It had been three weeks since the Battle. Three weeks since the death of Tom Riddle, the second most powerful wizard in the world and the least human. Three weeks since so many had laid down their lives to defend Hogwarts and protect The Boy Who Lived, it's Savior. Three weeks since Harry Potter had come out of hiding and reunited with the family he held dear.
Well… that's where things got tricky. Let's rewind a bit, shall we?
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had welcomed him like a son, that was no surprise. Even when Harry protested that he was responsible for their true flesh and blood's death, every member of the Weasley clan had shouted him down. Even Percy. Even George.
Fred's body had been transfigured into a firework, a very complex bit of magic that all six of the remaining siblings took part in. When it was shot into the sky, it spelled out, "May you always have a laugh in your heart." They toasted to his rich, if short, life, and told stories of his antics rather than mourn his tragic passing. Everyone agreed it was how he'd have wanted it.
Harry'd been invited (more like demanded) to return to the Burrow after the memorial service was held for the 50-odd people who'd fallen at Hogwarts and all the rest who had given their lives so Voldemort could be brought down. Everyone, family members, strangers, wished to grieve with the Chosen One, the Savior. He'd found each name read aloud added to his immense sorrow, and he'd given his sympathies to anyone who asked.
He'd insisted Snape (Professor Snape, his internal voice chimed) be given an honorable mention and the portrait he rightfully deserved, citing a last act of valor that contributed heavily to the end of the War. Though many had been skeptical, no one challenged him.
Kingsley, acting Minister, had visited them several times with news and, shockingly enough, to ask for advice. Harry had once again been adamant, telling Kingsley that there needed to be a major overhaul of the Ministry. None of those mindless drones simply obeying orders, there needed to be morality and backbone instilled in each and every one of them. Voldemort was not the first Dark wizard and he wouldn't be the last. Constant vigilance.
There was a fleet of wizards and goblins and house elves undertaking the massive reconstruction of Hogwarts. Headmistress McGonagall had not allowed the trio to participate. She'd stated, "I expect the three of you have quite a lot to be getting on with. Your lives, for instance." Ron, it seemed, had taken her advice deeply to heart, as he'd finally asked Hermione to be his girlfriend which, to no one's surprise but his own, she said yes to most vehemently. The two had happily bid their friends and family goodbye and promptly hopped a portkey to Australia to find Hermione's parents.
Yes, all was well it seemed. Except…
Harry hadn't spoken to Ginny. Not for three whole weeks. Practically not for a whole year.
Though it could not be said he wasn't trying. He'd been attempting to corner her nearly every day. She was avoiding him, and doing a damn good job of it too. After he had come close a couple of times, she fell into a nearly unbreakable pattern. Every morning after breakfast, Ginny would excuse herself and disappear. Then, right before dinner, she would arrive as if her vanishing act was perfectly acceptable. She'd eat, and head straight to her room where she would turn on the Weird Sisters and could easily feign deafness at his incessant knocking. He'd inquired to everyone where she was going, and while they were all sympathetic to his plight, her daily excursions were a mystery to everyone.
Finally Harry had the solution. Here we are again, all caught up to date, exactly three weeks since the Battle. That morning he stuffed the Invisibility Cloak into his pocket, and ate his breakfast quickly (a difficult feat when Molly was constantly refilling the plate). He slipped away, hid outside the door to the kitchen, and waited. When Ginny stepped out, he followed, maintaining a discrete distance behind her. He was puzzled when she left the property but made no move to disapparate. Nor did she take the path to Ottery St. Catchpole or Luna's house. Instead she walked to one of the more distant but uninhabited hills. Here he stopped, watching her silhouette as she settled herself on the grass. He pulled off the Cloak and strode to meet her.
Ginny sat with her back to him on the very top of the hill, surveying the fields like a queen over her domain. She appeared curled into a ball, her knees tucked under her chin. The denim shorts that barely covered her thighs were frayed and dirty, and she wore a wrap over her t-shirt even though it had to be over 25 °C. The air rushed through her hair, blowing it into her face from behind. She looked absorbed in memories, in contemplation, in lands he could not follow. He wondered if she'd even noticed his approach.
"Gin." He said softly so as not to startle her. It didn't work. Her shoulders immediately tensed, and her head whipped around. Her expression was horribly blank.
"Oh," said Ginny before turning back to staring straight ahead. Harry's stomach plummeted; her demeanor was indifferent bordering on frosty. This was exactly what he'd been dreading. Yet he had to give it a go. He cleared his throat.
"Why are you here?" She interrupted, enunciating every word carefully.
"I want to talk to you." He replied, feeling that was obvious.
"But why?" She insisted, and finally there creeped a hint of emotion into her voice. Harry, deciding that honesty was the best course of action, braced himself for whatever his response would bring.
"Well, I… I missed you." Her reaction was instantaneous. Ginny shot up from the ground and crossed her arms tightly over her chest. Her frame shook, and for a mad moment he thought she was crying. Then she whirled to face him at last and he realized he was quite wrong.
Fury filled her entire countenance. Her eyes blazed and her lips were pulled back into a snarl. Her freckled cheeks were flushed a deep red. With the wind whipping at her hair and the morning sun beating down on them, it shone like swirls of fire behind her, as if each strand was enraged on her behalf. Harry wondered if she'd ever been so beautiful.
"No! You don't get to come back here after that whole year you put me through and say a few sweet nothings and have me melt into your arms! It doesn't work like that!" She paused, and continued in a much lower tone, "I won't let it." They stood several feet apart, just staring at each other for a while with only the rustle from the orchard for sound. In a loss, Harry found himself saying what he'd been repeating practically nonstop since the Battle.
"I'm sorry." This seemed only to vex her further.
"Stop it!" She cried. "You are not sorry! If you had to, you would do it all over again, wouldn't you?"
"I…" His protest faded. She was right. There were many things he regretted about last year, but breaking up with her wasn't one of them. He really shouldn't be surprised; Ginny always could understand him. "I'm sorry my decisions hurt you," Harry ultimately said, "But at least you were safe." Evidently he could do nothing right today. Her mouth was working soundlessly, too irate to speak. The sight would be comical if it didn't fill him with trepidation.
Finally, with a screech of outrage, she charged forward. He was so taken aback as she bridged the distance between them that he put up no defense when she snatched his wand out of his pocket. He'd barely raised his hand when she pointed it at her own face and said, "Tergeo!"
"There!" She yelled once the spell was completed, "That's how safe I was!" Harry gasped. For on her once lovely flawless skin there was now an array of scars and burns, layered on month after month. They cut over the bridge of her nose and littered her smooth cheeks. One round patch of red raised skin, the size of a wand tip, lay along her jaw. There was a large gash that extended from her eyebrow over her lid to her cheekbone, marring one of the bright brown eyes he so adored. It was as much a shock as seeing Neville for the first time. No… it was worse.
"Alecto, the woman, she despised me." Ginny spoke in a quivering voice. She'd drawn back a few steps, he noticed hazily, wrapping her shawl a little tighter. "Of course they knew about my family's allegiances, so they hated me from the start. But she… Madam Pomfrey said she was jealous. She always went for my face." This was said with so much pain that Harry would have gladly inflicted twice the torture Carrow had put her through if the hag hadn't died in battle. "I was pretty good at avoiding capture," She continued, "But I was one of the leaders of the DA, wasn't I? And there was no way I would stop fighting."
"L-luna didn't look like that…" He whispered, his mind vehemently trying to deny what was literally staring him in the face. But then he remembered Neville and Seamus and Lavender and all the other kids who'd been hiding in the Room of Requirement. It made sense, in fact he wondered why he had ever imagined Ginny had gotten away scott free.
"Yeah, well," She was mumbling now, scuffing her sandal in a patch of dirt, her previous bravado seeming to have left her. It occurred to him that she must be feeling very exposed. "She was better at laying low. Luna never openly defied them in class, only when she was helping Nev and me. Reckon she was smart that way." There was a pause where she might have wanted him to talk, but she continued when he did not. "I've been using Fred… and George's Wonder Witch Concealer every day. Not for me, for Mum and the rest. It's not a big deal, I just didn't want them to worry." She tilted her head a little so her long hair could hide some of the damage. Harry absorbed it all, the proof of her bravery and vitality, and found that he loved each and every mark.
"You're still perfect as ever." He told her quietly. At this Ginny visibly softened, her body shifting subtly towards him.
"You don't look so bad yourself," She murmured back, the tiniest of smirks tugging at her lips, "Now Mum's got a hold of you." He rubbed the newly exposed back of his neck self-consciously. The Weasley matriarch had attacked his hair nearly as soon as they'd arrived at the Burrow. She'd fussed over the trio intensely, which truth be told had been extremely comforting after the months on their own. It would have been more so, had she not done it with tears in her eyes.
"We've all got to cope." He offered in reply, and sadness passed over her face.
"Yeah…" Ginny suddenly shook her head and tightened her stance. "No! I-I… I refuse to do this again!"
"Do what?" He asked in bewilderment.
"I am…" She turned away from him quickly, "I am mad at you!" Childish, she seemed so childish. No, rather… child-like. Harry pondered how he should respond; it sounded like she was trying to convince herself more than him.
After a moment of deliberation, he voiced slowly, "Why?" She must not have anticipated his question because she looked shocked.
"I—er—you…" Ginny rounded on him again, now wearing a mask of determination. "You could have wrote."
"I was in hiding." He retorted incredulously.
"You stayed with Bill! That was the first time all year I had any idea you and them were okay! And you didn't even bother to send a message or anything!"
"There were things we had to do, time was of the essence."
"Oh yes, let's not worry about Ginny, we're very busy saving the world." She mocked. He stared at her, trying to parse through her sudden venom. The last thing he'd ever imagined her doing in this reunion scenario was pick a row.
"Why are you doing this?"
"I'm not doing anything, I'm telling you how I feel!" He could practically see the flames shooting from her nostrils. "Everything that happened up to the Battle just proves you will never see me as an equal! That we would never work together!" Harry took a step back, hurt and confusion flooding him.
"I could've come along, I could have helped you!" She hollered, her arms finally uncrossing only to be waved to further express her ire.
"You were underage," He said faintly, "you still are, and I—"
"You've been doing dangerous stunts since you were 11!"
"I never wanted to, besides—"
"You agreed with my mother, you left me in that Room while my family went to fight!"
"That was to protect you, it all was!" He said with mounting frustration.
"I don't need protecting!" She shot back, "I'm a good dueler!"
"You're not invincible, look at you!" yelled Harry without meaning to. His sudden burst of anger seemed to have shocked them both into silence. Trying to calm down, he spoke next in what he hoped was a calm and rational tone. "Ginny, look at it from my perspective. Imagine how I'd feel if you had gotten hurt or…" He trailed off as her expression turned stony. He had again said something very wrong. With her jaw set and the burning hatred in her eyes, he was forcibly reminded of Ron right before he abandoned them. Oh yes, very, very wrong indeed.
"Imagine?" She said in a deadly voice. It was soft, yet it chilled him to the core. He somehow preferred her screaming. He got his wish the next minute, though it really wasn't an improvement. "I don't have to imagine, you arrogant, self-centered git! You died in that battle! I saw your corpse! I cried for you, I fought for you! After everything, the dueling, watching innocent people fall, Fred…" She started to sob, and for the first time in so very long he saw tears stream down her flushed cheeks. For someone who almost never cried, Ginny seemed to glow even stronger, become even more breathtaking. She choked out only a bit more, nearly indistinguishable, "Not you too… Couldn't stand it..."
Harry, overwhelmed, managed a few steps towards her, intending to take her in his arms, but she launched herself at him first. Instead of embracing him however, she started beating him with her fists. It was shocking, and he did nothing to defend himself. He took every painful blow silently. She was a flurry and it was a while before he noticed she was yelling through her sobs.
"You left me! You left me!" Over and over she wailed. Whether she was referring to breaking up with her or his death, he doubted even she was certain. Maybe it was neither, maybe it was both. In any case, it didn't matter. Ginny raged on and on for what felt like days, but still he stood, rocking backwards with each hit only to meet the next head on. Her punches eventually lessened as the fight drained out of her. Soon she was just gripping his shirt, burying her face in his chest as her tears poured out. Her shouts became ragged whispers. "You left me… You left me…" Knowing it was safe, Harry hugged her to him closely, relishing the contact after so long.
"I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…" He murmured into her flower scented hair. He realized he meant it more then than he had any time before. She didn't acknowledge the droplets falling and dampening her head. They stood like that, crying together in silence. Their shadows had moved, and if Harry'd checked his watch he would have seen hours had passed. But he didn't, immersed in their shared misery and grief. Finally Ginny gave a shuddering breath and pulled back just far enough to look into his eyes. They each studied the other, drinking in the subtle differences and reveling in that which stayed the same. He saw no trace of anger anymore, only relief. Her hands unclenched around his shirt and moved to his cheeks. Her fingers carefully wiped the tear tracks away.
"You're alive." She said shakily. He understood why she said it with such disbelief; he'd hardly expected things to work out this way. One of his hands moved from her back to cup her face.
"So are you." He told her seriously. He barely had time to register her bright smile before she was kissing him. Their lips moved softly in tandem, slowly, tentatively remapping familiar territory. Harry sighed against her mouth, the contentment escaping in visceral form. When they parted she was watching him closely, perhaps wondering if he would reject her. Very silly that. He brushed his hand through her the mane of silky hair cascading down her back. "You've no idea how much I missed this." He remarked breathlessly. She made an odd sound halfway between a laugh and a hiccup.
"I reckon I've got a fair hunch." She quipped. He knew then with certainty, for the first time in so long, what lay before him. Things would be difficult, they had both changed during their year apart, but he would devote his life to overcoming their challenges and discovering all that Ginny Weasley had to offer. Harry grinned for a moment before becoming solemn again. It was time. Things could not move forward without the telling of this most devastating secret. This feeling he had harbored, safe within his ribcage like a precious bird, must be let free. All their experiences together seemed to culminate in this moment.
He drew a deep breath, stared into her gorgeous honey tinted orbs, scar and all, and said, "Ginny, I love you." The world seemed to stop, waiting with baited breath to see what would happen next. Her eyes were wide, and her mouth was parted in a perfect little O.
"You do?" She whispered. That she hadn't moved from his arms was encouraging, but there was nothing in her expression he could read. He gulped, nerves overtaking him at last.
"Yeah." He croaked. Feeling that wasn't enough (and really, why stop now?), he went on, "I never stopped." The air left her lungs in a rush, and suddenly he was being kissed again. It was a searing, scorching kiss, they couldn't get enough, but then it was over, and she was mumbling the sweetest words into his neck.
"I love you too, so much. Oh Harry, how could I not?"
*Sigh* The last of my little series. I shall be sad to see it go. We had a good run.
Anyway, you can probably recognize this missing moment. You have no doubt read a dozen different takes on it. I truly believe Ginny would resist Harry coming back, not because she is angry or doesn't love him anymore, but because she recognizes him as her weakness. She is a very inherently independent and capable woman, and the knowledge that she would bend to Harry's will and fall into his arms no matter what he does must be a scary concept. Poor clueless Potter.
And as for the scars, as I reread the end of the 7th book and came to Neville's description, I realized a glaring omission on Rowling's part: no description of Ginny. I reasoned that, as brave as she was, she would no doubt display the same courage as Neville and receive the same punishment (I cannot see Death Eaters going easy on girls, can you?). I have Alecto Carrow as, in my mind, very jealous of Ginny's easy good looks and popularity, leading her to extra violence. As Harry made no mention of Ginny's numerous facial scars (oh J.K., I adore you, but really?), I rationalized that she would obviously be magically concealing them from her family.
I enjoy the idea that she and Harry share battle scars. It is just another way they are equals, a concept in relationships dear to Ginny's and my heart.
I hope this satisfies my fans and anyone who may or may not be reading this. Please, and I cannot stress this enough, review this and my previous stories. Every comment means the world to me.
I hope to be writing again soon, perhaps another dip in this, my first fandom.
Laury, with love.