Dhugal stood at the bar cleaning the glasses from the night's customers. The pub had been closed for almost an hour and he had just about finished when a huge "WHUMP!" sounded in his back room. He grabbed the shotgun from under the counter and edged slowly to the back room door. Opening the door with the barrel, he peered in. He jumped back, shocked at the sight of the two young people in black, blood-soaked clothes, reeking of smoke and covered in ash.
Putting the gun aside, Dhugal moved with incredible speed.
"Harry, whit kin' of fankle die ye cowp intae?" he muttered, not really expecting a response.
He grabbed Ginny around the shoulders, recognizing her hair and face, as her head rolled back. He carried her over to the bed in the corner and gently laid her down. Dhugal went back to Harry, stepping gingerly to avoid the blood that was pooling on the floor. He rolled Harry over, looking for the source. He found the wounds on Harry's back and put him to rest gently on his front. Dhugal took out his pocket knife and gently cut the shirt away from Harry's back.
He started cleaning and binding the wounds on Harry's back using some spare sheets and towels from the pub's back room.
"Ach, Harry, ye really got yerself intae a spo' o' trouble this ti', didn' yae?"
The shirt came away fine, but Dhugal couldn't get the wounds to stop bleeding. He would no sooner clean and bind them, than the towels would be almost totally soaked through.
"Harry, lad, ye hae' ta help me a bit. I canna get these woun's tae sto' bleeding."
Harry groaned when Dhugal moved his arm, but didn't wake up.
Dhugal was about at his wit's end. He had tried everything he knew to stop the bleeding, but nothing was working. He knew the Harry was different, and that he had a dangerous occupation. There was no reason for his wounds to resist everything Dhugal was doing to try and treat them, though.
He started to change the dressing again, when he heard a groan from Ginny.
"How's Harry?" she asked, weakly.
"He's los' a lo' of blood, but I thank he'll be alrigh.' I'm tryin' tae get these wounds cleaned oop a'fore he loses much more."
"Here, let me help," she said. Ginny stumbled over, almost collapsing on Dhugal when her slender frame was wracked with coughs.
"Whit kin ye dae?" he asked. "Yer almos' gaun yerself."
She didn't answer right away, too busy struggling through coughing fit wreaking havoc with her body.
"I'm fine," she lied. At his raised eyebrow, she paused. "Ok, I'm not exactly fine. I don't have any major injuries, though. Just some cuts and bruises from the ceiling falling in on us. Most of it's the smoke."
"Ye need tae lie doon, Ginny. Mos' people canna handle tae much smoke a'fore they choke to death, an' it sounds like yer pretty close."
"Dhugal, I owe Harry my life many times over. If I can help him, I will, " Ginny said with steel in her voice. "I would give him every last breath I have."
Ginny leaned heavily on Dhugal while she waved her wand over Harry, murmuring an incantation. Dhugal sat back in shock as the wounds on Harry's back slowly sealed themselves. What was this? How did she do that? She held the spell for as long as she could. Then, when her face had turned the same pasty white as Harry, she passed out. Dhugal caught her before she hit the floor, and lifted her gently onto the bed again. He checked her pulse; weak and thready, but it didn't seem to show any signs of faltering. Dhugal covered her with a blanket and went to check on Harry.
His wounds were healed, but his skin felt cold and clammy. Dhugal put Harry's arm over his shoulder. Then being careful not to disturb Harry's back, he stood up. Dragging Harry to put him in bed next to Ginny, Dhugal was careful not to jostle him too badly. He moved the blanket to cover them both.
This was beyond his capabilities. They both needed attention that he couldn't provide.
Dhugal left them for a minute and went to his office. He opened a red envelope and pulled out a card. Dhugal picked up his phone and dialed the number printed on it.
"Hello. Granger residence," answered a man's voice.
"Hello. Mah name is Dhugal McClarren. Ah was given' this number in case of emergency. Dae ye by any chance ken a laddy by the name of Harry Potter?"
"Harry? He's a friend of my daughter's. What's the problem?"
"Harry an' a frien o' his cam tae me pub aboot an hour ago. They keek tae hae ben inna nas'y fight an' fire."
"Can you tell me where you are?"
"Sanda Island Pub, in Loch Cambeltown, Argyllshire."
The voice got muffled as the man covered the receiver and spoke to someone else in the room. Then he came back.
"Ok. My wife's getting word to our daughter. They'll have someone out there straightaway. In the meantime, can you tell me what their symptoms are? We're dentists, not medical doctors, but we may be able to help."
"Harry's wounds hae ben taken care of, but he feels cauld, like a fish frae the loch. His frien inna so cold, but the lassie was coughing a lo' and seems verra weak."
After some more conversation on the other end of the phone, Mr. Granger came back on. "It sounds like he's going into shock, and she's suffering from smoke inhalation. We'll relay that message along. In the meantime, you need to keep them warm. Do you have any oxygen to hand?"
"Mr. Granger, this is a pub. Ah hae no oxygen here."
"I was just hoping. Ok. Here's what you need to do. Monitor them closely. Keep them warm. Do you know CPR?"
"Ok. Just to warn you, you might have to use it at some point. Their condition doesn't sound dire yet, but it could easily get that way if they don't improve soon. Help should be there within a couple of hours."
"Alrigh'. I'll ge' back tae them then."
The next hour was tense for Dhugal. Harry, while his color had improved, had stopped breathing twice. Fortunately, he started back up when Dhugal tilted his head back.
Ginny wasn't quite so lucky. She still had a weak pulse, but she stopped breathing just after Harry did. By the time Dhugal got Harry breathing again, Ginny had started turning blue. He tilted her head back, and started breathing for her, counting to five between breaths. He'd been going like that for about fifteen minutes when Ginny gave a cough and started breathing on her own. Dhugal sat down heavily, panting as he watched the both of them.
"Harry," he said softly, "ye done gaun an' got yerself a fine lassie, there. I hope ye both kin stay alive long enough to live your lives." He picked one of the bandages off the floor, turned it over until he found a clean corner, and wiped the sweat off his face.
At a knock on the outside door, he went to the main room of the tavern. He opened the door warily. The light above the door shone on a brown-haired young woman, with a tall, red-headed man, and an older, matronly woman who looked almost, but not exactly, like a nurse. He opened the door. "Mr. McClarren?" the young woman said. "My name's Hermione Weasley, you spoke with my father about Harry?"
"Ah dinna talk tae any Weasleys," he said. "Are you related to Ginny?"
"Yes, she's my sister-in-law. You spoke with a Mr. Granger?"
"Aye, he said tha he wud talk wit his bairn. Is tha' ye?"
"Yes. This is my husband, Ron. He's Ginny's brother," Hermione said, indicating Ron. "And this is Madame Pomfrey," she said, indicating the woman on her other side. "She's a physician. May we come in?"
Dhugal looked them over. The older woman he didn't know, but the other two matched descriptions that he'd heard from Harry over the years and the man resembled Ginny.
"Please, come in. I dinna ken tae bae a crabbit auld footer, bu' Harry's tol' me mona times no' tae trus' paeple tha' shew up inna middle o' the nigh'." Dhugal led them to the back room. "Wha' took ye so lon'?"
"It took my father a little while to find us," Hermione said. "We were out to dinner; we didn't really expect to get called on an emergency."
"Then we were almost ready to come when Hermione suggested that we should get Madame Pomfrey," Ron added. "It took a few minutes to collect her and get moving."
"This is all fascinating," Madame Pomfrey said. "But if they are as bad as Hermione said, I need to see them right away."
Dhugal nodded and led to the back room where Harry and Ginny were lying. Madame Pomfrey took one look at them and started going to work.
Dhugal watched from the side with Ron and Hermione. "He's coom in keekin' a bi' sair afor, bu' this is th' wors' Ah hae seen 'im," he explained. "Ah dinna ken wha' 'e daes, bu' if he keeps this up, he wullna be daeing i' fur lang."
A weak voice came from over in the bed, "Not to worry, Dhugal. This was the last time, I think. With that one taken care of, I should be able to rest for a bit." He sat up a bit.
"Harry!" Hermione ran across the room and pulled him off the bed into a hug.
"You really mucked it up good, didn't you, mate?" Ron said. "Where were you? Why's Ginny here and in such bad shape? What's going on?"
"Mister Potter, please lie down," Madame Pomfrey added. "You came very close to dying tonight, and you need rest."
Harry lay back down. "How's Ginny?"
"Miss Weasley will be fine, now. There was a significant amount of smoke in her lungs, but I've cleaned it out. It looks like she stopped breathing, though."
"Aye," Dhugal said. "Ah had tae dae CPR fur a bi'."
"Ah, then," Madame Pomfrey said with some satisfaction. "Sometimes the Muggle way works quite well. You did very well, young man. In all probability you saved Miss Weasley's life."
Harry looked at Dhugal. "Thank you. I owe you more than you'll ever know for saving her."
Ron and Hermione exchanged looks at that. "Does that mean you're back together?" he asked.
"Yes, I think it does," Harry said.
"You'd better believe it, Mister Potter," Ginny rasped, surprising all five of them. Her eyes were open and looking at Harry with the fierceness that she was famous for. "I told you before, I'm not going anywhere. I belong with you, at your side."
Harry pulled her into a hug. "I don't want you to go anywhere, Ginny. I've finished what I needed to do."
"Really?" she asked, pulled away a little to get a better look at his eyes. "No more running around, disappearing for months?"
"Nae mair late nigh' par'ies like this 'un?" Dhugal piped in.
Harry looked up at him, but didn't move away from Ginny. "With Snape and Malfoy gone, the last knowledge of the Horcruxes lies in this room. It's beyond anyone's power to create them anymore."
The four other wizards looked wide-eyed at Harry with his pronouncement. Dhugal just looked confused by it, but relieved that his back room might no longer be party to an injured Harry Potter popping out of nowhere.
Harry sat up, pulling Ginny into his lap, wrapping his arms around her. She snuggled into his shoulder, closed her eyes, and sighed deeply. They were safe. They were together.
"And on that note," Madame Pomfrey said, "I've got to get back to Hogwarts. I want you both to either see me or go to St. Mungo's in the morning. Well, later in the morning, anyway."
"We will," said Ginny.
Madame Pomfrey Disapparated back to Hogsmeade.
"An' Ah hae tae geh' home," Dhugal put in.
"Dhugal? Can you get that other special package I left with you?" Harry asked.
Dhugal nodded at Harry and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a small package wrapped in brown paper and handed it to Harry.
"Thanks, Dhugal. For everything."
"Enne time, Harry. Ye shuld brin' yer friens aroun' sometime fer drinks. Ah wuld li'e tae ge' tae ken 'em. They hae go' tae bae special tae bae puttin' up wit ye."
"They are, Dhugal. Very special, indeed."
Harry stood up and helped Ginny out of the bed. "Let's head on over to my place. See you in a few days, Dhugal."
Dhugal waved as the four wizards walked out the door.
They Apparated to Harry's front porch and Harry unlocked the door and ushered them inside. "Ginny, can I talk to you?"
"Ron, Hermione, there are some drinks in the refrigerator. We'll be back in a few minutes." He led Ginny out the door, down to the sandy shore of the loch.
He took her in his arms, and again she felt safe and warm. Closing her eyes, she rested her head on his shoulder, arms around his waist, and sighed as she relaxed into his embrace.
"Ginny, you asked me a few weeks ago when the time would be right."
Ginny pulled away a little and looked into his eyes. "Yes, I did."
"How about now?"
Ginny looked at him for a few seconds. "Are you sure, Harry? I'll wait as long as it takes."
"No, Ginny. No more waiting."
He reached up and gently cupped her cheek in his right hand. "We have a life to build and it's time we started getting on with it, don't you think?"
She answered him by pulling his head down and kissing him deeply.
As they kissed, Ginny felt the depth of Harry's love for her. His kiss wasn't the rushed kind she'd experienced in school, nor was it the desperately physical kisses of some of the men she'd dated. She felt his love, but also his passion and his desire for her. She knew that she'd never doubt how much he loved her.
Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out the package Dhugal had given him. She watched him unwrap it. When she saw a jewelry box, she gasped. He had a ring? He had really wanted her all along?
Harry opened the box, revealing a gold ring with a diamond set, surrounded by emerald and ruby chips. "I had this made when I first realized how much you meant to me. I've been hoping that someday, I'd be able to give this to you." He took her hand in his, and looked into her eyes. "Ginny, you're already my best friend and confidante; will you be my wife as well?"
Ginny's eyes misted over as she helped him put on the ring on her left hand. "Absolutely, Harry. There's no way I'm letting you go again!" And she kissed him again.
When they went back into the house, some time later, Ron and Hermione were sitting at the kitchen table talking quietly. Hermione had realized what the small box probably was, and as soon as she saw the radiant look in Ginny's face, looked down at Ginny's hand. She immediately saw the ring and with a "squee" noise got up and ran over to give Ginny a hug. Harry sat down in the newly unoccupied chair.
Ron said, "Congratulations, Harry. I knew that you'd be the only one for her. She's a bit too headstrong for anyone else."
"I don't know about that, Ron, but she is the only one that seems to be able to deal with me. I think the craziness of my life would overwhelm anyone else. Ginny keeps me grounded. I need her as much as I hope she needs me."
"She does, mate. Trust me, she does."
"Yes, I do," Ginny said, as she and Hermione joined them.
Ginny sat in Harry's lap, put her arms around his neck and leaned her forehead against his. "Mine," she whispered.
All was now right with the world.
Thanks to Joan and Stacy for helping me keep motivated to finish this.