A single tear fell from Harry's eyes as the train came to a stop. He closed his eyes and held on tighter to the post as he let the tear course down his cheek.
More than a year had passed but he could still remember the events of that day as clearly as if they only happened yesterday. For the past year, they haunted Harry more than one could imagine; and for the past year, he had lived an empty life—a life without direction, a life without meaning. Life had lost its glow and luster when he lost them—when he lost her. When he lost Ginny.
The train lunged forward again, swaying him a little. Harry bit his lips to stop them from trembling. It had been like this everyday. He couldn't forget her; he simply couldn't. Every single day he could find himself crying at the thought of her, at the memory of her—at the memory of the one person he loved so deeply.
He thought he could forget everything when he sought refuge in Muggle London, but he was wrong. That day haunted him more as each day passed, not only because of what happened to Ginny but also in the way he treated them in their last few hours—the last few hours they had spent together. His row with Ginny in his dormitory tormented him. He was cruel; he was cruel with her, with Hermione, with Ron. He could have treated them better.
Guilt had ruled Harry's emotions. They had only thought of what was good for him; they had only wanted what's good for him. And what did he do? He pushed them away and mistook their concerns as interference. And even if he had treated them badly, they were still there for him, protecting him, helping him. Another set of tears cascaded from his eyes. He deserved this; he deserved all of these. He deserved all this misery; he deserved all this grief. He deserved all this pain. He deserved living this life.
The train stopped at Harry's station. Taking a deep breath and wiping the tears from his cheeks, he went out of the carriage, not caring if he was being pushed around by the Muggles hurrying to get off. Emerging from the station, his feet trekked the familiar route to Regent's Park, where he would wander around until nightfall.
It had always been like this. Harry would wake up in the morning and let his feet carry him anywhere before taking the Underground to his work at the furniture shop. Then he would stare at the antique furniture on display for the rest of the day, lock the shop up, take the Underground again, get off at Baker Street, let his feet carry him wherever they wished to again, come back to his shabby flat at night, and doze off. Harry's life had been reduced to nothingness. He never cared about anything except for wandering around the Muggle part of London, haunted by the memories of the bitter past. The only reason why he was still sticking to his job was for the money he needed to pay for his rent and food. If not for those things, he would not have even bothered finding one at all.
Ginny's voice suddenly rang inside his head. "If there's one person who deserves to be happy, it's you, Harry."
Anger like no other replaced the feeling of guilt in his heart. Yes, he should be happy now. He should have been with Ginny right now....
"But, Gin, she might not feel the same way as I do."
Ginny's rich brown eyes gazed directly into Harry's green ones. "She does, Harry. I know she does."
Harry could feel his eyes watering again. He had already known he loved Ginny during his sixth year but he chose not to tell her, thinking that it might put her into more danger… that he could lose her. He thought he was protecting her and saving her from the cruelties that were bound to happen. Nevertheless, she was still taken away from him. He still lost her. He lost her without her knowing how much he loved her, how much he cared for her.
There was no one to blame but Voldemort. Only Voldemort. Harry's hands clutched the cloth of his trouser pockets tightly. He wanted to kill Voldemort again. He wanted to inflict on him the same pain and emptiness he was feeling right now. He wanted him to feel how was it to lose those people you love.
But that still couldn't change the fact that she was gone.
Harry looked up at the sky as more tears left his eyes. It was a marvel that he still had tears left after he had cried almost everyday for the past year at the mere thought of her. The light blue sky was slowly turning into red as the sun started its journey to hide beyond the horizon. Sunsets were one of those many things that reminded him of Ginny and her long, flaming red hair. It reminded him of those times they spent at his sanctuary watching the sun set, those happy times when he was with her.
Still looking up the sky, Harry smiled in spite of his tears. He remembered those times she had teased him about Cho Chang and him tickling her as his comeback. He could see her eyes shining with laughter and her face flushed. He could clearly picture how she whacked him at his every attempt.
"Promise me you'll tell her when this war ends."
He did; God knows he did tell her, but it was too late. The war had ended his life such that sometimes he wished that he had also died in the battle. That would be better than to continue living like an empty shell. At least he could still be with them, wherever they may be.
Harry sighed. If only he had protected her better, then he might still have her. She might be beside him right now, and his life would be different—much, much different.
His feet continued walking around the park, nonchalant at the racket the other people were making. Students from the nearby school were throwing Frisbees to each other; a couple of children were running about, and one of them bumped into Harry's legs as he passed. He lifted the young boy to his feet while his mother called him back, scolding him for his stubbornness. Harry smiled at the boy, who ran back to his mum, and continued his walk.
Harry was looking back up at the sun when he saw a soft glow of red hair at the corner of his eye. He looked around and felt his jaw drop.
Ginny, wearing a floral Muggle sundress with her long red hair flying about, was walking toward his direction, marveling at the beauty of the place. He froze in his tracks, unable to believe what he was seeing.
It couldn't be; she was dead. He saw it himself. It couldn't be her. He shook his head and closed his eyes. You're just seeing things, he told himself. But when Harry opened his eyes again, she was still there, as vivid and solid as before. She had the same beautifully freckled face, the same red hair, the same look of wonder on her face, the same smile, the same sparkle in her eyes.
She sat on a nearby bench, also watching the sun. Harry stood rooted on his feet, staring at her in surprise and disbelief. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ears and stopped—she glanced in his direction. Her expression mirrored Harry's.
They stared at each other's eyes for a long time, searching. Slowly, she stood up, and Harry finally found his feet again and walked towards her.
"Harry…" she whispered.
He slowly reached out and touched her cheeks. Tears stung his eyes. Green eyes bored into brown ones, both bright with tears.
Harry pulled her into his arms, hugging her tight as the tears freely flowed out of his eyes.
Let that city take you in
Let that city spit you out
Let that city take you down
For God sake's turn around
"Oh, Harry," Ginny sobbed against his chest. "Thank God you're alive. Thank God."
He released her and cupped her face in his hands. His tear-stained eyes looked at hers longingly. The same rich brown eyes that were etched in his memory stared back at him. They were the same eyes he loved to stare at, full of mirth and laughter. They gazed at each other for minutes that seemed like eternity, too nonplussed to speak, too afraid that this moment would come to an end soon.
Harry wanted to ask her what happened, how she survived when he saw her dead. But it seemed like the ability to speak had left him. All he could do was look at her.
Ginny closed her eyes; more teardrops were streaming down her face. Harry wrapped his arms around her again, stroking her back gently. His thoughts were whirling. For some reason, he still wanted to believe that this was just one of his dreams—his dreams of having her back again.
If this is a dream, please don't let this end, he pleaded, closing his eyes. Please don't make this end.
He would be more contented living in a dream with her than living in reality without her. Harry opened his eyes and there he was, still holding her in his arms. She was crying and holding onto him like her life depended on it. Harry encircled his hands tighter around her waist and buried his face in her hair, taking in its familiar scent.
The sun was fading beyond the horizon and the first stars were appearing in the velvety sky, but still they just stood there, holding each other and sobbing in silence. Harry felt her shift in his arms. She pulled back a little, just enough to look up at him.
Harry brushed a lock of hair off her face. Again, questions flew inside his head—questions to which needed answers but couldn't ask. He took a deep breath; he needed to ask.
"Gi—Ginny," Harry whispered, stuttering a little. "I—I thought you were—you were—"
"I was dead?" Ginny finished for him, smiling faintly.
Ginny shrugged lightly. "I don't know, either. The last thing I remembered, I was dueling with one of the Death Eaters and got hit by a spell; then, the next thing I knew, I was in the hospital wing."
She released herself from his arms and sat down on the bench. Harry sat beside her, still not taking his eyes off her.
"Mum said I was barely alive. When they brought me back with Ron and Hermione, they thought I was dead, too," she continued, staring into distance. "I had the faintest heartbeat; they thought they would lose me, too."
Harry felt more tears streaming down his eyes as he listened to Ginny. He felt his heart breaking further, unsure of what to feel. It was a great relief to know that she also survived, but he couldn't help getting mad at himself for being such a coward and leaving everything behind just to escape. If he hadn't left, he might have known that she was still alive and he wouldn't have such a hard year. He wouldn't be miserable; he wouldn't be grieving this much; he wouldn't be in so much pain.
"Why did you leave? Why did you leave us?" Ginny asked, turning to Harry, cutting his train of thought. "I thought I lost you, too."
"I couldn't stay, Ginny," Harry said, then looked at her eyes. "I couldn't—"
He turned back to the sun as more tears fell from his eyes.
"It was painful enough to watch Ron and Hermione die at his hand… and I couldn't do anything. I wasn't able to do anything. Then I went looking for you, and when I saw you lying there, my whole world just came crumbling down," sobbed Harry, before turning back to Ginny, who was still crying silently beside him. "I felt I'd died, too. I felt my life ended right then and there."
Harry closed his eyes, biting his lips as he relieved that memory again. He buried his face in his palms. "I couldn't live without you, Gin. I just couldn't live without you."
Ginny reached for his hands. "But I'm here now, ain't I?" she whispered softly.
Harry looked up at her, gazing at her eyes. A silly smile suddenly formed in Ginny's lips. "What?" he asked, baffled by what made her smile like that.
"You look scruffy," she said, the mischievous glint having returned to her eyes. "You really are miserable."
Harry could feel a grin spreading on his face in spite of his tears. God, how he missed that smile, how he missed those eyes. How he missed Ginny.
"Yes, I am, and you're the only one to blame. You made me miserable," he said, running a finger along the bridge of her nose. "I'm miserable without you, Gin."
"I'm miserable without you, too, Harry."
Their eyes met; their smiles faded. Thousands of emotions that they had been concealing for the past years passed through them like an unspoken understanding. Harry pulled her close and hugged her tight. Tears flowed from his eyes like a waterfall.
"You're not going to lose me again, Harry," Ginny whispered against his chest in between sobs. He felt her arms tighten around him. "You're not going to lose me again. I promise you that."
Those words triggered more tears. Harry held her tighter, almost crushing her in his arms. "I love you," he breathed almost inaudibly against her hair, kissing the top of her head.
Ginny pulled back from his arms and stared at his eyes. "Come home with me," she whispered.
He held her gaze; sparkling green eyes bored into rich brown ones.
He brought his hands onto her face, caressing the contours of her soft cheeks. He brushed the tears that stained her beautiful face. There was no room for those tears now.
He felt her hold her breath before relaxing under his touch. Ginny closed her eyes and leaned her face against his palms. He too closed his eyes and pulled her closer. Everything around them seemed to have vanished as a rush of warm blood flowed through his every vein, waking up every bit of him that had been dormant for so long. Not until that moment had Harry felt so alive.
A/N: First off, I blame Beans for re-igniting my insanity by pointing out that Bright Lights is the ultimate H/G song. If there's one person to be blamed for all these craziness, it would be her. Thanks to my fellow PHP Order of H/G witches (also known as the Unholy Quartet), Mea (Coffeebean), Cai (Galena), and Jenna Mae. Thanks for the beta, the tears, the craziness, the wickedness—for everything. I hope you guys won't kill me now. :)
To my evil witch sister and partner-in-crime, Mea, my heartfelt thanks for everything—the brainstorming, the crazy late night YM chats and text messages, the London tube stations and parks research, the pic, the bawling, guilt-driven and miserable Boy-Who-Lived, the beta, the help in making me a ruthless serial killer, the laughter and tears, the Kleenex, the unwavering support, and for almost everything! I couldn't have done this without you! *hugs*
Kudos to KC for the beta! And to everyone who read and reviewed, a million thanks to all of you!