Disclaimer: Not mine. Harry and Ginny’s dialogue lifted shamelessly from HBP.
The flames and smoke disappeared to reveal a gleaming white tomb. Ginny’s tears had disappeared too. She barely noticed the centaurs’ arrows as she steeled herself for the conversation she’d been dreading for days.
She’d seen the reluctance in his eyes every time they separated over the past few days, and Ginny knew. He’d been clinging to her presence because he knew he was going to have to give it up. The realization had nearly crippled her, and as their time together drained away, Ginny’s resolve to let him go had almost left her.
But now, as she felt his eyes on her, she dredged up the strength she still had and turned to meet his gaze. Her face determined, Ginny met his eyes and knew that they understood each other perfectly. She couldn’t tell him not to do it or to be careful, because she could not expect him to do anything less than finish what had started so many years ago.
‘Ginny, listen…’ he said very quietly. ‘I can’t be involved with you anymore. We’ve got to stop seeing each other. We can’t be together.’
Her mouth twisted into a painful smile. ‘It’s for some stupid, noble reason, isn’t it?’
‘It’s been like…like something out of someone else’s life, these last few weeks with you. But I can’t…we can’t…I’ve got to do things alone now.’
Ginny’s eyes were remarkably clear as she watched him struggling to explain.
‘Voldemort uses people his enemies are close to. He’s already used you as bait once, and that was just because you’re my best friend’s sister. Think how much danger you’ll be in if we keep this up. He’ll know, he’ll find out. He’ll try and get to me through you.’
She had to make her feelings clear to him before he finished. ‘What if I don’t care?’ she said fiercely.
‘I care,’ Harry said, his eyes searching her face. ‘How do you think I’d feel if this was your funeral…and it was my fault…’
Ginny couldn’t hold his gaze anymore. She turned her face to the lake and opened her heart to him one more time.
‘I never really gave up on you. Not really. I always hoped…Hermione told me to get on with life, maybe go out with some other people, relax around you, because I never used to be able to talk when you were in the room, remember? And she thought you might take a bit more notice if I was a bit more – myself.’
‘Smart girl, that Hermione. I just wish I’d asked you sooner. We could have had ages…months…years maybe…’
Ginny could hear the regret in his voice and felt it matched by what was in her heart, but she forced it down because right now he needed her strength.
‘But you’ve been too busy saving the Wizarding World,’ she said, half-laughing. ‘Well…I can’t say I’m surprised. I knew this would happen in the end. I knew you wouldn’t be happy unless you were hunting Voldemort.’ She turned to look at him. She wanted to capture his face in her mind forever. ‘Maybe that’s why I like you so much.’
Harry looked into her eyes, and Ginny could feel his determination waver. She knew he needed to distance himself from her because he could not change his mind. She watched as he stood up and walked away from her.
Ginny bowed her head; the tears she’d kept in check for Harry were fighting their way out now.
‘He’s done it, hasn’t he?’ Ron asked.
Ginny looked up to find Ron and Hermione both watching her closely. She nodded, unwilling to speak the truth.
‘He only wants to keep you safe, Ginny.’ Hermione said. ‘He cares too much to willingly put you in danger.’
Ginny turned away from them, her eyes needing to see Harry. They narrowed when she saw him talking to Scrimgeour. The minister did not look pleased with what Harry was saying. She watched them for a moment longer and then turned back to Ron and Hermione.
‘Go to him. He needs you both.’
‘He’s going to need you too, Ginny.’ Ron said quietly.
‘I know, and I’ll be there when he does. But right now, he needs to know his two best friends are going to be by his side no matter what he does.’
Hermione took Ginny’s hand as Ron leaned forward to pat her on the knee. Ginny didn’t speak, but gestured wordlessly towards Harry. She could wait for comfort, but he needed their support now.
She watched as Ron and Hermione hurried to catch up with Harry, passing a very disgruntled looking Scrimgeour on the way. They caught up with him under the shelter of the beech tree where she and Harry had spent so many happy afternoons together.
Ginny studied the three of them already deep in conversation. They were a unit, much stronger together than they ever were apart, and as much as she longed to join them, she knew it wasn’t her place to intrude.
Ginny stood and turned back to the castle, wanting to be alone, not trusting her strength to hold out much longer. Her heart had been slowly breaking ever since she knew what Harry was going to do, but the reality of it had been far more wrenching than what she’d been prepared for. The uncertainty of her future with Harry was growing more oppressive by the second.
She hurried across the grounds, desperate for solitude, but as she reached the castle steps her mind returned to the recent night when she led a stunned Harry by the hand through those doors. And she realized that she had been his lifeline that night, pulling him in from drowning in an ocean of confusion and grief.
It was ironic, she thought. The Boy-Who-Lived. The Chosen One. The Hero of the Wizarding World. The One who had saved her. He needed to be saved more than any of them, and that fell to her, she realized. She had to save him, so he could save the world.
Ginny climbed the castle steps and turned around. She could see Harry across the grounds, and a new determination flooded through her. She wasn’t going to let him go so easily. He would need more than Ron’s loyalty and Hermione’s intellect before this was over. He would need her love as well, and nothing, not even Harry himself, was going to stop her from giving it.