Harry smiled to himself as he marched down the stairs with his two best friends, thinking of everything that happened in the past few hours. The Horcruxes were finally destroyed, the mystery of the Deathly Hallows was solved, and Voldemort was gone for good.
Harry stopped in his tracks. Voldemort was gone forever.
He was dead.
A sudden wave of warmth washed over Harry. Did this mean he would finally be able to lead a normal life? Would he finally be considered a regular teenager?
A new feeling rose within him; a feeling of despair. Was Snape correct in his memory? Was Harry only raised to be slaughtered for "the greater good?" Harry received a job, completed it, and now what? What was his life worth now?
Ron and Hermione stopped with him and looked up at him in confusion. "What's up, mate?" Ron asked.
"Nothing," Harry lied quickly. Ron seemed satisfied with the short answer, but Hermione, being the clever witch she was, was not satisfied. She opened her mouth for a retort, but was cut off by another voice.
"Harry," called a soft voice.
It was so quiet that Harry had barely even heard it. He looked up and saw Ginny standing at the other end of the hall.
She stood tall in her battered clothes. She had a cut down the side of her arm and there was a small amount of blood that had dried on her face. Her fiery hair was going in every which direction, and if it was not for the major color difference, Harry might have confused it with the hair of Hermione.
Harry caught her eyes. Although her face showed signs that she had been crying, her eyes were dry. She made no movement to get to him, and shifted uncomfortably in her spot.
Hermione glanced between the two, her eyes darting between Harry and Ginny. Finally, she grabbed Ron's arm and started pulling him away. Ron, oblivious to the connection between Harry and Ginny, refused to move from Harry's side.
"What's the hold up, mate? We should get you to the Tower. You need some rest…" It was only then that he noticed Ginny standing across from them. He mimicked Hermione's previous actions, glancing between the two. Finally, he stared directly at Harry.
He could not read the expression on Ron's face. He was reminded greatly of the night Gryffindor won the Quidditch Cup last year. It was the same unreadable look Ron had given him after he had kissed Ginny.
Ron gave a great sigh and took a few steps towards him. He leaned close and whispered so only Harry could hear.
"Make things right, she's missed you a lot."
With that, he put his arm gently around Hermione's shoulders and led her away towards the Great Hall again.
'This was it,' he thought to himself. 'Make things right’ echoed through his mind. How would he do that?
Ginny started advancing towards him, slowly and softly, as if her feet weren't even touching the ground. Harry began to feel awkward. He looked down at his feet and stuck his hands into his pockets, half hoping Ginny would stop and float away; half-hoping she would just throw her arms tightly around him.
She kept walking towards him until she remained only two feet away from him. Harry glanced up and saw her bright brown eyes staring into his own. He felt his face heat and looked down at his feet again.
"Hi," he said meekly. She did not return his greeting. She just continued staring at him.
They stood there together in awkward silence for a few moments. Finally, she spoke up.
"Are you OK, Harry?" Her voice was meek and timid, not like anything he had ever heard from her before.
"I'm fine," was his automatic response.
"No, you're not," she said, a little stronger. Harry remained quiet. Of course, he was not OK; he had just gone through hell!
"No, I'm not," he agreed. He stared at his shuffling feet as he waited for Ginny to speak again.
At last, she spoke. "You were… quite amazing, Harry," she said simply. "I… watched the whole thing. When Hagrid came out carrying you… I… I…" she trailed off. Harry could not look at her. He heard her sniffling, yet he dared not glance up.
Then he remembered. Anger surged within him; flowed through his veins like fire. She was supposed to stay safe. She was supposed to go back to the Room of Requirement. She was not supposed to be fighting…
He looked back up at her. She gasped at him, probably because he looked so menacing.
"You… You ran away," he whispered. "You were supposed to come back and hide,"
He stared at her, expecting to see her flinch, or look guilty, but she didn't. She continued to stare back into his gaze. If anything, she looked stronger.
"Harry, you knew that I wasn't going to stay hidden away," She said, her voice clear and controlled. "I couldn't just sit there and pretend nothing was happening out there."
Harry suddenly felt extremely angry, angrier than he had ever felt before. "You know what could've happened to you?" he yelled, his voice ringing mercilessly off the walls. "You could've been seriously hurt! You could have died. If you had been killed…" His own voice faltered. He took a deep breath. "If you had died, I would've died too," he whispered.
"Oh, Harry," she whispered back. Harry felt his eyes overcome by tears. He looked down quickly to hide a tear that crashed down his cheek. He wanted Ginny to reach out to him, to hold him, but she didn't.
"You were the last thing I thought of, you know," he said, continuing to stare at the floor. He could still feel Ginny's gaze on him. "When I was face to face with Voldemort in the woods, I thought of how badly I wanted to hold you again… to hug you… to…" He trailed off again.
For a while, they stood in silence again, although now it was not awkward. Harry was now slightly comforted by her presence.
"Harry, I needed to know what was going on. I needed to know for certain that my family, Hermione, you…" Her voice had disappeared as well. "I couldn't stand it, not knowing. That was the worst torture anyone could've put me through," she said quietly.
Again they stood silently. Harry leaned against the wall and sat down, only now realizing how exhausted he was. Ginny sat down next to him. This was the closest they had been together in a while. Even through all of the dirt and blood they were covered with, he still smelled her beautiful flowery scent when he breathed in.
"So what happens now?" she asked quietly. Harry barely heard her. He was fighting an internal battle to wrap his arms around her and just fall asleep right now.
"I don't know," he answered. "I mean, my goal in life is complete. I killed Voldemort, which was the only thing in my life. What have I got to life for anymore?" He hadn't meant to ask that out loud. "There's nothing left."
Ginny flung her whole body to face him. "What do you mean, nothing left, Harry?" She crawled in front of him and held his hands tightly. "You have everything to live for now. You've done more than your fair share at fixing the world, now it's time to be yourself."
Harry still could not look at her. Instead, he focused his eyes on the tip of his knee, which he had just realised was bleeding. "Ginny, I don't know how to be myself. All I ever knew was that I was an orphan, and then I found out that I had to save the world. All I know is the Boy-Who-Lived, and now all I'll be is the hero. I don't know anybody else."
"I do," Ginny said. "I know a boy, a man, who is extremely brave and fiercely loyal. But I also know a guy who is very smart, but is too lazy to actually show it. He's a very good flier, and he gets the most amazing looks of passion when he's caught the Snitch or made a fantastic move. I also know…" she looked down at their connected hands. As Harry looked back up at her, he saw a faint blush creep across her cheeks. Although embarrassed, she continued.
"I also know that he's very romantic. He likes to hold and be held. He likes just to touch foreheads and look deep into my eyes. He likes little kisses on his neck and gets lost in all of his emotions when we kiss," She glanced back up and they locked eyes. "I knew the Boy-Who-Lived almost all of my life. I grew up with the story of him. I knew the Hero since my first year when he saved me. It was only recently that I got to know Harry Potter, a regular teenager, student, and boyfriend. I hope to keep getting to know him too."
They stared into each other’s eyes for a long time. All of a sudden, that flowery smell overcame him, and he lunged forward.
He caught the back of her head as she fell backwards. His middle finger cracked painfully at the force with which he pushed her down, but he would worry about that later. He was kissing Ginny passionately and she was kissing him back…
He felt her hands explore his back and the top of his head as they continued to kiss. He was unable to move his hands however; both his and her fully body weight rested on top of his right arm and hand, while his left hand was holding the back of her head, mixed in with her fiery hair. Their first kiss in almost a year… It made him think of the kiss they shared for his birthday. It had the same amount of passion, aggression, and need, yet still held the sweetness and love.
They broke apart. Harry looked at her face and sat up. She too sat up and met his gaze with a smile. He leaned against the wall again, while she turned around and leaned against him. Harry wrapped his arms tightly around her, putting his face in her hair and inhaling her sweet scent. She turned her face to see his and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Harry smiled again and squeezed her gently. So this is why life is worth living…