Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of the copyrighted stuff.

A/N: Just for emphasis, DH spoiler warning. I got the idea for this one at eleven o'clock at night, just after I turned my computer off. So then I wrote the whole thing out on paper so I wouldn't forget it by the next day. (I may be only fifteen, but trust me, my memory CAN be that bad.)

True Comfort

"It's a lovely night."


"But it'll never be the same again, will it?"

There was a short pause, and then: "No, Ginny, it never will."

It was almost midnight, nearly two weeks after Voldemort's downfall. Emotions and regrets were still running high, but Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley had at last found time in the middle of the restoration effort for another of their moonlit walks on the grounds. This was the first one since the Battle of Hogwarts, and up until just a moment ago, it had been a silent one. By this time, the castle and the grounds had, for the most part, been restored to their former grandeur. Some things, however, could never be replaced, and some images could never be forgotten.

"I wish it could," Ginny whispered longingly, and Harry knew without asking, without even thinking about it, that she was thinking of Fred. Harry's thoughts had lingered on the same thing, as well, though Ginny didn't know that. He was still finding it hard not to blame himself, but knew that he had to try to comfort her, anyway.

"So do we all," he answered, squeezing her hand reassuringly. "So much has been lost..."

"A lot has been gained, too, Harry," Ginny said suddenly, looking up at him. "Freedom, and peace, and.. hope. And everyone who died gave their lives for that. They would be glad that it turned out this way, glad that we're left to enjoy it." She paused for a moment and added, "That's what I keep telling myself, anyway."

Harry seemed surprised by that. He stopped dead in his tracks and Ginny, whose hand he was still holding, was pulled to a halt, too. He let go of her hand and put his hands on her shoulders, willing her to look at him. When she did, he whispered, "That's exactly what Fred would think. He would probably make some joke out of it somehow, that's what he always did; but that's exactlty what he would think. He wouldn't want you or Ron or George or anyone else to beat themselves up about it. You know that, Ginny."

Ginny nodded and tried valiantly to blink away her tears. "I know," she said softly. "It's just so hard.. to think that he'll never try to test out his and George's joke stuff on Ron again.. never make Mum mad.. never practice Quidditch in the orchard with us.. never joke.. never laugh..."

"But he did do all those things. You'll always remember it, and it will always keep him close by. Anyway, Ginny.. that's how he died. Joking with Percy, and laughing. Even in the middle of a battle, probably one of the greatest battles of all time. Do you really think he would have wanted it any other way?"

Tears rolled down Ginny's cheeks, and Harry felt like daggers were piercing his chest, felt his throat burning, but he didn't let himself cry. Ginny needed him to be strong now. He drew her close and held her, and she buried her face in his chest.

Harry couldn't imagine what it felt like to lose a brother, because he had never had one. He knew what it felt like to lose Fred, though, because Fred had been Harry's friend for seven years. That was part of the problem, though: Harry had only known Fred for seven years. Ginny had grown up with him, and she had never known a time when he wasn't there, perpetually making jokes and making people laugh. Not until now.

"Does the pain ever go away?" she asked quietly, her voice a little muffled. "Do you ever forget, or stop wishing that you could have done something, or wondering what he might do, if he were still alive?"

Harry had lost many people he cared about, and he knew that was why she was asking. He just stroked her hair and tried to be comforting, because he knew that what he was about to say certainly wouldn't do that.

"I wish I could say it does, Ginny, but I can't. The memories, the pain, the regrets.. they're always there. I guess, after a while.. you just learn to live with them."

And Ginny couldn't explain it, but just having someone really talk to her about it, instead of avoiding the subject, helped more than anything -- except maybe just being back in Harry's arms -- had so far.