A/N: Much thanks to my beta, Jules. How she manages to do everything she does boggles the mind sometimes. She's simply great.
This is both my first one-shot and my first collaboration. It was written literally one night when Chi messaged me and said "Hey, what if we write a missing moment, paragraph by paragraph?" So we did, and what you see here is the result.
Disclaimer: I, in no way, shape, or form, own these characters. That honor belongs to the one and only J.K. Rowling. This is simply my excursion into her magnificent world. No profit is made from this, nor is any copyright infringement intended.
The Common Room fire was crackling, blazing high for the spring, but it was, at the very least, warming Ginny Weasley's toes, about the only part of her that felt warm at the moment.
Below her lay the lifeless body of her brother Fred, he had been moved up to the Common Room with the rest of the Order. Voldemort may have been vanquished, but the war would not soon be forgotten. Despite holding on to the remaining twin's hand, Ginny couldn't feel anything. Her entire world as she knew it had changed and the aftereffects of the war left her numb.
Perhaps the most horrid sight of the evening was the one sitting next to her. Fred was gone, but his brother George remained. At least the shell of him did. His eyes dull and lifeless, George stared into nothing, his eyebrow occasionally twitching with the thoughts only he knew.
It wasn't her brother. Gone was the jovialness, the disposition that would let nothing, not even the war, get him down. For the first time in her life, Ginny saw George vulnerable, and it sent chills down her spine. Nothing would be the same again.
Slowly, she brought her hand to George's back and began to rub it in small circles, the way her mother often did when one of her children was distressed over something, and stared at her mother and father, sitting on a couch across the room.
Each of their faces was shrunken in sorrow, and Ginny could not help but sympathize. Only a few hours ago, she had felt the exact same way, the most important part of her life had nearly been wrenched away from her. Fred's passing was a sorrow, but, as horrible as it sounded, it was not as much of a blow as Harry's death would have been.
The Weasleys had lost one of their own, and yet... at some level, they had all been expecting it. They'd had whispered conversations in corridors and comforted each other through late nights of worrying. The worst had come to pass -- and all Ginny could think about was the boy who still slept in the dormitory upstairs.
The image was still burned into her memory, her worst nightmares incarnate. Her mind replayed Hagrid's somber entrance into the Great Hall, tears flowing like a river down his large cheeks; in his arms was the limp, lifeless body of the one person Ginny had thought about every day they were apart. Worst of all, though, was the triumphant smile etched on Voldemort's serpentine face.
Everything had slowed and focused, as if she were viewing life from behind a pair of Omniculars. The few minutes that she thought Harry had gone from The Boy Who Lived to the Boy Who Died were the worst in her life.
And then, the miraculous had happened. Just at the instant that everything seemed lost, the instant it looked as though darkness would envelop the world and win the war, he disappeared. Ginny had never been happier not to see someone where they were supposed to be.
The battle itself seemed to have gone quickly, and the wizard who had caused so much trouble was vanquished in a manner of seconds... an almost anti-climatic ending to Voldemort. And... Harry's face. She would never forget Harry's face in that instant. She had not seen Voldemort's face when he died, for she could not tear her eyes away from Harry.
He was as glorious as ever, and just gazing upon his face sent shivers down Ginny's spine. She had never been prouder of anyone as she was of Harry. As she watched, Harry's face morphed into a look of relief. A large burden had been lifted from his back. Finally, Ginny knew, Harry would decide his own destiny, one that didn't rely on prophecies or Dark Lords.
The only question that remained was if Harry saw that future as one including her. She often wondered if, when he finally succeeded in killing Voldemort, he might want someone slightly different from her. More worldly, more curvy, more tall. Less... Ginny.
Many times during that year, she had turned to Neville for support. Each time, Neville reassured her that Harry only had eyes for her, but she couldn't help but have doubts. In her darkest times of doubt, the kiss they had shared on his birthday and the promise he had made her that day did their best to comfort her.
If she closed her eyes, she could smell him... feel the warmth and strength of his arms as the circled around her waist. If she pressed her fingers to her lips hard enough, she could evoke the tingling feelings she could only feel if Harry was kissing her.
Ginny was startled from her thoughts as a hand was placed on her right shoulder. Glancing over her shoulder, she reached up and placed her left hand over her youngest brother Ron's, sharing a silent moment of gratitude for the family they had remaining. Ron jerked his head slightly to the right with a smile, motioning behind him. Ginny's face broke into a hesitant smile as she saw Harry's approaching figure.
She was about to open her mouth when Harry stopped just a few feet in front of the couch. "Ginny...George...everyone. I'm so sorry."
Ginny opened her mouth again, about to speak, when she was preempted once more. "Sorry? Harry, you have nothing to be sorry about. We all knew what we were getting into when we joined the Order. We don't need an apology from you, we need to be thanking you," responded the weary voice of her father, Arthur.
"Er... that's not necessary," Harry mumbled. "I'm really going to miss him, you know."
"We all are," Molly said gently. George couldn't speak, but nodded his head fiercely.
"What's important is to remember his sacrifice, Harry. We will all miss him, but he gave his life so that we could all live a better life, free of war. It's going to be tough getting over his loss, but just keep that in mind," Arthur said, a tear welling at the corner of his eye.
While Ginny agreed with the conversation, she couldn't help but begin to be frustrated. For the first time in nearly a year, the boy she loved was in the same room as her, and she couldn't talk to him.
Perhaps Harry had noticed the slightly annoyed look on her face, or perhaps he felt the same way, but whatever the reason, Harry turned to face Ginny and smiled before pivoting his head back to the rest of the Weasley family. "Do you mind if Ginny and I take a quick stroll?"
Despite his grief, Arthur's mouth curled into a slight smile and a small gleam came to his eyes. "Sure, Harry."
Harry began to walk out of the Great Hall, and beckoned Ginny to follow him. "Ginny, these past months have been torture."
"You're telling me," Ginny responded, just a bit relieved. "I guess you didn't find any Veelas on your journey?"
"I promised you I wouldn't!" Harry laughed. "If I could have involved you, you know I would have in a second, but if anything had happened to you...well..." Harry choked momentarily.
"Harry Potter, you can be such a git sometimes," Ginny said sternly. "What do you think I would have done if you died? How do you think I felt when Hagrid came into the Hall with your limp body?"
As they continued their walk, Ginny suddenly felt a rush of wind and smelled the burnt smells of the Hogwarts grounds. She had not even realized they had been close to leaving the Castle. Harry almost always had that effect on her. The night sky shone down, the stars smiling on the two of them as Harry put both hands on Ginny's shoulders.
"Ginny, that was a risk I had to take. I couldn't let you do anything to put you in harm's way."
"But what if I wanted to take that risk, Harry?"
"No, I wouldn't have let you." Harry shook his head, saying, "I couldn't live with myself if I was responsible for your death."
Ginny sighed in exasperation. Harry cared about her, but his over-zealous heroics were always frustrating to deal with.
"Ginny, all through those long nights out in the woods, my thoughts were only on you. Every night I would stare at the map, just to look for you, it was the closest I could get to being near you."
A tear welled in Ginny's eyes as she realized the pain the separation had caused him was just as great as the pain it had caused her. The tear fell, but she willed all others away. Ginny Weasley was never one to cry. "Harry, my thoughts never left you either. At nights I lay awake in bed, just praying that Voldemort wouldn't find you before you found him. I wished you were there beside me, comforting me. For a time, I was mad at you for not letting me know what was going on, but now that you're here, that doesn't matter anymore."
Harry's hands tightened a tad on Ginny's shoulders and he gazed into her eyes. Those were the eyes she always got lost in, those beautiful green eyes. He closed his eyes as she did the same, and both simultaneously began to move their faces forward, closing the gap between their heads. Their lips met for one glorious instant, a kiss of hope and happiness, before pulling away all too soon.
Ginny slowly opened her eyes to be greeted by Harry's smiling face. "Ginny, I promise that from now on there will be no more secrets. Everything I know you'll know too."
"Good," Ginny said, beaming as Harry clasped her hand and they both began the walk back to the Common Room, knowing that the beginning of the rest of their lives had happened the night in which their old lives had ended.