Time Will Heal
Chapter 1 – Beginnings & Endings
Harry Potter woke with a start. He felt small hands suddenly lift from his shoulders at his sudden movement. He looked up into the beautiful chocolate brown eyes of Ginny Weasley. She smiled softly down at him with a concerned look on her face. She was slightly blurry looking and he noticed his glasses hanging on the neck of her shirt.
"You alright?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah," he responded, nodding his head and rubbing his eyes. "Just a bad dream."
He sat up and shifted his body so that he was sitting next to her. She took his hand silently in hers as he looked around at his surroundings. They were in the familiar circular Common Room of Gryffindor Tower. The full moon shining from outside the tall windows cast long shadows along the pale red walls and Harry wondered briefly how Bill was tonight. The uneven tables and squashy armchairs scattered around the room seemed oddly deformed in the darkness. It all looked so very normal, but Harry was having a hard time accepting this, that things could ever be normal again.
Harry ran a hand through his thick jet black hair and Ginny felt the urge to reach out and touch his beautiful locks as well. She could she that he obviously hadn't gotten over the events of the night before. She hadn't expected him to; he'd played a huge role in the War. He wasn't about to just get over it in one night.
He let his head rest on her shoulder and she began stroking his hair much to her contentment. They had barely been sitting like this for five minutes when the portrait hole opened and in stepped Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger accompanied by Ron and Ginny's parents. They were talking animatedly when Ginny shushed them all with a finger to her lips. She gestured to Harry who had, yet again, fallen asleep.
They all seemed to get the idea and took their seats quietly around the blazing fireplace. Ron knelt down on the hearth and began stoking the fire with this wand. They all looked at the newly reunited couple with soft smiles on their faces. They were happy for the two; however Ron wore a slightly disapproving look as he eyed them carefully. He hadn't been too thrilled to hear about his best mate and his baby sister snogging the lips off each other by the lake.
Ginny seemed to guess his thoughts and couldn't help but relive those magical moments over in her head for the hundredth time that night…
The silence was endless. It was as if everyone were holding their breath, waiting for Voldemort to just jump back up from the ground, like Harry had just moments ago.
All eyes were on Harry as he slowly made his way over to the crumpled creature lying motionless on the damp grass. He carefully nudged the body's head with the edge of his shoe, rolling it over to look into those snake-like pupils. The eyes were blank and glassy, starring off into the night's blank, starless sky.
Seeming satisfied, Harry straightened his back and squared the crowd. Several emotions played across his face. There was obvious fear, despite the fact that he was no longer in danger. There was also what could have been pride at what he'd done, at what he'd accomplished after all these years. Most of all though, Ginny saw relief. Relief that it over, that his life long barren had finally been lifted from his shoulders. Relief that he could finally start living.
With her, Ginny though to herself. He could now start his life with her. At least, so she hoped. Would he still want her? Was she still enough; had she ever been? Had he met someone else, some Veela, perhaps, during his time on the run?
Harry pushed back his fringe to reveal the lightning scar on his forehead. He traced it with the tip of his middle finger, as if to see if it was still there. It didn't burn, instead, it was cool and Harry knew right then and there that it would never burn again.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Harry ran a hand through his hair and nodded, as if in acceptance. As if on cue, cheers erupted from all around Ginny. They caught her off guard and she suddenly found herself being pushed towards Harry, carried by the crowd of people.
She looked around at the celebrators. McGonagall was crying into a lace handkerchief. George slapped Harry on the back in form on congratulations, as did Shamus Finnegan and Dean Thomas. It seemed everyone was set on touching some part of him or getting a word of thanks to him. Thunder crashed from above them, but no one seemed to notice as the first drops of rain fell from the dark clouds. To Ginny, it felt like the world's way of cleansing all from the darkness that had settled over since the first War.
Harry was starting to feel slightly claustrophobic and Ginny noticed. She was just making her way over to him to rescue him from the sea of people when Luna Lovegood skipped up to him. She whispered something in his ear and he nodded gratefully. She barely heard as Luna cried something about one of her odd creatures, pointing at the sky for her attention was on Harry.
When everyone was looking away, she saw him pull something shiny from the inside of his jacket and the next second, he was gone. His invisibility cloak. Ginny debated on whether or not to follow him for only a moment before elbowing her way through the crowd and hurrying around the castle.
Rain and sleet pounded hard on Ginny's already flushed cheeks as she scanned the slopping lawns that were the Hogwarts grounds. Unable to see much of anything through the rain, she acted on instinct and climbed down to the lake.
As she approached, she thought she could make out a dark figure along the edge of the trees. Getting closer, she recognized Harry leaning against the big oak tree underneath which they had spent so many countless hours together, nearly two years ago.
She made her way over to him, careful not to make a sound. She knew that all that he'd been through during the past year had taught him to turn on anyone who came too close without warning, wand out by instinct. Her cover was blown however, when she stepped on a stray twig, breaking the heavy silence. He rounded on her instantly, wand out and aimed straight for her heart, just as she'd predicted.
She kept perfectly still and watched as he slowly lowered his arm and twirled his wand around in his fingers before stowing it back in his jacket. He turned away from her, as if scared to meet her eyes.
She took a step closer to him, still without a word and reached over to touch his arm gently. He tensed at her touch, but slowly relaxed at the warmness of her hand. He seemed to melt at her touch. It sent a shiver up his spine and his heart lifted dramatically at the simple gesture. It had been so long since he had felt it, much too long.
Harry finally lifted his eyes to meet her's, looking up from under his long lashes. She cautiously lifted her hand from his arm to brush his hair to the side, revealing his legendary lightning bolt shaped scar. She gently traced the thin, jagged line with the tip of her finger, just as Harry had done before.
The silence that had fallen upon them was not an awkward one, but Ginny's ears were beginning to hurt with the lack of sound except for the hard wind whistling through them. She opened her mouth to speak, but Harry beat her to it.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. Ginny dropped her hand from his face and stared at him in shock. What on Earth was he apologizing for? He had done nothing wrong; in fact, he'd done the exact opposite.
"What are you apologizing for?" she asked.
"For leaving you behind. For not being there for you," he answered, hurt eyes boring into her's. Ginny couldn't stand the pain she saw there and begged with her own eyes for him to understand.
"Harry, you can't possibly blame yourself. You have done nothing wrong. You had to leave and I understand that. You have nothing to apologize for."
"But Ginny, people died! They died and it was all because of me. Voldemort only wanted me!" he countered. "Colin, Lupin, Tonks, Fr-" He stopped counting the victims on his hand and bowed his head.
"I'm sorry." He looked up to see an exasperated look on her face instead of the sad one he was expecting at the mention of her lost brother. He sighed and let his head fall once again.
She wasn't having that. She placed a finger under his chin and lifted his head up to look at her. He averted her eyes. Ginny placed her hand on his cheek and he leaned into it before covering it with his own, holding her to him. He slowly raised his eyes.
"Now you listen here, Harry Potter," she started. "I know that leaving was hard. For the both of us. But it's over, Harry. It's all over now."
"But Ginny, you don't know what I've seen. What I've done…" Harry shuddered at the thought of what Ginny would think if she did know exactly what he'd done. If only she knew…
"I don't care who you were or what you've done. I care about who you are. Who you've become."
Ginny swiped at a single tear that escaped from under Harry's eyelid and rolled down his cheek.
Through the wetness in his eyes, Harry found himself getting lost in Ginny's beautiful chocolate brown eyes that he loved so much. He lifted a hand and ran it through her beautiful red hair, drenched from the rain and clinging to her face. Gods, he had missed her. He hadn't wanted to leave her for a year while he risked his life over and over again, but he had had to. She was the only thing that kept him sane during those long months on the run. He would lie awake for hours, just thinking about her. It was for her that he fought, for them, for their future together. The mere thought of anything happening to her was too much to bear. He knew he couldn't live without her; she was his hopes, his dreams, his life.
The tears were falling freely now, blending with the drops of rain that splattered their faces. He didn't even bother wiping them away. It didn't matter anymore; he had had enough of holding things back, of keeping them locked inside. He wanted to tell her all of this, about how much he truly cared for her, and yet, something still held him back. It was just too hard to break out of his old habit of bottling things up; but he would, he would tell her everything, once he was ready. He was sure she would understand. The question was if she still felt the same way about him.
"Harry," she whispered.
Harry pulled out of his reverie and searched her face. He saw hurt there, and sadness. But also love and worry. And at that moment, by the gentleness of her touch and the look in her eyes, Harry knew that she truly did feel the same way.
"Ginny," he said softly as he slowly closed the space between them and kissed her softly on the lips. He pulled away and stared into those wonderful eyes again. She closed them and pressed her lips to his once more. Harry's lips were gentle on hers, but she soon deepened the kiss and as it became more passionate, they broke off for air.
The rain was falling steadily now, falling over them in sheets. Harry pulled back and lifted his head to the heavens above him. He hadn't been this happy in months. He smiled triumphantly at the stars that he hadn't even noticed had come out.
As they walked back to the castle, hand in hand, the rain began to stop and small rays of sunshine were breaking through the clouds.
Both were wearing grins so large that they knew they must look like two fools. They couldn't care less.
Several heads turned in their direction as they entered the Great Hall. They had been gone for nearly half an hour and everyone had started to wonder where their hero had gone off to. They noticed the rest of the Weasley family sitting at the end of the Gryffindor house table. They made their way over to them, still smiling uncontrollably.
Ron glanced at their clasped hands and they quickly let go, taking a small step away from each other. Mrs. Weasley, having followed Ron's gaze, turned around to greet them, giving Harry a huge motherly hug.
"Thank-you," she whispered in his ear as tears filled her eyes. "Thank you."
She let him go and Harry couldn't stand the pride she held in her eyes. Even coming from Mrs. Weasley, the attention was suffocating.
After a warm hug for Ginny, the three sat down at the table with the rest of the freckle clad, red head family. Hermione was also there, holding Ron's hand under the table. Harry was compelled to do the same thing with Ginny, but Ron was giving him a death glare that frightened him almost as much as Voldemort himself.
"Well, now that we're all here," Mr. Weasley began. "We must make some arrangements. I have arranged it with the ministry and they're sending a portkey. There have been some problems with the apparition from within Hogwarts and its perimeter, so I though it wise to find another means of transportation."
They all nodded their agreement, except for one. Harry had a peculiar look on his face as if he perpending something.
"What is it, Harry?" Ginny asked.
"Oh, nothing," Harry answered, coming out of his looking up at the Weasleys. "I was just thinking that maybe I would stay her a few more days…"
"Why's that, dear?" Mrs. Weasley asked.
"Well, the castle's going to need some serious repairing and I though I would volunteer my services."
"Well, hey. If Harry's staying, so am I," Ron announced.
Mrs. Weasley wore an exasperated look and she opened her mouth to speak just as Ginny did the same thing.
"And no, Ginevra. You will not be staying also."
"But, Mummy!" she complained.
"No, there will be no questions about it. Boys, if you wish to stay, who am I to stop you?"
Ginny was perplexed. So her mother had authority over her, but not her brother?
"But that's not fair! What about me?"
"You're still under age, Ginny. It is decided. You will be coming home with us. The portkey leaves at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning and I expect you to be ready."
Ginny knew the argument was lost and thought it wisest to let it go. Harry rubbed her back in soothing circular motions, calming her down. The gesture did not go unnoticed. Her parents shared a knowing look while her six brothers had taken to glaring menacingly just how Ron had before. The couple knew they had a bit of explaining to do, but, not tonight.
Harry and Ginny left while everyone was enjoying the after meal pudding when Harry announced that he was tired. He stood and Ginny immediately followed, standing up so quickly that she nearly spilled her dessert. George and Charlie tried unsuccessfully to hide their snickers as Ginny's face turned almost as red as her crimson hair.
They made their way through the crowd of people in the Entrance Hall, all trying to get a picture of Harry or thank him again for the defeat of Voldemort. They ignored them, hurrying up the marble staircase, hand in hand. The moment they reached the landing, they took to a sprint all the way to Gryffindor Tower.
When they reached the portrait hole, out of breath and laughing, the fat lady immediately straightened up and asked, "Password?"
"Oh, umm. I guess I don't know…" He looked questioningly at Ginny, who merely shrugged her shoulders.
Just then, the faint sound of footsteps came from around the corner and a second later, Neville Longbottom came into view.
"Oh, hey, guys!" he greeted them. "Oh, Harry Potter," he added, turning to the fat lady, who immediately swung the door open to admit them. They crawled through and Harry turned to Neville.
"Harry Potter? Really?" he asked. He couldn't believe it, and yet, it didn't really surprise him.
"Hey, don't look at me. It's the first password I can actually remember!" Neville said through a huge yawn. "Any who, I think I'm gonna hit the sack. See you two in the morning." He was half way up the stairs to his dormitory when he turned around to face Harry again.
"Good job tonight, Harry. You're parents would be proud."
Harry was shocked by his words. He smiled nonetheless and replied, "You too, Neville, you too."
The fire was crackling cheerfully in the grate and Ginny pulled Harry over to the couch in front of it. She sat down and pulled his head down to lie in her lap. They didn't speak. Instead, she simply pulled her hands gently through his hair until eventually a soft snore came from him, announcing his slumber.
Looking down at his scarred face, she realized just how vulnerable he looked. He was so peaceful when he was sleeping that Ginny couldn't believe all that he'd been through, all that he'd done.
This had Ginny's mind wandering back to the night's events by the lake. Harry had said that she didn't know what he'd done… What had Harry done? It wouldn't change her feelings for him, whatever it was, but it was obviously eating alive inside and it made Ginny want to make the pain go away. She couldn't do that unless she knew what it was that was bothering him. She knew that Harry was going to need some time to get over the war, just as she needed time to get over Fred. They would help each other get through this, she decided. They would be there for each other, through dark and through light, thick and thin, forever and always.
For even though this was indeed an ending, not only of the War, but of cherished lives as well, it was also a beginning of new journey, new life and new possibilities.