Ginny twirled in front of the floor-length mirror and checked over her shoulder to admire the way her back looked in the silver robes. Thankfully she wasn’t stuck wearing something out of her existing wardrobe for this evening’s ceremony. Ginny had written to her mum that she needed new robes for the ceremony and had even gone so far as to include in her note a page from the Gladrags catalogue with a set of pale blue robes circled. Instead, her mum had asked Fleur if, on the off chance, she had anything appropriate in Ginny’s size that she would be willing to let Ginny borrow for the ceremony. The next day she had received these robes from her sister-in-law via express owl.
The silver robes were stunning, and even though they weren’t exactly what she had imagined, they were probably more beautiful than anything she would have picked out at Gladrags. Fleur was set to give birth any day now, and her letter that came with the robes stated that she may never fit into these robes again and they should be the perfect size for Ginny. Due to the difference in height between her and Fleur, Hermione had helped Ginny to bring up the hem a bit and the robes were now the proper length.
Ginny did another twirl in front of the mirror, and then studied the shiny thread and beadwork on the bodice and sleeves. Unfortunately, instead of feeling confident and beautiful as she should right now, Ginny felt apprehensive as she awaited her talk with Harry this evening. Why was he so adamant about speaking with her again? Was it just because he was lonely and missed her that he felt compelled to try to win her back? She thought that he would have waited and respected that she needed as much time as it would take to resume their relationship. Ginny thought some more as she finished putting on her make-up and fussed with her hair. The letters they had shared in the last month were so meaningful, and the reconciliation he seemed to want more than anything would happen sooner rather than later if he was patient. It would happen the way it was meant to happen. Wasn’t that the way things always were between them? Ginny tossed the hairbrush onto her bed and sighed.
“Ginny, are you ready to walk down? It’s nearly six o’ clock!” Hermione’s voice rang through the dormitory door.
Ginny threw on a lightweight cloak to cover her arms and glanced in the mirror one more time, then turned to bravely face whatever would happen that night, good or bad.
Harry sat and watched people milling about the stage. The low buzz of chatter surrounded them. Harry turned back around and saw that there were now hundreds of people in attendance, including many students. Music signalled that the ceremony was about to start and Professor McGonagall signalled for him. He rose to his feet, joining her and the other important dignitaries in attendance on the stage.
The Victory Day ceremony overlooked the lake. To Harry’s surprise, a monument erected to honour the fifty who had lost their lives in the Battle of Hogwarts was suddenly revealed just to the right of the stage. The stone structure now stood facing the lake and the mountains beyond. He wasn’t sure who had erected it or how long it had taken. Neither Ginny nor Hermione had mentioned it in their letters, and he assumed that it had not been revealed until just now. After the crowd’s low murmur subsided, the attention was back on a representative from the Ministry who was opening the ceremony.
Harry’s mind wandered as he thought of all of the celebrations that were taking place throughout that night and day at different locations in the UK. As many invitations as he had received, Harry suspected that he had been invited to each and every one of them. Even if Ginny wasn’t here, he thought that honouring the day by being at the actual place of the battle among friends and former classmates was the proper way to acknowledge what had happened last year.
Harry thought he would feel worse today than he actually did. He had worried about the day and even told Dr. B that he wasn’t sure how he would handle the one-year anniversary of his last standoff with Voldemort, but the familiar feelings of regret and despair weren’t surfacing just yet. Or maybe they were, but he was coping with them well enough that they weren’t at the forefront of his mind. What was at the forefront of his mind was trying to win back the heart of a certain ginger-haired witch. He scanned the crowd for Ginny and found her sitting with her family. Harry had no idea what was going to happen tonight. Maybe after what he planned to say to her, she would still be reticent to resume their relationship the way he wanted it to be — intact and whole again —but he had to try.
Kingsley spoke next, welcoming everybody and giving a speech about the importance of togetherness and magical unity, for which he received a standing ovation. He was followed by Professor McGonagall, who spoke fondly about Professor Dumbledore and told a few touching stories about some of the students who were killed during the battle. Harry was glad that they hadn’t asked him to speak today. He glanced towards Ginny. She wasn’t crying, but she had her head resting on her father’s arm.
At the conclusion of the speeches, pairs of students came up to the podium and read aloud the names of those who had died during the Battle of Hogwarts. He spotted Ginny again, who was stationed between Charlie and her dad. He knew that they were all bracing themselves for names like Fred Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin. He couldn’t stop turning his head towards her during the reading of the names and one time she had been watching him, too. It felt like last year. During the seemingly endless stream of funerals, it was always Ginny’s face he sought out to steady himself.
After the ceremony, most of the crowd moved towards the monument to find the names of their loved ones etched in the stone. Some left flowers there. Some were weeping, and others were just standing stoically by the side. He wasn’t ready to face the monument, to see all of those names etched in stone, so he hung back by the platform and shook hands with many people and heard their stories, just as it had been one year ago. After what felt like a long time, he needed to find Ginny.
He spotted her standing by the same birch tree he had stood under after Dumbledore’s funeral, almost two years ago. He remembered that’s where he had stood right after he had ended things with her so abruptly, and when he learned that Ron and Hermione were coming to hunt Horcruxes and stand by him even through the worst of times to come. It was nice to find Ginny under this same tree. She was by herself and leaning against the trunk, her back to the castle. Hands in his pockets, Harry walked up to her and cleared his throat so as not to startle her.
“Hi,” he offered.
“Hey.” She whipped around to face him, her hair flying as she moved. “Rough day, I’m sure.”
“Yeah… How are you? How are your parents?”
“They’re fine. They’ll be all right.” Harry didn’t know what to say next, and after a moment, Ginny sighed. “Weather’s fitting.” She leaned back against the tree, hugging a light cloak over her shoulders. “Wonder why everyone always thinks of Spring as being so lovely here. By your letters, London sounds beautiful, but here it’s always rainy and I’m freezing.”
Harry looked to the sky. She was right. It had been misty and drizzling all day and it did fit the mood of the evening. The rain had stopped now and a chilly mist rose off the water where the merpeople had surfaced during the ceremonies to watch.
Her voice cut into his thoughts, “I can’t believe it’s been a year without Fred, and since the battle. Can you?”
“No. Not really. Hasn’t been the easiest year.”
Ginny sighed. “Easier than the year before?”
“Yeah, but still not easy.”
Ginny grinned slightly, “Well, Harry, you sort of have to hope that, from year to year, things have to improve.”
“Maybe. I would say that… some years will probably be harder than others, but that’s life, I suppose. That’s been my experience. Maybe they’ll ease a bit from here on in, you’re right.” He cleared his throat and went to stand to the right of her. He leaned on the tree trunk as well. ”For you, life is going to be a lot of fun in the next year, with the Harpies and all.”
“Fun?!? It’s six days a week of practice, drills are brutal, and matches could last all day and night, and sometimes go for three days at a spell! Can you imagine a three-day Quidditch match?” she answered heatedly, but with a glint in her eye that he knew meant she was joking.
Harry shook his head. ”Sounds pretty brutal.”
“It’s not. You’re right, it should be fun. Whatever it is, I will say that it sounds a thousand times better than getting stuck at some stuffy office job at the Ministry or working at a shop. I get to breathe fresh air, fly all day in beautiful scenery, and get paid for it, even if it’s rookie salary. I’m the luckiest girl in all of the UK right now.”
Harry grinned at her. “Careful. Once training is through, two years from now, I’ll be working a stuffy office job at the Ministry.”
“No, you won’t! You’re an Auror. Remember the stories that Tonks used to tell us? You’ll be out and about left, right, and centre going from one chase or mission to another. That’s a pretty exciting life.”
“Er… sort of.” He shrugged. “Tonks probably left out all the reports and paperwork. My job — before and after I go out, and in between doing any of what you’re talking about — is to sit in a stuffy office and write and file reports and affidavits. As Head Auror Robards says in his weekly address to the trainees, busywork is the work of young Aurors.”
Harry’s comments led him to think of all the excruciating hours he had put into the trainee program this month. Again, it was more work than he had bargained for this early in the game.
“Well, it’s good to see you,” she said finally. “So, where do you want to talk? Should we take a walk or something?”
Harry agreed and soon he and Ginny were walking around the edge of the lake. He kept the conversation going this time, asking her more about her plans to move to the Harpies’ training camp in Holyhead. He asked her a bit about all the travelling she would do next year.
Harry was frustrated with himself. He had come here to seriously talk to her and what was he doing? He was wasting time talking about other things. It could be more months or years spent being cautious and friendly to her, a complete waste of life, if you asked him, just as these past months had been without her. He didn’t want to waste any more of the time he had left with Ginny, even if they had a hundred good years.
They stopped near the edge of the forest. The sun was beginning to set around them, creating a fiery path on the horizon. Harry thought he had the confidence to begin speaking, but Ginny cut in.
“What are you thinking about?”
Harry rubbed his forehead, remembering that although his scar had not ached in a year, he often feared that it would start to again. He felt