Harry’s heart was in his mouth as he spoke the words. “And if you want him back, you have a boyfriend who loves you very, very much.”
His search had gone on so long, and it all came down to this. What would Ginny’s answer be? How was he going to tell her that it was all his fault she had lost five years of her life? And just how badly was she going to hex him once she got all her memories back?
Those beautiful brown eyes he had dreamt of so often were boring into him with a look of confused speculation. Finally Ginny pulled her hand away and stood up. “I need some air, to think about all this. You wait here, and order us some dessert. They do a nice Chocolate Fudge pudding here.”
“You will come back, won’t you?” Harry knew he couldn’t keep the note of desperation out of his voice.
“Oh, yes, I’ll be back.” She smiled a little impish smile, and suddenly she was Ginny again. “I like chocolate!”
* * *
While Ginny was gone, Harry was left alone with his memories. It wasn’t a very comfortable place to be, especially the memory of his last meeting with Ginny, and their blazing row at The Burrow.
Ginny’s voice had been tightly controlled. “So let me get this straight. You can tell Ron and Hermione what you have to do, but you can’t tell me. You can take Ron and Hermione with you, but you can’t take me.” Her control had finally snapped, and, for the first time, Harry had faced the full force of Ginny’s unleashed temper.
“So you trust them, but you don’t trust me!” she had screamed.
The row that followed had been spectacular enough to send all the other occupants of The Burrow scurrying for cover. No one had wanted to be caught in the crossfire while the unstoppable force of Ginny’s fury had beat against the immovable object of Harry’s obstinacy.
Ginny’s parting shot when she finally exhausted herself, and stormed off to her bedroom, still rang across the years. “Fine! Have it your own way then. But you’re not going to wrap me in cotton wool, and hide me away like some prize to be claimed by the returning hero. I’m worth more than that, Harry, and it’s time you realised it! I will be fighting Tom every inch of the way whether you like it or not.”
* * *
Predictably, the first person brave enough to go in to see Harry had been Luna Lovegood.
“You’ve really upset her this time, Harry.” Luna’s blunt honesty came to the fore as usual. “It sounded like you felt she wasn’t strong enough to fight alongside you.”
“That isn’t what I meant at all!” Harry was anguished. “It’s just that… if she were with me, I couldn’t do what I need to do. I would always be terrified of her getting hurt, and it all being my fault.” He looked at Luna pleadingly. “What should I do? Should I go and apologise to her?”
Luna considered this before answering. “Only if you are going to take her with you now. Do you want to do that, Harry?”
Harry slowly shook his head.
“In that case, just go. Leave Ginny to me. I’ll stick to her like glue, and try to stop her doing anything too stupid, but… Harry?” She looked at him with a very un-Luna like mischievous grin. “When this is all over, you’d better be prepared for her to hex you into the middle of next week!”
Her grin widened even more. “But that will be just before she tries to snog you senseless!”
* * *
Thoughts of Luna brought another tear to Harry’s eye. She had been his constant companion for years now, unflagging in her faith that they would eventually find Ginny. It had been her research, sifting through the tiniest clues, which had eventually led Harry to this pretty northern market town. She hadn’t accompanied him this time, because the hills would have been difficult for her wheelchair.
It had taken eight Death Eaters to overcome the two young girls and Portkey Ginny away to Voldemort. Even with those odds, the girls had fought like tigers, leaving four of the Death Eaters Stunned and helpless to be captured by Neville and Dean when they finally arrived on the scene.
Luna had been kept in St Mungo’s for weeks, fighting for her life. Eventually she had returned to health, but the numerous curses she had been hit with had left her paralysed from the waist down.
* * *
It had only been hours after that attack that Harry had faced Voldemort for the last time. Snatching Ginny had been Voldemort’s last desperate throw of the dice, and the choice he had offered Harry was the most agonising ever.
“I have blocked your little witch’s magic, and her memories, and sent her to live as a Muggle. Join me in an Unbreakable Vow, Harry, that you will never take any action against me again, and I will restore her to you, and let you live out your lives in peace and security.”
What were two lives, when balanced against the thousands Voldemort would undoubtedly go on to ruin? Harry had done what he had to do.
* * *
Only once, months later, had Harry allowed himself to break down and cry, pouring out his anguish to Luna about all the people who had been hurt in the war, all the guilt he felt about her pain, and others. When he had finally admitted that he didn’t think he wanted to go on any more, the hex Luna had hit him with was so blindingly fast, Harry hadn’t had time to blink before he was lying on the floor next to her wheelchair.
Somehow she had levered herself down, onto his chest. “None of this is your fault, Harry. None of it!” She was beating on his chest with her small fists, her animated face inches from Harry’s. “Voldemort is to blame, and no one else. Get over your guilt, Harry, and start living again!” And then she had kissed him.
That single kiss was all they ever had, but that was the moment Harry had started living again. Somehow, he was going to have to explain that to Ginny as well. How he had never stopped loving her, but how Luna had been the one to drag him out of his deep depression. Slowly but surely, Luna had put him back together again, never demanding anything, never trying to take Ginny’s place in his heart, but never, ever, letting him wallow in self pity.
* * *
It was half an hour before Ginny returned, and Harry was really starting to get worried.
“I’ve made my decision,” she announced, looking deep into Harry’s eyes. “I would like to meet my proper family.” A hint of colour came into her cheeks. “And I would like to get to know my boyfriend again.”