This is my first HP fic. It turned out a bit different than how I'd thought it might, but I'd love to know what you think of it…and apologies for any typos/mistakes that have crept through!

Disclaimer: No, JKR hasn't taken me up on my offer to buy the characters…I'm just taking them out of the boxes for a while, I'll put them back when I'm done, promise.

I'm a H/G shipper; have been for a while. I like them together…think they're a beautiful couple. (And as for those who disagree; HA! JKR agreed with us and now it's canon:P)

Anyway…After the battle, Ginny goes looking for the one who saved them all, yet is nowhere to be seen.

The morning was fresh, the air still cool. Night's inky black had gone from the sky, and in the great castle, it was finally over.

Voldemort, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, You-Know-Who, Tom Riddle, the Dark Lord…was defeated. Beaten by the seventeen-year-old he had hunted for so long. The Chosen One. The Boy Who Lived.

Now a stunned silence had come over the castle, broken only by muffled weeping of the families of the fallen and whispered conversations about the past few hours. This would go down in history, this night and all who set foot here. Those who fell would be heroes, those who lived would be celebrated. The whole wizarding world would see a new world dawn now, a world without fear, without the shadow of a Dark Lord.

Yet the one responsible had gone from the hall, away from those within. Alone, he had silently escaped; walking out of the castle itself and away from the thoughts it produced. His leaving had been unnoticed by many, but some – the most important, some would say – had watched and worried. Was he all right?

One in particular had watched him leave. Her eyes had followed his progress out the door, even as she grieved for her fallen brother. Her heart had gone with him – in truth, it had always been with him, through it all – and as her thoughts turned to him, suffering alone, she realised that she had to get out of here. Fred's death had hit them all hard, but she couldn't stand being here a moment longer; she had to get out, get away, gather her own thoughts somewhere less public. There was so much grief here it was stifling.

Abruptly, she stood quietly. Only her elder brother, the closest to her in age, looked up, as did the girl next to him. She held his eyes for a moment but said nothing, and he seemed to understand. He nodded imperceptibly as she left, making her way quietly but swiftly through the people gathered in the Great Hall.

Trance-like, she moved automatically across the Entrance Hall towards the huge structures of carved oak that were the doors of the castle. She somehow knew where to go, knew that fresh air would do her good, and also knew that this was the path he had taken.

Ginny found him sitting by the lake, deep in the shadows. He didn't look up as she approached, nor give any outward sign that she was there. Harry just sat, watching the dark water, lost in thought. And she watched him.

He was pale, with shadows under his eyes. There was blood and bruises on his face and arms, his clothing was torn and dirtied, and the face held no hint of a smile, no warmth. His eyes, still gazing at the lake, were glazed and wet as he wept silently, loosing himself in his mind, but Ginny could see how haunted they were. This young man had gone through too much in the past few hours…few years.

The things he had seen, the events he had witnessed, the actions he had performed…he was amazing, but it was not without lasting pain…and he had endured so much. Both physical pain – the Cruciatus curse, torture, injury – and emotional pain – deaths of loved ones, having to walk into danger, make hard decisions…and still much of the population held him up as some kind of figurehead, never seeming to realise that there was a person beneath the labels and rumours who was suffering through it all…

And suffering alone. No one had any idea what Harry Potter had gone through; no one could come close. Ginny knew there were things he kept from others, private to his own thoughts, and that Harry did not give them up due to a wish not to burden those around him. And so he willingly suffered alone – through visions of Voldemort, through hellish trials, through pain that would make anyone break. He held it all inside, not willing to spread his problems.

Sleep had originally been top of his list, but the more he thought of the bed in his dormitory, the less he wanted to go there. He was exhausted, but knew sleep wouldn't come to him – not yet; his mind was too awake. So he had fled somewhere to be alone, to think…and found that he had never felt so alone, even if this had been self-imposed exile.

He had heard and felt Ginny sit down next to him, but it was as if it didn't really register in his mind. He was too lost in his thoughts to automatically break out…thoughts of the last few years, the close brushes with death and the narrow escapes, and the deaths. All the deaths.

All his fault. He couldn't help but feel responsible…these people had died fighting his enemy, in defence of him, for him…but he couldn't save them. Every tear that fell from him was another name. Everyone he cared for, those he had considered family, were gone. Sirius. Dumbledore. Lupin. Tonks. Fred. Mad-Eye. Dobby. Hedwig.

No, that wasn't true – he still had Ron and Hermione, standing with him as always, and the rest of the Weasleys. Like the one with him now, sitting silently beside him, asking nothing of him and letting him brood, comforting him with her presence.

She was…she was amazing. He hadn't want to let her go – he had broken up with her trying to protect her, but he thought she might have known that. He had found himself thinking of her so much during the mission, hoping she was okay, that she was alive…and his last thoughts had been of her. In the forest, standing alone before Voldemort, he had thought of her, the feeling of her lips on his…

This broke Harry from his reverie, and he turned to look at Ginny for the first time. She was just sitting, looking at the lake's surface, her long trademark Weasley hair blowing slightly in the breeze. Harry could see dried tears on her cheeks and a smudge of blood on her face – though whether it was hers or not he didn't know. She looked worn out and ashen, but she was here, next to him, even when she should probably be asleep.

She turned her head to look back at him, and the silence deepened. Harry didn't know what to say, what he should say, just wanted her here with him. He let his head fall onto her shoulder and closed his weeping eyes as she stroked his hair lightly, her fingers trailing over the scar that had troubled him for so long. It didn't hurt sharply anymore, but there was a dull ache in the temple. Harry guessed that was from the final fight, or something. Dumbledore would've known…

Dumbledore. That still hurt.

Even though his silent tears continued, Harry couldn't help but begin to feel calmed as he sat here with Ginny. This was what he needed. Company, but quiet. She wasn't badgering him with questions (although he was sure she had some, everybody did) or talking to him about the spectacular duel he had taken part in; she was letting him take everything at his own pace, just being here for him. And for that, he was immensely thankful.

She just let him sit here and let everything all out. He didn't even know what he was crying for anymore – was it grief for those who had died? Guilt from the burden of the deaths? Was he crying for the wizarding world and its inhabitants, and the trials they had faced? Or was he weeping for himself, trying to come to terms with what he had been through?

The feel of Ginny's soft fingertips was lulling Harry into restful darkness when the Lake rippled. From beneath the surface of the dark water, a figure appeared…one with deathly pale skin, slits for nostrils and glowing scarlet eyes…He was going to kill them both, and there was nothing he, Harry, could do…he was going to kill her first…

With a sharp gasp, Harry opened his eyes, sitting back up. The lake was calm; smooth as glass…it had been dream. Nothing more than a dream. Voldemort was gone. He was dead…his body lay in a chamber off the Great Hall. It had been so real…a half-dream brought on in the limbo between sleep and waking.

Ginny's hand had immediately stopped the restful stroking as she felt him tense next to her, and she spoke for the first time as Harry moved off her shoulder.

"Harry? What is it?"

He was breathing sharply, but it was rapidly calming back down into easy breaths. "Sorry, Ginny," Harry muttered, and his voice was quiet, exhausted. "I dozed off. It was nothing…"

She frowned at him, disbelieving. "A nightmare?"

Harry hesitated fractionally before nodding, his eyes back on the dark water where Voldemort had risen. He was too tired to care if she knew that he was still having nightmares, just like he was too tired to hide his tears. "I expect they'll be around for a while."

Ginny reached over and slipped her hand into his. The sudden comfort and warmth of the touch caused Harry to relax, his shoulders dropping from their tense state back into the depressed slump they had been in before.

"It's just…" He paused, trying to phrase it. "Everything that's gone on, everything that's happened…I don't know how I should feel; how to make sense of it all…" He ran an agitated hand through his hair.

Ginny watched on, concerned for him, him who had saved them all. She gently squeezed his hand, letting him know he could continue.

And slowly, he did. In an emotionless voice, he told her everything. About his parents and Peter Pettigrew, the graveyard that night when he was fourteen, what was in the prophecy, what he had seen in the Pensive with Dumbledore, about Horcruxes, the cave and the fake locket, about his mission with Ron and Hermione and everything they did – the doe, Malfoy Manor, Shell Cottage and Gringotts. He told her about the Deathly Hallows and coming back to Hogwarts, seeing Snape die and then seeing his memory…his voice broke slightly as he described the truth of it all, that he was the seventh Horcrux, that he had to die…

For some reason, telling everything to someone who had been outside the most part of it was soothing, and Harry felt a weight leaving him as he spoke. Ginny was still and silent through the entirety of Harry's explanation, absorbing all the facts as he spoke them. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Everything Harry had told her was amazing…and this, on top of everything, was horrible. Knowing that while he lived Voldemort would never be gone, and waking calmly into death's arms. Alone.

Harry was crying silently again, the tears running down his face. Ginny rested her hand on his shoulder, trying not to weep herself but failing dismally. She was remembering what Harry had said during the duel in the Great Hall. The words hadn't made much sense at the time, but no one had noticed…this is what he had meant. Ginny didn't know what she was meant to say, what she could say. Her heart ached for him, this poor young man who had died willingly and knowingly for all of them…who had shown bravery above all else and done what others could never do.

When Harry spoke again, his voice was strained. "I…I went to the Forest…but I wasn't alone. I had the Resurrection Stone with me…it was in the Snitch Dumbledore gave me. I had my parents…and Sirius…and Lupin. They walked with me until the end…he killed me. I didn't defend myself."

Ginny was longing to shake Harry, prove to herself he really was here; demand to know how he survived, but she couldn't bring herself to through the haze of her own tears. Harry's voice grew stronger as he described the meeting with Dumbledore, and the reasons for his life. He trailed off soon after, knowing Ginny knew the rest.

They sat in silence together, her hand tightly locked into his. Ginny couldn't even begin to comprehend what he had been through…it was so much more, and so much worse, than anyone could ever start to guess. At a loss for something to say – what could she say? – she squeezed his hand gently.

He sighed heavily next to her. "After everything that's happened, it's all over. It's still strange to think about. He's dead…gone, finally…he'll never be back." Harry frowned suddenly. "I'm a murder."

"You're a hero," Ginny replied. "It wasn't revenge, it was justice. Do you have any idea how many people you've saved?"

"Not enough."

Ginny had been keeping any thought of Fred buried, not wanting to think again about him lying in the hall. But at Harry's words, she couldn't help crying in earnest, as the shock of having one less brother returned. Putting a hand over her eyes, she almost immediately felt Harry's arms around her as he held her gently and whispered gently to her.

"Oh, Gin, I'm sorry, I didn't mean…it was tactless, I'm sorry…he's in good company. I'll bet him and Lupin are making trouble even now…" Harry felt his own throat constrict as he said those words, and the crushing guilt and grief came back upon him, for all those who had died for him, in defence of him, because of him or coming to his aid.

Ginny sobbed into his shoulder, crying for her brother, for her family, for everything that had happened, for Harry. When she felt her tears beginning to stop, she rubbed her face to remove them and found herself looking into Harry's own tear-streaked beautiful green eyes. She leaned forward and kissed him softly, trying to put a lot of unsaid things into it. Pulling back, she looked at him closely.

"You look terrible, you know."

He grinned slightly through his tears. "Yeah, fighting against evil does that to you."

The grin faded and he looked back out to the lake. "I can't believe it's over. He's finally gone – I don't have to spend time looking over my shoulder anymore. He'll never trouble me, or any of us ever again…I never thought I'd even get here. There have been so many times when I was sure I would die; but I didn't. A final defeat of Voldemort never seemed possible a few years ago…but what do I do now? For so long I've had a purpose, a mission…now it's completed, and I feel strangely lost. Where should I go next? Get a job? Be…normal? Finally be able to life the life I always wished I did? I'm not even eighteen, and all this has happened…I feel so lost."

Ginny put her arms around him and embraced him tightly. Harry gasped slightly in pain as she did so, and Ginny drew back immediately.

"What was it? Are you okay?"

In reply, Harry lifted his t-shirt and showed her the purple and black bruise on his torso. Ginny's eyes grew wide and she covered her mouth with one hand. Harry, too, had to admit it looked horrible…but that was nothing compared to how it felt.

"Was that where…the Avada Kedavra?" Ginny whispered.

Harry nodded, dropping his t-shirt and hiding the injury from view. He leaned back onto the grass, pulling Ginny with him, until they were lying beside each other, Ginny curled into him and her head pillowed by one of his arms. She felt comfortable here, with Harry, her Harry, as if it was just another ordinary day they were spending by the lake.

He looked over at her, and for once Ginny felt completely unfazed by it, but relaxed and safe in his gaze. As she looked into his eyes, she found herself thinking of her first year and the Chamber of Secrets…she had such a crush on him then! She never would have thought that years later everything that had happened would have, and the two of them would be lying comfortably here, together.

"I think I love you." He was smiling slightly, through the dirt and blood on his face.

Ginny grinned slightly too. "Think?"

"How should I know? I've never been in love before." He leaned in and kissed her again. "But I'll bet this might be how it feels."

She smiled at him, so comfortable and safe here, and she was so tired…

Harry watched as Ginny's eyes closed and her breathing evened out. With difficulty he turned his gaze from her and looked up into the sky above him for a moment, before closing his own eyes, exhaustion stealing over him.

Everything that had happened felt so far away, suddenly. Talking about it had allowed him to come to terms with it a bit more, to understand it a bit more…

Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery, Harry thought sleepily. Dumbledore had said that a few years ago…and now Harry thought he truly understood what it meant. He would understand, he would accept, and he would recover. Ginny would be there helping him every step of the way, he was sure.

But for now, the day was warm, and he was so comfortable lying here with Ginny…

When they were first found, no one had the heart to wake them, sleeping so deeply and serenely in each other's arms; so they were simply left sleeping:

The Boy Who Lived – and the Girl He Lived For.

Jeepers, I'm a sap…but I liked it! The quote is from GOF, chapter 35. I thought it was appropriate – I found it while reading a random passage in the middle of writing this story.

Speaking of which, I have a new HP story! It's called Inner Demons, and I'd really appreciate a few more reviews!

Anyway, if you liked this, send me a review!