. "He's been out there for hours, I think, looking at his photo album," Hermione added.
"Thank you," she replied before turning and leaving the room.
At Ginny's departure, Hermione leaned back against the wall, casting her eyes toward heaven and hoping for the best
Ginny saw him as soon as she stepped outside the back door of the Burrow's kitchen. If she didn't know better, she might have thought he'd simply stepped out for a moment of fresh air. He looked more relaxed than she could ever remember seeing him, but then again, looks could be deceiving. In many ways, though, he probably was more relaxed. He no longer had the immediate threat of Voldemort's return hanging over his head, though his wand, she noted, was tucked firmly into the back pocket of his jeans nonetheless. But instead of imminent death worrying him, Harry now had the deaths of friends and family reminding him of the terrible things they had all witnessed. Ginny understood this. Ron and Hermione did, too, but only to an extent. But because she and Harry were somehow – no, magically – connected, she felt as if she had a window into his soul that was a completely unique view from that which Ron and Hermione had.
She quietly approached him, taking many deep breaths along the way and trying to ignore her sweating palms and rapidly beating heart. This was just Harry, she tried to remind herself, but that in itself was the problem, of course.
He was crouched over the photo album, squinting to see the pictures. Because it was summer, there was still a bit of a light left, but dusk was quickly turning into night and soon the light would be completely gone. Ginny reached out and touched a hand to his shoulder, silently letting him know that he shouldn't be scared or defensive. He tensed for a second before relaxing. He didn't turn around or say anything, but Ginny still took it as a sign that he didn't want her to leave. She sat down next to him and glanced at the picture he'd turned to. It was a photo that Colin had captured the night after they'd won the Quidditch match that Harry hadn't played in because of his detention with Snape. She and Harry had eventually returned to the common room after a delightful hour of snogging on the Hogwarts' grounds, and they and Ron and Hermione had apparently, unbeknownst to them, been the subject of a candid photo. All four of them were smiling widely; Ginny and Harry had their arms around each other, and Ron and Hermione were standing close together, shy smiles on their faces as they gazed at each other. It was a beautiful photograph, a true memory that Colin had been kind enough to preserve for them, likely having presented it to Harry at the end of their sixth year.
Harry abruptly closed the album, placing it gently on his other side. "So. You're speaking to me again?" he asked gruffly toward the ground, refusing to look at her.
All of Ginny's carefully thought out plans of what she wanted to say flew out of her head. Harry was talking to her as though they had just had a minor argument, not like they'd been separated for close to a year. Apparently I'm going to have to play this by ear, she thought absently.
"I didn't actually say anything, so really, you're the one speaking to me first," she chided.
Harry nodded, playing with a blade of grass. "I don't know what to say. Or what you want me to say."
Ginny shrugged. "I had something planned, but you ruined it." She surprised even herself at how normal she sounded. This conversation was truly turning out to be quite surreal.
"Just say what you feel," she added. "But," she reached out and gently turned his chin so he was facing her, "You have to look at me, all right? Those are the only rules."
Harry blinked slowly and nodded his head almost imperceptibly.
"I love you."
Ginny let out a small squeak. Words are beyond me.
"I love you, and for the last fucking year I wanted nothing else besides you."
She'd never heard him swear before. In some distant, addled part of her brain, Ginny realized that she found it sort of...well, sexy. She made an absent mental note to get Harry to curse more often, preferably not under these exact circumstances, however.
"But even though I couldn't have you—"
"You could have," she couldn't help interjecting quietly. The power of speech had miraculously returned, now that he was saying something that didn't make her speechlessly joyful.
"No, I couldn't have," he returned smoothly. "But that's exactly the point," he continued, with more life in his voice and movements than Ginny had seen in ages. "You and I...well, that's part of what I was fighting for, Ginny. I realized over the past year that I couldn't deny it anymore. Even though I wasn't with you, couldn't see you every day, I still thought in some part of my mind that we were together, could be together, once Voldemort was defeated. We could be together, everyone would be happy and alive, and maybe, just maybe, I could finally have a bloody life! But it didn't work out the way I planned it. Fred, Lupin and Tonks, Mad Eye, Dobby...they weren't supposed to...to—to die, damn it!"
Harry was the only person who was able to say their names. Except for the funeral proceedings, Ginny hadn't heard Fred's name spoken out loud. Harry had always been that way, though, able to verbalize that which saddened and terrified the most, she thought with admiration and reverence. As she watched Harry struggle with all of the emotions roiling through him, she was filled with the greatest sense of rightness. Harry never went on these emotional diatribes with Ron and Hermione, she knew. But he did in her company.
"Harry," she began. "That life you were talking about? It's still possible. I know that I'm probably the hundredth person to tell you this, but I'm going to anyway: You should not feel guilty for their deaths. Everyone is grieving, but nobody is blaming you. And you shouldn't blame yourself. Voldemort was the reason for everyone's suffering, but you, Harry, you're the reason that we don't have to suffer anymore. And—and the fact that you're out here worrying about that is so ridiculous, and it makes me want to throttle you and kiss you at the same time, and I don't feel the least bit guilty for being so happy that you didn't die! And I know that you're thinking the same bloody thing, and that makes you feel guilty and well...aren't we a pair?"
She stopped only because she'd run out of hair. Her chest was heaving, and she realized that her hands had balled into tight fists. She stared down at her hands in surprise as she uncurled them and found white marks from where her nails had dug into her skin.
Harry had turned his head away, and his shoulders were shaking slightly as silent tears rolled down his cheeks. Acting purely on instinct, Ginny threw herself at him, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. He grabbed on just as tightly, his arms trembling even as he clutched her to him. Ginny tried to take a calming breath, hoping that it might settle him as well. But seeing his tears – Harry, the young man who had for his whole life held the weight of the world on his shoulders – only tore open her heart and soon she was crying too.
"Oh, bugger it," she muttered through her tears, and she moved her head toward his and suddenly they were kissing.
The first thought Ginny had was that it had been entirely too long since she'd kissed Harry. She'd been replaying the few precious moments they'd had in her bedroom on his birthday for months now, and while they were certainly good memories, nothing could ever compare to the real thing.
The second thought Ginny had was that thinking was beyond her. She could only feel. And what she felt was the strangest combination of trepidation, anxiety, sadness, joy, and safety. This kiss was far different from any that she and Harry had shared previously. Harry was holding onto her as if she was about to disappear from his arms forever, and as she opened her eyes slowly, she saw his mouth tip up in a smile even as tears still trailed from his closed eyelids. It then occurred to her that while Harry had told her lived her – albeit, not under the precise circumstances she'd imagined it – she had yet to respond.
She pulled her lips from his but held onto him even more tightly, if that was possible. "Harry," she whispered, pressing her lips to his ear, "I love you too. You know that, right?"
Harry heaved a sigh of relief. "It's good to hear," he replied softly, pressing a kiss to her palm as they linked hands. "Ah, Ginny, I sometimes don't know how I survived a year without you, like this, here with me."
Ginny couldn't say anything right away. Her throat had closed up again and she felt a stinging behind her eyes. She took a deep breath before speaking. "We're going to be okay, now. Everybody." Especially me, she thought, Now that you're back.
Harry nodded, though Ginny noted a bit of reluctance still present in his eyes. "I reckon we will be, eventually." He paused and all of a sudden a bit of spark came back into his expression, a spark that had been missing for entirely too long. "Think Ron will stop worrying that I'm compromising you if I tell him that I love you?"
Ginny grinned. Some things never changed. "Worrying, no. Resisting the urge to punch you, definitely." Harry laughed (a sound that was literally music to Ginny's ears) before leaning back against a tree trunk and pulling Ginny to sit between his legs.
Six years ago, she had still been worshipping Harry from afar, as the Wizarding world's hero, The Boy Who Lived. She hadn't really known Harry, didn't yet understand that he was so much more than the just the Chosen One, but the fact that he carried the burden without complaining still amazed her, even now knowing Harry as a person. And now, here she was, with Harry's arms wrapped around her, surrounded by him completely; she never wanted to let go. They had witnessed and experienced awful things along the journey of the past six years, but through it all they had still managed to end up together. And that was more than anything she could have asked for.
Things had, in their own way over time, truly come full circle.