Harry and Ginny were desperately trying to get out of the Great Hall. The school year was over, the feast was over, Gryffindor had won the house cup yet again, and Harry was now an alumni of Hogwarts. Ginny had passed her exams with flying colors and would be working on her healing-related classes again next year. What they really wanted now was time to be alone, away from the well-wishers, the picture-takers, the reporters, and all the other people vying for their time...
It was well after midnight before they were able to sneak out of the hall and up towards the Room of Requirement. Harry hadn't waited until they got to the hallway to start his celebrating with Ginny, and she was all too happy to celebrate with him. They played snog-tag all the way to the hall. Harry was giddy with delight as they turned the final corner.
They both stopped in their tracks. The door to the Room of Requirement was already there.
"Bugger, someone beat us too it!" Ginny said, disappointed.
"I wonder who it could be. I didn't see anyone leave the Hall yet. This is very odd," Harry added.
As if it knew they were there, the door to the Room of Requirement opened. Standing in the door was Dumbledore.
"Professor! Fancy meeting you here," Harry said, slightly embarrassed.
"You will forgive me, Harry, but you seemed to leave the Hall before I had a chance to speak with you. I'm afraid that I must ask you and Ginny to join me in my office. There is a matter of some urgency that we must discuss."
Harry's joy was gone. Ginny grabbed his hand and hugged into him tightly. Harry gave her a reassuring kiss on the cheek.
"What's this about, Professor?"
Dumbledore walked out of the room and looked very seriously at Harry.
"I have good reason to believe that your destiny is at hand. The time is come to confront Voldemort directly. There has been a discovery that should give us the upper hand, but timing is very important. We must go."
Harry looked at Ginny, who was obviously very scared. She looked into his eyes and gave him a nod. Harry nodded back.
"Okay Professor, let's go."
Harry and Ginny followed Dumbledore into his office to find it had grown considerably in size. Every surface of the room was covered with dozens and dozens of rolls of parchment, books, and other papers. The Lover's Bond book Harry and Ginny had given Dumbledore sat prominently on a stand in the middle of a large table in the center of the room. Most of the Order was here as well as several Aurors Harry didn't know.
Ginny perked up a bit when her parents arrived, accompanied by Ron, Hermione, the twins, Bill and Charley. Harry grabbed Ginny and headed over to Ron and Hermione.
"Do either of you two know what's going on?" Harry asked. They shook their head.
"McGonagall just said we'd want to be here. She said there was going to be some kind of announcement within the Order," Hermione answered.
"Mum was very hush-hush, too, though you can tell she's not entirely in a right state. Something big's going on, Harry, you can be sure of that."
A dinging sound caught Harry's attention. He turned to see Dumbledore ringing a little bell to get everyone's attention.
"Please, everyone, have a seat. We have much to discuss."
As Harry sat at the table, he got the impression it had been magically built by merging several smaller tables together. Everyone sat down around the table, Harry between Ginny and Mrs. Weasley. Nobody spoke a word. Dumbledore had everyone's complete attention.
"Everyone here is aware of the legend of the Lover's Bond. As you all know, Harry and Ginny have not only come into possession of a true Lover's Bond, but they have also successfully activated it. While the emergence of this item is by itself a momentous event, it is made even more significant by the existence of the book in the center of the table."
Everyone turned to briefly look at the Lovers Bond book, then back to Dumbledore.
"Harry and Ginny activated the charm in the Room of Requirement. The choice of this location turned out to be most fortunate, as it made the existence of this book possible. You can imagine my incredible surprise and gracious humility when Harry and Ginny presented this most unique and valuable gift to me. For you see, Harry, Ginny, this book holds the clue we needed to finally understand how to bring about Voldemort's end."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other, dumbfounded. Harry turned to Ron and Hermione; they appeared speechless. Harry looked at Mr. and Mrs. Weasley; their faces bore expressions of pride and some sadness. He looked to Remus, who had a very large grin on his face. Finally, he looked back to Dumbledore.
"I don't understand, Professor." Harry said.
"In that case, Harry, I suggest you let Ginny help explain it to you."
Harry looked at Ginny, who hadn't quite recovered from her initial shock. She swallowed hard.
"You remember when I told you that every romance writer in the Wizarding world at some point in their career writes a Lovers Bond story?" Ginny asked. Harry nodded. "In each story I have read, the Lover's Bond always has a special power. In one story, the witch is captured, and the Lover's Bond helps the wizard track her to where she had been hidden."
Harry thought about this for a moment. He turned to Dumbledore. "What power could it have that would help defeat Voldemort?"
"If memory serves, Harry, after your incident with Professor Quirrell, we discovered that your mother's sacrifice imbued you with a certain resistance to Voldemort's influence. Though the ritual Voldemort performed to return to strength has lessened this resistance to the point where he can touch you, he still cannot bear to do certain things. For example, at the Ministry two years ago, he could not bear to possess you because of your mother's love, which remains within you."
Something shifted in Harry's mind. "Love! The one thing Voldemort has no power over is love! The Lover's Bond must have some way to affect Voldemort using love!"
Dumbledore beamed. "Yes, Harry, Love! When you found the Lover's Bond, I was most anxious to know about the experience you and Ginny would enjoy, knowing full well it might give us a small clue as to the possibilities it represented. I had thought I would have to interview the two of you, or use a pensive to gleam information from you. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever expect that you would hand me the answers I sought in such a complete and usable form."
In Harry's excitement, he hadn't noticed that the others in the room were not sharing in his happiness. He noticed this as Dumbledore finished his statement.
"So why is everyone so glum?" Harry asked.
Dumbledore looked at Harry for some time, then continued.
"As I stated to you before, magic on the level of the Lover's Bond has the potential to be very dangerous. Even if we are able to use its magic to defeat Voldemort, we cannot be certain that the results will be without side effects. Also, even though we have learned a great deal about the Lover's Bond, each instance of the charm is different, so we cannot be completely sure how to make use of it."
Dumbledore shifted his gaze to Ginny. "One thing we are sure of, Harry. Both you and Ginny must be present in order to use it. You must confront him together."
Harry was stunned. A familiar lump formed in his throat. He looked at Ginny; she was obviously scared, but trying to be brave. He looked to the Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley had her head buried in Mr. Weasley's chest. He was doing his best to console her. Harry knew she was crying. He looked back Ron and Hermione; they were both near tears, though Ron more so than Hermione. Harry could feel a tear running down his cheek as he looked back to Ginny, who, though not crying openly, was obviously near the point of doing so.
It was more than Harry could bear.
"I can't do it, Professor."
Dumbledore put up his hand and smiled understandingly. "Don't say anything right now, Harry. This is a responsibility of monumental weight, one that no one Wizarding couple should have to face. Unfortunately, the facts are as they stand, and though the decision lies with the two of you, know that every witch and wizard in this room, and many, many more who cannot be here, are all behind you. We will lend whatever support we are able to make this happen. Though the final decision sits squarely in your shoulders, you will not face Voldemort alone."
Harry looked down at Ginny. She looked up at him, face wet with tears, face strangely calm.
"It's as I always feared, Ginny. I've put you in danger. I never wanted this. I had always feared that Voldemort might use my love to get to me. I never imagined I would have to drag you into a confrontation with him. One bout with Voldemort is enough. I can't ask you to do it again, especially after what he did to you. I can't give him the opportunity. It's too much…" Harry's voice trailed off. He was near hysterics, and he didn't want his grief to add to Ginny's.
Ginny's voice was strangely calm. "Do you remember the pledge you made to me that night, Harry?" Harry could only nod. "I made the same pledge, Harry. I love you more than life itself. I meant that, as I'm sure you did. And now, our love has the potential to end the greatest evil known to wizard kind. I knew all to well what it would mean to share my heart with you. I accepted this risk. You know this already." Ginny reached up and cradled Harry's face in her hand. "You don't have to ask. I will stand with you and we will face Voldemort together."
Harry wiped the tears from his eyes the best he could. "I'm so afraid, Ginny. I don't know what's going to happen to us. I don't know what's worse, the thought of living without you, or the thought of leaving you here to grieve for me. This is all too sudden. I want to settle down, have a family, live to a ripe old age."
Ginny actually smiled. "We may yet, Harry. Have a little faith. We've survived Voldemort before. We can do it again."
"I don't know what I'd do without you, Ginny. I love you so much…" They embraced and held each other.
Dumbledore broke the silence. "We can only imagine what you two are feeling. But if this is your decision, Harry, Ginny, we should begin briefing you on the plan. The sooner we can start, the better."
Harry eased his embrace, and he and Ginny sat up and held hands, locking their fingers tightly together.
Harry nodded to nobody in particular. "Right. Let's get started, then."