Harry startled, wand out and pointed at the speaker before he realised consciously who the voice belonged to. "Ginny," he said with relief and a little trepidation. He sank back to his sitting position, leaning against the old oak by the pond. "What brings you out here?"
"Escaping," she said wryly, and plonked herself down on the grass beside him, the skin of her bare thigh just grazing his jeans. He resisted the urge to pull away. "Mum and Fleur and Gabrielle and Babette and everyone else are all wrapped up in wedding preparations, and I had to get away before I became all girlified."
Harry couldn't help but laugh at the disgust with which she imbued the last word. "Something wrong with being a girl, is there?" he asked.
"Not being a girl, no. Being girly. You know, obsessed with looks and clothes and wearing pink and all that. I'd far rather be on a broom." She reached into her pocket and brought out a Snitch. It spread its wings, buzzing in her hand. She let go of it and let it zip away a foot or two before snagging it out of the air and letting it go again. "I've thought of being a professional Quidditch player someday, maybe. If I'm good enough."
Harry didn't answer for a long moment; he was too busy watching her catch and release, catch and release the Snitch. It reminded him of his father in Snape's Pensieve, just before James Potter had attacked Snape for no apparent reason. That was a memory Harry always wished he'd never seen—but somehow, watching Ginny doing it didn't bring back the horrible, cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. It was another sensation entirely—and another part of his anatomy as well. He swallowed.
"Well?" she asked archly after the silence had stretched a few seconds. "Don't think I'm good enough?"
"No! I mean, yes," he back-pedaled. "Yes, I do think you're good enough. Quite good enough to play for any team." The skin of her arms had tanned an even bronze, but was still covered in freckles. More than there had been in the spring, when more often than not, he'd had those arms wrapped around him. He looked away, pushed the thought aside.
Ginny caught the Snitch a last time and turned to face Harry, catching his eye. Her expression was serious. "I know where you're going after the wedding," she said soberly. "And I know what you're going to do. Hermione let it slip."
Harry nodded. He'd known that Ginny would manage to find out somehow.
"And I understand why you're not taking me," she continued. "I've not got the skills nor the experience that you lot have. I'd be a liability."
"No, you wouldn't," he protested immediately. "You fought as well as anyone at the Ministry and in the Astronomy Tower."
"But I'm still a year behind you," she pointed out. "I don't know some of the spells you know. I can't put you in the position of having to save me." He started to protest again—though he didn't know why; he didn't want Ginny in danger with the rest of them—but she placed a soft finger over his lips to silence him. "Before you go, I just want you to promise me one thing," she said, drawing her hand away.
She smiled, a little sadly. "Come back to me," she whispered, and leant forward to press her lips against his.
The beast within his chest reared its head up, growling with approval, and suddenly he realised that he'd wrapped his arms around her and dragged her into his lap and they were kissing madly, hard and hot and wet and he couldn't get enough of her. Her lips had opened and her tongue was tangling with his and she tasted so good and oh Merlin....
She broke the kiss an unknowable time later and they sat entwined with each other, panting and staring into each other's eyes. Harry raised a shaking hand and brushed a stray wisp of hair away from her face, and she swallowed hard. "I can't promise I'll come back," he said, his voice rough. "You know that. I'll do what it takes to stop Voldemort. No matter what."
This time she looked away, closing her eyes as though to shield herself from the horrific image of him, dead. "I know," she said quietly.
"But I'll promise you this." He cupped her cheek with his hand, and she opened her eyes, looking up at him wide-eyed. "If I'm still alive when all this is over, I'm yours. Forever. Heart, mind, soul, and body, if you still want me."
"Always," she said fiercely, and kissed him again, still just as hot but shorter this time. Extricating herself from his grasp, she rose to her feet and held out her hand. "Come on," she said. "We're close enough to the house that they can still find us, and I don't really want to be found."
Harry levered himself up and took her hand. "Me neither," he agreed with a smile.