A:N: Okay, here's the last chapter, then. Titled This May Or May Not Be The End because it's the end of the fic, but definitely not the end of the story. Oh, I found the most wonderful song by Taylor Swift – Love Story. I love it. An excerpt from is it the lyrics bit at the top of the chapter. Well, it's just a summary, but I hope you like it:
The end of Press Play.
Disclaimer: I don't own Ginny or Tom or Hogwarts or the Wizarding World or Dippet or Dumbledore or Flitwick or Slughorn. However, I do quite a lot of other characters, as I made them up, and the plot is entirely mine.
Chapter Forty-Two: This May Or May Not Be The End
"Do you think I've proved that I love you?" he suddenly murmured against her lips, breathing heavy. She silenced him with her lips. He didn't seem to mind at all. Then, abruptly, he started laughing – a very unusual sound in itself. He grinned at her, lighting up that masked face that most of the world could never see through. "I've just realised that I get to keep you forever." He kissed her again.
Is this in my head
I don't know what to think
He kneels to the ground
And pulls out a ring,
Marry me, Juliet
So you'll never be alone
I love you
And that's all I really know
For Ginny, over the next two weeks, when she was trying to revise for her NEWTs, a popular new hobby seemed to be coming up to her, staring, and when she got annoyed, asking, "Did you say yes?"
Of course, that was one of the many cons about agreeing to marry Tom – the fact that the Quidditch game had been on radio, and that just about everyone in the Wizarding world had heard him propose. The other cons would form a list down to her feet if she wrote them down. Scott disappearing from ever being seen again. Bernard all horrified and not talking to her. Ginny would have never said that she would have missed him, but she did, in a weird way. They were sort of friends; bonded by dislike. Philippa never shutting up about how romantic everything was… that alone was annoying as hell.
The fact that no-one had actually heard Ginny's answer made everyone extremely curious. It was the best thing the gossip-girls had found in months. Ginny Peregrine, possible murderer – her boyfriend is the actual murderer, and gets sent to prison – gets bailed out – breaks up with her – she nearly dies – boyfriend begs her to take him back, and then they get engaged.
Ginny had to admit, if it had been anyone else, even she would have been interested.
Claude gave her blessings… in a way. "Aw," she said one day when they met up in the library, "I think it's really cute, you know. Two killers getting married. I wish you all the best – but I do have an enquiry." She twined one corkscrew curl around her finger. "I'm curious. If you get someone who's half-mud, and someone who's completely mud, then what would your little murderer babies be? Three-quarters mud? Or would that just classify as general filth?"
Ginny hit her.
Bernard ignored her in the hallways. She put it down to jealousy – he liked her, and she was engaged now – but she wasn't quite so sure.
On her way back from Arithmancy, she saw him emerge from a painting of Henry, Son of Revill, with his schoolbag in hand.
"I'll be right back," Ginny said to Alden, who she took Arithmancy with, and hurried towards him. "Bernard!"
Despite him being a year younger, he was taller than her, and gave her a cold, aloof look from above. "Yeah?" he said, his voice unfriendly.
"What's wrong?" she asked. "Me and you were never exactly best buddies, but you're just… acting like you hate me. You don't, do you?" She peered up at him, fearful for the answer. She didn't like people hating her – apart from people like Claude and Professor Slughorn. She didn't really give a damn about them.
"I don' hate ya," Bernard said. "I hate what ya've done."
"Huh?" she blinked at him.
Bernard narrowed his light-green eyes. "I tell ya to be careful, and I tell ya not to get too involved with Riddle, and whaddaya do? Ya agree to marry him."
Ginny crossed her arms and scowled. "That's none of your business."
"It is if it gets ya killed."
"Will you shut up with all of this doom and gloom stuff?" she snapped. "No-one is going to try and kill me just because I accidentally got a glimpse of the future a while ago. And I don't care what you say about Tom and me, because – because I'm going to-" She screwed up her face. "-marry him-" She went bright red. "-and there's nothing that you can say or do that will stop me."
Bernard seemed to ignore everything that she'd said. He stared down at her, his eyes like emeralds. His expression softened slightly, before hardening again, and he said sharply, "This is a death-wish."
"Shut up!" Ginny snapped. "I talked to Alden about it, and his dad works in the Ministry, and he says that it's a load of bollocks that you're coming out with-"
"Mr. Philips'z a lawyer. What would he know?"
"You're a sixth-year!" Ginny shouted. "What would you know?"
"A lot!" Bernard was breathing heavily through his nose. "Just ditch Riddle, that s'all I ask of you. Ya'll have so much more. Ya can stay friends with Reeve. Ya can stay friends with me. Just ditch Riddle."
The mention of Scott tore at Ginny's heart. "Leave Scott out of this!" she snarled. "I'm starting to think, you know, that this is just another one of your retarded plans to try and get me to go out with you! And that's just sad!"
"Don' be stupid," he retorted, but there something in the back of his eyes opposing his statement. "I wouldn' want ya anyway."
"Why?" she challenged. "Because I'm a Mudblood? Because I'm proud of being a Mudblood? Or just because I'm the only one who refuses to fall to your every wish, and you, as the typical stubborn boy, can't let it go?!"
"Fine." Bernard took a step backwards, held his hands up in the air, as if to signify taking his grip off something. "Watch me." His eyes narrowed. "I'm lettin' go." Without another word, he wheeled around and disappeared through the portrait of Henry, Son of Revill.
Ginny never saw him again.
The mock results came back. Ginny did very well, but a few subjects, such as Arithmancy, she wanted to do even better on, and she studied even harder. She owled Tom to ask him what he got on his NEWTs, but the answer came back that he'd received all Oustandings, which didn't make her feel much better.
The NEWTs began. She had no time for any of her friends as her life evaporated into a craze of writing and reading and studying and answering questions and visiting Career Advisors. She was so busy that she, for a while, forgot how ecstatically happy she was.
All of a sudden, it was all over.
At dinner, Professor Dippet announced that the NEWT results would be owled to each individual student at the end of the summer.
The final Quidditch game of the season was played, and was won by Ravenclaw, as in the last few seconds of the Ravenclaw-Slytherin game, they pulled ahead and caught the Snitch. Therefore Ravenclaw won the Quidditch Cup, with Slytherin coming a sulky second-place.
Philippa and Alden broke up near the end of the year, as they'd hardly known each other when they got together, as they became better friends, they realised that they worked better as friends than anything else.
And, as Grace said, Philippa Philips sounded stupid.
The evening before the last day of term came, and every seventh-year gathered in the Great Hall. Alden had spent a long time organising the Graduation Ball, and it was as incredible as everyone had dreamed it would be. The theme was black, and everyone wore their dresses and tuxedos under their special graduation robes, floppy hats atop their heads.
Something had to go wrong with Ginny's graduation, of course. Her hat was much too big, and it fell over her eyes all the time. It was because of this that when she headed up to the podium to collect her certificate scroll that she couldn't see, and therefore tripped over the hem of her robes, crashing in a heap on the steps, simultaneously bringing down Professor Slughorn and Penelope Dann (the teachers and the Head Boy and Girl stood in a semi-circle around the podium).
"Sorry!" she gasped, jumping to her feet. Every blood cell surged to her face as she helped Dann and Slughorn up. "I'm really sorry, sir." She didn't bother apologising to Dann. That idiot wasn't worth it.
Slughorn gave her a haughty look as he straightened his robes, and Ginny continued up to Dippet amidst snickers, lifting her hat away from her eyes so that she could see.
Afterwards, the students shed their robes and twirled in graceful circles across the room.
The redhead had simply chosen to wear again the black dress that she'd had made for the Broken-Hearts Soiree.
Ginny had wanted to ask Scott to accompany her to the Graduation Ball… as friends, she said consciously to herself, because he's my friend. Unconsciously, she knew that it was because they both knew that it was his last chance to have any part of her. However, she hadn't been able to find him, and it was only now in the sparkling Great Hall that she could spy him in his dark tuxedo, standing by the bar.
"Can I have this dance?" she asked, skipping up to him.
"I applaud you on throwing yourself at Slughorn," Scott replied coolly, ignoring what she'd said. "I've always wanted to do that, but unfortunately he was too far from where I was standing."
"Why, thank you." Ginny swept into a low bow. "Now, I think that you've avoided my question." She lifted her eyebrows and extended her arms. "Dance with me?"
Ginny's face fell. "Please?"
"What's the point of dancing with me when you're going to marry Riddle?"
"What- it's only a dance as friends!"
"If you want to dance with someone as friends, then dance with Alden," Scott said sharply, "because I'm not your friend anymore."
Hurt filled Ginny's hazel eyes. "Scott!" She stared up at him, trying to understand what anger caused this rift between them.
"You know as well as I do that you can't be friends with someone you're in love with. You discovered that with Riddle. I discovered that with you. There comes a time when you have to decide." Scott tore his eyes away and stared darkly at the floor. "You made your decision before I even knew you were deciding."
"Ditch Riddle, that's all I ask of ya. Ya'll have so much more. Ya can stay friends with Reeve. Just ditch Riddle."
He was right, no matter how much Ginny hated to admit it. They'd become close, but only because he wanted to be closer – and if he couldn't be as close as possible, then he didn't want to be anywhere near her.
Without another word, Ginny went, quite pointedly, to dance with Alden.
She danced with almost everyone. She danced with Grace, Philippa, Alden, Ramira, Antonia Durrell, Mia Brown, Jack Swithin, even, amazingly, Faisal Alfonso, other students who she barely even knew, and a couple of teachers.
Tears streamed down most people's faces as Dippet called from the podium speakers that this was the last dance… the last song… the last evening… and the end of their school lives.
Grace paired up with Alden to dance, and Philippa, seeing Ginny's dismay, asked Scott to dance. Ginny heard him say no, and saw Philippa whirl him out onto the dance-floor anyway. Ginny spun in circles by herself, but then Grace and Alden pulled her into their dancing, making a little swaying circle. Then Scott and Philippa linked on. Ramira and Michael Yates joined. Slowly, a huge circle of seventh-years grew out of nothingness, and even Jack Swithin, macho man, had a glimmer in his eyes of nostalgia as the song drew to a close.
The Hogwarts Express made its long journey across the Scottish Highlands… down the length of England to London…
"It's hard to believe that we're never going back!" Grace exclaimed.
"I know," Alden said. "It feels weirdsville."
"We'll keep in touch, though," Grace promised. "Right?"
"Right," they all agreed.
"And so help me, I will unleash the wrath of Decrow if I'm not invited to your wedding," Philippa said fiercely to Ginny.
She laughed in reply. "I'll keep that in mind."
Underneath her, Ginny could feel the train slowing down, and she stood to get her trunk down. The other three followed suit, and they all squashed into the hallway with thousand of other students to get into King's Cross.
"Are you sure that it's okay for me to stay with you?" Ginny verified with her friend as Grace stumbled onto the platform. "Careful!"
Grace just missed falling through the gap between the train and the platform, and staggered onto solid ground. "Thanks," she said. "Yeah, it's fine, trust me. My parents loved you last summer."
Ginny beamed. She said hello to the Hartwins, who recognised her hair immediately, and hugged everyone she knew goodbye, including Jack Swithin, who she'd become quite close to, and even a very reluctant Avani, who was now going out with Jack, much to her glee, and much to Claude's distaste. Her smile only grew in size when she noticed past Avani's shoulder that there was a tall, dark-haired young man leaning against the nine-and-three-quarters signpost.
"Be right back!" she said, dumping her trunk next to Grace's, and then ran across the station. "Hi!"
"Hello," said Tom, pushing off the signpost to greet her. He took her hands, smiling, but his eyes flickered sideways right and left.
"Everyone's staring at us, aren't they?" Ginny grinned.
"Yes." Tom raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps the Quidditch-screen idea wasn't as wonderful as I had originally thought," he muttered, keeping his head low. "Either way…" He let go of her hands, and gave them a meaningful look.
"What?" Ginny frowned.
Tom rolled his eyes with exasperation before looking pointedly at her hands again and clearing his throat.
She followed his gaze, and noticed the small shiny ring that had suddenly appeared on her ring finger.
"Ooh!" she squealed. "I get it now!" She clapped her hands together like a small child, before throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly. "Thank you thank you thank you!" Then she realised something, and removed her face from his shoulder to look up at him. "I haven't got one for you," she said in horror.
"That is to be expected, considering you've only just stepped off the school train," Tom said coolly.
"Oh, yeah, well, I guess so." She grinned at him. "You wait, though!"
"Giiiinnnyyyy…" came a long, drawn-out shout from behind her.
"I think that's my hotel calling," said Ginny, tilting her head to one side. "I'll see you soon." She stretched up further to kiss him on the cheek. "'Love you."
"It goes without saying that I love you."
"But you decided to say it anyway."
He gave her a withering smirk that said 'very funny'. He quickly touched his lips to her forehead, then spun her shoulders around so that she faced Grace and her family, before pushing her gently towards them.
A huge grin split Ginny's face as she hurried back to the Hartwins, and to Grace's confused expression, she merely held up her left hand to show the world the glittering band on her finger.
As Grace shrieked and babbled on about trivial things while they headed towards the Apparation zone, Ginny couldn't help but think, glancing back to the sign-post where a certain dark-haired fiancé of hers was watching her departure, that a happy ending seemed a possibility after all.
A/N: Well, there we go. The end of Press Play. I'll be finishing Backtrack before I start posting up Fast-Forward, however, so hold on for that. Thank you massively to:
Everyone who reviewed: honestly, you've been the people who keep this fic alive, I love you all so much. Thanks more than anyone else.
J.K. Rowling: Goes without saying. You've created the two most incredible characters in the fictional world, and I love messing them around. :D
Stephanie Meyer: Parallel ideas. She had to be on here.
TheRainbowFish/Ocey: My best friend. My biggest fan. The editor of the most important parts of this fic – the Azkaban part, the breaking-up part. Eight days of cycling around a labyrinth campsite, counting attractive French guys, sitting in the dark on a beach and telling the saga of my story. I adore you to no end and don't know what I'd do without you, though we haven't spoken in a while since then.
storm-brain: for being the wonderful producer of the movie trailer for Rewind, I think being posted on Youtube as we speak. Thank you so much.
Heroes: for giving me the parasite idea.
Paramore, Coldplay, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Boys Like Girls, The Cab, The Maine, Taking Back Sunday, The Click Five, Avenged Sevenfold, a-Ha, Breaking Benjamin, The Scene Aesthetic: for providing a sequel's worth of inspiration. I love you.
Tom Riddle, Ginny Weasley: for agreeing to let me manipulate them, mwahaha.
Mysterious sixth-former who looks uncannily like Tom Riddle: thanks! You give me ideas, even if I've never even spoken to you. Or if I don't even know your name. Even if you have a girlfriend.
Thank you all times infinity to the end of time. May a supernova explode over your heads at the edge of the galaxy.
…I like astronomy, okay? –scowl-