A/N Written for the "48 hours challenge" on SIYE. Please go visit to read the other great entries!
Please comment and crit! Hope you enjoy.
A few days after the final battle, the Weasley's decided to return to the Burrow in order get on with their lives. Finding a stressed Harry sitting at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, Molly Weasley asked what was wrong. Harry spilled everything.
"I've been trying to have a private conversation with Ginny since this war ended but nobody will let me. Either some bureaucrat wants me to go with him, or Ginny is guarded by her brothers, or if we do get together, there's a crowd around us that won't let us out of their sight!" Anger and frustration filled his voice.
"Well, that's okay. You and Ginny, go take all the time you need," Mrs. Weasley said while looking between Harry and Ginny.
Harry stood up and offered his hand to Ginny, which she took while nervously biting her bottom lip. "We'll be back in forty-eight hours," he replied. Before anybody had a chance to say anything, Harry turned towards Ginny and they both disappeared with a soft "Pop!"
Harry's body was already turning towards Ginny with the beginnings of a smile forming on his lips. The words he spoke to Mrs Weasley barely left his mouth when the world around him dimmed and wavered as if a giant heat wave had just rolled through the hall, though there was no apparent warmth. Ginny's brown eyes stared wide eye up at him. His green eyes, worried with confusion, locked onto hers.
Just as suddenly as it started the world began to settle around them, the waves dispersed. The hall itself was empty. The smile disappeared from his face. "What just happened?" Ginny asked from alongside him, her voice quivered slightly and as if to emphasize her sudden fear, her body shivered involuntarily.
"I… I do not know," Harry replied. His hand moved towards his pocket and removed his wand in a single fluid motion. Gently, he pulled Ginny behind him with her back turned towards his. The hall was empty, none of the people that had been around them were there. The more they looked around the more their concerns grew. Total silence enveloped them. The only change came from the enchanted ceiling that showed the signs of a passing storm.
Carefully they inched their way out of the hall. Harry poked his head into the corridor and scanned the surrounding area rapidly. Just like the Great Hall the corridors seemed abandoned. "It's clear," Harry whispered before he led her out into the entrance hall towards the main doors. The main door was open and they began to feel the cool breeze that was blowing outside.
"At least there is some movement in the world," Ginny muttered under her breath. Harry did not reply but he gave a subconscious nod in reply. Harry followed the same approach as he did when they left the Great Hall. Again, he saw no movement outside. Clutching her hand tightly in his, they stepped through the door. They moved steadily from the safety provided by the walls of Hogwarts even if the shelter was only an illusion.
The dark stormy clouds were still hovering over the sky. Thankfully the clouds had parted so as to leave the sun free to bath the grounds. "Do you think we should wait for someone?" Harry asked. The feeling of elation that he had held for all of a few seconds at being allowed time alone with Ginny had vanished with the people around him. In its place he felt only dread. This world did not feel welcome, but it did not feel hostile either.
"Wait for whom or what, Harry? This place is completely deserted," Ginny's hand waved over the world in front of her. Her point was all too clear to both of them. Just like the hall inside, the world outside seemed forgotten. The Forbidden Forest had crept closer to the school and grass had grown tall. In the distance they could see the broken glass of the greenhouses.
Words that need not be spoken echoed from their mouths together, "Hogwarts has been abandoned." The thought alone was disturbing and frightening. How could a place like Hogwarts be left to ruin and decay? Ginny slumped down onto the stairs, ignoring the cold stone beneath her. Harry remained standing motionless.
A flash of inspiration came to Harry and with a confident voice he called for Kreacher his house elf… Nothing. Ginny, who at the mention of Kreacher's name had looked up expectantly, had turned in on herself even more when the little elf did not appear. The reason was blatant as it was chilling. Kreacher did not exist and if he did not exist who else did?
With his mind unable to comprehend the facts before him Harry slumped down next to Ginny. Her head moved slightly and rested itself on his shoulder. Her long, scented hair spilled over his chest and Harry could tell that she was fighting back tears. Gingerly he lifted his arm and wrapped it around her waist. "It will be alright, Ginny. We just need time to figure out what happened and then everything will be as good as new," Harry's voice was soft and caring. Even though he doubted himself, his words sounded convincing. Ever so slowly the tension within Ginny began to ease.
"Hey," Harry continued softly lifting her head from where it had rested. Her exhausted brown eyes met his green eyes. Harry smiled down at her, "Look on the bright side…" Ginny cut him off with an unladylike snort. "Um… like I was saying before being rudely interrupted is that we are finally alone. Not a person in the world can disturb us."
Ginny's eyes widened as realization dawned on her. Immediately she shoved herself away from Harry before turning away from him. Her long red hair flicked over her shoulder with the force of her movements. She missed the hurt filled eyes of Harry. Even if she did she probably would not have cared much. The pain of Harry leaving her alone for a year and then not speaking to her for days after the final battle had all but washed away her hope.
Harry and Ginny sat in silence. The seconds ticked by and they soon turned to minutes. For how long they sat apart they did not know. Neither could manage to pluck up the courage to begin talking. They needed talk, it was almost a year over due. Ever since that birthday kiss that Ginny had given him the previous year they had wanted to be alone.
"Ginny," Harry finally managed to break the heavy silence that surrounded them. Ginny shifted a fraction. She turned her face so that she could hear his words more clearly without making it obvious that she wanted to listen. "Ever since…" he paused, "Ever since I left you at Dumbledore's funeral I knew that I needed you." He stopped his mouth working as if it wanted to say something, but no words could escape. Ginny sat as still as stone, unmoving.
Taking a deep breath, Harry began again. "That kiss that we shared in your room last summer got me through the winter," he took another deep breath and closed his eyes.
Unseen by Harry, Ginny flinched and mouthed the words, "me too." A flicker of light began to shine in her eyes.
"My feelings…" Harry paused again as if he were searching for the right words. Ginny nervously began to bite her bottom lip. Her anticipation was clearly etched onto her face. "How can I describe how I feel about you? Words cannot do my feelings justice. The truth is… the truth is that my feelings have changed so much over the past few months," Harry got to his feet and began pacing up and down behind her. His hands were nervously working in a vein attempt to remove the weight that was bearing down on his chest.
Ginny's breath hitched. Tears began to flow down her cheeks again. She could not remember crying, especially never over a boy. "Harry, it's okay if…"
"Ginny, please let me finish. Otherwise I may never say what I need to say," Harry interrupted her perhaps a bit more forcefully than he would have liked. To his surprise, Ginny did not retaliate.
"My feelings have changed a lot since I left the Burrow. I went into the world as a boy and that boy had a crush on the most beautiful girl in the school," Ginny flushed a little at his comment. Harry had rarely given her any compliments. Receiving and giving compliments had never been a strength of his. "She had long flowing red hair, bright brown eyes and the most adorable freckles that would drive me crazy. She had a temper that could ignite a room, intelligence and maturity beyond her years. She had only one flaw and that is that she loved a boy." Harry's voice was soft and full of something that Ginny could not put her finger on.
"Harry…" Ginny wanted to begin, she was cut-off again. She could barely refrain from shaking. The thought that after waiting patiently for so long that he would finally leave her was almost too much.
Harry was standing with his back towards Ginny. His hand was resting on the stone wall next to the door, his head was hanging downwards. Ginny still had not moved from her seat. Her hands were fidgeting with the ends of her hair. Her hands refused to wipe away her tears. That would only acknowledge that they were there. Neither of them acknowledged the cool weather. The burning heat in Harry's heart and the cold dread within hers outweighed anything outside.
"That boy could not love the woman that loved him. He was incapable of returning the feelings that she bestowed upon him…"
"Harry please, stop. You don't…" Ginny tried to interrupt again. She knew that she could not take his speech much longer. She wanted to run and keep on running. Even if the world would open up to swallow her it would not be enough. The pain and hurt was too great. Her mind shouted for her to move, but her body refused to shift away from the man she loved.
"The boy was a fool," Harry continued almost as if she did not interrupt. "The boy had to learn. It took a stolen kiss in the woman's room and a world apart for him to grow in understanding. Hour upon hour the boy had laid awake thinking. His thoughts were nearly always on that woman; the smell of her hair, her eyes that declared her undying love with every glance, her laugh and a million other little things that he had not noticed before. In those moments the boy began to grow, he learned what it was that meant the most to him."
Harry stopped what he was saying. He pushed himself away from the wall and walked around Ginny. Ginny's face was turned down her cheeks were a deep crimson and her eyes were closed. The sun reflected off the silver, damp streaks that her tears had left behind. Kneeling before her on both his knees Harry gently cupped her cheeks with his hands and he wiped away the dampness on her face. Hardly registering his movements he slowly lifted her face towards his own. Her eyes stubbornly refused to open. "Ginny," Harry began again, "the truth is that I discovered how much you mean to me. Without you I am lost, without your love my life is empty. What I really want to say is that the boy grew up and that he is deeply and madly in love with you."
Ginny's eyes flew open. Her red eyes seemed lost, almost as if his words could not be comprehended. Harry's hands slipped around her neck as he leaned forwards and placed a loving kiss on her lips.
Three stunned Weasleys and Hermione stood gaping at the void that had been Harry and Ginny only moments before. Four mouths were hanging open and a number of people within the hall had turned towards them, drawn by the sound of someone Apparating.
"Did Harry just do what I think he did?" Ron managed to say first. His parents and Hermione were still in a state of shock. Shaking his head Ron waved his hand in front of Hermione's face while snapping his fingers. "Hello, Hermione, you there?" He laughed when her rapidly blinking eyes turned towards him.
His laugh died quickly at the glare she gave. "Ron, you cannot…" Hermione began in her lecture type voice, but she was interrupted by Ron.
"Apparate within Hogwarts," He managed a smirk at the sight of her crimson face. "I do remember some of the things that you tell me. Especially ones you have told me…" he paused as he began to count softly on his fingers. He quickly went through five fingers then turned to count the fingers on his other hand. Those he counted quickly too. After that he laughed warmly again, ignoring the indignant glare of Hermione. "Oh, I have lost count."
"Ron!" Hermione began, not quite shouting but the anger was clearly evident in her voice. Her lips barely parted as his name was pushed through her teeth.
"I know, they could not have Apparated so where did they go?" He said in an amused voice. His joy at working on his now girlfriend's nerves seemed be growing.
Hermione thrust her hands into her hair and cried out in frustration. She turned her back towards Ron and began pacing up and down. Her eyes never left the floor in front of her as she walked briskly. Ron's eyes never left her. Her mumblings became louder and louder as the minutes ticked by without her being able to reason an explanation out of her wealth of knowledge.
"Hmm," Ron cleared his throat in an attempt to draw her attention. She ignored him not even raising a hand to silence him, so lost was she in her thoughts. Ron smirked before trying again. "Hmm!" He tried a bit louder this time, still her reaction was as if he had remained silent.
Ron turned around and saw that his parents had gone to sit down at the Gryffindor table. They seemed oblivious to Hermione's nervous pacing. His mother seemed a bit upset, but nothing out of the ordinary. His father had managed to calm her down somewhat. To Ron it appeared that they had just accepted the fact that Harry had Apparated. After all he was the Chosen One, the Boy-Who-Lived and heavens knows what else.
Focusing on his by now fuming and frustrated girlfriend Ron attempted to help her again. "Hermione," He said soothingly, hoping that a softer approach would get through to her. Again his words might have been a soft breeze for that she seemed to care. Throwing caution to the wind he shouted as loud as he could, "Hermione! Stop walking about like an idiot and use the bloody Library!"
Hermione froze mid step. While her face turned a soft red as she blushed. Her head lifted ever so slightly and her eyes finally turned to his. "Umm… Library," she giggled very un-Hermione like. Her facial features softened before she closed the distance between herself and Ron and embraced him. "Sorry, Ron, it's just after everything we have been through… I… I just panicked."
Ron pulled her in closer and whispered, "There is nothing to forgive. Just try not to get lost like that again." She smiled and pushed herself onto her toes and gave Ron a soft kiss and a smile.
"I'll try my best," she whispered before letting go and storming off towards the library. "Thanks Ron!" She shouted over her shoulder just before she left the hall.
Ron remained motionless for a while before he began to follow her. "Who would have thought that Hermione would have forgotten about a book, let alone a library?" he chuckled softly to himself. For some reason he was not concerned about Harry or Ginny. Deep down he knew them to be safe. Harry would never let anything happen to Ginny.
However, his concern began to grow as the hours ticked by. They heard nothing from them and even Kreacher could not locate them. This of all things concerned Hermione and Mrs Weasley the most. If a trusted house elf could not find his master then something was definitely wrong.
A day and a half after their disappearance, a groggy half-asleep Ron was rudely woken by the excited shouts of Hermione. The afternoon sun was shining through the windows of the library. "Ron, I found it, I found it!" she kept repeating. Ron lifted his head from his arms. The bags under his eyes clearly indicated a sleepless night. A soft groan escaped his lips when he saw the book in her hand, none other than 'Hogwarts a History'.
"What did you find?" Ron asked slowly, the words slurred. Hermione stood upright; her fists clenched after she flipped the book open in front of him. The words were blurred and he rubbed his fingers into his eyes to rub away the sleep. His efforts proved futile, the words refused to play along. "Umm, just tell me, Hermione," he managed to say before leaning back in his chair.
A huff of annoyance came from Hermione before she grabbed the book and summarized. "It has been claimed though never verified that if a student or person of good intent, as judged by Hogwarts, requires sanctuary for a limited period of time the school will provide a place of safety. It has been widely speculated that this place of sanctuary is Hogwarts, but a Hogwarts in another time or dimension. The place is thought to be free of other humans and thus offers a place of complete security. Theories abound, but it is commonly believed that the separation is merely physical and that a link exists on a spiritual level. How this place can be reached is unknown, but it is widely believed among scholars of magic that it has to do with intent and requires no incantation or wand."
Ron had leaned forward wide eyed by the time she had finished. "You think that Harry and Ginny have gone into this sanctuary and that they will return after forty-eight hours just like Harry said?"
Hermione nodded vigorously with a huge smile on her face. "But, what interests me is the non-physical link. I have been thinking, perhaps a talking Patronus could be conjured to talk to them," she said the last part softly almost as if she did not believe it herself.
"Well it's worth a try and if you are correct then we can do nothing until the forty-eight hours run out," Ron said with a weary smile. The idea sounded outrageous not to mention this other place, but they had nothing else to go by.
Hermione grabbed Ron's hand, pulling him forcefully out of his chair and ran out the library towards the Great Hall. As soon as they were inside Hermione pulled out her wand closed her eyes and shouted, "Expecto Patronum!" Her Otter shot out of her wand and was about to speak.
Hand in hand, Harry and Ginny found themselves walking outside the castle. The weather had cleared somewhat and the sun was shining brightly. "I wonder where we are?" Ginny said more to herself than to Harry.
"Hogwarts," Harry laughed and Ginny beamed up at him. It felt good to laugh and Ginny enjoyed watching him. A laugh from Harry was rare, and as a result was all the more wonderful. Ginny began to chuckle with him having caught the bug.
After a while they managed to calm down before they slumped down onto the ground underneath a large tree that provided some shade. Harry sat with his back against the base while Ginny stretched out alongside him and rested her head on his lap, just like she had done in Harry's sixth year. Her eyes closed in contentment as his fingers stroked their way through her long flaming red hair. A sigh escaped her lips almost with every stroke.
Harry's eyes stared out over the school grounds after he finally managed to free his eyes from Ginny's hair. In the distance he could faintly make of the six hoops that marked the area as the Quidditch pitch. "I seems decades since I last played Quidditch," his voice was distant, his words meant for himself.
Ginny heard and pushed herself up onto her elbows her gaze immediately went towards the pitch. "I wouldn't mind a little duel with you. If only we had two brooms," she huffed in annoyance.
Ginny suddenly cried out and Harry flung himself in front of Ginny. His wand was halfway out of its holster before he paused. Hanging before them were two brand new brooms. He reached out with his free hand and took the one broom. It was an exquisite broom, it seemed perfect. Perhaps it was perfect.
Without thinking Ginny grabbed the other broom, leapt onto it, and sped off towards the pitch. Harry barely had time to shake his head before he leapt onto his and raced after her. The speed of the broom was incredible. The balance was unbelievable and the steering precise. It felt like an extension of his body. He had always thought that his Firebolt was perfect, but this made his broom seem obsolete. All thoughts of where they were or how they would be getting home were forgotten.
Harry eventually caught up with Ginny, who by this time held a Golden Snitch in the palm of her hand. Her long hair was windswept and tangled. Come to think of it, Harry had never seen her hair so messy. She was always very meticulous about her hair. Before ever touching a broom she would tie the long strands of hair into a ponytail ensuring that it remained perfect and untainted by the wind. Every morning she would spend an unknown amount of time combing it to perfection. This wild, messy-haired Ginny made his heart beat a lot harder.
Without thinking he flew up against her and placed his hand tenderly behind her neck and pulled her into a very passionate kiss. The sun had moved a fair distance across the sky before Harry eventually broke the kiss. The fire and passion in their eyes shouted out to the world that they loved each other.
Without speaking a word, Ginny let go of the fluttering snitch in her palm, waited a few seconds before she raced after it. Harry, lost in a world of emotion, required a few more seconds before he realized that the game had begun. In the distance he heard Ginny's voice, "Finally got rid of that goofy smile have you?" Even from this distance he could hear her laughing. With that, all thoughts Ginny's moist lips left his mind and he focused purely on the snitch.
They continued to play, hour after hour. Soon they even lost count though neither cared. To them it was merely the joy of flying together, winning or losing meant little. Harry might have been the superior flyer, but pure determination from Ginny's part equalized the playing field. Eventually, two exhausted teenagers collapsed inside the Great Hall.
"That was great," Harry said to Ginny who was busy cuddling up against Harry. A quiet murmur of assent came from her as her arms wrapped themselves around his body. Her long hair rested on his chest.
"I just hope this isn't a dream," Ginny murmured under her breath.
"Well, it might be your dream, but not mine. I never have pleasant dreams, only nightmares," Harry said with a smile, but his voice sounded strained. Ginny lifted herself up from where she lay.
"So what do you dream about?" she asked.
Harry closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened his eyes again he found a concerned Ginny looking up at him. Her brown eyes were filled with compassion and understanding. "Let's just say that they aren't pleasant," He replied. To his relief Ginny did not push him.
"This ground is hard," Ginny suddenly said jumping to her feet pulling him up with her. "Lets go find Gryffindor Tower," she continued.
Harry grinned while he walked next to her. The school should have felt eerie being so empty, but years of sneaking about healed him of that. The school felt natural empty. The portraits kept eyeing them as well, creating a sense of life.
Eventually they found the Gryffindor Tower's portrait and to their surprise the Fat Lay swung open without waiting for a password. They stepped through and without asking each other they went up the stairs and collapsed onto the first bed they could find in the boys section. They dared not risk a girls dorm.
Stress and flying had exhausted their bodies and soon they both found themselves fast asleep in each other's arms. Ginny lay entangled with Harry. Her arm was snaked around his chest and her leg wrapped itself around his. Her head rested comfortably on his shoulder while his arms came up around back.
The next morning the pair found themselves still entangled with each other. Two pairs of cheeks flushed a pale red. "Umm… I…" but Harry was cut off when Ginny placed a finger firmly onto his lips.
When he tried to speak again she pushed harder to seal his mouth. Her hand moved away eventually. Her face moved towards his and she gave him a quick peck on the lips before she leapt from the bed and into the bathroom. Harry followed and before he reached the boys' bathroom the showers from the girls' side could already be heard running.
He stepped into the shower and wished for shampoo and soap. The lesson learned with the brooms and snitch was easy enough to catch onto. The whole Hogwarts seemed to act like a giant Room of Requirements. The shower refreshed his mind and eased away some of the stiffness that came with flying. He grimaced slightly. His body was not used to flying anymore, even his hands felt raw.
Closing the taps he thought of a towel and was rewarded with a nice soft fluffy towel. Ginny's water could still be heard. Another half-hour or so, he reasoned. After dressing he found a toothbrush and toothpaste waiting for him on the basin just like he wanted. As he brushed his teeth an idea formed in his mind. Ginny's water was still running which meant he still had enough time.
After a long refreshing shower, Ginny eventually managed to gather enough will power to turn off the flow of warm water. Stepping out of the shower she let out a shriek. Unseen by her a grin formed on the lips of Harry downstairs. Her hands stretched out and touched the emerald green dress that hung from a hanger alongside her towel. Her fingers touched the dress hesitantly almost afraid that it would be damaged. Her face lit up with joy. She realized when she removed it from the hanger that the colour shifted with the light. With only a slight hesitation she replaced the dress and rapidly dried her hair with her wand. When her body and hair was dry she slipped into the strapless form fitting dress. The fit was perfect. A pair of matching high heels appeared suddenly nearly causing her to shriek again. She slipped them on, perfect again.
She turned towards the large mirror and examined herself. The dress was slightly low cut in front and her back was exposed, but nothing to extravagant. The dress reached down to her ankles allowing the similarly coloured high heels to be revealed. She smiled, "Almost perfect." With a glance at the basin an array of items appeared, from lipstick to eyeliner and everything else in between. Ginny smiled and began her work.
Harry waited anxiously downstairs. The common room was dimmed and the window charmed to make it look like a clear evening. A single table stood in the middle of the room with two chairs, a candle and a perfect red rose. In his hands he held a bouquet of red roses. His weight shifted from left to right as the wait dragged on. It had been nearly thirty minutes since he had heard her shriek at seeing the dress. He wondered for the hundredth time what could be taking her so long.
His wait eventually ended when his breath was knocked from his lungs. When Ginny finally emerged from the staircase it seemed as if she was gliding not walking. She was not the Quidditch broom flying girl, but an elegant beautiful young woman. Her long flowing red hair fell down past her shoulders, the flickering candles about the room made her hair seem alive as the colour shifted. Her eyes sparkled just like her hair and her surprise was clearly evident. The dress that he had Hogwarts conjure for her was far more gorgeous than what he had ever imagined.
He shifted nervously in his black suit. His tie was emerald green and was made of the same material as her dress. Ginny became mesmerized by his green eyes. The colour of her dress and his tie matched his eyes, enhancing their inherent radiance. Like her eyes the candles around the room made them sparkle, seemingly more alive than ought to be natural.
When she finally reached the bottom of the stairs Harry approached her handing the bouquet of red roses to her. Ginny's face lit up with joy. "You look absolutely gorgeous," Harry whispered softly in her ear almost as if he dared not share his secret with the world. He turned his face towards her and gave her another tender kiss.
Ginny's eyes only opened once Harry had moved slightly away from her. His hand had already enclosed hers as he led her towards an empty space that he had cleared. With barely a thought he turned towards her and soft music began to play. There was no source, the music just seemed to fill the room. Confidently, Harry placed his left arm behind her back and lifted her left arm with his right. Then as the slow beat of the music began he moved with her across the room with practiced ease.
Ginny's jaw nearly hit the floor as Harry danced a near perfect foxtrot. The music changed and before Ginny could say much he led her into another dance that she did not know. Seeing her confusion he whispered, "It's a Rumba, the dance of love." Ginny barely managed a nod before he spun her gently around, first to the right and then to the left, always in perfect harmony.
The music kept on playing, changing tempo and style. For each Harry had a dance and each time he led her with what seemed like practiced grace. Eventually the music stopped and they made their way towards the table.
Once seated her mouth was finally able to catch up with her mind. "Where?" was all she managed to say. Harry blushed spectacularly. His eyes glanced down at his fingers that were working hard to remove an unseen blemish on his hands.
"I… during the year… um… Hermione taught me," he said ashamedly. "While Ron was away. We sometimes needed something to occupy our time our else we would have gone mad." Harry was about to keep on muttering, as if he needed to defend himself.
"It's okay, Harry. I just wanted to know who to thank," she replied, cutting off his mutterings. His eyes shone again. His face lifted, a smile graced his face again. "Just so you know. That was amazing. I have only ever danced with Neville and I would dearly like to forget that evening. Especially my toes," Ginny laughed. "This was something extraordinary," her eyes glazed over and Harry watched her sway to some unheard song. "I know now what it means to really dance with someone you love. Mum always told me that it was something special. For some reason I never believed her," she shook her head. "I guess I should listen to my mother more often," her grin spread wide. "Sometimes," she added as an afterthought.
"I am glad you liked it," Harry said as two plates of food appeared on their table. "Well, seems like Hogwarts has decided for us that dinner, well lunch, is served," Harry said with a grin. A comfortable silence surrounded them as they ate. When they finally finished the plates vanished only to be instantly replaced with dessert.
Ginny shook her head at the dessert and stood motioning for Harry to follow her. Taking his hand she led him to his make shift dance floor just as her favorite song began to fill the air around them. "I love you, Harry James Potter," Ginny said while staring into his green eyes with her arms wrapped around his neck.
"I love you too, Ginny P… Weasley," Harry's blush was so red that he would have shamed a Weasley. Ginny just stared at him with wide eyes. "I um…" Harry did not know where to look. He could not meet her gaze.
"Perhaps not too far into the future that last name might become mine," she blushed as well. This time it was her turn to avoid Harry's eyes. Two teens stood still in the middle of the Gryffindor common room, one redder than the other, both madly in love with the each other.
Their eyes eventually managed to find each other's. "Not too long, I hope," Harry said with a little more confidence as he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. The dessert was left standing, and Hogwarts itself cleared the room while the world surrounding Harry and Ginny moved along without them. Nothing existed outside their embrace.
"You know, Harry, this restaurant gets five stars for its surprises," Ginny giggled softly still swaying to the rhythm of the song. "What else do you think it will throw at us before this all ends?"
"Whatever it is, I can't wait to find out with you," Harry replied giving her another kiss. Ginny broke away from the embrace laying her head gently down onto his chest.
When the sun began to settle behind the hills and the stars came out for real. Ginny found herself nestled against Harry on the couch before the fireplace. Her shoes lay forgotten on the floor next to Harry's. Her feet were tucked up under her. Harry's tie was loose and the top button of his shirt was undone. The warmth from the fire filled the room.
"I wish this would never end," Harry sighed. His eyes suddenly became filled with something. Ginny immediately understood it for what it was… disappointment.
"What's wrong, Harry?" Ginny asked her voice only slightly concerned.
"I just realized what happened," he said softly while he caressed her back.
"What happened, where are we?" Ginny asked and Harry gave her a short explanation. Even though she was glad that nothing serious occurred to them, she like Harry felt a twinge of disappointment in having to return to the real world. The world that waited contained a missing brother, that world was filled with hurt and suffering.
"At least we will have each other from now on," Ginny said trying to remain positive. "How long do we still have?"
"We left around nine in the morning yesterday," Harry said glancing up at the clock on the wall. "That leaves us with about twelve hours." Ginny nodded her head and settled back down again.
The Patronus that Hermione had conjured flared to life and then stood motionless. The Patronus was supposed to go straight towards Harry and Ginny. Hermiones' Otter did not move nor speak. Ron was about to tell Hermione that this doesn't mean anything. He was forestalled by her loud cry of frustration.
Immediately he wrapped her in his arms. She turned her face into his chest and the tears began to flow freely. "I… I failed them, Ron, I cannot do anything. They could be lost forever and I can't help," Hermione spluttered rapidly. Her Patronus disappeared just as it was about to begin moving towards the entrance hall, destroyed by her sorrow.
"It's okay, Hermione," Ron tried to soothe her. His right hand stroked through her hair, his left hand gently rubbed her back. "Wherever they are, I am sure that they are having a Ball and sitting comfortably in front fire - that is after they had a game of Quidditch."
"Ron," Hermione laughed as a few more tears spilled from her eyes. "Where on earth would you get such a ridiculous notion from?" She could however not keep herself from laughing.
"Well," Ron began seriously, "this is Harry and Ginny, both of whom are Quidditch-obsessed."
"No, Ron, you are Quidditch-obsessed. They just love to fly," Hermione said between sniffs while she wiped away the moisture from her face.
"Same difference," Ron continued, not at all bothered by her statement. "Second, Harry learned all those dances from you and I know for a fact that he has been dying to show Ginny just how well he can swing those hips of his on the dance floor," Ron teased.
"I hope his hips can move better than yours," Hermione said with a raised eyebrow at Ron.
"Is that a challenge?" Ron snorted, his face turning the infamous shade of Weasley red. "In any case, when they have finished doing all that then they will sit in front of a nice warm fire like they used to in our sixth year."
Hermione nodded her head and sighed while she sifted through her memories of Harry and Ginny. "They are so perfect for each other, aren't they?" Hermione said quietly. Ron nodded his head before he pulled Hermione out of the hall.
"Ron, what are you doing?" Hermione demanded, but Ron remained silent. Before long Hermione found herself outside the Room of Requirement. Ron paced up and down three times before a door appeared. Hermione gave Ron a surprised expression. Inside she could see a large dance floor and music wafted through the door towards her.
"Well, you wanted to see how good my hips were," Ron said with a laugh. "And I have been dying to get you on a dance floor myself." Leaning towards her he gave her a loving kiss before he dragged her into the room.
The fireplace began to cool. Only a few orange embers remained, they were the only source of light within the common room. Two pairs of tired eyes watched as the glow grew fainter. It would not be much longer before the room was left in complete darkness. The clock on the wall told anyone who bothered to look that it was four o'clock in the morning. Neither Harry nor Ginny bothered to watch the time anymore.
Sitting in the kitchen at the Burrow. Molly, Arthur, all their sons and Hermione sat in silence. If Hermione's prediction was true then Harry and Ginny would return around nine o'clock. For forty eight hours they had been waiting anxiously. Fortunately, they had not allowed fear to overtake them. Yet Mrs Weasley seemed to have aged by a few years.
"It's almost time, Molly," Arthur said so that only his wife could hear. She barely managed a weak smile in return.
Ron and Hermione sat alongside each other. There was no laughing or teasing, there had been no laughter in the house since they disappeared.
The sun eventually emerged from behind the horizon. Mrs Weasley's spirits seemed to rise with the orange glow. "Quickly," she said motioning for all of them to follow her outside so that they could Apparate to Hogwarts. A number of moans came from the group of Weasley men, all of their eyes were red from lack of sleep.
When the morning sun rose up and began to shine through the common room window Harry's eyes fluttered open. His glance flicked towards the clock and he realized that they had just under an hour left maybe less. He wanted to wake Ginny, but he could not get himself to rouse her still form breathing evenly against his chest. Deciding that time was really running short he stroked her hair while softly calling, "Ginny, wake up, Ginny."
Her breathing increased as her eyelids began to blink. "What… do I have to…" her voice was slurred and she squinted up at Harry. Her head remained glued to his chest. "It's so… warm and comfortable…" her voice slurred again, sleep refused to give Ginny up lightly.
"It's almost time to go back," Harry whispered so as not to sound harsh. His hand continued to work its way through her long red hair. "And I am not sure if these clothes will be going with us," He said while his hand tugged at her dress, his eyes contained a mischievous grin. Her eyes shot open and she lifted her head.
"Harry James… ugh," Ginny cried out in mock frustration, but she had a similar grin on her face. "Never mind," she continued trying to act as if she was annoyed. She got to her feet after she gave him a good morning kiss before she ran towards the bathroom. Harry smiled as he watched her cross the common room, still in her dress. She truly was the girl for him.
Deciding that it was best to take a shower, Harry willed himself to stand. Sleeping on a couch with his girlfriend pushing down on him had not resulted in the finest night's sleep, but it was still worth every minute. The shower once again managed to loosen the knots in his back.
Thirty minutes later Ginny joined Harry back in the common room from where they walked hand in hand down to the Great Hall. "So this is it," Harry began. His voice contained an element of sadness. "I really enjoyed every minute of the last two days," he continued.
"I did too, Harry," Ginny replied. Her eyes sparkled like they used to while they dated at Hogwarts. Her eyes suddenly darkened at the thought of them together at Hogwarts. "Harry…" she began but her voice trailed off. She could not ask him to do that for her. They had reached the Great Hall and stood standing facing each.
Almost as if reading her mind, Harry said, "Ginny, I think…" He paused, her brown eyes refused to meet his. "I think that I will be joining you for your seventh year."
Ginny's face lifted, her smiled broadened, her eyes focused on his as she quickly stood up on her toes and flung her arms around his neck to kiss him passionately. Like so many times before, the world around them all but disappeared.
"Their time has run out," Mrs Weasley said anxiously. She was pacing about rapidly. Her eyes stared down at the ground in front of her refusing to look up.
"Relax…" Mr Weasley began but immediately he realized his mistake, but it was too late.
"RELAX!" She shouted, "How can you tell me to relax when my little girl and Harry are missing, maybe even hurt!" Arthur gulped, his face red. Deciding that the best defense was an offense he briskly walked towards her and pulled her into his arms. She beat her fists against his chest a few times. The act to thumping her arms against his chest released some of her anger and frustrations.
"There now," He soothed her, "It will be alright. Harry would never let anything happen to Ginny. He loves her too much."
Snorts were heard coming from the older Weasley boys. "Harry loves Ginny," Bill and Charlie said together in amused voices. Mr Weasley, Mrs Weasley, Ron and Hermione turned towards them as soon as the words left their mouths. Percy and George remained deathly quiet, knowing that it was best not to interfere. Fleur's head whipped around to her husband's her eyes filled with shock.
"What have you done?" There was a dangerous undertone in Molly's voice.
"Um… I… we have been keeping Harry away from Ginny. He's just another teenage…" Bill began but he was cut off by deadly stares from Hermione and his wife.
"Do not finish that statement," Hermione said in a calm quiet voice. The calm and soft way that she said it sent shivers down the backs of Bill and Charlie. Fleur nodded in agreement. Even Ron winced slightly at her. Bill seemed unable to decide whether he should be more afraid of Hermione or his wife.
"Harry, loves Ginny. More than the two of you could ever imagine. He sacrificed everything, not just for the wizarding world, but for her. He walked into that forest alone hoping to save Ginny. He took a killing curse for her and you think that he does not love her." Hermione continued. Her voice sounded dangerous this time.
"Um… well… you know boys," Charlie put in trying to free himself.
"Yes, I know boys," To everyone's surprise it was Ron who spoke up. "I know what boys think and what they plan. Nevertheless, I also know that Harry is different and that he cares deeply for Ginny. He loves her and would never do anything to harm her," His voice was filled with conviction. "Do you think that I love Hermione?" Ron asked his brothers.
Bill and Charlie nodded their heads, "Of course Ron." They told the truth, to them their brother's love was as easy to read as an open book.
"Well, I love Hermione with all my heart, but Harry... Harry has a heart twice the size of mine and he loves Ginny with all of his heart," he said, his voice was laced with something that was not quite anger but almost. Bill and Charlie flushed.
Charlie was left standing alone as Fleur dragged Bill out of the hall. They returned a few minutes later, a very meek looking Bill walking next to Fleur.
As soon as everyone had settled down again a soft pop was heard coming from the near the entrance to the Great Hall. All those present turned towards the source. Something that seemed like a giant heat wave rolled across the hall from the source of the noise. Yet, they felt no heat. The world beyond the wave was distorted, but the vague outline of a person could be made out on the other side.
As the seconds ticked by the distortion lessened. The single shape became clear and to their surprise it was not one person but two. A slightly taller boy with messy black hair and a girl with long fiery red hair were locked in a passionate embrace. Everyone, even Mrs Weasley turned around and allowed them just another few minutes of privacy. A few more minutes alone until they had to join the real world again.
A tear of joy and relief slipped down Mrs Weasley's cheek and dripped onto the floor. The world might not be perfect, but at least one small part was whole again.