Harry stood at the end of the field watching as Voldemort collapsed and began to twitch about on the ground. He wondered if this were really the end. Is it truly over? It seemed to him as if the prophecy had hung over his head like the Sword of Damocles for ages, from that fateful night in Godric Hollow through all the encounters with Voldemort. He glanced at the two wizards standing on either side of him, one red-haired and the other with bushy brown hair. If it hadn't been for their help then, he wouldn't have survived. It seemed like they were always there for him.
He glanced down the field at the group of Dark wizards; their bodies were still contorting on the ground. In his second year, he himself had been thought to be a Dark wizard, the heir of Slytherin who was opening the Chamber of Secrets. His vision was now drawn to the pretty girl standing on the side of the field. His chest suddenly felt tight as he looked at her. He had saved her life then. Now she had saved his … by stealing socks, of all things – Harry couldn't help but chuckle at that thought – and by bringing him the curse powerful enough to end the Dark Lord's life.
His thoughts turned to Luna, without whom Ginny might not have discovered the curse, nor felt the importance of stealing socks. I'll have to be sure and thank her. People don't seem to recognize what a great person she is, even if she is a bit odd. Ever since the DA, she had proven her worth repeatedly.
Harry watched as Voldemort's body finally lay still at the other end of the field. His reverie was shattered by Ron's loud hoot. 'Yes! We did it! Innit great, Harry? We kicked their sorry arses.'
A small smile appeared on Harry's face as he watched Ron dance about the field. Could he dare to think about the future now? His eyes turned involuntarily to the smaller red-headed figure on the side of the field. I've missed you so much, Ginny. His eyes began to mist as he thought back to that awful time at Dumbledore's funeral. He had broken it off with Ginny. He'd had to. For his own sanity, he'd had to know she was safe. He didn't think he could've risked the danger of destroying any of the Horcruxes if she had been with him. I wouldn't have dared try to destroy a one of them if you might get hurt. So he had turned away from her. Could he turn back to her now? More importantly, would she let him back in her life? Oh, Ginny, can you give me that 'something out of someone else's life' again?
'Whoohoo . . . take that, you lot of Porlock droppings. That'll teach you to mess with Harry Potter, the Chosen One.'
Harry's smile turned to a frown as he heard Ron's latest rant. He hated that rot about 'the Chosen One.' He wasn't anyone special. All he ever wanted was a normal life – to be just Harry. He wished he could have been just a regular person with a regular family. Voldemort . . . no, Tom Riddle had taken that away from him – ripped away any chance for a normal life. Who's laughing now, Tom?
But Harry didn't feel like laughing. To laugh, you had to feel joy. And there hadn't been any joy in his life for some time now. He eyes moved again of their own accord back to the red-haired bundle of energy. She was looking back at him now. He smiled weakly as he met her gaze. But she wasn't smiling back.
Hermione's voice broke into his thoughts. 'Harry. . . . Are you all right, Harry?'
Harry turned slowly to look at her. 'We'd better go make sure they're really dead, hadn't we? And shouldn't someone notify the Aurors? They'll want to verify it's really V-v-oldemort."
Harry smiled again. That was Hermione, all right. The practical, sensible one who knew what needed to be done and made sure it got done.
'Thank you, Hermione. I couldn't have done it without you. Thanks for sticking by me . . .'
'And what about me, Harry Potter?' Harry spun to see the smaller girl advancing across the field at him. He gulped as he saw that hard, blazing look on her face again.
'Could you have done it without me? Huh? Answer me, Potter!'
Harry backed slowly away from the oncoming girl. Fear, like an unwanted beast, was beginning to rise in his chest. Why is she so angry? I thought she understood I had to leave her behind. She seemed okay with my leaving at Dumbledore's funeral. 'Uh, Ginny, the curse you found was brilliant, just bloody brilliant.' Oh, that was eloquent; just call me The-Glib-Tongued-One.
'Is that all you have to say, Potter?' She spat the name out as if it were something foul and rotten, like one of Snape's nasty potions. 'You said, "I've got things to do alone now." You don't look very alone to me. Or was it just me you had to get away from? Answer that one, Harry.'
Harry began to look to the others there, feeling a bit like a deer caught in a lorry's headlamps. Neville looked dumbfounded, as if he couldn't quite understand what was happening. Hermione had a sad look in her eyes but a soft smile played over her lips. Ron looked as if he could decide whether to laugh or to be angry. Finally the latter two stepped into Ginny's path.
'Calm down, Ginny. Harry had to do what he had to do. He would have left me and Hermione behind, too, if we'd have let him. And you had to do what you had to do. So leave him alone.'
'Move out of my way, Ron, unless you want to be hexed as well.' Harry watched her raise her wand and point it straight at her brother's nose.
Ron paled slightly at that, but didn't move an inch. Harry couldn't help but wonder about that. Like the twins, he probably knows first-hand what her hexes are like. They said something about how great her Bat-Bogey Hex was. At least it's him and not me she's waving her want at.
'Ginny, this isn't the time or place, is it?' Harry was again happy for Hermione's calm voice of reason. Harry hoped it would penetrate Ginny's angry fog. 'The Aurors will be here soon. The reporters probably won't be far behind. Do you want to be here when they arrive? I don't think you want to be answering questions from either group. Do you?'
Ginny whipped around to face the older girl, her wand pointed now at Hermione. For a moment she looked like she might hex the bushy-haired girl. Hermione didn't even flinch, but stared calmly back at the glaring brown eyes. How does she do that? I think I'd want to turn and run if I were her. I guess that's why she was sorted into Gryffindor rather than Ravenclaw.
After a few tense moments, Ginny slowly lowered her wand. 'Oh, you,' Ginny growled in frustration. 'Why do you have to be so bloody logical?' Ginny looked smaller now. Harry watched her shoulders slump. Are those tears I see in her eyes? It was all he could do to keep from running to her and wrapping his arms around her to offer her comfort. It's my fault, was all he could think.
Neville spoke up next. 'C-c-come on, Ginny, we'd probably better be getting back to Hogwarts. Maybe we can make it back before either Hagrid or Professor McGonagall notices that we're missing. It'll be bad enough answering their questions if we don't.'
Ginny whirled back to Harry. Raising her wand slowly, she pointed it at him. 'Don't think this is the end of it, Potter. I'm not finished with you yet.' With an extraordinarily loud pop of Apparition, she disappeared.
Neville put his hand on Harry's shoulder. 'All right, Harry?'
Harry nodded slowly, a dazed expression still on his face. No, I'm not all right. How can I be all right when the only girl I've ever loved acts like she's ready to kill me? Harry let out a soft groan. I thought everything would be fine once we got rid of Voldemort.
'Well, mate, I'd better be going, too. Thanks for letting me help. At least with Bella gone, maybe my parents can have some peace now. . . .' Neville's face turned pink. 'Well, anyway, I got to see her finished off.' Then he, too, was gone as he Apparated back to Hogwarts.
Harry let out a low, long sigh. 'That was scary.'
'Sorry, mate; I don't know what got into her. We defeat the darkest Dark Wizard in history, and she goes mental.'
'Ron, that isn't fair.' Hermione quickly interjected. 'You know how your sister feels about Harry . . . and about being left behind. This all couldn't have been very easy for her. She must have worried about us constantly – well, about Harry anyway.' Harry could see her lips twitching as if she were trying very hard not to smile or laugh. 'And she didn't have any shoulder to cry on.'
'Well, I guess she's over me then,' Harry mumbled, his voice cracking. Harry fought back the tears. I can't let Ron see me cry.
'Oi,' Ron guffawed. 'Far from it, mate. She wouldn't be so angry if she were over you, now would she?'
'That's right, Harry,' Hermione chimed in softly. 'You've got your whole life ahead of you now.'
Harry brightened a bit at that thought. If only it could be a whole life with Ginny. That would be wonderful. But I'd have to make sure to buy lots of socks.
A/N: I want to thank Sherylyn for her hard work in betaing this. Everyone, please give her a round of applause for all she does for PS. I also want to thank hwimsey for again taking the time to read and comment. These two challenged me to make this story much better than I first wrote it. Any weaknesses that remain are due to my own stubbornness and ineptitude. Please Review!!
I know this is a bit AU. Ginny does have a bit of a temper here and there in canon, and that grows a bit in this story. But I don't like JKR's Ginny who meekly watches as Harry goes off with Ron and Hermione and stops arguing with Molly when Harry shakes his head (though she does try to sneak back in later). Ginny does indeed show in DH that she's made a bit sterner than that. Let's just say that this builds on the line in DH, ch. 30, " . . . and she turned away bitterly."