June 4, 1998 a.v.
Harry's sleep was blissfully empty. If there was a dream to be had, he forgot it as soon as his eyes fluttered open. He stretched, and groaned. Pain that had burrowed into his muscles and joints, lying dormant, awoke. His entire being ached. Memories danced behind his eyelids. He pushed them away and rolled onto his side.
The foot of his bed dipped, and Harry's eyes opened again. Ginny sat perched on the edge of his mattress, arm curled around the post. A small smile on her lips and quiet worry in her eyes.
"I didn't want to do it myself, but I was hoping you'd wake up soon," she said softly. She rested her head against the wooden beam. Her eyes glistened as they searched his face.
"Ginny?" Harry rubbed his eyes and looked around. His dorm was silent and empty, as familiar as it had been for almost half his life. "How'd you get in here?"
She wiped her eyes with the back of a hand. "Only a year out of school, and you've already forgotten how much more trustworthy girls are than boys." She crawled over the short length of the bed and stretched out beside him.
Her face became a pale blur. Harry reached over her and plucked his glasses from the night stand. With his eyesight readjusted, he could see Ginny's eyes boring back into his. Her gaze sent a long missed thrill through his bloodstream. "Where is everyone?"
"McGonagall told all the kids to go home, but a good portion of the older students stayed to help clean up. Half the St. Mungo's staff is here, transporting and healing people. Not to mention every spare person from the Ministry trying desperately to sort everything out." Ginny smiled. "The last time I checked, Mum was fussing over everyone, forcing plates into hands an d bossing everyone without a full mouth around."
"What about Fred?"
She looked away from Harry's face. The corners of her mouth quivered, pulling her lips into a frown that wouldn't stick. "George took care of him. Charlie offered to do it, but George insisted. He's home now, at least. We're not sure exactly when the funeral will be, though." She fell silent. Her hands, clasped between her breasts, began wringing.
Harry squeezed a hand in between them, steadying her fingers. "It's going to be okay," he whispered. "Not right now, but soon." With his free hand, he pushed her hair away from her face, the tips of his fingers lingering on her cheek.
Tears slid from beneath her lashes. Letting go of her hands, he wrapped his arms around her trembling frame. Her fingers tangled themselves into the front of his shirt. Harry brought his lips to her ear, whispering a string of reassurances.
"You died, Harry." Ginny's voice shook as she cried.
"Only for a minute." he replied, shrugging his voice instead of his shoulders.
"For you it was. But we all saw you in Hagrid's arms. When I first saw you... it felt like that moment lasted for days. Hermione had to keep me up." Her hands pulled him closer. "It felt like you were gone forever.
Harry kissed her brow and held her tighter. She tucked her head under his chin, her shoulders slumped. Her weeping was brief, but her exhaustion was catching up to her.
"I love you," she said, her voice husky. "I love you so much."
"As much as a sixteen year old girl can love a man."
"No," she replied sternly, pushing herself back to look at his face. "As much as any one can love someone. As much as your mother loves you."
Harry could feel tears threatening his own eyes. He pulled free from Ginny, rolling onto his back and blinking. His heart fluttered in his chest and he recalled, out of nowhere, the cage of Cornish Pixies from his second year.
Ginny pushed herself onto her elbow and looked down at him, her face hovering over his. New tears clung to her lashes.
"Please, don't leave me again." She pleaded with her eyes was well as her voice. "I can't lose you again. Please don't..." Her voice cracked and she hung her head. A curtain of hair closed on her face.
Harry's hand reached out and pushed the locks back, lifted her chin. Tears escaped and fell from the corners of his eyes as he sat up. "I won't," he assured her softly. He cradled her face in her palms, his thumbs wiping away her worry. "I'm not going anywhere."
He pulled her lips to his and the pixies broke free from their cage, reaping havoc.
As Ginny deepened the kiss, and Harry wrapped his arms around her waist, his promise hung in the silence above their heads. It hung above the cheers and shouts as his Gryffindor family burst into the room, eager to look upon and congratulate their savior.