Ginny Weasley sat alone staring out across the lake. She brushed a strand of red hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear. She slowly closed her eyes listening to the early evening sounds. It was so beautiful. The sun was just beginning to set and she could see a few stars out already. Curfew was soon but she didn't want to get up and leave just yet. She picked up a small rock and threw it into the lake where it promptly sank creating ripples. She watched the ripples disappear and then picked up another rock. She tossed it in the water and this time it skipped three times before it also sank. The ripples spread and she watched them and tears began to roll down her cheeks.
She felt so alone sitting there. She always felt alone, even when she was in the midst of people. She was a Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, she was well liked by most of her teachers, she had friends, but it never seemed like enough. Harry and Hermione were her friends but a lot of the time she felt like there wasn't room for her. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had been friends for so long and gone through so much together that she knew that she could never truly be a part of the group. She had friends in her own Year but none that she could really talk to, that she could tell her deepest secrets to. There was only one person who she could tell everything and anything to but that relationship was complicated, yet at the same time it was so simple.
Ginny knew that she could always count on Harry to save the day. She could count on Hermione to have all of the answers. She could count on Ron to be the protective big brother. Neville, she could always count on him to be the keeper of her heart, and that's where it started to get complicated.
Neville was the most genuine person she had ever met, he was sweet, honest, and sincere and she knew that he would never hurt her. They had become friends nearly three years ago when he had invited her to the Yule Ball. He had asked her because Hermione had turned him down and she had accepted because she had been too young to go otherwise. It had been one of the most enjoyable nights in her entire life. She'd had fun teaching him how to dance while he accidentally stepped on her toes, talking to him, listening to him, he made her laugh, he made her happy. They had been friends ever since and what had happened at the Ministry of Magic her fourth year had only strengthened their friendship.
A few summers ago when she realized that she was owling him every other day and missing him like crazy she realized that he was truly her best friend and that she hated being away from him. Neville gave her advice when she needed it, he cheered her up when she was sad, he had listened to her after she had broken off a one year relationship with Dean Thomas and then when things had begun to get complicated with Harry. He knew things about her that she had never told anyone else. He was the only who knew that she had been in love with Tom Riddle, that she still dreamed about him. There was only one thing that she kept from him and that was the fact that she was in love with him.
The sun had now set on the horizon and the temperature was beginning to drop. She knew she should get back to the tower before she broke curfew but she just wanted to sit there a little while longer. She needed more time to think. Ginny had wanted to tell him so many times, had come close more than once, but she could never get the words out. She didn't want to end up hurting him. She didn't want to end up being hurt herself. She knew that he loved her as a friend but she didn't think it went any farther than that and if she laid her heart out there and he didn't return the feelings then she knew things would never be the same between them. She feared that most of all.
Ginny heard a sound behind her and she knew that it was him. While he had many wonderful qualities, Neville wasn't known for his stealth. She felt something warm around her and she realized that he had put his cloak around her.
"Thanks," she said softly as he sat down on the ground next to her.
"I was getting worried about you but I thought you might want to be by yourself for a little while. I know you've been upset about something lately. You know that you can tell me anything," he said taking her hand.
"I know, it's just been one of those days," she said taking comfort from the warmth of his hand. She looked up at him and then looked away. Sometimes it was so hard to look at him. She wanted for so much.
"Maybe this will cheer you up," he said handing her something. She opened her hand and he put a small flower in her hand. It was a rich dark purple and it seemed to be sprinkled with tiny white dots, but the white dots were twinkling.
"It's called an Astra Soiris. I found it when I was helping Professor Sprout in the Greenhouse. When I saw it, it made me think about you."
"How did I get so lucky to have a friend like you?"
"I'm the lucky one, Ginevra," he said with a smile.
Ginny loved how he called her by her first name, he was the only one that could get away with it. She smiled up at him but she suddenly realized something wasn't completely right, she could sense a sadness to him.
"Is everything all right?" she asked, all of her problems forgotten for the moment.
He looked out over the water for a few moments before answering. "It's my Mum, Gran owled me earlier and told me that she's getting worse. Dumbledore is letting me go see her this weekend, the mediwizards ... well they don't think she has much time left."
"I'm so sorry Neville."
"Don't be. I'm fine. It's not like we're close or anything she doesn't even know who I am."
Ginny put her arm around him, despite his denials she knew that this was tearing him up inside. "It's okay to be upset, I can't imagine what your going through but I know that you love her."
"She doesn't love me Gin, no more than she would a stranger on the street."
"She might not be able to express it now but she does, think about what her and your father sacrificed, they were part of the Order because they wanted to help create a better world for you. How can you ever doubt how much they loved you?"
Neville was silent for awhile. "Sometimes I have dreams about them and in the dreams they're better. They know who I am, and the worst part about the dreams is that I know eventually that I have to wake up and every time I have to wake up it hurts all over again. Now that she's... now that she's dying I know that there's no chance that one day I'll visit her and she'll look at me and really know me. All of these years I've always hoped for that one day... but that day's never going to come and I have to accept that."
"I can go with you this weekend if you want, I don't want you to have to go through this by yourself."
He turned and looked at her and Ginny could see in his eyes how hurt he was by all of it and she wished that there was something that she could to take the pain out of his eyes.
"I think I'd like that. I'm glad you'll be there with me, I'm glad you're here now," he said giving her a small smile.
"I'll always be here for you, you know that. No matter what there are always going to be people who love you... I love you."
"I love you too, Gin. You're my best friend, and I don't know what I would do without you."
"You'll never have to find out," she said looking down at the flower that she held in her hand, the tiny stars on it were still twinkling. Suddenly tears began to well up in her eyes, in a few months he would be graduating and going off into the world and she'd still be here, he'd get so busy with his life that soon he would forget about her. She couldn't bear that thought.
She turned away from him and let go of his hand and pulled his cloak closer around her, she wanted to tell him so badly that she loved him. Really loved him. The words were in her throat but she couldn't say them, not when they had the potential to shatter and destroy everything that mattered to her.
"Ginny, what's wrong?" he asked putting a hand on her shoulder, she couldn't turn around, she couldn't look into his eyes, it was so hard.
"Nothing," she said, wiping tears from her face, she felt him turn her towards him and she made herself look him in the eyes, she didn't want to hide anymore, she didn't want to keep this secret from the person who knew all of her secrets save this one. She felt his warm hands cup her cold, tear stained cheeks. The warmth of his hands sent pleasant shivers down her spine, he was so gentle, so kind.
She looked up into his dark blue eyes and she saw confusion and for a moment they were both silent. She searched his eyes for... she didn't know what... she only knew that she loved the way that he looked at her as if he saw her soul and accepted it. His hands hadn't moved from her face and she reached up and covered his hands with hers.
"Neville..." she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
He leaned forward and her heart sped up wondering if he was going to do what she thought that he was going to do. His lips met hers and as he kissed her, it was the most amazing thing that she had ever felt. She had been kissed before but it had never felt more right and more perfect. All at once it was innocent and intimate, soft but passionate, it was nothing and everything that she had imagined and it felt like she had left her body and was dancing among the stars. When the kiss had ended she looked into his eyes and she knew that there was nothing to be afraid of, nothing would ever be the same because it would be better. She loved him and looking into his dark blue eyes she wondered how she hadn't seen it before, why she had made it so complicated when in his eyes she could see the simple truth, he loved her back.