As Harry got up and walked away from Ginny, she could literally feel her heart breaking. With each step he took away from her, she could feel it a little more, and as he turned away, the break was thorough.
She knew he’d say it, she knew it was coming, but being prepared didn’t ease the pain. Things were too perfect, they were too happy. Harry was too happy. And now his sense of responsibility was kicking in. Somehow, his happiness just made it seem more like it would be a temporary situation, the two of them being together. Ginny put on a brave face, but could feel a sense of dread wash over her as he spoke. Despite his pushing her away, she still cared about him, and she knew he’d come back to her. How could she make him realize that by pushing her away, he was putting himself if danger? Love protected him, made him different from Voldemort, made him stronger. Ginny knew Harry loved her, even if he didn’t say it. He’d never said it to anyone – he told her that. It was one of the things she learned about him that make her heart ache – how could someone so special, so caring and brave, never have remembered what it was like to know someone really loved him? She was sure he knew how she felt about him, even if she didn’t say the words. Maybe that would make a difference. Maybe he just needed to hear her say it. Surely that would mean something to Harry.
Hermione wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand and pulled a pile of carefully folded tissues from the pocket of her robes. She handed a few to Ron, who wiped his face and blew his nose without looking at her. She blew her nose and pocketed the tissues, and leaned back onto Ron’s shoulder. She turned her puffy eyes up to him.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly, almost shyly.
“Why?” Ron looked down at Hermione’s sad face. “What for?”
“I sort of used you to…lean on, cry on. And, well, you’re all wet now,” she explained, gesturing toward the front of his robes, which were now damp with her tears. She slumped down in her chair, but leaned further into him, burying her head in his arm, embarrassed. Despite her embarrassment, she didn’t want to move away from him.
“Hermione,” Ron took a deep breath. It was now or never. “I hope you know you can, um, ‘lean on me’ whenever you want. Really. I...I don’t mind. I’m here for you...” he trailed off. He didn’t want to come out and say he enjoyed holding her, and being there for her, given the occasion was anything but enjoyable. What kind of git enjoys a funeral? Especially this one.
Hermione sat up and looked at Ron, and as their eyes met, they were both struck with a feeling that things finally made sense. He uncrossed his legs so she could scoot closer, resting her head on his chest. With a deep, shuttering breath, Hermione wrapped her arms tightly around Ron’s middle, and he put both of his arms around her. Never before had being in each other’s presence felt so right, or made them feel so safe.
Ginny got up from her chair and stalked past Hermione and Ron, barely noticing their pose. But she did a double take and slowed her pace, turning to look at them from behind, so that they wouldn’t notice her staring. She didn’t want to spoil the moment for them, as it was literally years in the making.
“Finally!” she thought.“ At last they figured it out. Maybe they’ll inspire Harry.”
Ginny turned back around and continued up the lawn from the lake to meet with her parents.
“How are you doing, dear?” Mrs. Weasley asked, running her hands over Ginny’s long red hair. “I saw you talking to Harry – is he alright? Have you seen Ron and…” She stopped as she saw Ginny’s eyes well with tears.
“It’ll be all right, darling,” she soothed, pulling Ginny into her arms, and turning her head slightly to her husband. “Arthur – why don’t you go see if the Minister needs you for anything.”
Mrs. Weasley had noticed Rufus Scrimgeour left her son Percy's side and was now walking towards Harry. Percy seemed to be working very hard at not noticing anyone from his family, not even his obviously injured brother, Bill. Mrs. Weasley motioned her eyes back at a crying Ginny and Mr. Weasley took the hint that some girl talk was about to start.
“Yes, dear,” he said, walking away. He had no intention of talking to the Minister, but he would give anything to get Percy alone.
“Now, darling, are you going to tell me what you and Harry were talking about? Did you have a fight? I’m sure it’s nothing.”
Ginny was confused. Did her mother know about her and Harry? She rubbed her face into her mother’s smothering but warm arms, drying her tears. She pulled away, but held her mother’s hands in her own.
“No, Mum, it’s nothing, really. I’m just sad because…uh, Dumbledore…”
“Dear, the twins told me that you and Harry are seeing each other. Did you have a fight? You don’t have to hide anything from me. I love Harry like a son – although I’ll have to change that now I suppose.”
Ginny could not hide her shock. “The twins? How on earth did they know anything?”
“Apparently they have spies here at Hogwarts - students. They offer things from the shop. To keep tabs on you, and Ron, of course. I'm not endorsing it, dear, just letting you know. We heard all about that Lavender girl. I wonder what Ron was thinking.” Mrs. Weasley had a twinkle in her eye, but Ginny would not be put off her anger. She was finished crying.
“Well, they should be working for the Order then, because we could use some good spies! I can’t believe this! Why can’t I have a private life? It’s bad enough that the wretched Skeeter woman and Merlin knows who else puts those horrible stories about Harry in The Prophet, but I can’t even have a boyfriend…my family… you can’t just-” she sputtered in anger.
“Besides, dear, it seemed fairly obvious when you two came to the infirmary the other night. Had I not already known, I would have guessed then. It’s pretty obvious how you two feel about each other…and Ron and Hermione…” She gestured in the direction of the two entwined mourners. “What he was doing with that other girl, I don’t know. And you’ve liked Harry for so long. I would have said something sooner but I was hoping you would come to me. Now, you haven’t told me what happened.”
“We broke up.”
This was a surprise. “I see. And did you break up with him-”
“No, Mum. It was his idea. He thinks it will make me safe.”
“Oh, dear. Well, of course, nobody is safe these days.”
“Well, he seems to think I’m more in danger if we’re together.”
“Ginny, you are no more or less in danger whether or not you’re with Harry.” Mrs. Weasley looked down toward the lake. Harry was now walking back with the Minister, neither looking like their conversation had been pleasant. “Maybe later this summer, when he’s not so emotional, you can work things out. You must remember Ginny, how close he was to Professor Dumbledore, how many losses he’s had to endure in his short life. He’s only 16 – you’re only 15. Your lives are just beginning, and he especially has lived through more trauma than most adults ever see, without benefit of a strong family to turn to or support him.”
“He has us.” Ginny protested.
“Well, yes, but it’s not the same, is it?” She said gently. “Imagine how you would feel if you didn’t have us to turn to. Imagine how you’d feel if one of us...” Her voice broke.
Ginny didn’t want to imagine – seeing Bill so severely injured was bad enough, it was fresh in all their minds. And Percy turning his back on them - she couldn’t stomach the thought of losing anyone in her family the way Harry had.
“I’ve tried to tell him he can always come to me, to us. He just pushed me away.”
Mrs. Weasley took a deep breath, regaining her composure. “Give him time, Ginny. So many people he loved and depended upon have died – and what makes it worse is that he’s seen it happen. You don’t just get over that, and I'm sure he thinks he'd be responsible if something happened to you. I’ve often wondered how he has turned out to be such a nice young man, so normal, really, with all he’s been through, and those horrible relatives of his.”
Ginny snorted. Her mother hadn't really seen a truly mad Harry in action. Mrs. Weasley continued as if she hadn't noticed.
“Truth be told, I’d like to think that we’ve been a good and strong enough influence that we’ve helped with that. I’m sure he’ll realize the error of his ways with a little distance. He has to go back to Surrey, doesn’t he? When he comes for the wedding, you can pick up the discussion again. But don’t pester him — just be there for him, as a friend. I can tell he loves you Ginny – there’s no way he could hide that from Voldemort, let alone anyone else. You can’t turn it on and off. Some people never feel that way about anyone. You’re lucky to have each other.” She smiled at her daughter, suddenly realizing how grown up she had become. In little more than a year, she’d be of age. “He’ll come back to you, Ginny. He just has other things he needs to deal with now.”
Ginny smiled back. Her mother always did make things seem better.
Ron and Hermione stood, Ron first, reaching down to help Hermione to her feet, but not letting go of her hand. Together they walked towards Harry, who was again leaning against the big beech tree. As they approached him, they realized their hands were still clasped, and dropped them.
After telling Harry they’d be coming to Privet Drive – not allowing him to decide if it was acceptable – they reminded him of the pending nuptials at the Burrow. Harry seemed distracted, and more upset than when he had left them at the chairs, and Hermione asked him why.
“Uh, Ginny and I…. I broke it off with her.”
“Are you crazy?” Hermione’s voice was raised. “What is wrong with you? Why on earth would you do that?”
“Hermione,” Ron started, his voice even. Hermione calmed and took a breath, looking from Ron to Harry. Ron, too, turned his gaze to Harry. “Let him explain, because I get the right to hit him first if he’s just being a stupid git, breaking my sister’s heart. Let him tell us his ‘good reason’ – you have one, right, Harry?” He didn’t take his eyes off Harry. Harry noticed Ron suddenly seemed very steady on his feet.
“It’s just better this way,” Harry explained. “She’s safer if she’s not with me. If we’re together, she’s just a target. Voldemort will use her to get to me. And it would work.”
This time Hermione spoke. “Oh, Harry, you are stupid git.”
Harry had to stifle a laugh, because he couldn’t remember Hermione ever using that word before, and it just didn’t seem natural.
“Dumbledore told you – love will protect you, remember? You love her, don’t you?”
Harry nodded slowly as the realization hit him. He’d never openly admitted it before, but he knew he did, and he wanted to smile at the thought of her, but also, lock her away so she’d be safe. Hermione’s words brought him back to earth.
“Besides, we’re all in danger, no matter what. Stop trying to be a hero, thinking you have to save us all single handedly. Get it through your head that you need people – you need us, you need Ginny. She needs you. Love is what will win this war, Harry. If you battle Voldemort with anger instead of love, there’s no way you’ll win. And we’ll all lose.”
“She’s right, Harry. Love’s a good thing. Don’t be daft and push it away.”
Harry was surprised to hear Ron say this. Very surprised – Ron was agreeing with Hermione. Harry suddenly felt as if he was in an alternate universe, and was speechless as he watched Ron gently lift Hermione’s hand in his, run his thumb over the back and kiss it, his eyes locked on her. He turned to Harry and smiled, then turned to walk away, pulling a not-so-shocked Hermione with him. Hermione smiled back at Ron with tears in her eyes, and turned back to Harry as the two started up toward the castle.
“We’d better finish packing if we don’t want to miss the train, Harry.”
Harry felt glued to his spot.
“What just happened?” he asked nobody. “What did I miss?”
Write a Review Harry Potter and Hope For the End: After The End