My chapters are named for the songs I listened to that inspired them. Interspersed in the body of the story are phrases of lyrics from the song for that chapter. This chapter's song is "Hysteria" by Muse. I do not own the lyrics to the song and will not profit from their use in any way.
Also, I am not J.K. Rowling. These characters are not mine. I feel like that's an unnecessary statement being as this is , but hey, I'm not a lawyer. Also, this will be the first last and only time I give that disclaimer unless specifically instructed to do so by an appropriate agent.
Tl;dr: I did not write Harry Potter or the songs/poetry/prose that inspired my writing so I don't own them but use them for my own creative purposes and do not profit from their use. Don't bug me about disclaimers.
Ginny sat with her mother, numb and expressionless, overwhelmed by the feelings which would otherwise be twisting her around and turning her inside out. Mere hours ago, the man who held her heart had resurfaced at Hogwarts after having been evading capture for the better part of a year and her prodigal brother returned and, despite his numerous insults to the family, he was welcomed back with open arms. Voldemort had laid siege to Hogwarts Castle and demanded the surrender of Harry Potter and when Hogwarts needed to unify in its darkest hour, it did… mostly. Then her brother was killed, crushed beneath an exploded wall, and despite she had lost already, she was a Gryffindor – she would have to endure this.
Finally came Voldemort's ultimatum, and then, shortly after midnight, came news of the death of Harry Potter, who had died running from the battle. She saw his broken body. She saw the sneers on the faces of the Death Eaters as the Sorting Hat was set ablaze on Neville Longbottom's head and those sneers turn into grimaces as Neville beheaded Voldemort's snake with the sword of Gryffindor. A melee broke out. Ron and Neville took down Greyback. She and Luna and Hermione dueled Bellatrix, all until Molly Weasley killed the bitch to save her life and the lives of her friends. Voldemort's rage nearly killed her mother, but for a very timely and quite unexpected Protego and the sudden reappearance of Harry James Potter. The man she loved had died. She had seen him lifeless in Hagrid's arms, and yet there he was. He had protected her mother from a spell from Voldemort and there he was again, wand at the ready, circling around the man who had killed him. Harry was dead and then he was alive and then he won. Even as hours passed and revelry overtook Hogwarts, it was still too much for her to handle. She felt so much that she felt nothing at all. Her brain was processing it subconsciously and for that, she was grateful.
Fred's body lay in one of the classrooms nearby. The war, his death, Harry's reappearance and victory – it was too much all at once for her family; in silence, they sat together in a corner of the great hall, ignoring the celebrations going on around them. Moments ago, Harry had been surrounded by a throng of well-wishers and pedants, all thanking him and congratulating him, and then just as quickly, he wasn't. He hated being the center of attention, she knew, but of all the times to simply disappear, it hardly seemed appropriate – there was business to be attended to between the two of them. Moments later, Ron and Hermione had left, but realistically, it was probably Harry under his blasted invisibility cloak, dragging them off somewhere for another mission or a secret meeting or some other such nonsense.
She couldn't care right now. She couldn't care, but oh, how she wanted him. She wanted him now: to feel his arms around her; to touch his face; to taste his lips. She wanted him, craved him, but could only rationally recognize the feelings. She felt cold within, as though she was in some way only dreaming that she was alive. Perhaps once the magnitude of the present wore off, she would feel the love and fury and sorrow and jubilation that she knew dwelled within her. She wasn't sure how she would react to Harry's inevitable, awkward apology, but it ultimately would involve his jaw with either her fists or her lips. One or both was sure to happen. For the time being, there was only her mother's hand, thoughtlessly stroking her arm as she rested her head on the older woman's shoulder.
She looked across the table at Fleur absently rubbing Bill's back. The woman had grown on her a great deal in the past year and now, despite their wounds and exhaustion, they really did look like a wonderful couple. Like Lupin and Tonks. Lupin and Tonks were dead as well. Their son was an orphan. Their beautiful baby was an orphan. Where would he stay? With Tonks' mother? Who would take care of them now that Mr. Tonks, Lupin, and Tonks were all dead? Ginny hated herself for not being able to express more. The odd foggy distance between her and the world did not seem to close at all, however, and while her mind was increasingly returning to the moment at hand, she could not even make herself cry, or any other thing but sit and be held.
She wanted Harry now and despite her hopes for the future, she could feel her faith erode with the passing moments. He had been gone so long. The ministry reported his impending death constantly. She had been tortured, abused and humiliated and he was not there to protect her, to swoop in and save her from the cruelty of Tom Riddle the way he had her first year. Harry was not there and now he was here and… and… Ginny's mind stopped processing. Her body shuddered. Once. Twice. Finally, tears formed in her eyes. She felt her pain, her exhaustion, her sympathies and her own losses. Finally, through the haze of her mind protecting her, Ginny began to sob violently into her mother's chest. It was not long before she felt the contractions that told her that her mother was crying with her.
After a moment, two strong hands gripped her shoulders. She looked up, hopeful that Harry had finally returned, though she was too sad in the moment to be disappointed to see Charlie's face. Their family was finally reunited – Charlie from Romania, Percy from the Ministry, and Ron from Harry's mission. At long last, they were together again. Ginny placed her small hand on Charlie's and gripped his fingers. They had all suffered. The sound of several footsteps marched past the doors to the Great Hall, but she did not look up until the table shook violently and George sprinted to the door. A Death Eater was being led by Aurors to the main gate, but George tackled the man and began to punch him, wailing incoherently until he was pulled off by Kingsley Shacklebolt, who held him firmly before pulling him into a crushing hug, which, after a moment, George reciprocated. The Aurors quietly picked the man up and led him past, no one particularly interested in defending the man they now dragged out the ruin of the main doors and down the hill to Hogsmeade.
Kingsley led George back to the table and whispered in Arthur's ear. Ginny's dad stood up and followed Kingsley to an empty corner of the hall, where Ginny watched him nod his head for a moment before dropping it entirely. Kingsley put his large hand on the back of Arthur's neck without malice, but rather in solidarity and Arthur nodded his head again, apparently in resignation. Kingsley patted him on the shoulder as Arthur made his way in silence back to the table, resuming his place next to his wife.
"I've been promoted," he said quietly. "Senior Assistant Minister something or other. We'll work on the title later. He said he wants to talk to you, Percy, when you feel up to it." Percy looked up and over at Kingsley, who nodded at him. Percy bit his lip and rose from his seat, walking towards the interim minister without his usual haste or zeal. Kingsley led them out of the hall towards the classrooms and once again, the Weasley table resumed its sad silence.
Ginny's mind drifted inevitably back to Harry, wondering where he was and why he wasn't here with her. Where was her brother and why didn't he throw Harry over his shoulder and carry him down to see her? Why wasn't Hermione rationally explaining to them the fact that they all needed to come back and be with their family? At the end of the summer last year, Ginny was ready to give her heart and soul to Harry if that's what he wanted. The kiss she gave him had gotten her through several cold and desperate nights but she never had the opportunity to find out how he felt other than his stubborn nobility telling him he must venture forth and save the world… again.
That was the damnedest thing about Harry. She would not love a lesser man – a man that did not brave the dangers that Harry had so often braved. She would have been perfectly happy if he had not had to face peril so often, but if he had not always risen to accept the challenges presented to him, he would not be her Harry and she would not adore him. Where was he? Ron and Hermione had been gone for twenty minutes now, which presumably meant that Harry had been gone for twenty minutes as well. A sigh escaped her, dispersing the quiet that sat over her family. "Fred's dead," George muttered, almost too quiet to hear, the look on his face pallid and struck. He did not cry – no one did, but rather the realization that this was no prank or final joke began to seep into the collective consciousness of the family.
Ron entered the hall, apparently alone, and it was then that Ginny was able to see the impact of the past year on him. While he had always been lean, he now looked rather like a long rail. His clothes were filthy and had several holes and scorches in them and through a tear in his shirt, she saw a small burn on his chest that seemed to have scarred horribly. He approached the table's end and took a knee, looking over his family. "Did Percy go mental and run off again," he said, a sad attempt at joviality. No one responded, but Bill and Charlie glared at him with a look of humorless exhaustion. "Right, well, up you come. You lot are coming with me to Gryffindor Tower and we're going to get some rest. Anything else can wait until later." Ginny picked herself off her mother's side and stood allowing her parents and brothers to lead the way. Ron let the rest pass him and walked alongside her.
"He's waiting for you. He was going to come with me but Hermione cast a sleeping spell on him. He resisted for a good minute, but she wound up having to float him into the dormitory." Ginny smiled at the image. There would be time later to talk, she knew, perhaps even years. For now, she was simply ready to break down and sleep. The Weasley family walked up the stairs to Gryffindor tower – not once did a staircase rotate and halt their progress – and when they reached the portrait of the fat lady, she simply looked at them before opening the portrait hole, smiling. "Right, go on in, then."
Hermione lay sleeping on the couch in front of the fireplace, now dormant for the first time in anyone's memory, and Ron quietly scooped her up and carried her into the Dormitory where Harry also lay sleeping. When Ginny made her way to the door, she turned and caught her mother's eye. She simply returned the gaze and with a slight smile, whispered, "sleep well, Ginny." Ginny smiled back at her as she watched her parents go into the dormitory across the landing before climbing into bed with Harry, snuggling into the crook of his neck, and quickly submitting to slumber.