Ch. 1, Battle Day

Well, if she got that scar from being Potter's witch, then she was going to BE POTTER'S WITCH! Ginny thought of using the spell some more.

Harry gave Ginny a 'you have got to be kidding' look, and said "Everything?"

Ginny got a sly smile on her face. She really had not intended to get Harry in the nip but she had to admit it was tempting.

Starts just before the end of DH.

Arthur and Molly were standing holding hands, looking out a hole in the wall of Hogwarts castle. Ginny, still shorter than even Molly, was in front and between them, the rest of the Weasleys, including Fleur and Hermione, were around them.

"What if Harry's dead?" asked Molly of Arthur.

"Then we still have to kill Riddle," Arthur said, a look of fierce determination in his eyes. "We still have to try to kill Tom Riddle, or die trying."

"And the children?" asked Molly, unshed tears sounding in her voice.

"We'll meet on the other side," Arthur said, reassuringly. "We all knew this could happen. At least we have a chance and at least the children can fight and take some of the Death Eaters with them."

'They're coming,' Ginny thought, as Voldemort and his entourage approached the castle. Then she heard the news that filled her with dread and despair. Harry Potter was dead. She thought, 'Harry's dead? HARRY'S DEAD! NO! NO! NO! If Harry's dead, I might as well die too.'

Looking out at the scene below, Ginny said, as much to herself as to anybody else, "We're all going to die. Today we're all going to die."

"It's time to kill," said Arthur, without as much as a waver in his voice. "It's time to make them pay a terrible price."

"Oh, Arthur, the whole family is here," Molly reiterated.

"We must do our best to finish Harry's job," said Arthur, cold blooded determination and an icy sadness in his voice. "We must ALL do our best to finish Harry's job. Or die trying."

Ginny thought that this was the first time she'd ever known her parents to lack comforting words. They were all going to DIE.

She was going to die!

Ginny saw that Neville had a sword and that he had cut off the snake Nagini's head.

Voldemort was coming into Hogwarts.

'I need to find him,' Ginny thought, her wand arm itching to be put to use. The notion of life without Harry appeared to be completely without substance. 'I need to help kill him! Nothing else will avenge my Harry's death! I'm going to die anyway!'

Ginny ran ahead of the rest of her family, towards the heart of the battle. 'There Voldemort is, just on the other side of Bella,' Ginny thought, and she started to fight Bellatrix Lestrange, who was blocking her way to Voldemort. Ginny was joined in the fight by Hermione and Luna.

A curse glanced off her, and Ginny was stunned by how much it hurt! It hurt, oh it hurt, and her thoughts reflected the intense pain and confusion. 'OH! AHHHHHhhhhhh. Got to get up. Forget the pain.' Ginny forced her eyes to focus and saw her mother fighting Bella.

'Mum?' Ginny knew she'd seen her mother angry, but she had never seen her mother this angry; never had she seen such a cold fury in her mother's eyes and voice.

"AVADA KEDAVRA!" Molly shouted with a power and a viciousness that startled everyone who heard her.

'Mum shouted the killing curse?! Mum killed Bella? Ouch. It still hurts.' Ginny was having a hard time functioning.

Then she saw Harry and Voldemort circling each other.

HARRY! ? !


She could not believe it. Her emotions went from full despair to elation in a flash.

Ginny was thinking, 'HARRY'S ALIVE! HARRY'S ALIVE! He and Voldemort are getting ready to duel. Please, Harry. Please. You have to win! You have to win!' Ginny was watching Harry Potter and Voldemort circle each other. She and most of the people in the Great Hall had stopped what they were doing and were watching the two most notorious adversaries circling each other. Finally a ray of light entered the Great Hall through the broken walls of Hogwarts Castle.

There were two powerful spells, and it was like a dream. Like the best version of the Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort duel she had been dreaming of since childhood. The two spells met, Voldemort was down, his wand flew up into the air and Harry Potter, the hero of so many dreams from childhood to even the last few weeks, the dream of Harry Potter beating Lord Voldemort was coming true, with Harry catching Voldemort's wand in the most graceful and satisfying ending, one even better than anything she could imagine.

Ginny was shouting, "HARRY WON! HARRY WON!" She ran over to greet Harry, looked back and saw her mother sitting, almost lying on the floor. She turned back to look at Harry. He was a mess, bruised and battered. He wore a look of one who had finished a hard task but was totally physically and emotionally drained. 'Somebody needs to take care of him,' she thought.

Ginny looked back at her mother. Fleur and her father were both there, and from their expressions she could tell that her mother needed her.

Arthur and Fleur were both motioning Ginny to come over.

Ginny hesitated for a fraction of a second, torn between embracing Harry for her Happily Ever After moment and fear for her mum. As it had so many times that day, fear, plus concern for her mum, won out. So she left the crowd surrounding Harry and went to her mother's side.

"MUM, Mum, what's the matter, Mum?" She looked at her mother, who had collapsed on the floor and was sobbing, shaking. She asked, "Why are you sitting on the floor crying? Mum, please." Ginny still hurt! She hurt all over. The two big scars were really painful. Ginny's mother was just shaking, and she had never seen Mum like this. Ginny got Molly over to a bench and sat next to her, leaning her head against her mother's shoulder.

Ginny caught her dad's eye again and called him over. She asked, "Have you ever seen Mum like this?"

Arthur Weasley heard Ginny call and looked at his daughter and wife. "I've seen your mother collapse this way a couple of times over the years," he answered. "She needs to cry herself out. Get her up to the Gryffindor common room, transfigure a sofa into a bed and stay with her to help get her to sleep."

"I will, Dad," Ginny promised. It felt good to have something to do. She looked at the chaos reigning around her. Fleur was tending the wounded along with some others. She couldn't see Charlie and George anywhere in the Great Hall. Her father, Percy and Bill were walking out through the main doors with Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Where was Harry? Ginny had sat there with her mother for quite some time, unable to function. Finally, Ginny thought, 'Come on, Potter, where are you? Where is MY Harry Potter? By Luna? I saw you put on that Invisibility Cloak. Gone somewhere with Ron and Hermione? Just wait, Potter. You're not going to get away from me again, Harry Potter!'

Ginny realized that she had to focus on her mother. She had to get her mother to bed and then find Potter. "Come on, Mum, I'll hold you," Ginny assured her, but Ginny herself was so sleepy, so sore… Still, she knew what she had to do, so just before noon on May 2nd she got her mum to her feet and began to guide her out of the hall and up the stairs.

Ginny woke up in the four-poster bed she had made in the Gryffindor common room, about four hours after she had first put herself and her mother to bed. She noticed that her mother was still sleeping. Her next waking thought was of Harry. 'Where is Potter? Where?! Is?! Potter?!'

Ginny looked around the common room. She eased herself out of bed, on the side closest to the boys' stairway, looking around at the state of the room as she did. She could only see about half of it, since the bed was in the way. The common room was a mess, with broken windows and rubble on the floor. There were lots of other people on the other side of the room, mostly asleep, although some were just sitting there with dazed looks on their faces. They were sprawled everywhere, in the big chairs and sofas and even on the floor. Ginny saw Hermione come down the stairs from the boys' dormitory and said, "Hi, Hermione. What were you doing in the boys' dorm?"

Hermione answered, "I couldn't very well sleep in the girls' dorm." Hermione pointed to where the steps for the girls' dorm started. Ginny peered around the other side of the bed. The stairs to the girls' dorm were missing, and there were just spells keeping people from falling through the missing section of wall. "I've been putting people in rooms in the boys' dorms," Hermione explained. "Ron's asleep, and Harry is just wiped out."

"HARRY!" Ginny perked up!

It looked to Ginny like Hermione was wiped out as well. She was so tired she was shaking. "We need to get you up to bed too," Ginny told her gently, holding out an arm for her friend to take.

"Help me up to where Ron and Harry are," Hermione agreed, accepting Ginny's invitation.

As the two witches made their way to the staircase, avoiding broken objects and sleeping persons, Ginny asked, "How's Harry?"

Hermione looked at her closest female friend and said, "He must be even more exhausted than any of us. I don't think he slept much last night, nor did Ron or I, for that matter. Wait a minute, was that last night? No, it must have been the night before. It's all so confusing…"

Then Hermione's expression changed. She smiled as they finally made it to the winding staircase and began to ascend. "You know he never stopped caring about you, right?"

Ginny's heart thudded for a moment and she blurted out, "Does Harry still like me?"

She hated to sound desperate, but it was very important to her.

Hermione smiled and said, "Ginny, when we were traveling and hiding last year, in the evening, Harry would take out the Marauders' Map and look at your spot on the map and talk to it. He tried to keep it a secret and I never asked him about it, but I think he's head over heels in love with you. I reckon you were the light at the end of the tunnel for him. I think you would make him very happy if you were there when he woke up."

Ginny hoped that Harry still liked her.

Ginny really wanted to be living the fairy tale ending of Harry killing Lord Voldemort and then rushing into her arms, although that dream had obviously ended with all of the death and destruction and chaos of the last few hours.

Besides, Harry had not taken her into his arms and kissed her. He'd gone off with her brother and Hermione. Bollocks!

By this time, they'd reached the stoop outside of the seventh-year boys' dormitory. Ginny had to make sure one last time. "You're sure Harry still likes me?! Oh, Hermione, this is so important to me."

Hermione rolled her eyes and answered, "Yes, of course he likes you! You know he only broke up with you in an overprotective gesture. Come on in, Ginny."

Ginny followed her friend into the room. Hermione immediately went over to Ron, who was sleeping in his bed, sort of face-down, sort of on his side, and crawled into bed next to him, holding on to his back and putting her arms around him. Ginny walked over to Harry's bed. He was facing away from the door, so she had to get on the other side of the bed to see his face. He was a mess; dirty, bruised, and obviously dead asleep.

Ginny looked at herself. She was a mess too. Blood from other people was on her clothes, as well as the dirt and dust. She did not want Harry to see her like this, not now.

Ginny went into the bathroom, used the loo and stepped into the showers. She took off her clothes and did the best cleaning charm she could on them. She got her shampoo out; the one she had made to smell like apple blossoms and the spring flowers and smells of the Burrow. She'd really worked on that scent! After a shower and washing her hair, she did a combing charm, keeping her hair from tangling and leaving it full. Ginny was very proud of her hair. It was a beautiful auburn red, coming to well below her shoulders and spreading out from her head in a striking fashion.

Ginny thought of the Touch-of-Lust spell. Despite the name, if you just used one flick once a week, it just sort of kept a boy interested. She had talked to her mother about it, and her mother said you used it daily or with more than one flick only when you knew you had found the boy you were sure you were going to marry, and when you were sure he felt the same way.

Her mother said the Touch-of-Lust spell could be a really dangerous spell and had explained some of the family history of her female ancestors. She really should not use it until she … what did Harry feel … he looked at her dot on the map?! All the time! HARRY! Ginny used the Touch-of-Lust spell with two flicks and immediately felt a little guilty. Well, if Harry did not want her, NO, she couldn't even think about that.

Ginny looked at the scar that started above her right breast, and continued all the way down to where, well, she hoped it would not interfere with nursing a baby someday. If she got that scar from being Potter's witch, she damn well was going to BE POTTER'S WITCH! Ginny thought of using the spell some more.

Maybe using it anymore WAS excessive. Ginny looked at the other scar, the one on her thigh, the one that showed she was still a virgin, damn it. The sixteen year old hormones were working overtime. Ginny felt like she had waited half her life for this moment. Her fairy tale ending was supposed to be coming true!

Ginny never just let things happen. If she could, she made things happen. Ginny was going to make sure her Happily Ever After ending would come true!

Ginny put down the wand and left the bathroom, full of conflict. All of the fairy tale endings had the hero and heroine fall into each other's arms after the climactic battle, and she and Harry hadn't even said, 'Hi!' Damn! Damn! Bollocks!

Ginny sat down on Harry's bed and waited. She thought a little of the events of the last 24 to 36 hours, but mostly she just sat on the bed and tried not to think. She was so weary and so sore and so close to crying.

She couldn't let Harry see her cry, and she wiped at a stray tear. Ginny was almost beyond thinking, and she just sat there, semi-awake, guarding the trio in case anyone thought to disturb the exhausted heroes.

About an hour after Ginny came up with Hermione, Harry Potter started to wake up. The first thing he noticed was that his scar was not hurting. He could not feel anything up there. Always before there was some feeling there, sometimes just a presence, sometimes intense pain, but always something. Of course, everything else seemed to be hurting terribly.

The second thing Harry noticed was that he had to go to the loo. It was pretty urgent; that's probably why he woke up after only four hours or so of sleep. And the third thing he noticed was the smell that said, 'Ginny Weasley.' Ginny! Harry's eyes snapped open, and he fumbled for his glasses. Ginny was sitting on the edge of his bed. As Harry got up, so did Ginny. She said, "You're not going to get away from me again, Harry Potter!"

Harry answered, "Well, I've got to go to the loo right now." He wanted to see Ginny more than just about anything, but he did not want to sit next to Ginny and wet his pants.

Ginny took a good look at Harry, with dirt all over himself, bruises and who knew what else, and said, "Oh, Harry, you look just AWFUL!"

The only answer Harry could think of was, "I've had a tough couple of days."

Ginny knew she needed to get clean clothes on Harry, and he needed to wash. You could do only so much with cleaning charms, and a person always was cleaner and more refreshed when they had washed.

"Take off those filthy clothes, and I'll do a cleaning charm on them while you get washed," Ginny said, in a tone that reminded Harry of Mrs. Weasley.

Harry gave Ginny a, 'you have got to be kidding' look, and said, "Everything?"

Ginny got a snarky smile on her face. She really had not intended to get Harry naked, but she had to admit it was tempting. In the end, Ginny just answered with, "Harry, I was raised with six older brothers. I've seen them with nothing on but their boxers. Take off everything but your boxers and give them to me. Then, after you are in the bathroom, take the boxers off and get them to me."

Ginny spoke to Harry with a tone of voice that indicated she was not to be disobeyed, so Harry took off his shirt and gave it to Ginny, who looked at his chest above his heart and gently touched a new lightning shaped scar. "Where did that come from?" The scar looked very much like the one on his head, but it was new, larger, open and looked like it had dirt rubbed into it. Harry did look rather battered and not just from that scar. There were a lot of injuries and scars on Harry's upper body.

Harry took off his jeans and handed them to Ginny, saying, "I probably got that when Riddle killed me last night." He looked down, almost in surprise to see the gaping wound.

Ginny practically yelled, "WHAT?! Harry, what happened? What do you mean 'when he killed you?' Harry?" Ginny was frantic.

Harry said, "Later, please. I really have to go to the loo right now…." And Harry left for the bathroom.

Ginny sat there stunned. She thought, 'Oh great. What are you going to tell people when they ask, "What were the first words Harry told you after the battle?" That he loved you? That he missed you?

'Well, no, the first words he said were, "I have to go to the loo?" What were the first words you said? "Harry, you're filthy?" Well, they were actually, "you're not getting away from me," but the next words were, "you're filthy." Some fairy tale ending this was turning out to be.' She almost laughed at the ridiculous situation she now found herself in. Well, no matter, she would persevere.

Harry looked so battered! More than anything, Ginny just wanted Harry well again. Then she choked back a sob, wondering what kind of pain a killing curse caused when it went awry. 'When he killed me?' she thought and then quietly she said the words, "When he killed me." It just didn't make any sense.

Harry took the time to grab a towel, take off his boxers, throw them out the door at Ginny, and went to the loo. From there he went to the showers and let the warm water soak his body. There were bruises all over his body, and he was really stiff. Maybe his scar didn't hurt, but everything else did. Right in the middle of the shower he started to think about all of the people who had died: Fred, Tonks and Lupin, Colin, all of the people who'd died, and he broke down in tears, but after at least ten minutes of crying he managed to pull himself together.

Drying himself off, he wrapped a towel around his middle and peeked out the bathroom door, painfully aware that he was naked and Ginny was waiting for him on the other side of the door. Ginny WAS waiting for him, and she got up and gave him his boxers with that fiercely determined 'Ginny' look on her face. After putting them on, Harry walked back into the bedroom, put his now clean clothes back on, cleaned his glasses and looked around the room.

In Ron's bed, Ron and Hermione seemed to be sleeping in each other's arms. On the table next to his bed were three wands, his Holly and Phoenix wand, Draco Malfoy's Hawthorn wand, and the Elder Wand (the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny). Ginny was still staring at him with that fierce gaze of hers, hands on her hips, waiting for him to say something.

Harry touched his face. He felt a three-day growth of beard. Here was Ginny, who he wanted to be with and impress and here he was scruffy and exhausted, causing him to feel utterly bewildered.

Harry grabbed the three wands, did a quick shaving spell with his wand, put all of them in a pocket and then took Ginny's hand. Ginny had been practically frantic with worry when Harry left, but when he grabbed her hand, she felt just a little better. He went to the stairway, saying as he went, "How long have they been sleeping, and how long have you been here?"

Ginny answered, "Ron and Hermione tried to stay awake to guard you and keep people away from you. I came up less than an hour ago to allow them to get some sleep as well. Were they sleeping together like that when you were traveling?"

"No, that's new," said Harry, with a grin. It had certainly taken those two long enough, although he had to admit that he was grateful that they hadn't been sleeping like that during their time in the tent. He had missed Ginny enough, without his two best friends constantly reminding him of what he was missing. "Hermione has liked Ron for a long time, but your brother is kind of thick about that type of thing sometimes."

Ginny gave a little knowing laugh and replied, "Ron is thick about a lot of things sometimes. When are you going to tell me about the scar and what happened and how you survived and how you killed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"

Harry stopped to look Ginny in the eye and answered, "Ginny, call him Voldemort or, better yet Tom Riddle. I'll tell you everything, but give me time. It is a very long story, and it is going to take some time to tell it."

As they got to the common room Ginny said, "Quiet! I have to check on my mum." There was a four poster bed in the common room, with curtains all around. Molly Weasley was sleeping soundly in the bed. Harry asked, "What happened to your mum, Ginny?"

Ginny turned to Harry and, speaking quietly, almost in a whisper, said, "I don't know. After she killed Bellatrix Lestrange and you killed Tom–Tom Riddle, she just shut down. She just held me close and kept saying, 'Fred is gone' and 'I killed her.' And, 'You're alive. Harry's alive,' and, 'A mother shouldn't have to bury her children.' Then she would break down and cry and hold me. After you disappeared, Dad told me to bring Mum up to the Gryffindor common room, transfigure a couch into a bed and get Mum down to sleep awhile. I held Mum, and she and I went to sleep. I woke up about an hour ago. Hermione came down and told me about you and asked if I could come up so she and Ron could get some sleep. They are really worried about you."

Harry, also speaking very quietly, said, "I'm worried about your mother. I guess I'm worried about everybody. Where is your dad?"

Ginny answered, "I think Dad and Percy are at the Ministry. I saw them leave with Kingsley Shacklebolt. I think I saw Charlie or George on the other side of the bed. Fleur was helping heal people, and, oh, she's sleeping in that chair! Bill left at the same time as Dad and Percy, but I do not know where he went.

"Harry, I'll wait for you to tell me about most things, but getting killed? What happened? Were you dead when Voldemort said you were? When I saw you, I didn't care if I lived or died. I just wanted to kill Voldemort, and I didn't care if I got killed in the process. I felt that when you died, I died with you. All of my dreams dead! Dead! Dead." As she was saying these things her voice was rising, and she was beginning to speak, not quietly, but in an urgent tone of voice with a lot of emotion in it. With her face inches from Harry and looking directly into his eyes, she then said, "Harry, I love you. Don't leave me!"

"Ginny, what did you say?" said Harry. He reckoned he heard her say that she loved him, but the words seemed so foreign to him. He couldn't ever remember hearing them said, not directed at him anyways.

Ginny answered, her voice rising again, "I love you, Harry. I love you! I don't want to lose you again!" She then gave Harry the softest, gentlest kiss imaginable.

At this, Harry broke down again, pulling Ginny's close to him, almost sobbing. The words were so very difficult to say, but he knew he must. "I didn't want to die! I had to let Riddle kill me to kill-" Harry stopped for a moment, holding Ginny's face close to his, "to kill … to kill …part of him that was in me. I cried over every friend I was leaving behind, but just as the killing curse hit, just as I died, there was only one person … Oh, Ginny, I thought of your blazing eyes, your fierce determination, your kisses. Oh, to lose those forever, I don't know, maybe that's why I came back!"

Ginny's eyes had gotten big, and there was a look of horror on her face as she said, "You did die. Oh, Harry! How come you're alive?"

"It's sort of complicated," said Harry quietly, not really sure himself. "I was … I saw Dumbledore …I really thought I was dead, but I had a choice. Voldemort had taken my blood to regenerate his body. So long as I was killed by his hand and my blood lived on in his body, I could come back. I could have gone…on, but I thought of you and everyone else who was depending on me, and I came back. And afterwards, when I left with Ron and Hermione, you were with your mother, and I thought, I thought…" Harry's voice got soft and he had a shy look on his face. "Maybe we would have years and years to be together."

"Harry, I meant it when I said don't ever leave me," said Ginny, fiercely, the love in her eyes softening the effect. She wrapped her arms around him and looked up into his eyes. "I love you."

"I love you too," said Harry. Not only were the words easy to say, but it seemed as though something hot and warm had seeped into his heart and his soul. There was a sense of completion so absolute that he was momentarily frightened. "I … you … I … just hold me."

Harry pulled Ginny closer to him, exhausted mentally and physically.

Molly awoke with a start and reached over to where Harry and Ginny were standing, talking right by the bed. She touched Ginny, then Harry, and then said, "You're both alive! I dreamt you were both dead, that everybody in the family was dead, that You-Know-Who had killed us all. Are we all alive?"

"Not all of us, Mum," said Ginny, sadly. She was scared of sending her mother into another downward spiral, but there was no use in hiding the truth so that it would be more difficult to deal with later. "Fred's dead."

"It's my fault. All of it is my fault!" said Harry, with that tone of recrimination so familiar to Ginny and Molly. He was still tired. He'd only had four hours of sleep or he might not have mentioned Horcruxes, but he said, "We didn't find the Horcruxes fast enough. There was too much we didn't know, and we wasted so much time last winter, and I should have confronted Vol …Riddle sooner and why did your whole family have to be involved? Mrs. Weasley, I'm so sorry." Harry burst into tears. He couldn't ever remember weeping so much in his entire life as he had so far that day. Perhaps Voldemort's presence had masked his own thoughts and emotions, deadening them, so that now he felt things more acutely? Or was it the trauma of the last few days taking such a heavy toll on him? He would never really know, but certainly something had changed within him.

"One of my sons is dead," said Molly, clumsily getting out of bed. She smiled fondly at Harry. "But one has come back to life. And Bellatrix Lestrange, damn her to Hell, I really killed her?" Harry and Ginny both nodded yes.

"Harry, when they said you were dead, I thought I had lost another son," Molly continued. "We love you like a son." Molly held Harry and Ginny, while Harry and Ginny both softly cried. It was hard to tell whose tears were whose; they'd all just let go so completely. Grief, joy and relief all met up in a torrent of emotions.

Finally, Harry, feeling a bit embarrassed by his recent outbursts, said, "Sorry I broke down and started crying. I should be stronger than that."

Molly looked Harry directly in the eye, and with all the emotion and sympathy she could muster, sternly said, "Harry, after all you have been through, you have every right to cry, to let your emotions out. Heaven knows you haven't had any time to grieve. This war has been hard on everybody, but in some ways harder on you. You-Know-Who brought so much death and destruction to so many! Thank you for ending him, for killing him, dear."

She caressed his cheek for a moment and pulled him into one her signature hugs, guaranteed to knock the breath out of a person.

Focusing for a moment solely on her mother, Ginny asked, "Mum, are you all right?"

"I don't know. Losing a child is so hard!" said Molly, sobbing a little at this. But she straightened her shoulders and got a far-away look in her eye. "I still feel empty from when I lost both of my brothers during the last war…and…and now this and… but…but you just move on." Molly had tears running down her face, and they could see she was trying hard to maintain control. "I am sorry, Ginny, that I lost it this afternoon. I still cannot believe that I could be mad enough to throw the Avada Kedavra curse. That BITCH!"

Molly took a deep breath, and it looked like she was going to lose what control she'd managed to cling to. "BITCH! BITCH! BITCH! BITCH! BITCH! May she forever…rot… in…Hell. I ought to be sorry I killed someone, but if anybody deserved death …Harry, were you dead?"

Harry and Ginny looked on in astonishment at Molly, as she gradually regained control after that complete change of topic in mid-sentence.

Harry looked at Molly and Ginny, saying in answer, "I was the last of the Horcruxes. Tom Riddle had to kill me to kill the part of his soul that was in me. Then, when Neville killed the snake, all I had to do was kill what was left, the shell of a body Riddle had. The hardest part was walking into the forest, walking by you, Ginny."

When Ginny heard this, she shouted out, "Harry, I felt you. I felt that you were walking out into the forest. I thought my heart would break. How could you?"

"It wasn't easy," Harry said, looking at the two women and then looking down at his trainers, which looked as though they'd been cleaned by Ginny as well. "It was really hard." Then Harry looked right at Ginny and said, "Ginny, when I walked by you, it would have been so easy to grab you and run away and hide. I was losing you forever. For a long time, I just did not think about the future, not like a future after the death of Riddle. I had no expectation of surviving. It made the walk to Voldemort so very difficult. Knowing that I would never see anyone again was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

"When the curse hit me, I think I really was dead, but then I was given a chance to come back to life. It would have been so easy to have stayed dead; it was so peaceful, but I thought of all the people who were counting on me. I saw Dumbledore.

"We determined that I had a good chance of winning against Voldemort. I had only one trick up my sleeve, but I had to at least try it. Dumbledore pointed out that I had less to fear of dying than Voldemort did. That too would give me the advantage."

Ginny and Molly were both just amazed, standing there with their mouths agape. Molly found her voice first and said, "Oh, Harry, I had no idea! Oh my! What a horrible thing to have to do. What a brave, brave man you are!" Ginny held on to Harry so hard it was beginning to hurt.

Ron and Hermione were just coming down the stairs, and Ron saw Harry and Ginny hugging and yelled, "Potter, what do you think you are doing?! Stay away from my sister!" Harry was tired and hurting and did not want to confront Ron, so he just sat down.

Ron was threatening Ginny's happy ending, and she went over to him, put her hands on her hips and began to yell. "RONALD WEASLEY, BACK OFF. HARRY BROKE UP WITH ME TO TRY AND PROTECT ME, BUT WE – NEVER – STOPPED – LOVING EACH OTHER. You-Know-Who is dead and Harry and I are back together, so deal with it!" Then in a softer voice she added, "Besides, you need to worry about your own girlfriend, Hermione here, who has loved you for years, and you were too thick to see. Kiss her and butt out of my private life."

Ron stood there dumbfounded. Hermione turned to Ron, hoping for a kiss, and finally Ginny put her hands back on her hips again and yelled, "RONALD, HOW THICK ARE YOU? HERMIONE IS WAITING FOR A KISS. KISS HER NOW." Ginny then put her hands on Ron and turned him towards Hermione, and he bent down to give Hermione a little chaste kiss.

Hermione was having none of this little-chaste-kiss-stuff; she grabbed Ron and snogged him good, and gradually Ron returned the kiss. Hermione hugged Ron tightly, pressing her body against him, and Ron finally held Hermione tightly in return.

Harry thought Ginny was very much like her mother. When they got angry, there was the same raised voice and hands on the hips.

Ginny went back to hug Harry, but it was beginning to hurt even more, and he thought he could feel some blood seeping out of a new wound on his chest. Molly and Ginny both saw Harry in pain. Molly said, "Where is Fleur?!" Ginny remembered seeing Fleur and joined in, adding her "Fleur" to Molly's.

"Somebodee call? Let me wake up, pleeze," said Fleur in a tired voice, from one of the chairs.

Harry and Ginny both walked over to the chair where an exhausted Fleur had fallen asleep. Molly noticed that both of them were limping. Harry said, "Look at Ginny first, please," and Ginny shouted back, "HARRY, YOU IDIOT, you're the one bleeding."

Harry looked resigned, because he was bleeding and he really was hurting.

Ginny realized that, after all her thoughts about romance; she had just called Harry an idiot. Maybe Harry was not the only one not being particularly romantic? Bollocks! Nothing was going right!

Fleur looked at both of them and then said to Harry, "Take off your shirt, 'Arry." Harry's chest showed the effects of not only the killing curse but also all of the Cruciatus Curses Voldemort had thrown at him and all of the dirt that had rubbed into his wounds that he had not been able to wash out. The scar on his chest had pulled apart, and although it might have started out similar to the scar on Harry's forehead it was now open and really rough-looking. There was also a scar on Harry's chest, where the locket had rubbed against his skin, still looking raw, although not as bad as the others because of the Dittany Hermione had applied to it. There were also lots of scars, scratches and bruises from the last two days.

Fleur waved her wand over his chest and said, "Such strong curses, most people could not move after."

"Ginny made me forget how much I hurt, sort of," Harry said with a sigh.

Fleur was trying to hide a smirk at the young couple's obvious need to be together overruling common sense, but her own exhaustion caused her to fail miserably. Harry was obviously still in pain.

"'Arry, anyone else I would 'ave been in 'ospital for week! Hermione, take thees note to infirmary and get thees potions for 'Arry." Fleur then spent some time waving her wand over Harry, trying to heal bruises and close the scar on his chest.

Fleur then turned her attention to Ginny. "New curses too close to old scars," she said. Ginny nodded her head yes. Ginny was obviously in some pain and still tired as well. Fleur did some wand work on Ginny, and when Hermione got back, she sent Ron up for potions for Ginny.

Before leaving, Ron asked, "Is anybody else hungry?" All of the Weasley's indicated that they were.

Harry said, "Can we eat in here? I'm not ready to face crowds of people yet."

Molly told Ron, "Go find Charlie and Fre… I mean George – and tell them to come here."

"Here we are," Charlie answered from the other side of the bed. George, Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson's heads also appeared from that side of the room.

Fleur turned her attention back to Harry now that she had some potions to work with. There wasn't much she could do about the one he told her was from a killing curse. Fleur was well aware that, to anyone's knowledge, Harry was the only one to have been hit by one and survive. She asked, "'Arry, what did zey do zee last time zis happened, when you were baby?"

Harry had no idea, but he knew that Hagrid and Professor McGonagall had been with Dumbledore when he, Harry, had been dropped off on the Dursley's doorstep. In the end, after poking and prodding at the lightning bolt on Harry's forehead, hoping to get more information and not learning anything new, she just gave up trying to find any new treatment.

Meanwhile, she had some lotion to rub into Harry's cuts, and Fleur, remembering how she felt when she'd treated Bill's cuts, turned to Ginny and asked, "Ginny, do you want to do zis?"

"Yes, please," said Ginny, and she rubbed the lotion into Harry's raw-looking chest, trying to look lovingly at Harry while she was doing it. Unfortunately, Harry was still in quite a lot of pain, and the loving looks went mostly unnoticed.

Ginny could usually read Harry pretty well. When he looked at her, Harry was obviously very glad she was there. The lust, however, the animal romantic attraction they'd had for each other when they kissed the previous year seemed to have disappeared. Harry seemed too tired to want to, or maybe he just really liked her but didn't want her that way anymore? Maybe she should have used the spell with four or five or six flicks. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HER?

Of course, the simple fact was that Harry WAS too tired, too physically and emotionally drained, and it was going to take at least a little more sleep and time to recharge before he could physically feel the animal emotions. Harry was just too tired to tell anyone anything, but he was sorry for all the pain.

When Ginny was done with the lotion, Fleur bound his chest in bandages to keep the wound from opening up anymore. She told him (and Ginny, knowing that men tend to ignore such orders) to change it regularly.

Harry put his shirt back on and said, "Kreacher," and the house-elf appeared. Instead of asking for food right away, Harry paused and then said, "Kreacher, thank you for all you have done for me, for rallying the house-elves to fight Tom Riddle. Is there anything I can do for you?" Harry was not sure why he asked, but he had not thanked Kreacher at all since the battle and felt it was time.

"May Kreacher talk to Mr. William Weasley? Mr. William is not Kreacher's master," said Kreacher.

"You may talk to Bill Weasley and to anyone he asks you to talk to and do anything he asks you to do. If you have any doubts or questions, you can ask me, but I want you to feel free to help as you see fit. I order you to do what you think is best for me and the Wizarding community, without having to ask me for permission.

"There must be something you or the house-elves want that I could do for you."

Kreacher stood there looking embarrassed. "House-elves is not supposed to ask masters to do for them."

But Harry replied, "After all house-elves have done for us for all of these centuries, after fighting for us at the battle, please. What can we do for you?"

"Kreacher is not asking for himself," Kreacher said, still obviously embarrassed and ill-at-ease. "Two house-elves died in fighting, and other house-elves wanted to know if they could be buried in a grave with marker like you dug for Dobby. Sorry, I should not ask. Kreacher is bad house-elf."

Harry immediately grabbed onto the back of Kreacher's towel before the elf could do himself harm.

"As far as I am concerned, you are a very good house-elf," Harry said firmly, before letting go of Kreacher. "That is just what I wanted to know. Is there a graveyard for house-elves around here?"

Kreacher said, "There is a place where house-elves is buried, but no markers, no one knows where but house-elves."

Harry replied, "Well, then we need a proper graveyard with markers! Can you wait a couple of days until we have a little time? I will make sure the two hero house-elves that died have a proper burial with grave markers!"

Kreacher replied, "Elves will wait as long as it takes. We has already waited centuries."

Kreacher still stood there like he wanted to ask Harry something but could not get it out. Harry said, "Thank you again for all you have done for us, for rallying the house-elves. Is there anything else we can do for you, or anything else you want to ask me? Please feel free to talk to me."

"Kreacher just wants to do what is best for Master Harry and for his world," Kreacher said.

Harry looked right at Kreacher and gently said, "Then I order you to do what is best for Harry Potter and his world, without having to ask, but I also order you to do what is best for Kreacher and for house-elves, what will make your conditions better, without having to ask. I also don't want you to punish yourself under any circumstances, even if you think you've done something wrong." Harry added the last, knowing that house-elves could interpret even a slight mistake as a failure, hurting themselves in punishment.

Kreacher responded quietly and was obviously pondering what Harry had said. His expression was one of awe, confusion and not a little amount of fear. "Asking Kreacher to do without being told is not easy, not what house-elves do. Subversive. Kreacher will try." Then louder and with more confidence, "Does Master need anything?"

Harry said, "Can you please bring a simple supper for the Weasley family, well for everybody here?" Harry sort of waved at the group of people around the room.

With a crack Kreacher was gone. A few minutes later another house-elf appeared with a simple supper of tomato soup and various meat sandwiches. "Sorry, Kreacher is busy," said the house-elf, and he was gone.

Harry and Hermione looked at each other. "I have never lived with a house-elf," said Hermione, "but delegating someone else to serve food to your master? Strange! Kreacher isn't just your servant anymore." Both Harry and Hermione pondered the changing relationship between Kreacher and Harry.

Ginny turned the bed back into a sofa, and the family ate quietly for the most part.

Fleur ate a sandwich, sat back down and promptly fell asleep again. As soon as Ron and Hermione had finished eating, a first year Gryffindor girl came in with her mother, father and baby sister. Hermione looked at a list, took them to a dorm, came back down and sat next to Ron. She looked at Ron and smiled, put her head in his lap with a contented smile on her face, and she too fell asleep.

Ron was exhausted. He'd had only about three hours of sleep this afternoon because he and Hermione had determined to take shifts to guard Harry, after almost two days awake before Harry had won, but he had a hard time napping. It was late afternoon, and he hoped they could get a good night's sleep soon. He kept looking at Hermione, not really believing what was happening between them. Ron always knew that Hermione was a girl and not a boy, but how come he never realized that he could think of her like THAT? Could she kiss! And she had all the right female parts, well, when she grabbed on tight and rubbed her body against him and kissed, it was pretty obvious that she was female, and she seemed to like him and could she kiss!

Harry was awake after his nap, sort of, but his mind was just numb. Harry sat at one end of a sofa, leaning back with Ginny leaning into him. Two days or more awake and a short nap in the afternoon just wasn't enough. He could not sleep, but he was maybe not fully awake. Having Ginny touching him was comforting. He had been terrified that he would lose her, even if he somehow lived through the battle with Riddle, but it seemed that she wanted him back. Beyond that, Harry couldn't think. There was still too much chaos to think that things were over. Too much chaos and too much sorrow and Harry felt that he was responsible for way too much of the sorrow.

And here was Ginny, and it felt right, and unfair to all the people who had lost everything, all at the same time. Harry thought he ought to be bawling over all of the deaths, all of the pain he had caused and he did not even have the strength to cry. He was just drained.

After the meal was done, Ginny just sat silently with her head on Harry's chest.

She was terrified that things were not turning out like she imagined them. Fred was dead. Her mother was not in good shape, and several other people seemed to be in bad shape as well. Harry held her hand and said that he loved her. But was that real, was that permanent? Was she going to get her Happily Ever After ending, or was some other witch going to come and steal Harry away?

Nothing would make all of the horrible hurts go away, the scars mental and physical, but would she at least get Harry? She was small, she was young, and she had to fight for everything she ever got, fight to be allowed to grow up. Was she going to have to fight for Harry too? She was not going to give up Harry without a fight! Harry, or her family, or … 'I cannot let Harry see me crying. This is too much, really, but … concentrate on Harry.' Ginny looked up at Harry. 'Smile at him. Hold his hand. Don't let him know you're scared.'

But Harry wasn't looking at her, Ginny thought. He wasn't looking at anyone. Harry was, if not asleep, not really awake and aware either.

Harry seemed numb, Ginny thought. He seemed close to tears.

Harry had won, but where was the victory? Where was the joy and celebration?

Why was everyone so tired and so sad?


Authors Notes.

The plan is to have a series of stories. This is the first year. The next story is titled Broomsticks and Bad Guys and covers Ginny's Quidditch career and the capture of the last of the Death Eaters. There will be a third story covering the birth of the children, and a fourth, focusing more on the next generation, covering the years before Albus and Rose go to Hogwarts.

The story is in rough draft all the way through the end. My beta LadymBlack and I are revising and rewriting it, and my "does it sound British" beta PokePotterfan93 is checking for "Americanisms".

Jet LaBarge