Too Long, Alone

The terrible thing about the past is its knack for never leaving you alone. It turns on you, memories morphing into nightmares, sleep becoming torture.

It's been four years since the war. Four years since Ginny died in my arms. She died trying to save me, trying to save me when all I wanted was her safety.

The miserable thing about memories is their persistence and nagging. I used to think that feelings of grief were the worst, I'm not sure I could have been any more wrong.

It's been four years since the war ended. Four years since Fleur died in my arms. She died trying to save me, trying to save me as I fought against the Dark Lord with every ounce of strength I had left.

And the bitch of it is, that it's not her I'm crying for now. I miss her dearly, I really do. But there's someone else I miss so much more...

It had been a relatively quiet day. Harry had gotten so used to the peace that he actually had his feet up on his desk, covering is mouth as he yawned widely. They'd stored the last of the Death Eaters away about a year ago, but every now and then some nutter taking pleasure in the stupidities caused by bigotry decided they'd adopt the Dark Lord's ideals for a day... leaving the Auror department to sort things out.

Harry was leaned back in his chair. Pondering his past. He often found himself wishing that Voldemort was still around, not for something to do, but to have his Ginny back.

Hermione had prompted him, repeatedly, to move on. Harry's only response was a snappish retort involving her feelings if she'd been in the same place, if it were the youngest male Weasley that had died, rather than the youngest female...

He sighed and looked at his watch. It was about six minutes after one. Groaning for lack of things to do, Harry closed his eyes and once again delved into his past.

A knock on the door sent Harry reeling back into the present, reality... as did the enormous pain on the back of his head as it collided with his cabinet when he fell backward out of his chair.

"Who is it?" Harry groaned, rubbing the back of his head, turning his chair upright again.

"Eet eez good to see you too, 'Arry."

"Gabby?" Harry stood as he said her name, looking into the silvery eyes of the girl now placing her pale blue hat on a chair. She was the same girl he'd saved from the second task seven years before, the same girl he'd comforted at Fleur's funeral, the same girl who comforted him at Ginny's.

"Zee one and only Gabrielle Delacour!" she said smiling widely, wrapping Harry in a tight embrace.

"It's good to see you." said Harry, his voice strained slightly by the intensity of her hug. She smiled and pulled away, granting him a chance at a much-needed breath of air. Harry realized, just then, that the last time they'd been together was at Ginny's funeral. Harry felt a tug at his heart and the smile that had just the moment before covered his face forsook him.

"What eez wrong?" said Gabby kindly, "Are you not happy to see me?" she pouted a little.

"No, no." said Harry at once, hugging Gabrielle once again, "I just realized how long it's been since we've seen each other. It was..."

"At Ginny's funeral." finished Gabby throatily. Gabrielle rocked Harry gently as he succumbed to the tears he had held back so well for years. Harry hadn't been held like this since... Ginny.

Forcing himself to regain composure, Harry sighed softly and looked at the girl clinging to him. Her hair was neat and well kept, silvery strands tucked neatly behind her left ear. His eyes took in her delicate skin as they neared her bright eyes. They were filled with tears.

Rather than inquire why she was crying, because he knew all too well why, Harry rubbed her back comfortingly and kissed her cheek.

The kiss should never have done what it did to Harry. He felt a surge of emotion rip through him as his body warmed, what felt uncomfortably like butterflies flying through his stomach. He didn't want to think about the feeling... he knew what it meant. He couldn't fall in love, not now. He shook himself free of the thought.

Gabby looked up at him, her eyes meeting his. She knew he'd felt something in that simple, friendly kiss. She knew she should have held back, but she let her feelings pour out of her anyways,

"I love you, Harry." she blushed violently but held his gaze. "I love..."

"Shh." he whispered, "Stop before you say something you'll regret later."

"I won't regret it." she said determinately, "I love you."

She continued to stare into his beautiful green eyes. After what seemed like forever, she felt her heart break. He said nothing in return, only released his embrace with her.

Fighting back tears, Gabby turned to leave. Harry watched her as she opened the door, she took once last look at him, her brilliant silver eyes singing the tune of sadness as she turned to face the outside.

"Wait!" shouted Harry as she took her first step out the door. She turned to him, hope rising up within her. He reached for her hat on the chair and walked over to her. "You forgot your hat."

Her heart broke a second time as he gently placed the hat on her head. She turned away once again, but felt herself being pulled back. Harry had taken her hand in his, he was pulling her closer to him, his eyes filled with... love?

He bent down, allowing his lips to brush against hers gently once, then again, and again, each kiss glowing with a strand more of affection, each touch willing more passion into his breath. His arms came around her back, pulling her closer to him, deepening the kiss more and more as he forgot his need to breathe.

Gabby, lost for words, joined in with her own passion, wrapping her arms behind his neck and allowing his tongue to touch hers. Harry pulled her even closer, their forms melding into one another as he closed the door with his foot and ended the kiss, breathing in a sharp bit of air for the first time in nearly two minutes.

Hermione was right, he needed to move on. He'd finally let himself feel for someone else for the first time in four years, someone else who, thank Merlin, felt the same for him. The feeling was wonderful, a kind of bliss he'd nearly forgotten.

"I love you, Gabby." he whispered, caressing her soft cheek as he leaned down to kiss her again.

A/N: Et voilĂ ! The Gabby/Harry oneshot. Tell me what you think and review! Also, be sure to check out my other stories!

UPDATE: This story, Too Long, Alone, is being used as a prompt for a novel-length fic that is currently under work. Keep an eye out for "At Long Last"!