I don't own anything. Everything in the wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to the queen.
It's been already three years after the final war at Hogwarts. Three years that brought so many changes into her life. After the endless months of grief and sorrow the magical world started recovering and it took a year before the students of Hogwarts could return to finish their education.
Because she didn't really have the chance to make her sixth year properly she and many other students decided to make it again, so she just graduated school this summer and decided to attend a University far away from home.
The main reason why she wanted to go was because she was sick of home. Not that she hated to be here but she felt like she needed to go find herself. And this was a journey she had to do on her own. Well almost on her own, because Neville and Luna would also come along with her. But at least she wouldn't be surrounded by people who constantly reminded her of what she wanted to forget and a pair of emerald green eyes reminded her whenever she caught them.
Those dark thoughts kept her awake for many nights but when Ginny Weasley opened the window on a warm morning of September she felt good. The light shone in her almost empty room. Most of her posters still hung on the walls but her closet was almost empty. In the case on her bed was everything she owned and what she was going to take with her. She turned around and tried to remember if she had forgotten something. But she thought to herself immediately, that new beginnings should start without worries about things she might have forgotten.
Today was going to be her last day at the Burrow. She had always imagined the moment she'd leave with everyone shading a tear and telling her how much she'll be missed. She was a bit excited to see, if it's really going to be that emotional.
"Ginny, are you up already? ", called Molly Weasley up the stairs. Normally Ginny wouldn't be up since she was always someone to sleep until afternoon but she never felt happier to call back to her mother: "Yes mum, I'll be down in a minute."
Ginny rushed to the bathroom and changed into the cute little dress Hermione had once bought for her. She wasn't really the type of girl to wear dresses and skirts but since it would be an eventful day she decided to make her last day a remarkable day. She looked into the mirror and told herself that she was feeling pretty. Because she couldn't really convince herself she went down the stairs quickly.
When she entered the kitchen she murmured her "Good morning!" and hurried to take a seat. Ron and Hermione sat together reading the news while taking their coffee. Harry was busy looking everywhere but at her. He was acting weird. Even for him. But she said to herself she wouldn't care since it would be a great day for her today.
She considered him a friend after all that they had been through. At least she tried to be his friend. But apparently he didn't feel the same about her. It had been hard enough to give up on him after so many years she secretly fancied him but now that he wouldn't even want to be friends with her was just heart breaking... again. That were the moments she was happy to leave it all behind.
"So Ginny, today is the big day? " Hermione said after a few moments looking up from the papers.
"Oh wow, Ginny I knew that dress would look stunning on you! " She added smiling.
"Oh... thank you, Hermione" said Ginny blushing.
Mrs Weasley turned around to look at her only daughter and tried to blink away the tears forming in her eyes.
"My only daughter is already moving out..." she said with a bittersweet mix of pride and grief.
"I can't believe how fast you've grown up. Look at you, you look so... so..." she didn't finish but let the tears run. Because Ginny didn't want to cry too and because she didn't know what else to do she got up and hugged her mother.
"Oh mum, it won't be that different, you know, I could always visit you"
"But it's not the same" said Ron without thinking.
"Not helpful, Ron" Ginny heard Hermione whisper. Before he could say anything else Mrs Weasley released her daughter and said to him sarcastically: "At least I'll have you forever!"
Everybody laughed at Ron while he blushed and murmured something about not seeing a point in moving out when he could live at the Burrow for free. They chatted about this and that when George entered the kitchen and announced formally: "Good morning beloved family! Hermione! Harry! Ron! " He said while nodding in their direction.
"Ha-ha!" made Ron and turned his attention back at the prophet.
"George! " Ginny squeaked and got up to hug her elder brother. "I didn't think you could leave the store today..."
"Well, the store can survive a day without me. I want to spend your last day with you" he answered smiling. "Besides, I have something to talk about with Ronald and Harry here, so excuse us for a minute."
"What would you have to talk about with them? " asked Ginny but George ignored her and pointed first at Ron and Harry and then at the stairs.
The two moved immediately and went up the stairs with George leaving a confused Ginny in the kitchen. Ginny turned to ask Hermione what that was all about but she got up and before anyone could make a sound she said: "Well that was weird... Anyway, Ginny, have you already packed all your stuff?"
"Well, not really, there are still a few things I have to take care of" she said.
"Then what are we waiting for?" said Hermione and both girls went into Ginny's room.
While going through her things once again and Hermione trying to figure out what she could need and what not, Ginny wondered why Harry wouldn't look at her. Neither did he take part in their earlier conversations, so she asked Hermione:
"Hmm?" She didn't look up from the books she's been sorting.
"I was wondering if... Do you know if there's something bothering Harry?"
She stopped for a moment but didn't look up. Nobody said anything for a few moments.
"Well... I... I don't know.", she said. Ginny didn't believe her because she was avoiding her eyes. But because Hermione didn't want to talk about it Ginny left it that way. And besides, Harry wasn't her problem, was it?
"He seemed... I don't know... unhappy..."
"Oh yeah? Well he doesn't really share his feelings with me...", Hermione said. "Are you sure you don't want to take this with you?" She pointed at a random book and Ginny shook her head no. Though she felt like Hermione is hiding something she decided it was best to leave it with that. Anyway the girls wouldn't be able to talk about it since somebody opened the door without knocking.
"Knock. Knock.", said Neville and looked into the room. "We arrived earlier, because Granny wanted to hex me so I couldn't leave the house anymore."
"Neville, if you'll keep on entering rooms without knocking, we won't live in peace for long!" said Ginny while she hugged him. "What do you mean your grandma wanted to hex you?"
"She just wouldn't let go of me if I'd stay another minute. I picked Luna up.", he said and pointed at the blonde girl who entered the room after him. Ginny hugged her.
"Hello Ginny. It's nice to see you Hermione.", she said and with a quick movement of her wand her case flew through the door and landed right next to her. "Where is everybody else?"
"Well Ron and Harry are on a secret meeting with George.", said Ginny and rolled her eyes.
"Oh really? That's nice", said Luna and turned around to hug Hermione. "You know what this is all about, don't you?"
Luna already went back to the window without waiting for an answer but Ginny saw Hermione blushing. Something was up but since they seem to keep her out of this she didn't ask. It hurt though. She felt her eyes starting to prickle so she blinked the forming tears away and swallowed hard.
"Well I think we should go outside on such a lovely day", said Luna and looked right into Ginny's eyes. It was like sometimes she knew what Ginny needed even if she herself didn't.
"I agree", said Neville and left the room with Hermione. Just in that moment Luna said: "I know that you feel like an outcast with Hermione Ron and Harry. But maybe you are more of a subject between them than you know."
"What do you mean?", asked Ginny but Luna was already humming a melody-less song and followed Hermione and Neville outside.
When the girls stepped into the sun they found Neville and Hermione waiting for them to come and join them.
"Hermione and I thought about going to Diagon Alley tonight. How about grabbing a few drinks and having a bit of fun before we leave tomorrow morning?"
"Oh well what a lovely idea", said Luna and Ginny simply nodded.
"So it's settled then!", said Neville and clapped his hands once as to make it official. "Oh, hey Harry! Ron! We're going to Diagon Alley tonight, you're coming right?"
Ginny turned around to see them both coming outside abruptly stopping their conversation.
"Oh, hi Neville. Luna!", said Harry. It was the first sentence Ginny heard him saying today. "Sure, I think George would love to come, too."
"Yes I'm going to show you some new hot spots there. Must have been ages since you lot have been there.", said George.
"Oh hell no!", cried Ron out. "There's no bloody way you're taking me again to that nasty little spo-"
"Well Ronald that was a very different story.", said George quickly and changed the subject.
Ginny stopped listening. She was searching for Harry who didn't take part in the conversation. He sat under a tree and watched the group talking about the evening. Ginny joined him and took all her courage.
"Harry?", she started quietly. His head snapped automatically in her direction. "Are you well?"
"Yeah... Sure! Why do you ask?"
"I... I don't know... It's just... You seem sad... Somehow"
"Yeah?", he asked letting his eyes wander away from her. He sounded bored and that just made Ginny realize how little interested he was in being friends with her.
"If you don't want to talk about it with me, that's fine.", said Ginny suddenly angry. She was sick and tired of being left out. She studied her hands because she didn't want to show how hurt she really was. She really tried hard to be his friend but he seemed to like his role as the lonely outcast and it simply drove her crazy.
"What I wanted to say is, you don't have to fight every battle on your own, you know."
"It's not... Ginny, don't get me wrong!", he said and searched for her eyes. He looked hurt. " I just... I feel like I've lost a great opportunity..."
"You mean going to University?", Ginny asked. It was superficially and she knew that he meant something else but she didn't want to make him talk about it. He should be willing to tell her. "You can still attend. I mean there are exceptions and-"
"No! No... That's not what I meant", he said and looked her deep in the eyes. Ginny felt her heart pounding and warned herself. Stupid brat, don't even think about this!
Harry swallowed and made a noise as if he was about to say something. But he closed his mouth again and Ginny waited for him to plug up the courage to speak again.
"Harry! Ginny! You coming?", called Ron. Harry looked away and blushed. Why on earth was he blushing? She just realized that his hand has been inches away from hers. Maybe, she thought, he was embarrassed because I've been too urgent. She couldn't think of another reason. She wouldn't allow herself.
It's not like she didn't imagine being Harry's girlfriend when they have been younger. But she had learnt early that she'll always be Ron's little sister or the girl that has a crush on Harry Potter. She was embarrassed when she thought about how many times he was confronted with her stupid affection for him. But he always ignored it friendly. It was really nice of him and it didn't make it easier to forget him.
Because her thoughts made her blush even after all this years, Ginny started to chat about this and that to loosen up the atmosphere while both joined the group again.
"So I was wondering how is the auror training going?" asked Ginny.
"It's hard, really! I never thought it'll be that hard after all. It's like I never knew anything"
"I don't believe you!"
"Believe it! I have to admit I thought it'll be easy too but being Harry Potter doesn't help much"
"Oh don't you act as if you don't like it that way!" Ginny laughed and punched his arm. Harry smirked and pulled her hair. The action surprised her and she stumbled but he caught her.
"It's a secret!" he whispered in her ear. Her heart made a little jump and she felt the blood rushing in her cheeks but he let go immediately and went a few steps ahead.
What the hell was that about? Ginny stopped and watched Harry walking towards the others.
"Oh Harry… Why are you making it so hard for me to let go?" she asked herself before joining them, too.
The day went by very quickly and it seemed like Ginny just blinked once and suddenly it was becoming evening. Mr Weasley came back earlier from work and even Percy left work to spend a few hours with his little sister. Charlie was busy and Bill was visiting Fleur's parents in France. Ginny convinced herself that she wasn't too sad about it but it didn't really work. Mrs Weasley had cooked everything Ginny loved to eat and spent most time switching between complaining about her daughter leaving and reminding Luna and Neville to take good care of her.
It was a lovely dinner and after receiving traditionally a basket with bread and salt she finally allowed herself to tell everyone how much she'd miss them all. She met eyes with Harry and he toasted to her with his drink while she wiped the tears away quickly and smiled. Something told her that now after she finally made a big step towards him they could finally become friends.
Mr Weasley cleared his throat and stood up. "Ginny, my dear" he began, "I'm not into big words but I feel like telling you this right now: I'm so proud of you. I mean look at you. You've become a young woman and I'm sure you'll be doing great out there in the world."
Ginny hugged him and thanked him quietly. Though Mr Weasley would never admit it, Ginny knew that he didn't think very highly of her decision to go away. So hearing him talking like that meant a lot to her. She'd always imagined him talking about how he'll miss her and stuff but she never imagined him being proud at her although she would be leaving.
Even Ron dragged himself to say a few words to her about how boring it'll be when she'll be gone and who he could tease but he spoke through his heart and the way Hermione looked at him in awe Ginny knew that nobody had forced him to say anything. Nobody knew what to say so the kitchen went silent for a few moments.
"I guess it's getting late" George suddenly announced and looked meaningfully into the round. That was when the emotionally part of the evening stopped and they went upstairs to grab their things.
The girls went into Ginny's room and before Ginny could enter her room Percy grabbed her and dragged her into his room. Ginny was never in Percy's room since he moved out years ago and she just went there to play pranks on him anyway. It looked deserted. Only his desk, his bed and his closet were left. The walls had lighter spots where once his awards hung. Ginny thought about her room for a minute. It was still bright and full of things but soon there'll be another empty room.
"Ginny" began Percy. "I just wanted to give you this."
He handed her a little box and waited for her to open it. It was a little bracelet with a little heart.
"Oh wow, thank you Percy" she said and hugged him. But since Percy has never been the sentimental type he already banished her out of his room saying he needed to write a few letters. Ginny went back to her room where Luna and Hermione had been waiting for her and the girls went down the stairs to meet with the boys.
They disapparated and landed in the crowded street of Diagon Alley.
"Well friends" George announced "We'll head to the "Foaming Vial" it's a new bar"
Nobody ever heard of this bar but since George seemed to be determined to go there, everybody joined.
The "Foaming Vial" was a loud and crowded place. It seemed like everybody their age went there to see and be seen. George held the door open for everybody and went straight to the counter and exchanged a few words with the bartender. He showed in their direction and the bartender scanned them quickly, walked around the counter and made them follow him.
The group was lead to a quieter place in the back of the location where a table waited for them. It had something of a lounge and Ginny seated herself next to Luna and Harry on the bench. She looked around and it seemed to be a nice place to be. The lights were low so they'd have a little privacy. It seemed like they were in an oriental tent with the big red curtains hanging from the unseen ceiling and the low tables and the padded benches. Everywhere were extra pillows to make one as comfortable as possible.
Acrobats were swinging themselves from the ceilings but nobody really noticed them. George placed himself on the bench across from Ginny, rubbed his hands and said: "Let the party begin!"