Disclaimer: I do not own any aspect of the Harry Potter franchise.
Author's Note: I'm really sorry it took me so long to get around to this! For some reason, it was harder than the others. And perhaps it's appropriate for me to post it on the second anniversary of my engagement. This is an alternate version of what happened near the end of the book. SnakeEyes16 and I agreed that this was probably the most egregious error of Rowling's. Why would Harry choose to go to Ron and Hermione instead of Ginny? It's completely unrealistic, especially if we're supposed to believe that he loves her. Enjoy!
Hidden by the Invisibility Cloak, Harry made his way down the rows of tables in the Great Hall. He spotted Ron and Hermione sitting together, holding hands. He would want to see them shortly, but he'd just spent most of the past nine months with them. Besides, he had a feeling there were some things the two of them needed to work out on their own.
In the meantime, there was another face Harry sought, one that had kept him going when he'd thought everything was lost. At last, he found her distinctive red head, leaning against her mother.
Careful not to stand in anyone's way, Harry just paused there for a moment, grateful that Ginny was alive and well. Her long hair was tangled, her face smudged, and she looked exhausted. Harry didn't think he'd ever seen anything more beautiful.
Of course, he still had the problem of how to approach her without anyone else catching on. He crept cautiously up to where she was and allowed his hand to brush her arm through the cloak. Her eyes opened wide, and she sat up straight.
"Ginny, dear? Is there something wrong?" Mrs. Weasley's voice was full of concern – understandably, considering what everyone had just been through.
"No, Mum." Ginny's gaze appeared to rest eerily upon Harry, and he felt a chill run down his spine. "I just need to go and…get some air." Harry remembered what Professor Dumbledore had once said about the bond created when one wizard saves another. He'd been talking about Pettigrew, but Harry had also saved Ginny's life once. Maybe that bond gave her an uncanny ability to sense his presence.
"I'll be okay," she assured her mother, turning her sad yet still brilliant smile to her and making Harry feel irrationally jealous at not being the recipient. "The war's over, remember?" Mrs. Weasley let go of her daughter very reluctantly, but she could no more prevent her leaving now than she'd been able to keep her out of the fighting earlier. Ginny slipped silently out of the Great Hall, with Harry ghosting along by her side.
"Harry? Is that you?" she whispered once they were in the corridor. Harry glanced around quickly and removed the cloak.
"It's me," he acknowledged unnecessarily. Ginny momentarily looked as though she were going to throw herself at him, but she didn't. She wasn't Hermione, after all. Instead, she simply stepped forward and placed a tentative hand on his cheek. He covered her hand with his own.
"I've missed you," she murmured.
"Not half so much as I've missed you, I'll bet," he replied. Then he threw the cloak over both of them. "Come on. I'm not ready for more company just yet." He let instinct guide him down the hallways, not certain of his goal.
"Where are we going?" Ginny demanded breathlessly as she hurried to keep up with him, but Harry didn't have an answer for her. At last, he stopped, knowing he was at the right place. The gargoyle that normally guarded the way to the Headmaster's office was off to the side, and the winding staircase was still. Harry turned to Ginny, who just raised her eyebrows inquiringly at him. He removed the cloak, stuffing it into a pocket. When they stepped onto the first stair, it moved them upward toward the door.
They entered the abandoned office, and Harry gazed around at the pictures of past Headmasters, all alert and looking right at him. He stopped first on Professor Dumbledore, who had made mistakes but always tried to guide him along the best way he knew. The image was smiling kindly through tears.
A small hand slipped into Harry's, and he looked down at Ginny. There was so much he wanted to say to her that he hardly knew where to begin.
"Ginny, I'm sorry," he started. "I'm so sorry. For everything."
"Harry, you don't have to--"
"Yes, I do. All the things I should have done, all the mistakes I've made…the worst one was letting you go. I--"
"If you say you're sorry again, I will hit you." Ginny's voice was calm and even, but Harry had no doubt that she could and would follow through on her threat.
"I thought about you every day," he said instead.
Ginny reclaimed her hand and made a circuit of the room with her arms crossed, looking as though she were hugging herself for warmth. She appeared to be observing the pictures and decorations on the walls, but Harry doubted whether she was really seeing any of it. Finally, she turned back to him.
"I was angry with you," she admitted. "Many times over the past year. I am a Weasley, after all. But then, when I saw you – and I thought you were--"
"I almost was," Harry whispered hoarsely when she broke off. In a way, he felt guilty that he had survived when one of her brothers had not. However, she didn't seem to be thinking about that.
"You'll have to explain all that to me some time," she continued. "What I'm trying to say is that I forgave you at that moment." She approached him again, and finally, she smiled – a soft, sensual smile of welcome. "Besides, you'll have the rest of your life to make it up to me."
Harry absolutely ached to kiss her, but he wasn't sure he'd earned that right yet. Fortunately, Ginny took the decision out of his hands, grasping his face on either side and bringing his mouth to hers. He thought he would completely dissolve into her as he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer.
He had no idea how long they stood like that, but they were eventually interrupted by the sound of applause. It started with one person clapping, then a few more, and at last, an entire room full of people. Harry broke from Ginny, wrapping one arm around her shoulders, and they both turned to see what was going on. The portraits, which Harry had completely forgotten about, were applauding and smiling at them.
Ron and Hermione suddenly appeared in the room as well, and Ron grinned lopsidedly.
"Guess you had the same idea we did," he remarked. "What's all the clapping about?"
"They're happy that Harry ended the war," Ginny replied. She laid her head on Harry's shoulder and slipped an arm around his waist. Ron and Hermione held each other as they waited for the applause to die down. Harry was certain that if he were to look into the Mirror of Erised at this moment, he would see the four of them exactly as they were. There would be a time for mourning those who had been lost – Fred, Remus, Tonks, and Dobby, among others – but there was also just cause for optimism.
Harry reflected on what Ginny had said earlier, that he had the rest of his life to make things up to her. …neither can live while the other survives… For the first time, Harry thought he really understood those words. Now that Voldemort was gone, he could really live. A new world spread out before him, fresh and new. He was free to make his own future from now on, and the thought was exhilarating.
He gave Ginny a kiss on her hair, about all he dared to do with Ron present. In addition to making up for the past, Harry knew that he would have plenty of time to screw up a lot of other things, but at the moment, that seemed perfectly acceptable.
Author's Note: I tried to keep the details largely the same, though I thought it would be funny to have it be kind of ambiguous whether the headmasters were clapping for Harry fulfilling his destiny or claiming Ginny. I assume he went on to explain about the Deathly Hallows at this point.
Since these three are done, does anyone have a suggestion on other scenes that should have been part of the book but weren't? I have a possible idea for a RonxHermione bit.
doodleswriter357: I really didn't intend to make you wait this long, so I'm sorry, and I hope you're still out there!
charleegirl: Actually, I think I'd drawn the comparison between Aang and Harry before, but I can't remember where. I'm really looking forward to the film version of Half-Blood Prince. Here's hoping they cut out McLaggen and Lavender in favor of furthering Harry/Ginny, which they'll have to spend a lot of time on, having largely ignored it thus far.
ginevra-james: I tend to like the simple yet deeply emotional scenes. They're my favorites to both read and write.
Gisele Weasley: Here's another, though I'm sorry it took so long.
SnakeEyes16: I have enjoyed writing this collection, and I think the book would have been truly perfect if just a few scenes like these had been included. As always, thanks for the inspiration!
AirGirl Phantom: Thank you; so do I!
Wishing Only Wounds The Heart: No kidding! Honestly, what was JKR thinking by making us read hundreds of pages of romantic and sexual tension and not giving us a satisfying conclusion? Okay, we saw they got married, but where's the romance?
griffindor-girl12: Well, he gets his future now. Thanks!
Avatarfanx2: Harry/Cho? Seriously? I confess that I never really got that whole ship.
intricate designs: Thank you. That's what I was going for.
ProfessorChris: You got that right. Sometimes I wonder if Rowling intentionally left a lot of things open so that we fanfic writers would still have room to maneuver.