Chapter 39 : Chapter 39: Epilogue
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“I-” Harry stopped in the door of the kitchen and grinned sheepishly at his two best friends, who both looked as if they needed a shower. “I’m going up to see Ginny, all right?”
“All right, Harry,” Hermione said, stamping on Ron’s foot when he wanted to protest.
Harry didn’t wait for Ron to say anything. He took the stairs two at a time and reached her door in seconds. He pushed it open silently, and found Ginny staring at him, wide awake.
She tried to sit up a bit, but he forestalled her by rushing to her side and kissing her gently. He’d missed her so much, even though it had only been a few days. Ginny responded as he sank down on to the side of the bed, so glad that he was back, they were both safe, and it was over.
When they broke apart, Ginny flopped back onto her pillow and smiled, although her eyes looked red and swollen. “So how long are you back for?”
“Forever,” Harry answered instantly. “It’s over, Ginny. He’s dead.”
Ginny simply blinked in surprise. “Seriously?”
“Yeah,” he replied, laughing in relief. “I don’t have to go again. You’re stuck with me.”
“But…” Ginny’s eyes, to his horror, filled with tears. She grabbed for his shirt and pulled him down to hug him. “Fleur said you were going to be dead, that Tom was going to kill you soon!”
He hugged her as tightly as he dared, still aware of her bandages and cuts. “I know… I heard that she tried to kill you. I’m sorry about that, Ginny.”
She sniffed, keeping him close. “She said she didn’t have a choice… that he’d kill her parents and sister, but-”
“But we could have protected them!” Harry growled, remembering that it had been Fleur who had reprimanded them in the hospital when Ginny had been hurt. “She must have felt guilty, though. She was probably the one who gave away your secret to Voldemort.”
“Yeah,” Ginny said, sounding more in control. She let go of him and swiped away her last tears. “I’m sorry about falling apart. I was nearly killed today, Dad’s hurt and… well I thought you were dead. I had this dream that you, Tom and I were in this wrecked building and I was touching your face, telling you that you couldn’t die because you had to come back to me, but then I woke up.”
Harry’s mouth fell open in surprise. Quickly he told her about what had happened when he killed Voldemort, but for some reason she didn’t seem as shocked as he was.
“I owed you a life debt, Harry. When you needed me to save you, I was there.” Her voice was calm as she said it, but her face showed her relief.
He shook his head. “You didn’t owe me anything.”
They sat in silence for awhile before Ginny broke it. “I’ve been thinking about you and me.”
“Oh?” Harry asked, his heart suddenly slamming into his throat. He pushed a lock of her hair off of her face, and tried to ignore the grave look on her face. “What about us?”
“I don’t think we can go any further until you see the truth.” Ginny took a deep breath and stubbornly met his gaze. “You still want us to be ‘us’, right?”
“Of course I do!” Harry had never wanted anything more in his life.
She nodded and sat up, pushing him back from the bed a bit. Before he could more that utter a peep, she’d pulled off her t-shirt, revealing her bra clad torso. Harry’s pulse went in to over drive, and he had to fight to make himself not stare at her. She was so beautiful!
“They’re really bad and if we continue on, well…” Ginny stopped, and looked as if she wanted to hide, but didn’t. She continued to look at him as he fought to keep his eyes on her face.
“Right…” Harry said, feeling as if he’d been hit by a bludger. “Sorry, what’s bad?”
Ginny burst out laughing and weakly hit his arm. “My scars, you dolt!”
“Oh!” He finally took a look and saw that she was right. It looked rather painful. “Yeah, well, that’s just you, isn’t it? I guarantee that if you’ve got your shirt off, that I’m not going to be paying attention to those scars. There are… uh… better things to look at.”
Shaking her head, she put her shirt back on, although it looked painful to him and in the end, he ended up helping her get it back on. “I just needed to be sure, you know? I didn’t want you to think that I looked perfect under my clothes.”
“You’re perfect to me, and that’s all that matters.” Harry said, kissing her again.
It took several more months before Ginny was fit enough to be walking around the grounds. They’d made it to Remus and Tonks’ wedding the month before, but only because Ginny had threatened to walk there if they didn’t find a means of getting her to the ceremony. Afterwards, though, she’d been so tired that she’d needed to stay in bed for a week. Since then, Mrs. Weasley had been extremely vigilant about keeping her daughter cooped up.
It was driving Ginny barmy, although Harry wasn’t willing to break the rules. Mrs. Weasley had threatened him from here to eternity if he dared remove her from the house and he’d taken her seriously.
When they finally managed to get out for a bit, Harry set up a picnic under a tree a little ways from the house. Mr. Weasley, who had fully recovered from his injuries, had warned them not to stay out too late, as it was supposed to rain. Harry had promised to be good, and after ten minutes of fussing on Mrs. Weasley’s part, they’d left for a slow walk to the blanket.
“I am so glad to be out of the house!” Ginny exclaimed, sounding happier than she had in a long time. “Hey,” she stopped and pointed to the hole in the ground where Harry had blasted apart a tree. “How did that get there?”
“Well…” and he explained about getting so angry that she was under attack that he blew the thing up.
Ginny shook her head sadly, and then winked at him. “I always liked that tree. It was fun for climbing in. Ah well.”
They continued on to the blanket and by the time they got there, Ginny needed to lie down. “I hate being this weak,” she exclaimed with disgust.
“It won’t be much longer,” Harry said bracingly, thankful that it was true. “Soon enough you’ll be up and about, hexing all of your brothers again.” He felt the dig of the small box in his pocket, but he ignored it. Ron and Hermione had gotten engaged a week ago, but it was different. They were older, after all. Harry still wasn’t sure what had possessed him to buy the ring, but any time he thought of asking her, he felt like he might be sick.
“I suppose so,” Ginny agreed as she pulled him down beside her and snuggled her head onto his shoulder. “I just want to get on with life. I’ll be of age in a week and I want to get a job, or do something like that. You lot have all got your pick of jobs.”
It was true. He and Ron had been accepted in to Auror training, which they had both accepted. It was grueling work during the week, but they had weekends off. Hermione, however, had decided to become an Unspeakable. Harry wasn’t sure exactly what she did, but she seemed happy enough doing it. It hadn’t mattered that they hadn’t taken their NEWT’s. The Wizarding world was just thankful that they’d killed Voldemort, and the rest would take care of itself.
“What if Hogwarts reopens?” Harry asked, playing with a soft strand of her long, red hair.
Ginny shrugged. “I can’t go. The Healer said it would probably kill me if I tried and anyway, I don’t think I could go back after a few years when I am healed up. I’d be so old that it would be odd.”
“You could study at home for your NEWT’s and get into the Auror program with us,” Harry said casually, trying not to show how much he wanted her to do that.
“That’s what I think I’m going to do, actually. The Minister was really nice about that, after I showed him all of my memories in the Pensieve.” Ginny’s voice was soft now, as if she was about to fall asleep. “Too bad for Fleur, though. I can’t believe she got a life sentence in Azkaban.”
“I can, actually. She was a traitor, even if she was being extorted. I feel sorry for Bill, though.” Bill hadn’t been the same since. He’d gone back to Egypt and by all accounts was the best Curse Breaker that Gringotts had, probably because he didn’t care if he lived or died.
She signed and rolled over, until she was half on him. “I miss Bill and… Harry, there’s something in your pocket that’s poking me.”
Harry blushed and tried to shift away. “It’s nothing.”
“Move it to the other pocket. I was comfortable and I don’t want to move.” Ginny’s voice was firm as she stared up at him.
Harry reached his arm around her waist and dug the small box from his pocket, ready to transfer it, when she snatched it from his fingers and opened it. Harry wanted to look away, but it was as if her face was a magnet and he couldn’t seem to turn away. “Ginny…”
“This is an engagement ring,” she said bluntly, turning her face up to look at him. “Isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but…” But what, he wondered. “I still hadn’t figured out how to ask you.”
She studied him for a long time before saying, “You could just try asking, you know.”
“You might say no,” Harry blurted out, a fear coming to the surface that he hadn’t wanted to face before now.
“Are you a Gryffindor or not?” Ginny reminded him, now a small smile playing across her face. “Do I have to ask you?”
“No!” Harry said, getting the box from her. “I don’t think the ring would fit me, anyway. All right, Ginny…” he turned onto his side and cupped her face, feeling light headed and sick. “I love you and, oh damn, I don’t know what else to say! Will you marry me, please?”
Ginny nodded and kissed him, whispering ‘yes’ against his lips. “You’re awfully cute when you’re nervous, Potter. Did you know that?”
Harry wasn’t paying attention, though. He slipped the ring on to her finger and kissed her again. He’d have time to worry about how he looked to her later.
A/N: It's done!!! Like it or hate it, it is over with. I actually think I'm done writing HP too, but we'll see.
Thanks again to my brave beta's, David, James and Nink! You've been wonderful.
Thank you also reviewers, for your payment of kind words and encouragement. It's been a joy and I'll never forget it.