Chapter 1 : A Midnight Commemoration
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Years he’d been waiting for this. Years that felt like distant memories now. Years of hardship and torturous struggles. Years that had shaped him into a man; that had sculpted and manipulated him into an obsessed hunter. Years he’d spent searching ever long for Horcruxes and Voldemort. He shivered at the thought of it, of the murder he’d committed, and pulled the girl lying with him even closer.
Of course, he’d never wanted to be a murderer, but when a prophecy is thrown at your feet saying, ‘kill or be killed,’ one generally goes for the former. However, Harry hadn’t done it just because he was destined to – he wanted to. He wanted Voldemort dead and he wanted to be the one to do it. He wanted to have the comfort of knowing the man threatening everyone he cared about was gone; to know it was over by the actions he’d performed, not someone else. Harry had learned very quickly that when you do something yourself, it feels much more concrete than hearing about someone else doing it. When it’s something as important as Voldemort, knowing you did it has a certain consolation to it.
The search for the Horcruxes had been an incredibly long and exhausting one. Half of it had been erased from Harry’s memory from the sheer magnitude and stress of it all. His many acquired scars were some of the only evidence that it’d ever happened. Flashes of it came back in his dreams, terrible scenes that he was glad he’d never remembered before and tried desperately to forget again.
That was all over now, but he couldn’t seem to comprehend it. Consciously he knew it was behind him, just another memory, and he should be over it. He shouldn’t still be anxious or paranoid, worried about the deaths that would occur. Voldemort was gone, his reign was over and Harry should relax and get on with his life.
In some aspects he had. He’d continued living as regularly as possible. At eighteen he’d finally finished the war, ended the terror, and went onto other things. He’d come out of hiding, bought his own house and thought about his career choices. He’d wanted to be an Auror for quite some time, but Scrimgeour had quickly dampened that idea. At first Harry was sure everything would turn out fine, even though he hadn’t finished school – until the Minister showed up at his doorstep, ready to discuss his “part of the system.” Harry had revoked his application shortly after.
Since then he’d been training to get back into Quidditch. For him that really seemed to be the only other option. If he couldn’t hunt down the few remaining Death Eaters, he may as well go for his other passion. He hadn’t received any offers for a tryout yet, however, and the prospects weren’t looking good. But he was trying and until he found a different job that interested him, he’d keep trying.
And then there was the girl lying next to him. He could remember quite vividly the letter he’d sent her to tell her not to wait around for him. After that there wasn’t much time left to think about it, he had a mission. A mission he’d finished and left behind to come back, to find her. She’d been with someone else at the time, but incidentally it had ended shortly after he’d returned. He couldn’t be bothered to feel guilty about it, he was too worn out – not to mention he’d had her first anyway.
Their fourth anniversary was coming up shortly. Four years he’d spent with this amazing girl – this extraordinary woman – and he wouldn’t have given up a moment of it for the world. So many unbelievable memories and emotions flooded him. He couldn’t imagine life without the girl lying next to him. The thin cotton of her shirt pressed against his chest and her hair gently brushing his nose, Harry was suddenly grateful for this specific moment. To be able to just hold her with the crickets chirping in his ears, the cool night air caressing their skin. It was serene yet exhilarating. It was during moments like these that Harry realized he could be dead. He could be long gone, just a distant memory, but he was still breathing. His love could be in someone else’s bed, but she wasn’t. She was right here, in his arms.
He thought momentarily about the torture so many people had suffered before Voldemort’s reign ended. Disliking these thoughts very much, he quickly tried to divert from it; to think once more about the girl he was holding onto. Yet such powerful memories clung to his attention. Now that they had it, they were determined to keep it. Flashes of scenes playing mercilessly through his mind, he tried to keep his breathing steady. What if it had been the girl next to him? What if she’d been taken, tortured and put through unimaginable pain? His stomach churned at the thought of it.
An all new appreciation and gratitude fell over him like a tidal wave. He clamped his eyes shut fighting the sudden tears burning them. He was filled with an amazing recognition of thanks. Thanks for this moment and this life; the life he’d been burdened with for so many years was now instantaneously being lifted from him. Thanks for the breath he was taking, for the beating of his heart and for just existing. He pressed his lips against her bare shoulder, grinning slightly when she let out a small sigh.
“Ginny?” he whispered softly, pushing himself up with one elbow.
She rolled over onto her back to face him, blinking slowly. In the dull moonlight her freckles looked faint, her eyes strangely dark.
“I love you,” he said simply.
She smiled widely.
“I love you too, Harry,” she replied, reaching up and pushing his hair off of his forehead. Her thumb traced his lightning bolt scar gently. He closed his eyes for a moment and savored the feeling of her soft hand on his face.
Something immense was growing somewhere in his ribcage. An overwhelming sense of entirety and faultlessness. It crawled up through his windpipe, pausing only in his throat when he swallowed, before escaping out his mouth.
“Do you want to get married? To me, I mean?” he asked.
Ginny’s hand paused midway of running through his hair in surprise. As though suddenly much heavier, it fell from the tangles of his mop-like hair and landed on his arm, a soft clapping noise slipping out before cutting back into silence.
“Are you pro—” she tried to say, but he quickly cut her off.
“Yes,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I don’t have a ring or anything yet, but we can go look together. I mean, if you want. If you want to… you know, be with me forever and everything.”
His cheeks very suddenly feeling quite warm as embarrassment washed over him. He couldn’t believe what he’d just said. He hadn’t meant for it to come out like that at all, his heart just got the better of him and splurged before his brain could interfere. His stomach turned over, waiting impatiently for some kind of response.
“Of course I want to,” Ginny whispered, her hand suddenly running up and down his arm slowly.
“Really?” Harry asked breathlessly.
Did she just say what I thought she said? he thought dumbly.
“I can’t think of anything that would make me happier,” she smiled.
An odd mix of relief and excitement took hold of him, so he half wanted to lie down and relax, while the other half of him wanted to jump up and shout. She was going to marry him. Oh, Merlin, he was… he was going to be married? There was a moment of befuddlement while he took it in, and then he was suddenly very aware.
“We’re going to get married,” he said plainly.
She let out a content sigh before pulling him close to her, her brown eyes sparkling in the dim moonlight. Her hands roamed over his pale skin, down his neck and chest. He waited for something to happen, for her to give him some kind of sign. It felt like ages they lay like that, just staring at one another. Finally, Ginny let out a soft laugh.
“What?” he asked, surprised. “What’s funny?”
“Nothing,” she sighed, giggling once more. “I can’t believe this is happening. You didn’t even get a ring, you silly boy.”
“It was kind of spur of the moment,” he admitted.
“Then how do you know that’s what you want?” Ginny asked him, a sudden look of confusion on her beautiful face.
“It’s not like I haven’t thought about it before, because I have. It’s just… right now, everything felt right.”
“Why just now?” she further questioned, although the worry melted away with every word spoken.
“I don’t know. I was thinking… thinking about being alive and how fortunate I am to be here and with you. Just being the way I have been since… you know, since it. What if something bad had happened? What if things were different?” he said, sounding uncharacteristically philosophical.
“But they’re not different.”
“I know, and that’s why I decided, just now, that I’d better ask you,” he continued clumsily. “I realized things could have been the exact opposite of what they are now. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should celebrate it – this. Us.”
Ginny smiled softly, her hand once again pushing his hair away from his forehead. He gazed admiringly at her, watching her as she attempted to flatten his hair.
“Wait ‘til I tell Ron,” she whispered, “Harry Potter’s become right the sop.”
Harry gave a snort of laughter, shaking his head slightly. He took her hand and pressed a firm kiss on her knuckles before stealing one from her lips.
“I think I rather like soppy Harry,” she murmured against his mouth.
He allowed a grin to escape him before recapturing her lips.
Much later as Harry began to drift off, his skin gently pressed against Ginny’s, he was sure that his split decision had been the best he’d ever made. Every anniversary, every time he felt the band on his finger, with every kiss he would think of this night, of his love for her, and the testimonial he’d made for change.