AUTHOR’S WARNING/NOTE/DISCLAIMER: This fic is a Valentine’s Day story for the rest of us. It is guaranteed 100% anti-fluff. If you are a sensitive H/G shipper, you may want to think twice before reading. That said, although this story is A/U, its position in the canon is post GoF. This was written a couple of years ago, before Ginny’s character was fully developed and before we knew Harry was not supposed to throw dark curses. It was originally intended for Gryffindor Tower’s last Valentine’s Day contest… Heh. (Author grins evilly.)
I would like to thank my betas, Nancy and Sonic Dale; Nancy for the positive feedback and encouragement and Dale for all the hard work he did editing when he was just supposed to be skimming and giving a go/no-go. I would also like to thank Promethean Alchemist for the Brit pick and further encouragement. This goes out with heartfelt best wishes to everyone for a Happy Valentine’s Day, especially Jamie and Nicole.
Ginny stared at the image in her vanity’s mirror and watched as a few more tears fell from her eyes. She examined the image again, the horror of everything that had happened still fresh even though it was almost a year later. She blinked more tears out of her eyes and continued to stare into the mirror. She looked so different from how she used to look — it was a wonder she recognized herself at all.
After all, nobody else did anymore, except those in the Death Eater circle.
She stared at her face. Where once she had looked into pretty brown eyes, she now looked into the yellow, cat-like eyes that stared out from the mirror. Her once bright red hair was now black and her pink lips had been changed to black as well.
Freckles no longer dotted her face because she rarely if ever went out into the sunlight. It just made the depression worse. It was best just to hide, and truth be told, she wished she were dead.
She cried some more and struggled to remember how she had fallen so far. Only a year had passed since she left Hogwarts. So much had happened in just a year.
She tried to blame Harry for it all, but deep down she knew it was her own fault. She had been tired of being pushed away by Harry. He had tried to explain it to her, how he planned to become an Auror and hunt Voldemort down,and that due to the path he was on it was best that no one got close to him. It would just give Voldemort more ammunition to use against him and he didn’t want her to get hurt.
She knew he was probably right, but she refused to accept it. To goad Harry, she had started dating Draco Malfoy. She plunged deeper and deeper into a relationship with him because it suited her purposes. She was mad at Harry, and she was mad at the world, and she wanted to get even with both of them.
How could I have been so stupid, she thought.
She had lost everything: her friends, her family, everything that mattered most in her life. Ron and Hermione had gone on to follow Harry and become Aurors. Together the three of them were almost unstoppable. Almost. Hermione had become pregnant, went into hiding, and left Harry and Ron to carry on.
To get even with Harry, she had become a Death Eater. Her anger at him had known no bounds, but all it had taken were a few missions and she knew she had made a mistake. Her conscience never let her forget.
From then on, she avoided the torturing and the killing as much as she could. She was grateful to God that she had never been forced to kill anyone. At least, not yet.
Apparently Voldemort had sensed that, too. When the circle gathered again, he asked her about her loyalty. He demanded proof. She told him she would submit to anything he wanted. After she agreed, Voldemort performed a curse on her that left her looking somewhat like an animal. He asked her if she wanted to go back on her word and had provided a mirror for her to review what he had done to her.
It almost killed her to say no, but then again, if she hadn't agreed, Voldemort would have killed her. At that point in time, she still wanted to live. Now, she wished she had said yes. At least that would have spared her the pain, for this life she was leading was a living death.
Draco wouldn’t touch her anymore, not that he ever had done much of that anyway. He told her that she would be more powerful if she remained pure. Yeah, right, thought Ginny. She saw the loathing in his eyes every time he set eyes on and she knew about all the affairs. Theirs was a marriage in name only.
“Ginny,” barked Draco, “quit your bawling and get ready.”
Ginny sighed again and closed the enormous book that was open on her lap. It was the most complete work on dark curses that she knew of and she had pulled it from the manor’s library. It had confirmed her worst fear. The only thing that could free her from her curse was the kiss of her true love — whoever that was, and it was not like anyone would kiss her anymore, anyway.
“Come on, hurry it up,” commanded Draco as he looked at Ginny from across the room. “It’s the most important mission yet.” He grinned as he saw the curious look on her face. “We’re going to kill Neville Longbottom and take out his family, too. We’re going to remind those weaklings who’s in charge.”
“Neville?” asked Ginny, almost laughing.
“Yes, Neville,” replied Draco curtly. “While you’ve been sitting there and feeling sorry for yourself for the past year, word is that Neville’s been working in conjunction with Dumbledore and the Ministry to develop a means of resisting the Avada Kedavra.”
Ginny sat up in surprise.
“And we’ve been tasked by the Dark Lord with taking him out before he finishes. Now get moving or there will be hell to pay.”
“Did it work, sir?” asked Harry as he stood in front of Dumbledore’s desk. Harry held a commanding presence in his black senior auror’s robes with the badge of the MLES displayed over the right side of his chest. The only thing looking amiss was the haunted look in his eyes and a touch of gray that was beginning to show in his hair, despite his only being twenty years old.
Ron Weasley stood by his side, attired in the same black robes, displaying the same badge. His presence was also commanding, and like Harry he had a haunted look in his eyes, but his hair was even grayer.
Then again, Harry didn’t have to go on every mission worrying that he might have to kill his little sister. As Harry spoke, Ron was wondering if it had been the right thing to do, marrying Hermione as he had in the middle of the greatest wizarding war in several decades, although he wouldn’t have changed it if he could. Hermione meant too much to him.
Dumbledore smiled. “As the Americans are rather fond of saying, they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.”
Ron shook his head. “As if Neville could ever do anything like that,” he commented. He started as he felt Harry’s elbow catch him in the side.
“He’s doing a sight more than anyone else would,” said Harry quickly, “allowing us to use him and his family as bait for Death Eaters. Could you imagine what they would do to him if they found out all of this was a ruse?”
Ron shivered. “Sorry, Harry,” he muttered.
“Gentlemen, since you do not have much time, I would suggest you get cracking,” said Dumbledore.
“Yes, sir,” said Harry and Ron in unison.
“Good luck, Harry,” said Dumbledore as he stood up from behind his desk and walked around as if to shake his and Ron’s hands. Instead of just shaking Harry’s hand, however, he embraced him in a fatherly manner. Lately it had become a common practice, as he never knew if the current mission would be the last time he saw them.
The war had changed so many things and Dumbledore was careful to let those he loved know it as often as possible. “Good luck, Ron,” said Dumbledore as he embraced Ron. “Goodbye and God speed,” he said as he watched them leave.
“Harry, how much time do we have to prepare?” asked Ron as they descended the spiral staircase.
“A few hours at the most,” answered Harry. “We’re going out first to make sure they don’t get the jump on us. Moody is going to follow with a tactical team as soon as he can get one ready.”
Ron nodded as the two of them strode quickly through the halls of Hogwarts, not bothering to notice the curious stares of the students as they passed by, cloaks billowing behind them due to their rapid pace.
Harry listened to their boots as they clicked on the hallway floor. Neither he nor Ron enjoyed being at Hogwarts anymore. It brought back too many memories of the mistakes they had both made. It hurt Harry the most because he had always considered Hogwarts his home, but now, every time he went back, he was haunted by the images of a little red-headed girl who had gone bad all because of him.
Or at least, that’s what she claimed, not that it made any difference to Harry. He still blamed himself, and the sooner I'm away from Hogwarts, the better, he thought, wondering if the dreams would haunt him again.
Harry looked at Ron and saw the strained expression on his face. He knew what he was going to ask. He had heard it often enough before. “Don’t worry Ron,” he answered. “I won’t kill her if I can avoid it,” he added, thinking if she behaved like she normally did, it would be easy.
“Thanks, mate,” answered Ron as they started the long journey out of the castle to the Apparition point.
Harry paused in his thoughts for a moment. Ginny’s behavior as a Death Eater had always been strange. He wondered if her conscience had gotten to her at last. She always held back from the torturing and the murders, participating only in the general mayhem. He wondered for a moment if her heart was really in it, and then he remembered what she now looked like. ‘The Bride of Voldemort’ is what the rest of the field agents in the MLES called her, although not to Ron’s face — nor his.
Harry shuddered as he thought about it, wondering what could have possessed her to do that. He dismissed her from his thoughts quickly as they reached the front doors and went out onto the castle grounds. He had other things he needed to worry about.
“Harry, where are they?” demanded Neville, pacing nervously in the parlor of his small cottage.
“I don’t know,” repeated Harry for the umpteenth time, himself beginning to get nervous. So far, he and Ron were the only two Aurors on site and this trap had been baited too well for Voldemort to send just a Death Eater or two. He quite expected half the inner circle to show up, and maybe even more. After all, that was the whole point of this exercise.
He was becoming just as nervous as Neville, and he didn’t have a wife and a baby to worry about. He looked at the clock above the mantle. It showed eight o’clock. They should have been here hours ago.
He stood up from the couch and looked at Ron, who was seated in a squishy armchair next to the fire. “Ron,” he said to get his partner’s attention.
“Yeah, what?” said Ron, his attention being diverted from whatever it was he was thinking about.
“We’ve got to take our positions,” said Harry. He looked at Neville. “Get your family into the cellar and have the Portkey at hand.”
Neville nodded nervously and went to herd his family into the cellar.
“Let’s go,” said Harry, looking at Ron. He pulled his wand out of his robes, ever mindful of Moody’s demand of CONSTANT VIGILANCE, and disappeared with a loud pop.
Ron pulled his wand out as well and an instant later he vanished likewise.
Ron sighed, looking out over the berm just inside the woods near Neville’s house. It was going to be a dull watch until the Death Eaters showed up, but then he was used to that and didn’t complain. He and Harry were situated in an earthen embankment, which would be useful for deflecting Unforgivable curses and allowing them the initial element of surprise. He started as he heard the distinct sound of several people Apparating into the area. He looked at the front porch of Neville’s house, the designated Apparition point for the tactical team. No one was there. He immediately nudged Harry, who was dozing at the bottom of the berm.
“Looks like we’ve got company,” said Ron dryly.
Harry blinked the sleep from his eyes. “Am I safe in assuming it’s not the tactical team?”
Ron nodded nervously and pointed in the direction of the forest where he had heard the popping noises.
“Bloody hell,” muttered Harry as he watched a dozen or more Death Eaters begin to march out of the forest. He shuddered, thinking about Neville’s family and the lack of suitable protection that the MLES had promised them. He looked at Ron. “Are you ready?”
“Yeah,” replied Ron weakly.
“All right, then, let’s go.” They stepped out of the berm together, and pointing their wands at the Death Eaters shouted “Stupefy!” at the tops of their lungs.
The first two Death Eaters dropped as Ron's and Harry’s spells hit home. They got two more before the other Death Eaters began to regroup and fire hexes in their direction. Ron and Harry dived behind the berm for protection. They took turns covering each other and taking shots at the Death Eaters, but despite their good marksmanship the number of Death Eaters grew, many more Apparating into the forest and storming toward Neville’s house.
“Dammit,” muttered Harry as he watched them get closer and closer. He covered Ron as Ron stood up to take another shot. Harry took out another Death Eater who was focusing on Ron, but there was nothing he could do about the remaining two. “Imperio!” he heard the curse and watched as the beam hit Ron.
“Harry,” screamed Ron, “they’re trying control me. They want me to kill you,” warned Ron as his wand began to move from the Death Eaters to Harry.
“Throw it off, Ron,” screamed Harry as he jumped up to take a shot. In an instant, he realised there was only one way through the two shielding charms protecting the Death Eater firing the Imperius at Ron. Harry knew he would be in trouble with the Ministry of Magic, but with Ron’s life and the lives of Neville’s family at stake he didn’t care anymore. “Avada Kedavra!” he screamed, expecting a brilliant flash of green to take out the Death Eater attempting to control Ron.
The curse didn’t quite work as Harry had expected it to, for the next thing he saw was a great explosion firing from his wand. He stood watching numbly as the fire consumed everything in its path, except for the one Death Eater toward the rear. He watched as the fire swirled around the lone figure, leaving it untouched.
As the flames dissipated, Harry continued to watch, stunned not only by the devastation he had wrought, but also by the actions of the sole surviving Death Eater who slowly lowered her hood and proceeded to stare at Harry. Although he could not see her yellow eyes, even at this distance he could see the unmistakable black hair that told him it was Ginny Malfoy, or at least, what had been Ginny Malfoy. He watched as she suddenly seemed to come to her senses, threw her hood back on, and Apparated away.
Harry quickly turned his attention to Ron as he heard the moaning coming from the other side of the berm. “Are you okay?” he asked as he rushed over to where Ron had collapsed.
“Yeah, I‘m fine,” answered Ron. “Harry,” he started timidly, “what in Merlin’s name have you done?” he asked as he surveyed the devastation in front of him.
Harry swallowed nervously. “Erm, I don’t really know,” he said, shaking his head in awe at the power the curse had displayed.
“The Ministry’s not going to be happy about this,” said Ron nervously.
“Piss on the Ministry,” answered Harry, still fuming that the tactical team had never made it.
Several hours later…
“Merlin’s beard, Harry, what in the name of nine hells happened here?” demanded Moody as he and several other Aurors walked through the burnt out field, beyond the charred bodies and up to Ron and Harry. The two were tiredly sitting on top of the berm with dazed looks on their faces.
“Wish we knew,” muttered Ron, not bothering to get up.
“Moody, where in the bloody hell have you been?” demanded Harry, ignoring Moody’s question.
“I’m sorry Harry,” replied Moody sincerely. “The Ministry was attacked just as we were preparing to leave. It looks like it must have been some kind of diversion, but judging from the looks of the Death Eaters we either captured or killed, Voldemort must have sent half the inner circle after us. And Harry,” he added with a gleam in his one good eye, “we got them all.”
“All of them?” asked Harry, astounded by the news.
“Yep, all of them,” he stated, quite pleased with the performance of the tactical team. “They Apparated right in front of the tactical team as we were about to Apparate out. Needless to say, they were surprised. Besides, I always figured you could have Neville’s family Portkey out and you and Ron could have come back to the Ministry.”
Harry and Ron grinned sheepishly. They had both forgotten about the Portkey after the battle had started.
“Well, we know where you can find the other half of the inner circle,” said Ron in a sarcastic fashion as he indicated the field where all the dead bodies lay.
“Damn,” muttered Moody as he turned around to survey the devastation again.
“All except for Ginny,” muttered Harry to himself.
“What do you mean Potter killed them all with one curse?” screamed Voldemort at Ginny, who was currently prostrating herself at Voldemort’s feet desperately trying to prevent a repeat of what had happened the last time someone had brought him bad news.
“Which curse did he use?” he demanded, getting madder and louder at the same time.
“He used the Avada Kedavra, my lord,” said Ginny, trembling with fear.
“That’s not possible!” screamed Voldemort. “I’ve used that curse hundreds of times myself and have never experienced those results.” He stopped and looked at her carefully. “Unless, of course, you are lying and you assisted Potter in this.”
“No, My Lord,” cringed Ginny. “I would never betray you.”
Voldemort always suspected that he had a spy in his midst, even when there wasn’t any evidence to suggest it. There certainly wasn’t any at this particular moment, but in his mind, given this situation, a little bit of paranoia usually paid great dividends. He stared at Ginny for a moment, musing on his options.
“Imperio!” thundered Voldemort without warning.
Ginny stopped as she felt herself get lost in a mental fog. She heard him asking her questions, something about there being more than one way to skin a cat, and Ginny wondered to herself why anyone would want to skin so precious a creature as a cat. She told him everything that had happened during the mission, leaving nothing out. As she finished, she felt the curse lessen.
“Well, well. It seems as if you have been telling the truth,” muttered Voldemort. “Since we seem to know nothing about this, it would do to have the subject researched.” He stopped and looked back at Ginny. “You will go through Lucius’ library and find out why the Avada Kedavra exhibited the potency it did for Harry Potter. And if you fail me…” he left off menacingly.
Ginny cringed, knowing what was coming.
“Crucio!” he thundered.
Ginny felt the pain wracking her body as she tried desperately to keep a hold on her mind. After a few minutes it stopped and she fell to the floor. She heard the laughter as Voldemort Disapparated out of the dungeons of Malfoy Manor. Ginny sat up and tried to stop the tears that had been coming since the onset of the Cruciatus curse. After finding that she could not stop them, she just let herself cry.
Ginny looked up from her hands to see the two large eyes of a timid house elf staring straight at her.
“Are you alright?”
“No, Toby, I’m not,” cried Ginny through her tears. “Can you Apparate me into the bedroom, please?” she asked. “I’m too weak to walk or to Apparate myself.”
“Yes, my kind lady,” replied the house elf, who had always enjoyed the good treatment that Ginny had given them — as opposed to the rest of the Malfoys.
“If you only knew,” muttered Ginny through her tears, hating herself.
“You is forgetting, my Lady, but I already does,” whispered the house elf respectfully.
Toby snapped his fingers and the dungeon disappeared with a flash. In an instant, Ginny found herself lying down on her bed, a warm cup of hot chocolate on top of the nightstand next to her. Ignoring the hot chocolate, she closed her eyes and muttered, “Thank you, Toby,” before allowing herself go to sleep.
“Harry,” said Professor Dumbledore, looking quite confused, “if I had heard that story from anyone else, I daresay I would have called them a liar, but since it was you, and Ron can confirm it, I know better.” He sighed and shifted nervously in his seat behind the large desk in his office at Hogwarts. “The worst thing about it is that I haven’t a clue as to why the curse behaved that way,” he finished, looking at Harry first and then at Ron. He watched as the two young men sighed in unison. “Ron, I think we’re going to have to borrow Hermione for a while.”
“But sir, she’s in hiding,” he stated.
“Rest easy, Ron,” said Dumbledore comfortingly. “She will be here at Hogwarts with myself and Professors Lupin and Snape to watch over her.”
Ron nodded silently in agreement.
Dumbledore smiled as he saw Ron agree. “We’re definitely going to need her help if we want to get to the bottom of this.” He then pulled out a piece of parchment and began scribbling on it with an eagle feather quill. As he finished, he muttered a quick spell over the parchment, turning it into a Portkey, and rolled it up. “Fawkes, I need a favour,” said Dumbledore as he looked up at his phoenix.
Fawkes perked up as he heard Dumbledore address him. He flew off his perch and landed in front of Dumbledore, knowing that he would want that letter delivered as expeditiously as possible.
Dumbledore tied the letter to Fawkes. “Please take that to Hermione for me,” he stated. He watched as the great bird took off and made its way out of one of the upper windows that was open to the sky.
Hermione was enjoying being back in the Hogwarts library, although she did find it rather strange to be allowed to use the Restricted Section to her heart's desire. More than this, she found delight in being needed again. Being in hiding was miserable. She wanted to be back in the action.
“Oh dear,” muttered Hermione as she re-read the passage about the original specifications for the Avada Kedavra. Very upset over what she had found, she read it a third time. It still said exactly the same thing she thought it had said the first time she read it.
“Bloody hell!” she shrieked, causing some nearby students to drop their books and look over at her to see what was the matter. She marked the page with a silk ribbon, slammed the book shut and ran out of the library over to Dumbledore’s office. “Butterbeer,” she whispered to the gargoyle, which stood aside to allow her through. She ran up the moving stairs and pounded her fists on the entry doors.
“Come in,” she heard a pleasant voice say as she impatiently waited for the doors to part.
“I’ve got it,” announced Hermione as she came in and plopped down in one of the chairs in front of Dumbledore’s desk, very out of breath from having run all the way from the library. She opened her book and looked up and noticed Ron and Harry for the first time, staring at her. She slammed the book shut on impulse.
Dumbledore smiled. “Well, what have you got for us?” he asked.
“Erm,” muttered Hermione, well aware of what the information she had might do to Harry. “I have to discuss this with you in private, sir,” she told Dumbledore, a bit unsure of herself.
A surprised look moved across Dumbledore’s face. He looked at Harry and Ron and nervously asked them to give himself and Hermione a few minutes alone. He saw Hermione closely watching them leave and noticed she didn’t begin speaking until she heard the doors swing shut.
Hermione opened the ancient book to the page she had marked. She turned it around and placed it on Dumbledore’s desk so he could read it if he wished. “Professor Dumbledore, it states in the passage about the original properties which were assigned to the curse: if the curse is ever used in the presence of the user’s true love, the curse will assume that it is being used in a worst case scenario and will act to kill everyone within range who has malicious intent toward the user and his or her true love.
Hermione’s findings had caught Dumbledore completely off-guard. He cleared his throat to allow himself some time to think. “Hermione,” said Dumbledore, “are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Yes, sir,” she replied hesitantly. “Ginny Malfoy is Harry’s true love.”
“Oh dear,” muttered Dumbledore as a sad look came across his face.
“We can’t tell Harry, sir,” implored Hermione. “It would destroy him. I mean, he already has enough guilt hanging over him. This would just make it worse.”
“Hermione,” said Dumbledore, “I thoroughly agree with you. For the meantime, just tell Ron and Harry that you were wrong and continue on with your research as if you had found nothing. Agreed?”
“Thank you, sir,” said Hermione, a wave or relief coming over her.
Ginny woke up with a start.
It was eerie enough as it normally was waking up in Malfoy Manor, but this time it was worse, much worse. Draco and Lucius had been killed in the botched raid on Neville Longbottom’s cottage and now she was the only human being occupying the enormous manor. And in another week or two, she might be dead as well.
Thoughts kept running around in her head like a dog chasing its tail. She looked at the nightstand and saw another cup of hot chocolate. Taking it, she found the cup fresh and the temperature warm, but not steaming hot. She took a few sips and started to cry again. Tears began to stream down her cheeks as her sobbing grew louder and louder. Ginny looked up as she heard a loud popping noise and stared into the large orbs of her house elf.
“Lady Malfoy, what is wrong?” the house elf asked.
“I want to go home, Toby,” cried Ginny.
“But - Ladyship is home,” replied Toby.
“No, I’m not,” sobbed Ginny. “I want to be back in my room at the Burrow. I want to be sixteen years old and I want to start over again.”
Toby looked at her with sadness in his eyes, not knowing what to do for her. Of all the people at Malfoy Manor that he had served, she was by far the strangest. Strange in a good way, that is, for to be nice at the manor was to be considered abnormal. He had often wondered why she had married the master’s son and what she was doing here, but house elves weren’t permitted to ask, so he held his tongue. Although this time he would not.
“Lady Malfoy,” said the elf, “why isn’t you going home then?”
Ginny sniffled. “I’m not sure they would want me back after everything I've done.”
“Has you ever asked them?” wondered the elf.
“No, Toby, I haven’t,” answered Ginny.
Toby looked her in the eyes. “I thinks her Ladyship should ask,” he stated. He continued to look into her eyes and noticed the tears got worse as he spoke. He thought the better of it and decided to say no more. “Would my Lady like some breakfast perhaps?”
Ginny shook her head. “No, I’m not hungry,” she answered.
Toby took another look at her and Disapparated.
Ginny stared at the wall and continued to cry. After a while, she remembered that she needed to research the Avada Kedavra and she slowly stopped crying, remembering that if she didn’t get it done, Voldemort just might put her out of her misery. She thought about it for a moment and then wondered if there might be a way home. She stood up and put her morning robe on. Not bothering with anything else, she left her bedroom and went down to the library.
Ginny made her way through the library quickly. After all of her research on the curse that had afflicted her, she had a pretty good feeling that she knew which work she was after. She stopped in front of an empty-appearing bookcase and pulled a key out of her robes. She unlocked the front doors and opened them up.
“Lady Ginevra Malfoy,” she said. “I would like to request the work, Origins of the Dark Curses, by Hector Malfoy.” She waited for a second and smiled grimly as the volume materialized in front of her. “Figures it was written by a Malfoy,” she muttered as she lifted it out and took it to one of the reading tables. She laid it on the table and sat down, still tired and sore from the Cruciatus curse Voldemort had placed upon her yesterday.
“Toby,” she called out sweetly.
Pop. “Yes, My Lady,” answered the elf.
“Be a dear and please bring me a tea service, would you?”
“Yes, My Lady,” answered the elf as he promptly Disapparated and then reappeared with a tea service for Ginny. With a minimum of fuss, he quickly poured the first cup of tea and placed it next to the book. He shivered as he saw the title of the large tome she had laid on the table.
“That will be all, Toby,” said Ginny absentmindedly as she opened the book to its index and began her research. It was just as she thought. There was a complete description of the Avada Kedavra, how it was put together, how and why it worked, and special functions of the curse.
She quickly turned to page 1037 and began reading. She found the reading to be rather dull and uninteresting and it continued that way for several dozen pages until she got to the Special Functions section. There was only one header, and it was titled ‘The Performance of the Avada Kedavra in the Presence of the User’s True Love’.
Ginny started for a moment, the header catching her completely by surprise. As she read through the section, her jaw hung open and her eyes got wider and wider. She reread the section one more time just to make sure it said what she thought it did. As the realization hit her, she began to cry again.
Toby looked up at the clock in the kitchen. It was showing eight-thirty and still Lady Malfoy had not ordered dinner. He made up his mind to go check on her, and snapped his fingers and disappeared from the kitchen. Upon entering the library, he found Ginny slumped over the same volume he had seen her reading from earlier, crying her heart out once again.
“What did My Lady find?” asked the elf, worried that the evil volume might have done something to her.
“Toby,” she whispered, not daring to believe it herself, “I may have just found a way home.”
Toby looked at her with tears in his eyes. “I is so happy for My Lady,” he said. “Promise you will not forget Toby and the rest of us?” he asked.
Ginny bent down and kissed the elf on the head. “Never,” she whispered, her voice strained from the crying she had done. She was considering how to get an owl to Professor Dumbledore to ask for help. She was worried Voldemort might be watching her owls and might have them intercepted if she sent one out. Then it struck her — all the trouble Harry had had with Dobby. She smiled. “Toby,” she whispered.
“Yes, my lady.”
“I need your help.”
Dumbledore stared at the letter in his hands. Ginny Malfoy, a member of Voldemort’s inner circle, wanted to defect — and she promised she could lead them to Voldemort if they wished. There was only one thing she asked for in return: a kiss from Harry Potter. Dumbledore looked down at the house elf, who seemed to have a much better understanding of the situation than one would normally expect from a house elf.
“Do you have an answer for My Lady, most honorable Headmaster and Mugwump?” inquired the elf.
Dumbledore laughed at being referred to by that ancient title. His eyes twinkled as he answered the elf. “You may tell your mistress that all of her terms are agreed upon,” he answered, thinking he didn’t care if he had to cast an Imperious curse on Harry, Ginny would get her kiss.
“Thank you most honorable Headmaster and Mugwump. I will bring her to you tonight then. Please bear in mind that time is of the essence,” said the elf, who snapped his fingers and was gone in a puff of smoke.
“Fawkes,” said Dumbledore, “I need another favour.”
The great red and gold bird looked at Dumbledore with what could only be described as a smile, although how he did it, Dumbledore couldn’t fathom. Birds couldn’t smile, but then again, Fawkes wasn’t just a bird. He was a phoenix.
“I need you to go and get Harry Potter and bring him back to me,” said the old wizard. He watched as Fawkes nodded and took off, once again soaring through the open window near the high ceiling. Dumbledore chuckled to himself and hoped that Fawkes wouldn’t be too rough on Harry. After he had finished laughing, Dumbledore got up and headed out of his office to the library. He needed to have a talk with Hermione.
As he came back into his office with Hermione in tow, the first thing Dumbledore noticed was a rather bemused Fawkes, sitting on his perch looking rather proud of himself. Dumbledore grinned at the bird and in a moment he could see the reason the bird was looking so pleased with himself, for in front of his desk were seated two young Aurors looking not too much the worse for their journey through the air.
“I swear, Harry, that is the last time I hitch a ride with that buzzard,” muttered Ron. “Did you see how close he got us to that flying Muggle contraption? We could have been killed. And to top it off, the bloody bird passed it up. I tell you, we were damn lucky we were in a fog bank. Just imagine what the Muggles would have made of us.”
“Professor Dumbledore,” stated Harry as he rose on seeing Dumbledore enter the office.
Ron rose stiffly from his seat. “Morning, Professor Dumbledore,” he muttered, still put out by the phoenix ride.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” answered Dumbledore as he waved his wand and conjured up two more chairs and rearranged everything in a circle in front of his desk. “Please, be seated,” he said, indicating the chairs to everyone. He took a seat in the circle instead of his normal seat behind the desk and he sighed as he sat down. “I suppose you’re all wondering why I have gathered you here on such short notice.” He looked at their faces as they nodded in unison.
“I have received a letter from a member of Voldemort’s inner circle,” began Dumbledore. “This person has indicated to me that they wish to defect and that they can lead us to Voldemort if we so desire.”
Harry felt his heartbeat quicken.
“There is only one thing they are asking us for.”
The silence in between Dumbledore’s pauses was deafening as each of the Aurors sat on pins and needles.
Dumbledore turned his eyes on Harry. “She wants a kiss from Harry Potter.”
Harry blinked, not sure of what to make of what Dumbledore had just told him. He laughed nervously for a moment. “You must be joking, sir,” said Harry, not knowing what to think about it.
“I’m afraid not,” answered Dumbledore.
“Sir, this isn’t Ginny Malfoy we’re talking about, is it?” asked Harry.
“I’m afraid so,” said Dumbledore.
“Sir, what if this is another setup,” moaned Harry as he looked in Ron’s direction. Ron appeared to be just as confused as he was.
“Sir, with all due respect, how do you know that?” asked Hermione as she broke into the conversation.
Dumbledore cleared his throat, giving him time to put together his thoughts. “Hermione, it’s not a setup,” said Dumbledore quietly. “She had her message delivered to me by house elf. A house elf would never betray, Harry. If it were a setup, I would rather expect delivery of the message by owl. This tells me that she was worried about her letter being intercepted by Voldemort.”
“But what about the Imperious curse, sir?” asked Ron. “Couldn’t that have been used on the house elf?”
“No,” stated Hermione quickly. “House elves are magical creatures and are resistant to the Imperious curse.”
“Please,” said Dumbledore, holding his hands up motioning for silence. “Debate on this topic is moot. I have already given her our answer.”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione stopped bickering and turned to stare at Dumbledore.
“Harry,” said Dumbledore, “this is Ron’s little sister we’re talking about. If she is willing to come back over to our side, shouldn’t we take that chance?”
Harry swallowed nervously as he thought about the little girl he once risked his life to save. He thought about her mother and father and how much she had hurt them. He nodded in agreement, finally having made up his mind to take the chance.
Dumbledore turned his gaze to Ron. “What say you, Ron?”
Ron nodded in agreement. “If Harry’s willing to chance it, then so am I, sir.”
“And you, Hermione?” asked Dumbledore as he turned his attention to her.
Hermione nodded, daring to hope that she might get her friend back.
“Well then, now that we’re all agreed,” began Dumbledore as he turned his gaze back upon Harry, “I think there is something that Harry and I need to discuss alone. Ron, Hermione, would you please excuse the two of us?”
“Yes, sir,” muttered Ron as he rose and went to Hermione’s side.
“Are you going to tell him?” asked Hermione in a low voice.
Harry watched as Dumbledore nodded. He wasn’t sure if Hermione looked relieved or became more agitated. Sometimes it was hard to tell. He continued watching as Ron took her hand and led her out of Dumbledore’s office.
Ron waited until the spiral stairway closed behind them before stopping and looking Hermione in the eyes.
“Hermione, what’s Dumbledore going to tell Harry?” he demanded.
Hermione sighed and swallowed nervously, not sure if she should be telling this to Ron. “He’s going to tell him that Ginny is his true love.”
“What? How? But Malfoy?” sputtered Ron in rapid succession.
“Ron, remember that spectacular display of the Avada Kedavra that Harry produced during your last mission?” asked Hermione.
“Yeah, of course I do. Who could bloody well forget that?” answered Ron numbly.
“Dumbledore brought me back to Hogwarts to research why that happened. In the last several hundred years of recorded wizard history, no such incident has ever been documented. I had to consult books that were over a thousand years old to even find a mention of that occurrence in conjunction with the Avada Kedavra. The final source where I did find a description was a book that was a copy of a copy of a book purported to be five thousand years old. As it turns out, there is a default in the Avada Kedavra that is used to protect loved ones. It is a leftover from less civilized times where witches and wizards had to use the Unforgivables just in order to survive. This default assumes that whenever the Avada Kedavra is used in the presence of the user’s true love it is being used as a last resort, and the curse reacts accordingly.”
“You mean it kills ruddy everything,” commented Ron, remembering what Harry’s curse had done to the Death Eaters.
“Yes, and the reason Ginny survived the curse is because she is Harry’s true love,” continued Hermione.
“Poor Harry,” muttered Ron as he thought about the mess Ginny had made of her life these past three years.
“I hope Ginny makes it,” said Hermione sadly.
“Me, too,” added Ron as he hugged his wife.
Dumbledore waited until he heard the doors to his office slam shut. At that moment, he got up and made his way over to one of the many cabinets that lined his office and opened up a door. He pulled out a bottle and a pair of brandy snifters and brought them back to the chairs where he and Harry were seated. As he sat down, he pulled out his wand and changed the chairs recently vacated by Ron and Hermione into small tables. After pocketing his wand, he pulled the cork out of the bottle and poured a goodly measure into both snifters. He passed one to Harry and watched as Harry gingerly set it down on the little table now next to his chair.
“Ahem,” said Dumbledore as he cleared his throat after his first swig sip of cognac. He wasn’t sure if it was a notice to Harry that he was ready to begin talking again or if it was a notice to his brain to begin thinking again. “Harry, you must pardon me for my total ineptness in what I am about to do, for I have never had to tell anyone what I am about to tell you.”
Harry looked at Dumbledore, rather surprised by his admission of inadequacy.
Dumbledore chuckled as he noticed the look that came across Harry’s face. “Harry, I rather feel like it was forty years ago when I was just promoted to Headmaster. Anyway,” resumed Dumbledore after another round of subdued laughter, “the point I need to make is no laughing matter.” He began to appear serious again. “I suppose the best way to tell you about it is to be forthright.”
He stared at Harry with the most penetrating gaze Harry had ever seen.
“Harry, Ginny Malfoy is your true love.” Dumbledore watched him as Harry's mouth moved, but no sound came out. After a few minutes, Harry finally managed to string together a coherent sentence.
“But sir,” stammered Harry, “how … can that be?” he asked, knowing that if he couldn’t shake Dumbledore’s argument that the guilt could haunt him forever. Harry took a deep draught of the brandy as he awaited Dumbledore’s reply.
“Hermione has been doing research on the Avada Kedavra ever since your overwhelming use of it against the Death Eaters at Neville’s cottage. She is the one who first brought the information to me. It seems that long ago, when the Avada Kedavra was first created, the wizards who created it incorporated a safety which stipulated that whenever the curse was used in the presence of the true love of the user, it would assume a worst case scenario and react in order to preserve the lives of the user and the user’s true love.”
Harry swallowed nervously, vividly remembering the overwhelming power of the curse and how it had preserved both him and Ron and, much to his surprise, Ginny as well. He looked up at Dumbledore. “So what do I do now?” he asked.
“Well, for starters you are going to have to kiss her,” replied Dumbledore, knowing full well how difficult that might be given Ginny’s current state. “I would suggest you prepare yourself for that as soon as you leave this office. She is due at nine o’clock tonight. Didn’t I mention that earlier?”
“No, you didn’t, sir,” replied Harry absentmindedly.
Dumbledore smiled. “Well, now you know.” He paused for a moment, as if sizing up Harry and then spoke again. “Harry,” he said and he paused as he noticed Harry staring off into space.
Harry looked up from the carpet. “What is it, sir?” he asked in a daze, still trying to get over the fact that Ginny was his true love.
“I would like to suggest that you give some thought to the future status of yourself and Ginny Malfoy,” he said carefully. “You do know that the two of you are being given a second chance, don’t you?”
Harry paused in his thoughts for a moment. “Well, to tell the truth, sir, I had never thought of it that way,” muttered Harry.
Dumbledore smiled. “Well, Harry,” he said, “there is no time like the present to begin thinking about it. Anyway, back to my point, you and Ginny are being given a second chance. It is a very rare thing to receive,” he continued. “Do not waste it.” He paused for a moment and the spoke again. “I would like to suggest that you take some time by yourself to think about it, Harry. Go up to the astronomy tower. It’s daytime. It should be unoccupied until late tonight.”
Harry looked at Dumbledore blankly. He was still trying to cope with the knowledge that Ginny was his true love. “I will sir,” he replied.
“Excellent, then,” muttered Dumbledore as he looked at one of the clocks on the wall. “I would suggest you get a move-on. She’s going to be here in thirteen hours or so.”
Harry drained the remaining brandy from his snifter and stood up. His resolve strengthened as he saw Dumbledore smiling confidently at him. “Thank you, sir,” he said.
“Oh, think nothing about it,” mumbled Dumbledore as he embraced Harry warmly. “Go down to the Great Hall,” he said as they disengaged. “Dobby is waiting with a plate of breakfast and a picnic basket. Take the basket up to the tower with you. If I need you earlier, I will send Fawkes after you.” He watched as Harry marched out of his office looking like a person who had been heavily drugged. He didn’t consider it a bad sign, though. He would have been much more worried if Harry had dismissed the idea of himself and Ginny altogether. Much more worried.
Harry sighed as he set the picnic basket down on of one of the stone benches at the top of the astronomy tower. He opened up one of the flaps and was pleased to find that Dobby, bless his heart, had packed enough for lunch and dinner and had included a bottle of brandy as well. A rather nice one judging by the name on the label, thought Harry, who promptly removed the bottle from the basket and poured a splash into a small snifter.
He put the bottle back into the basket and set the snifter on top of one of the stones of the tower wall. He looked out over the magnificent view that Hogwarts enjoyed, and looked at the lake and saw the giant squid lolling around in the shallows. He smiled as he saw Hagrid with a class of first years and some rather large eggs that he rather suspected to be dragon’s eggs. He looked over to the Forbidden Forest, wondering if he would catch a glimpse of Aragog or one of his offspring.
As Harry’s thoughts began to clear in the warm sunshine, he began thinking about Ginny again. He became sad as he remembered the cute little redhead always hiding around corners or stammering when he was near. She had grown up and become a woman and he had pointedly ignored her. He did it to protect her, or at least that’s what he told, himself. With all of the death he had experienced around him, it was a wonder he let anyone into his life at all.
He guessed that Ron and Hermione had gotten close to him before all the killings started again. Ginny had just come along at the wrong time.
Harry sighed again. “Was there ever a right time?” he heard himself softly mumble as he thought about Ron and Hermione.
Harry laughed to himself as he remembered the beginnings of their marriage. Ron had taken on the same viewpoint as Harry. He didn’t want to marry because they never knew if either one of them would return from the next mission. Hermione hadn’t taken kindly to that viewpoint and had informed Ron in no uncertain terms that life was a gift from God and that nobody knew when their number was up. Ron could be just as easily dead from a Quidditch accident or from choking on a half-chewed chocolate frog as he could from a Death Eater’s ambush.
Needless to say, Hermione won that argument. Harry began to think that perhaps she was right. He took a pause from his thoughts to swallow a sip of the brandy and look out over the valley once again. He smiled again as he watched Hedwig fly about his head, out for a morning stretch. She flew a lazy arc around him and then swooped down, headed for the valley below.
As his thoughts shifted back to Ginny, he felt mixed feelings began to well up within. On the one hand, he wanted to make it up to Ginny for what he had done to her. On the other hand, she had become a Death Eater of her own free will. He had been present in several battles when she had been there as well. The hate and resentment had been obvious.
Harry thought about it for a moment more, wondering if he could forgive her, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized that there was nothing to forgive. As much as she might have tried, and Harry wasn’t really sure if she had tried, Ginny had never hurt him or any of his friends.
The only person she had hurt was herself. Of course, she had hurt her parents and her brothers deeply, but her actions had left Harry unaffected.
He blinked a tear from his eye and wondered what kind of person she had become and if there was any way he could get the cheerful little redheaded girl back. At that moment, Harry resolved that he would try. He would give Ginny a reason to come back to their side and if nobody else forgave her, at least he would and he would make sure that she knew that.
Harry looked away from the twinkling stars, which had long since filled the night sky over Hogwarts as he heard the soft flutter of a bird land nearby. From the musical trilling, he assumed it was Fawkes. He saw he was right as his eyes landed on the phoenix, which was perched on the handle of his picnic basket.
“Is it time, Fawkes?” asked Harry. He watched as the bird nodded. “Okay, I’ll be right down,” said Harry as he reached to grab the basket and take it down the stairs with him. Fawkes took to the air just as Harry grabbed the basket. He surprised Harry when instead of flying back to Dumbledore’s office he landed on Harry’s shoulder and began trilling in his ear. Harry laughed as he felt the feathers tickle his face. It was an infectious laugh and soon Harry felt the gloom lift from his heart and a bright cheeriness and an odd sort of courage take its place. Harry petted Fawkes’ back feathers. “Thank you, Fawkes,” he whispered to the bird, fully aware of what the phoenix had done. He lifted the basket and made his way to the long flight of stairs that led down from the tower.
“How much longer until she is due, sir?”
“Oh, about another five minutes,” muttered Dumbledore absentmindedly as he reviewed a report on his desk.
“Do you mind if I ask you what you’re looking at,” said Harry, anxious for some conversation to make the time go by faster.
“Oh, not at all,” answered Dumbledore. “It’s just another request from Filch to reinstate the use of hanging students by manacles as punishment. He sends these to me at least once a term. I do wish he would grow up,” he sighed and yawned. He looked at one of the clocks on the wall again. “Oh dear,” he mumbled. “She's due sooner than I had said.”
Harry instinctively drew his wand from the pocket in his robes, his Auror’s training taking over as he pushed the hopefully romantic notions he had entertained during the afternoon out of his head. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Dumbledore had done the same. Notwithstanding the assurances of the house elf, Harry wanted to make sure they did not end up in an ambush.
Upon hearing the sound, Harry looked quickly away from Dumbledore and pointed his wand toward the noise. As his eyes took in the hooded figure with the house elf standing next to it, he saw a wand fall to the floor and heard it clatter against the stone. As it rolled toward him, he saw that it was Ginny’s wand.
“I’m unarmed,” said Ginny as her hands reached up to pull her hood down. She shook her head slightly to allow her long, black hair to rearrange itself and then looked in Harry's direction. She was hoping for something, what she really didn’t know, but at least some small indication of warmth that Harry might show her.
Harry stared at her face. The first things he noticed were the cat-like eyes against a field of white skin, which was punctuated by the black hair and the black lips. It was bad. He knew he could still kiss her, but somehow he wanted to do more. He wanted to make up for what he had done to her and he wanted to do something for the woman who would give Voldemort over into their hands.
He closed his eyes and remembered back to a time when Ginny had been the precious little sister that had a crush on the great Harry Potter and he smiled.
Oh, how is this going to work when he won’t even look at me? Ginny thought. She watched as he opened his eyes again and smiled at her. She trembled, the action surprising her. She stood nervously as Harry pocketed his wand and made his way over to her.
“Hello, Ginny,” said Harry sweetly, but nervously.
“H...Hello, Harry,” stammered Ginny.
“I see you still want a kiss from Harry Potter,” he said, taking her hands in his and drawing her closer.
He stared into her eyes, not really knowing why, but he supposed he was looking to see if the little redheaded girl was still in there somewhere.
Ginny closed her eyes, no longer able to meet Harry’s stare. As her eyelids closed, she felt the tears being squeezed out. She sobbed, no longer able to contain herself, and suddenly felt herself being drawn into Harry's embrace. She felt the warmth of his lips pressed against hers, enjoyed his amateurish attempt at a passionate kiss, and wondered what she had done to deserve it. She opened her eyes and saw a lock of red hair falling across her face. She gasped as she saw the wonder in Harry's face.
“Ginny, what happened?” asked Harry, delighted at seeing the reappearance of the little redheaded girl.
“Your kiss lifted the curse, Harry,” answered Ginny, barely able to speak for the joy she felt. She noticed that Harry had not fully released her and she took advantage of it by embracing him tightly once again. After a few moments, she looked up into his eyes. “Harry, can you ever forgive me?” she asked, the tears streaming down her face.
Harry smiled and gently wiped some of her tears away with his fingers. “Ginny, there is nothing to forgive,” he whispered softly. “I’m the one who needs to be forgiven,” he added as he noticed Ginny’s grip becoming tighter and he kissed her on top of her head. That was the only part of her he could reach since she had buried her face in his chest. He gently rubbed her back as her crying became worse. He held her tenderly and simply allowed her to cry.
It took a long time, but she finally stopped, looking up at Harry when she was through. He could have sworn he saw her mouth the words, “I love you,” but no sound came out. He kissed her again and had her take a seat on one of Dumbledore’s chairs, motioning for her house elf to sit next to her.
As Ginny sat down, Harry looked at Dumbledore and was pleased to see a look of pure joy on the old wizard’s face. He watched as Dumbledore winked at him just before he began to speak.
“Harry,” said Dumbledore softly, “when you have gotten Ginny sufficiently calmed down I want you to bring her to the hospital wing and let Madame Pomfrey have a look at her. I’m getting a vague sense that she’s been hit with the Cruciatus curse recently.”
“I will, sir,” whispered Harry as he turned his attention back to Ginny.
Harry watched as Ginny sat up in bed. It pained him to see her so badly hurt, both physically and mentally, but he could see that the old fire was starting to come back.
“Harry, we have got to do it now,” demanded Ginny.
“Ginny, you are in no condition to face Voldemort,” countered Harry.
“If we don’t do it now, Ron and Hermione are going to go and attempt it. I could never forgive myself if anything happened to their baby,” she argued, the tears welling up in her eyes. “Harry, haven’t I done enough damage already? Please don’t let me do any more,” she begged.
Harry groaned as he felt his resistance crumbling in the face of her argument. He knew she was right and he didn’t want Ron and Hermione facing Voldemort any more than she did.
“Besides, Harry,” she added mischievously, “if all goes according to my plan, I won’t have to face Voldemort.”
Harry started all of a sudden. He looked at her slyly. “Tell me more,” he said.
“I want you to Apparate into the lair and engage Voldemort in a duel,” began Ginny.
“Ginny, you know I can’t kill Voldemort with my wand,” stated Harry.
“I know, but I can,” replied Ginny determinedly. “This is what I want you to do...”
Harry blinked, trying to get his eyes adjusted to the dim light provided by the flickering fire. As he looked around quickly, he found he remembered this place from one of his dreams. Directly in front of him, a figure began standing up out of an old armchair placed in front of a pitiful fire.
“Why Ginny, how nice of you to join...” Voldemort turned around and stopped suddenly as he saw Harry appear in front of him.
“You were expecting someone else I suppose?” asked Harry as he carefully watched Voldemort’s wand hand.
“Yes, as a matter of fact I was,” muttered Voldemort. He stared Harry down hoping his fearsome appearance might tilt the balance in his favor. With his eyes on Harry, he jerked his wand out and shouted, “Avada Kedavra!”
Harry’s hand moved as soon as he saw Voldemort’s fingers twitch. His wand was out and in front of him before Voldemort could even guess what had happened, but he waited until he heard Voldemort begin speaking before following suit. “Avada Kedavra,” screamed Harry as rapidly as he could. As he watched the beams meet in midair, he knew he had gotten it right.
“Harry, you know you can’t kill me with that wand,” spat Voldemort as he struggled against the energy Harry’s wand was putting out. “I have its brother in my hand.”
“Yes, I know that,” answered Harry staring Voldemort down as their wands struggled to outdo the other. He strained to listen for the pop that would indicate Ginny’s Apparition into the chamber, but the noise being made by the two wands wouldn’t permit it.
“But I can,” added Ginny as she pointed her wand at Voldemort and shouted, “Avada Kedavra!” She watched as the same explosion that emanated from Harry’s wand two days prior now shot out of her wand and engulfed Voldemort in flames. She watched with grim satisfaction as the flames devoured him and finally lowered her wand.
They both stared at the devastation and began to walk very carefully through the ashes and debris, looking to make sure that Voldemort was finally gone. Harry saw it first. It was a silvery vapor that hovered low over the floor. As Harry approached, it tried to move away. Harry stared at it not knowing what to do.
“It didn’t totally kill him,” muttered Harry, worried that the spirit might escape to wreak mayhem on the world again.
“Don’t worry, Harry,” said Ginny as she raised her wand at the spirit. “Accio spiritusVoldemort,” she said, carefully watching the vapor as it moved closer and closer to her, drawn by her command.
It halted at eye-level a foot or so in front of Ginny’s face. Harry thought he could almost feel the evil coming off the spirit. He stared at it wondering what Ginny would do next.
“Imprism spiritus Voldemort,” intoned Ginny and she watched as a white light surrounded the vapor and collapsed it in upon itself. After a bright burst of light, a small, spherical crystal hung in midair in front of Ginny, the silvery vapor safely encapsulated inside. Ginny took the crystal and handed it to Harry, who quickly drew back his hand. “Don’t worry, Harry. There’s no way he’s going to get out of that,” said Ginny comfortingly. “He’s being imprisoned by some of the blackest magic I know.”
Harry carefully took the crystal from Ginny, who was almost laughing as he took it.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered teasingly, “you can’t break it.”
Harry looked at her in amazement.
“So if we add wings to this and use it as the snitch during a Quidditch game, there’s no way he could ever get out?” asked Harry dryly.
“No, but you’d get the wickedest snitch you’d ever seen,” laughed Ginny. At that moment, Ginny was surprised to feel Harry’s hands wrapping her in a tight, warm embrace. He buried her face in his chest for a moment. As soon as she felt him release her a bit, she looked up and was surprised to see tears in his eyes as he looked down at her.
“Thank you, Ginny. You don’t know how much this means to me,” said Harry through his tears.
“Harry, I think I do,” muttered Ginny, surprised as the tears began to fill her eyes as well.
They embraced each other tightly again and after a few moments, Harry kissed her once more.
He’s definitely getting better, thought Ginny to herself, finally daring to hope she could come home again.