"But I don't want to go back, Mum. It's..." Ginny rubbed her thumb over the silver sickle that had been the last thing Fred had given her. She shivered, the hair on her forearms bristling. "You don't know what it was like, to be there during..." She shivered. She couldn't think of a proper word to describe it. "That."
Hermione reached for Ginny's hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. "It's going to be all right," she said. "Ron and I are both going back, and we should have finished school by now." Hermione always sounded so certain.
"That's right," Ron chirped, popping his head in through the doorframe. "We get to be eighth-years!"
Ginny stuck her tongue out at her brother. "Everything's still...wrecked," she finished, not knowing how to put it. "We saw all those people die." She glowered at her mother. "F- George didn't have to finish school." It was still so hard to think of George as a singular.
"George has a business to run," Molly put in, very reasonably, as she set down cups of tea in front of the two girls.
Ginny scowled. "There is no way I'm going to win this, is there?" she asked.
"No, dear," said her mother. "So you might as well pack your trunk."
The Hogwarts Express was unusually quiet. Ginny could see the tension in the other students' expressions, the way they looked at her, expectant and apprehensive.
She felt a hand on her arm.
Luna slipped into the seat beside her, and passed her a star-shaped sweet. Ginny put it into her mouth; she couldn't quite place the flavor.
"He's in London," Ginny answered. "He's coming to Hogwarts, but not for a couple months. There are a lot of...hearings."
Luna nodded. "Then he'll be back soon," she said, happily.
When they disembarked from the train into the cool purple twilight, the carriages were there to greet them.
Ginny's breath caught at the sight of the ethereal creatures, waiting patiently in their harnesses. "Harry told me..." she said to Luna. "But I never thought..." Her words dried up in her throat, the reminder of what it meant, that these creatures were visible, all too raw. She blinked back tears, turning over her silver sickle in her pocket.
Luna turned to Ginny, that mysterious, far-away smile on her face. "You can see them, too," she observed.
As the other students followed them from the Hogwarts Express, the whispers started, a murmur at first, rising in volume, punctuated with exclamations of surprise.
Ginny's eyes traveled over the faces of the other students, landing finally on Ron, his fingers tightly entwined with Hermione's. "I think everyone can," she said softly.