Author's Note: This piece takes place during Deathly Hallows at the start of Chapter 16: Godric's Hollow, right after Ron has left but before the trip to Godric's Hollow.
Harry sat at the edge of the tent, staring out at the snow coated landscape and the mass of trees that was surrounding them watching the snow softly falling from the sky and covering the ground. With Ron gone and Hermione's muffled sobs coming from the back of the tent, the future looked as bleak as the lifeless, dull trees, which the onset of winter had stripped of their leaves.
The snow for the last few years had been greeted with shrieks of laugher and the traditional Weasley snowball fights, making him grow to love the first sight of the white flakes falling from the sky. This year, however, the icy grounds and frost represented the dangerous situation they were in rather than family fun and the coming of Christmas. One slip or fall and everything would break up and be lost. Despite the long hours and many discussions that he and Hermione had had on the location of Gryffindor's sword and any possible Horcruxes, they were going nowhere and things had never felt so helpless.
A shiver ran down Harry's spine. Ron had been right when he had left; he really did have no idea what he was doing. He was just a teenage boy hiding from Voldemort in a series of different woods each night. Dismissing the chill from having anything to do with Ron's words and trying to force his nagging doubts to the back of his mind, he reached for an extra jumper. As he pulled it over his head, he chose to view his shivers as having much more to do with the early December chill air rather than Ron's words.
Carefully, Harry pulled his Mokeskin-hide pouch over the top of the second jumper. He paused for a moment, as the urge to reach for the Marauder's Map filled him again. He wanted a few moments when he did not feel so alone. Harry reached inside the small, slightly furry drawstring pouch and pulled out this father's old map.
"Lumos," he whispered as his phoenix feather wand lit up.
Instead of trying to locate Ron's name on the old map as he had done for the last two times he had pulled out the Marauder's Map, he searched for the person that he was longing to see more than any other right now. Hermione may have been longing to see Ron since his departure six nights ago, but he had been longing to see Ginny since the first of August. The longer they had been apart, the more desperate he had become to hear her laugh, see her smile and to hold her in his arms.
Examining the sixth-year Gryffindor girls' dormitory, he searched for Ginny's name. There were four girls in the room but not the one he was desperate to see. Unable to see Ginny's name, he traced the wand light down to the common room; maybe she was still finishing some homework. He pushed another nagging doubt to the back of his mind that even just before her OWL exams, Ginny had been more organised than to leave her homework until the last minute as he searched the room. However, there was only a single name still left in the Gryffindor common room, that of Neville Longbottom.
Harry pulled the map closer to him as he started to search each part of Gryffindor Tower for her name. His wand touched each inch of the map in a search for her name, his movements getting quicker with each moment that passed. He could feel his stomach knotting as his movements became a little more frantic. The pain in his stomach came back on realising that Ginny was missing from the Gryffindor quarters. He glanced down at his watch. The fear of wondering over Ginny's whereabouts that was now sweeping his body was joined by extra feelings of guilt and remorse that he had caused the Weasley family as he read the time on Fabian Prewett's old watch.
Those old and familiar feelings of guilt and remorse were quickly replaced by fear over Ginny again, on realising her absence from Gryffindor Tower, in seconds as he noted the time. At midnight, it was well past the curfew and Ginny should have been back in her dorm room by now. With renewed energy, he expanded his search of Gryffindor Tower to the whole castle. After what seemed like hours, although it was most likely just minutes, he finally located the name Ginevra Weasley on the staircase between the third and fourth floors.
Jumping to his feet, he was about to sprint into the bedroom of the tent and grab Hermione's beaded handbag. Right now he wanted to fire questions at Phineas Nigellus and question him on why Ginny was not in her bed. Just as he was about to move, he stopped himself. There was a possibility that Ginny being out of bed at this hour could get her into more trouble with Snape and he did not put it past Phineas Nigellus to tell that murderer in an instant that Ginny was not where she was supposed to be.
There was Hermione to consider as well; her muffled sobs had stopped, meaning she must have finally given in to exhaustion and fallen asleep and he could not bear the thought of waking her.
One of them awake and in pain was enough for the moment. He knew that Hermione was suffering since Ron had gone, missing the one person that she cared about more than anything. Hermione was feeling the same way over the last few days that he had been feeling since the first of August. The pain in his stomach grew worse as he thought more about his ex-girlfriend. He missed Ginny so much; the pain he felt was growing each day, a pain that was telling him deep down that it was more than just mourning the end of a relationship.
Placing his hand on top of Ginny's name, hoping for a connection between the two of them, he found himself thinking of those spring days by Hogwarts lake earlier this year. They seemed like days that belonged to a previous lifetime; days than now felt like that had happened hundreds of years ago and not just months.
The sunlight was dazzling, reflecting on the smooth surface of the Hogwarts Lake - the smooth lake surface that was being rippled by students diving in and out of it. A group of girls were laughing as they sat cooling their feet in the water, shrieking as a group of younger students playing some form of tag game rushed by. Many of the older students were lapping up the sunshine as they lay on the grass, reading, writing or talking with friends. Bushes were moving where several of the older students were hiding with their boyfriends and girlfriends respectively while in the far distance there were a couple of small Quidditch matches taking place. The warm June sun was heating the entire grounds leaving the rest of the students that were enjoying the summer weather to hide in the shelter of the trees.
Harry let the tip of his quill fall between his fingers, its end resting on his lips as if it was a sugar quill, giving the impression to anyone who looked over that he was contemplating his answer. His essay on the 'Legal and Illegal Uses of Veritaserum' was lying forgotten, with barely three paragraphs written, on the ground. Like many students, both he and Ginny had taken advantage of the glorious Sunday afternoon to take their respective homework and OWL revision outside to the lake but as soon as he had rested his back against the beech tree at the very edge of the lake, he had forgot the reason for coming out here as he had become captivated by his girlfriend.
For his last hour, his studying had purely been in the form of his girlfriend's body, ignoring any other distractions that could have arisen. The bright sun was bringing out all the various shades of her vibrant red hair. Her green t-shirt was ever-so-slightly too small and, combined with her low-cut dark indigo jeans, was showing off her midriff while the v-neck t-shirt showed her cleavage. Yet Ginny seemed oblivious to the fact that he was not the only person staring at her. Right now, he was finding himself in very good company as every boy that left the castle had turned to stare at his girlfriend.
She sat an arm's reach away from him, her concentration solely on the blades of grass that she was changing from green to purple and then back to green. Her wrist was making a swift rotation followed by a jab as she directed her wand. Harry couldn't keep the smile off his face as he watched her. Ginny, in his opinion, was the most beautiful girl in the school if not the country, especially with her natural curves being highlighted by her current position. Right now it was taking all his will power not to throw her on the ground and sink kisses down the bare skin she was teasing him with.
Add to that her flying skills, her laugher and her amazing commitment, which he could not help being drawn too. Ginny was not one to throw her OWLs away through a lack of revision, just as she would not throw away anything else she was committed to without a fight. Just watching her now, he could see that drive and determination. She was performing much better on those blades of grass that he had done in his practical exam last year.
She was the ideal girlfriend in his book; he could hardly believe that it had taken him so long to notice how perfect she was for him. Even if he hadn't been aware before, the stares that they were getting were making it painfully clear that many other boys were particularly envious. Not that he cared too much about that, because since the second she had agreed to go out with him, he had felt happier than he could remember. So if people wanted to talk about them, that was fine. Hearing Ginny's name provided a warm feeling in his stomach no matter what else he was doing.
"You're never going to pass your NEWTs this way," Ginny said with a glint of mischief in her voice, making him aware that she knew how long he had been watching her, but without turning round.
"What?" he replied, caught off guard.
Ginny had a knack for catching him off guard. He silently scolded himself for letting himself get captivated by his girlfriend. She was always aware of his movements, especially when he was watching her. Looking back on her movements over the last hour he was sure a lot of them had either been done for his benefit or at the very least to tease him. Her bent position had carefully given him ample view of her cleavage if he tilted his head, as well as giving him the impression that she was innocently studying. She was having fun with him and now it was just a case of waiting for her wink, her impish grin or that mischievous glint in her bright brown eyes before the banter and jokes between the pair of them would start.
"Well," she turned her head to look at him and winked, "I'm pretty sure that my photograph is not going to be in the middle of the exam paper."
Harry grinned back at her, catching her arm. "Well, I've taken my OWLs, and I know that my photo is on the paper."
The amber twinkled in her brown eyes in that way that he had quickly learnt meant that she was in a playful mood and he should be prepared for possible underhanded tactics, but she kept her tone plain. "I've already done my History of Magic revision."
Harry did his second double-take as he worked out what she was talking about. It was easy to forget while he was sitting in the sunshine, staring at his girlfriend and joking with her, that he was not just another sixteen-year-old student. Being with Ginny made the world that included his name in history books and Horcruxes seem so far away. With Ginny, he was a teenage boy who maybe was starting to fall in love. He had definitely never felt this way before about any other person.
He pushed the thoughts of history books to the back of his mind; it was a glorious day and he was determined to have fun this afternoon. "Well, then, your studying methods really need to be called into question," he grinned, "too much time with the theories and not enough practical revision."
She turned her whole body round to look at him. "So," she let her eyes look down his body before brown met green again, "are you saying that I should be studying your body instead of colour-changing charms?"
"Well, you seem to have perfected those." He gave her arm a slight pull.
Ginny moved closer to him. "So where do I start? What part of your body will get me that O? Your lips?" She placed her left ring finger on them, making his heart pound against his ribcage. "Your chest?" His adrenaline was sent into overdrive as she ran her finger down his chest. "Your bum?" Both of her hands slipped to his hips and met at the back, capturing the attention of each of his body parts as he gave in to his earlier desires of sinking kisses down her body.
"Oh, it's the lips." He struggled with his words but his movements were swift as his instincts took over. She couldn't expect to tease him like this and then keep him hanging. His hand kept her in a tight hold and she was not going to escape those hands until she had been taught a lesson as their lips met.
Ginny held her side as she slowly took each step that led to Gryffindor Tower. The journey from the ground floor to the third had already taken just under an hour instead of the usual ten minutes and she still had four more floors to go. Her body had crashed against the floor so many times in the last hour, it was amazing that it was only her ribs and breath she was struggling with and she wouldn't be surprised if, at the very least, they were severely bruised. She knew all these stops meant that her desire to lie in her bed and ease the pains would take twice as long, but she could not think of another way to get up the stairs other than to cling to the banisters, especially since her broomstick had been confiscated last month in the aftermath of the Gryffindor versus Slytherin match.
She muttered a variety of swear words that would send her mother to despair at the thought of Snape's hands on her Cleansweep before releasing several quick, shallow breaths as she paused again. Her mind wandered for a moment. Right now she would give anything to be at home, listening to her mother yelling at her for her language. She struck her forehead with the palm of her hand. She must be going delusional with the pain and sent mad by the onset of isolation and feeling of loneliness if she had given in to the thoughts of being mollycoddled at home instead of being part of this fight.
Ginny was gripping the railing so tightly that her knuckles went white. Long deep breaths were too much for her ribs to take right now. A grimace and a few more shallow breaths later and she carefully climbed the next few stairs, one hand on her side and the other on the railing that was helping lead her back to her dormitory.
Biting her lip, she stopped the tears that were welling in her eyes from running down her face. She would not give that scum the satisfaction of knowing that they had hurt her, especially since she had done such a good job of hiding it in the actual detention. She let out a small groan of pain as she moved again; there was no point in bemoaning the pain and nothing was going to change the current situation. Besides, that pain was nothing compared to the one she was feeling deep inside her heart, so she might as well get used to things. Nothing was going to change and no one was able to protect any of them, as McGonagall had pointed out several times. Her disgust for the current climate was not going to change any time soon.
McGonagall had hauled her into the Head of Gryffindor's office earlier that day when she had heard of Ginny's actions. Her Head of House stressed to her the importance of being careful. She explained to Ginny that she should not be telling any teacher to 'shove her essay on 'The Qualities of the Good Pureblood Wife' where the sun didn't shine', no matter how much she objected to the title, and that she had every right to expect detention if she continued to use that language. She stated quite clearly that, despite the fact, she had many issues with the nature of potential punishments that were given by the Carrows, she had no grounds to argue against any punishments when her actions were so obviously at fault. Adding that her conduct would have earned her detention from any teacher in the school, not least those Death Eaters who were eager to make her suffer because of her links to Harry, McGonagall had finished her lecture by echoing her parents' words, making her feel two inches tall as she spoke of the importance of keeping a low profile.
Alecto Carrow had taken full advantage of having her prey in front of her without any witnesses. Once the Death Eater had placed her detainee's wand on the desk, Carrow's face had lit up. After an hour of questions about the activities of Dumbledore's Army and her involvement in the group, Ginny was suffering from the after-effects of the Cruciatus Curse but the Muggle Studies teacher had learnt nothing more about the resistance organisation. Just when Ginny had started to find the pain unbearable, Snape had called the fellow Death Eater for an urgent meeting .
Holding onto the railing she rounded the stairs and started to climb up to the next floor. Despite all the pain part of her was happy. With the exception of a few cuts and bruises, the physical punishments and most notably the Cruciatus Curse had mainly been reserved for the male members of the D.A, most prominently Neville. Instead of physical pain, both she and Luna had been treated to the more verbal forms of intimidation as well as the looks that the lecherous Amycus Carrow gave her. In a strange way, it felt good to be treated as an equal and it was actually easier to accept physical pain than mind games. Also, there was the small note of pride in the fact that she had held out.
Another half an hour later, and she had finally reached the seventh floor. She let go of her aching side and let out a sigh of relief to see the portrait of the Fat Lady. She couldn't help a small smile for a second, thankful that the Fat Lady was awake so that instead of spending another hour trying to wake her, she could sink into the safety of her bed within minutes. Wiping any tears that had escaped her eyes with her arm, Ginny composed herself. She would not enter the Gryffindor common room looking defeated; it was not in her nature.
"What time do you…" the portrait started before changing tack, "What on earth happened to you, girl?"
"Detention," Ginny muttered, she knew that she was not the first to reply with that answer this year and spoke quickly, to avoid the patter that the conversation would normally take. "Resistance," she said in a much louder voice.
The portrait swung open, before she could be subjected to any more questions. She'd had enough questions fired at her today. She really was not in the mood for any long conversations at the moment! Wincing slightly as she pulled herself over the threshold, she clambered into the common room.
"Ginny," Neville said with a small yawn, as he rose from one of the large armchairs by the fire as soon as she emerged, "you look dreadful."
"Gee thanks, Neville," she forced a smile onto her face, attempting in her mock cheeriness to play down the seriousness of the situation with the increasing number of dark clouds that were hanging over there heads, "that's just what every girl wants to hear."
"Are you okay?" Neville said in a more serious tone, crossing the room.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she told him, offering a small shrug, "growing up with six brothers toughens you up, just that little bit." She smiled, as she held onto one of the large armchairs for support. "I just need a bit of a lie down, get a bit of rest and then we get back to normal."
"Well, make sure you get it. I don't want Fred and George on my back for not watching over you. I don't fancy becoming a test subject, nor Harry, for that matter." Neville was watching her movements very carefully with a slight frown on his face, a frown that was quickly replaced with a forced smile as he lightened the tone to his voice. "I'm pretty sure they all want you back in one piece."
Several witty responses sprung to her mind, but for once she dismissed them all and the banter that would have continued. She had a need to know what had happened rather than exchange jokes. "Was there anything on Potterwatch?"
"No," he spoke in a soft voice.
"Okay," she said unable to hide the tone of disappointment in her voice. The sense of not knowing what trouble Harry was in or where he was was more crushing than any Curse. She gulped to suppress her fears, trying to crush them back down into the pit of her stomach where no one could see them and she could hide the sense of pain and longing from anyone else. "I guess I'll see you in the morning, Neville."
"Night, Ginny," he replied, pausing as they both reached their respective stairways, "Oh and, Ginny..."
"Yeah?" she answered quickly, eager to hear what Neville must have forgot to tell her about the radio broadcast.
"Just remember: no news is good news," Neville smiled at her, "Harry's still fighting, just like us."
Ginny paused looking at Neville's face for a minute. Despite everything going on, there was still hope. People were still fighting and with friends supporting each other, there was still a chance. Neville knew what she had needed to hear and had offered the words of reassurance she had needed to hear. Despite how well she hoped she was hiding it, she was positive that both Neville and Luna knew just how much she was hurting and it was a mark of how deep those friendships had grown that they knew just what she needed. Whether that was waiting for her to return from detention, or saying those words that kept her going, helping her to believe that Harry was still alive somewhere out there and it was only a matter of time before he returned, Neville was her true support in this, helping her feel just that little less isolated.
"Thanks, Neville," she smiled back at him, her first genuine smile in weeks, before climbing up to the sixth-year dorm.
She was not sure what she had wanted to hear from Potterwatch. She had kept telling herself what Neville had just reminded her of: No news was good news and that meant that Harry was still safe, along with Ron and Hermione, but none of that stopped the longing she was feeling. She needed to know that he was okay and right now she would do anything to just have one more minute with him, a minute in which they could just hold each other as she reassured him how she felt and heard him whisper the same in her ear.
Was it really too much to want some more moments of a relationship that had been cut short just as it was starting to grow, blossoming into something that promised to be very special? At least her relationships with Michael and Dean had been given time to run their courses. Yet her relationship with Harry, which had made her feel so much happier than she had ever been, just like she was floating on air whenever he touched her, that it took all her energy to keep herself on the ground, had been ruthlessly torn apart. Her whole existence right now just felt like some cruel joke; just as she had been falling for Harry, he was pulled away from her and had a death sentence placed on his head, leaving her spending hours hoping that he was still alive instead of wondering what hidden parts of the school they could explore. She could almost hear the Death Eaters' cruel laugher echoing with pains of longing, fear and loneliness that was filling her entire body.
Making her way across the dark dormitory, she slipped down to her underwear before closing the curtains of her four-poster bed. Reaching under her pillow, she pulled out the t-shirt that Harry had left at The Burrow when he fled. She knew many people, including all of her brothers, would tell her how pathetic it was to cling to this t-shirt, let alone to sleep in it, but she didn't care. No one knew that she had taken it nor did they know where it was currently hidden and even if they did it wouldn't matter. It felt so comforting to have something of his with her and this was all she had left.
She missed Harry so much that it physically hurt, causing twisting pains in her stomach as if her internal organs were tied in knots. She doubted that she had ever missed anyone as much. Each day that had passed had made her realise how much more that 'like' was turning into something so much more. 'Like' had turned into the most amazing adrenaline rush in those kisses and to deep pain and longing with Harry gone.
Trying not to think about those noble acts that could potentially get him killed, she closed her eyes. She was determined not to consider the fact that she was potentially falling in love with the most wanted man in the wizarding world who had a huge death penalty hanging over his head. Instead she cast her mind back to those happier times.
As her lips met his, all other things that were happening in the world or even just in the Hogwarts grounds, disappeared. As the background faded and blurred, there was only one thing in the world to her. The shrieks of laughter and shouts between friends barely registered as a dull murmur to her ears.
The sense of adrenaline pumped through her entire body as Harry deepened the kiss. Goosebumps sprang up as their bare skin touched. If teasing Harry and giving him a small glimpse of her skin got these results, then she was going down to breakfast in her bra in the morning. Their tongues met and danced together as she felt his hands capture her. Their hands clasped for a moment, slowing down the energy but not the passion for a second before Harry seized his chance and upped the adrenaline levels again. Shivers ran down her spine as she let Harry flip her onto her back as the kiss sent her heart pounding against her ribcage.
After what seemed like hours they parted, catching their breaths. Her heart was racing so fast it felt like she had just run a marathon.
"You're amazing, Ginny Weasley," he whispered.
"You're pretty incredible yourself," she said before grabbing his green shirt and pulling him back into another kiss.
She was nowhere near finished exploring his body. She had not studied enough or explored enough of his body to achieve an Outstanding for her knowledge, and if Harry's picture really was on her OWL paper she would not want to be neglectful. And she was not settling for anything less especially in a topic that was so enjoyable. Those very kisses took her breath away. Harry was right; still, a lot of practical practice was needed, not least so she could still breathe afterwards as well as making sure that she knew all the workings of his body.
Ginny let her hand slip between the fabric of his boxers and the denim of his jeans. She did not want these kisses to finish anytime soon. She wanted to be lost in these moments forever. The best kisses were never rushed and she had no intention of rushing this one. She wanted to enjoy every second and every touch. Her hands made their way from his hips to his bum and she felt his hands travelling up her body, touching her skin and making her t-shirt billow. Harry clearly wanted the kiss to last as much as she did.
"Potter! Weasley!" a voice sneered.
On hearing the cold voice they broke apart, stopping the kiss instantly.
She felt her face burn with embarrassment; she could hardly have imaged Snape catching them in a worse position. And there could hardly have been a worse possible person to find them exploring each other. It would have been better for anyone else to find them. Her brothers would have gone mental but at least she would have been able to hex them. And although hexing the Head of Slytherin was a very appealing option, it would not be a wise action to take.
Ginny glared up at the greasy-haired professor looking down at them. The greasy git seemed to have developed a knack for finding the pair of them wherever they chose to spend their free time, enjoying berating the activities they were taking part in and knocking points from Gryffindor. She refused to back down to the slimy Head of Slytherin. If Snape had nothing better to do with his time than to spoil their fun, then he was more pathetic than she had originally thought. Ginny looked deep into his face, determined not to blush. Snape's black eyes were fixed on them, studying and appraising their actions.
"Twenty points each from Gryffindor for inappropriate behaviour," he said before gliding off, looking rather pleased with himself.
Harry pushed himself off the ground and sat up, glaring at the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. She could see the cold fury forming on his face. His hand had already reached for his wand before she caught it and stopped him, shaking her head softly. They had so little time as it was, with OWL revision and Saturday detentions. As much as the git deserved being hit with a good curse, she could think of more enjoyable ways to annoy Snape that would not result in detention. Setting off a portable swamp in the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom, while Snape was still inside, seemed a highly desirable course of action right now. It was all about picking your battles at the right time, and now was not the right time for hexes; she would not waste her own detention allocation on it when time could be much better spent.
"I hate that man," Harry hissed, his cheeks turning a rich red colour.
"Oh sod him," Ginny replied, sitting up herself and pulling a piece of grass out of her hair, "I hate him too, but he's just jealous of our happiness. I mean, what's the odds he's a forty-year-old virgin?"
"I'd say very high," he said with a small smile.
"Well, he's hardly someone we should be paying any attention to then." Her eyes twinkled with mischief. "I believe," she took his hands in hers, positioning them on her body, "these were on my hips."
Letting go of Harry's hands, she cupped his face and returned to the kiss, forgetting all thoughts of OWL revision and NEWT essays.
"Harry," Hermione's tentative voice drew him out of his thoughts and memories. She was still so nervous when she talked to him; afraid he would lose his temper again. "It's my turn to take over and you should get some rest."
Harry looked up at her tear-stained face but could not bring himself to say the words that would comfort her, words that would support Ron's actions. If he had been a good friend, he would have found some way to comfort her. He should have been helping her to feel that little less isolated right now. He could even have hugged her while he reassured her that Ron was okay and had just returned home for a few days. He could have told her that Ron would return to her but right now he was too worried about Ginny and concerned about her safety to support his best friend who had walked out on him.
It was so hard to be this far away from her, especially when she was not where she should be. He needed to know why she was missing from the safety of Gryffindor Tower. He needed to make sure that she was safe and protected from all the pain and the danger that was circulating around them. The overwhelming desire that he'd had to rush into Hogwarts came again. Despite how dangerous it was he just wanted to rush into Gryffindor Tower and find her sitting by the fire, her eyes twinkling with mischief as they talked about how to get rid of Snape. He wanted to hold her hand and to receive the buzz that touching her skin gave him, providing him with the energy to keep going and fighting.
"Thanks," he muttered in reply.
He walked through the living area and straight to the bedroom, crashing onto one of the camp beds. Without bothering to change into his pyjamas, he pulled a blanket over himself. He was exhausted, but before he could sleep he had one thing left to do.
A huge gush of relief filled his body as he saw Ginny's name back in the sixth-year Gryffindor girls' dormitory. She was safe and right now that was all that mattered.