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Almost Happily Ever After by Jet LaBarge
Chapter 1 : Almost Happily Ever After, Battle day
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 21

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They were coming. Voldemort and the Death Eaters were coming back. Arthur and Molly were standing holding hands, looking out a hole in the wall of Hogwarts castle. Ginny, still shorter than even Molly, was in front and between them, the rest of the Weasleys, including Fleur and Hermione were around them. The castle was dark, dusty, and dangerous. Few of the halls were without some evidence of destruction. It was not just the debris; it was the smell of dust, of damp, and of death. Ginny’s dreams of a glorious victory had died that night. ‘I’ve imagined the final battle over and over,’ thought Ginny, ‘and it’s never this much chaos, this much death and destruction. Fred, Colin, Tonks, Lupin, and so many more, all the dead! So many people hurt. It’s not supposed to be like this.’ There was only one thought that gave her hope, a hope she was desperately clinging to. ‘As long as Harry’s alive we have a chance. Please Harry! You have to kill Voldemort.’

‘They’re coming,’ Ginny thought as Voldemort and his entourage approached the castle. Then she heard the news that filled her with dread and despair. Harry Potter was dead. She thought, ‘Harry’s dead? HARRY’S DEAD! NO! NO! NO! If Harry’s dead, I might as well die too.’

Looking out at the scene below, Ginny said, as much to herself as to anybody else, “We’re all going to die. Today we’re all going to die.”

“It’s time to kill,” said Arthur. “It’s time to make them pay a terrible price.”

“Oh Arthur,” said Molly, “the whole family is here.”

“We must do our best to finish Harry’s job,” said Arthur.

Ginny thought that this was the first time she’d ever known her parents to lack comforting words. They were all going to die. Suddenly lots of things seemed to happen. Ginny saw that Neville had a sword and that he had cut off the snake Nagini’s head. Voldemort was coming into Hogwarts. ‘I need to find him,’ she thought. ‘I need to help kill him! Nothing else will avenge my Harry’s death!’ Ginny ran ahead of the rest of her family, towards the heart of the battle. ‘There Voldemort is, just on the other side of Bella,’ Ginny thought, and she started to fight Bellatrix Lestrange, who was blocking her way to Voldemort. Ginny was joined in the fight by Hermione and Luna. A curse glanced off her. It hurt, oh it hurt, and her thoughts reflected the intense pain and confusion. ‘OH! AHHHHHhhhhhh. Got to get up. Forget the pain.’ Ginny forced her eyes to focus and saw her mother fighting Bella.

‘Mum?’ Ginny knew she’d had seen her mother angry, but she had never seen her mother this angry, never had she seen such a cold fury in her mother’s eyes and voice.

“AVADA KEDAVRA!” Molly shouted, with a power and a viciousness that startled everyone who heard her.

‘Mum shouted the killing curse?! Mum killed Bella? Ouch. It still hurts.’ Ginny was having a hard time functioning. Then she saw Harry and Voldemort circling each other. She could not believe it. Her emotions went from full despair to elation in a flash.

Ginny was thinking, ‘HARRY’S ALIVE! HARRY’S ALIVE! He and Voldemort are getting ready to duel. Please Harry. Please. You have to win! You have to win!’ Ginny was watching Harry Potter and Voldemort circling each other. She and most of the people in the great hall had stopped what they were doing and were watching the two adversaries circling each other. Finally a ray of light entered the great hall through the broken walls of Hogwarts Castle.

There were two powerful spells, and it was like a dream. Like the best version of the Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort duel she had been dreaming of since childhood. The two spells met, Voldemort was down, his wand flew up into the air and Harry Potter, the hero of so many dreams from childhood to even the last few weeks, the dream of Harry Potter beating Lord Voldemort, was coming true, with Harry catching Voldemort’s wand in the most graceful and satisfying ending, one even better than anything she could imagine.

Ginny was shouting, “HARRY WON! HARRY WON!” She ran over to greet Harry, looked back, and saw her mother sitting on the floor, almost lying on the floor. She turned back to look at Harry. He was a mess, bruised and battered. He wore a look of one who had finished a hard task, but was totally physically and emotionally drained. ‘Somebody needs to take care of him,’ she thought.

Ginny looked back at her mother. Fleur and her father were both there, and from their expressions she could tell that her mother needed her. Ginny hesitated for a fraction of a second, torn between embracing Harry for her Happily Ever After moment and fear for her mum. As it had so many times that day, fear, plus concern for her mum, won out so she left the crowd surrounding Harry and went to her mother’s side. “MUM, Mum, what’s the matter, Mum?” She looked at her mother, who had collapsed on the floor and was sobbing, shaking. She asked, “Why are you sitting on the floor crying? Mum, please.” Ginny still hurt! Ginny hurt all over. Ginny’s 2 big scars were really painful. Ginny’s mother was just shaking, and she had never seen Mum like this. Ginny got her mother over to a bench and sat next to her, leaning her head against her mother.

Ginny caught her dad’s eye again, and called him over. She asked, “Dad, have you ever seen Mum like this?”

Arthur Weasley heard Ginny call, and looked at his daughter and wife. “I’ve seen your mother collapse this way only a couple of times” he answered. “She needs to cry herself out. Get her up to the Gryffindor commons room, make a bed, and get her to sleep.”

“I will, Dad,” Ginny promised. She looked at the chaos reigning around her. Fleur was tending the wounded along with some others. She couldn’t see Charlie and George anywhere in the great hall. Her father, Percy and Bill were walking out through the main doors with Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Where was Harry? Ginny sat there with her mother for some time, unable to function. ‘Come on Potter, where are you?’ Ginny thought. ‘Where is MY Harry Potter? By Luna? I saw you put on that invisibility coat. Going somewhere with Ron and Hermione? Just wait, Potter. You’re not going to get away from me again, Harry Potter!’

Ginny realized that she had to focus on her mother. She had to get her mother to bed and then find Potter. “Come on Mum, I’ll hold you,” Ginny assured her, but Ginny herself was so sleepy, so sore… Still she knew what she had to do, so just before noon on May 2 she got her mum to her feet and began to guide her up out of the hall and up the stairs.

Saturday, May 2, 1998, about 4:00 PM, four hours later:

Ginny was waking up in the 4 poster bed she had made in the Gryffindor common room. She looked around and thought I must have fallen asleep. She remembered starting to take her mother up to the common room, but had only a vague memory of getting there, transforming the sofa into a bed, or climbing into bed with her mother, although she knew she must have done all of those things. She noticed that her mother was still sleeping. Her next waking thought was of Harry. ‘Where is Potter! Where! Is! Potter!’

Ginny looked around the common room. She eased herself out of bed, on the side of the bed closest to the boy’s stairway, looking around at the state of the room as she did. She could only see about half of it, since the bed was in the way. The common room was a mess, with broken windows and rubble on the floor. She could sort of see something messed up on the other side of the room. There were lots of other people there, mostly asleep she thought, although some were just sitting there with dazed looks on their faces, in the big chairs and sofas and even on the floor. Ginny saw Hermione come down the stairs from the boys’ dormitory and said, “Hi, Hermione. What were you doing in the boys’ dorm?”

Hermione answered, “I couldn’t very well sleep in the girl’s dorm.” Hermione pointed to where the steps for the girls’ dorm started. Ginny peered around the other side of the bed. The stairs to the girls’ dorm were missing, there were just spells keeping people from falling through the missing section of wall. “I’ve been putting people in rooms in the boys’ dorm,” Hermione explained. “Ron’s asleep, and Harry is just wiped out.”

It looked to Ginny like Hermione was wiped out as well. She was so tired she was shaking. “We need to get you up to bed too,” Ginny told her. “Help me up to where Ron and Harry are.” Hermione agreed.

Ginny perked up. Harry! She needed to see Harry, so she asked Hermione, “Harry’s up there? Hermione, does Harry still like me?”

Hermione looked at Ginny and thought a moment, then said, “Ginny, when we were traveling and hiding last year, in the evening Harry would take out the Marauders Map and look at your spot on the map and talk to it. I think he’s head over heels in love with you. I think you would make him very happy if you were up there when he woke up. Come up with me. If you don’t mind I would like to snuggle next to your brother.”

Ginny was very anxious. She really hoped that Harry still liked her. At some level of thinking she was still living the fairy tale ending of Harry killing Lord Voldemort and then rushing into her arms, although that dream had sort of ended with all the death and destruction and chaos of the last hours. At another level of consciousness she was worried that none of that dream was realistic. All these conflicting thoughts and desires were running through her mind as she said, “You’re sure Harry still likes me! Oh Hermione, this is so important to me.”

Hermione answered, “Yes he likes you! Come on up, Ginny.” And Ginny went upstairs with Hermione. Hermione went over to Ron who was sleeping in his bed, sort of face down sort of on his side, and crawled into bed next to him holding on to his back and putting her arms around Ron. Ginny walked over to Harry’s bed. He was facing away from the door, so she had to get on the other side of the bed to see his face. He was a mess; dirty, bruised, and obviously dead asleep.

Ginny looked at herself. Although not as dirty as Harry she was still a mess. Blood from other people was on her clothes, as well as the dirt and dust and general mess. She did not want Harry to see her like this, not now. She went into the bathroom, used the loo, then went into the showers. She placed a charm on the door to keep anyone else out, then took off her clothes and did the best cleaning charm she could on her clothes. She looked in her little bag, charmed by Hermione to be large enough on the inside to have changes of clothes, shampoo and other necessities. She got her shampoo out, the one she had made herself to smell like apple blossoms and the spring flowers and smells of the Burrow. She’d really worked on that scent! After a shower and washing her hair, she did a combing charm, keeping her hair from tangling and leaving it full. Ginny was vain, and very proud of her hair. It was a beautiful auburn red. It came to well below her shoulders, spreading out from her head in a striking fashion. She had it charmed so when she slept, it did not tangle but still just spread out from her head.

Ginny thought of the ‘touch of lust” spell. Despite the name if you just used one flick once a week it just sort of kept a boy interested. She had talked to her mother about it, and her mother said you used it daily, or with more than one flick, only when you knew you had found the boy you were sure you were going to marry, and when you were sure he felt the same way. Her mother said it could be a really dangerous spell, and had explained some of the family history of her female ancestors. She really should not use it until she … what did Harry feel … he looked at her dot on the map?!! All the time!! HARRY! Ginny used the touch of lust spell with two flicks, and immediately felt a little guilty. Well if Harry did not want her, NO, she couldn’t even think about that. Ginny felt like she had waited half her life for this moment. Her fairy tale ending was coming true, well sort of, well it better be, and she was going to make sure it came true!

Ginny sat down on Harry’s bed and waited. She thought a little of the events of the last 24 to 36 hours, but mostly as she sat on the bed, she was so weary and so sore and so close to crying, and she couldn’t let Harry see her cry. Ginny was almost beyond thinking, and she just sat there, semi-awake.

About an hour after Ginny first came up with Hermione, Harry Potter started to wake up. The first thing he noticed was that his scar was not hurting. He could not feel anything up there. Always before there was some feeling there, sometimes just a presence, sometimes intense pain, but always something. Of course everything else seemed to be hurting.

The second thing Harry noticed was that he had to go to the loo. It was pretty urgent; that’s probably why he woke up after only four hours or so of sleep. And the third thing he noticed was the smell that said ‘Ginny Weasley’. Ginny! Harry opened his eyes and reached for his glasses. Ginny was sitting on the edge of his bed. As Harry got up, Ginny got up and said, “You’re not going to get away from me again, Harry Potter!”

Harry answered, “Well I’ve got to go to the loo right now.” He wanted to see Ginny more than just about anything, but he did not want to sit next to Ginny and wet his pants, and he really did have to go.

Ginny took a good look at Harry, with dirt all over himself, bruises and who knew what else, and said, “Oh Harry, you look just awful!”

The only answer Harry could think of was, “I’ve had a tough couple of days.”

Ginny knew she needed to get clean clothes on Harry, and he needed to wash. You could do only so much with cleaning charms, and a person always was cleaner and more refreshed when they had washed. “Take off those filthy clothes and I’ll do a cleaning charm on them while you get washed,” Ginny said in a tone that reminded Harry of Mrs. Weasley. Harry gave Ginny a “you have got to be kidding” look, but Ginny just answered back, “Harry, I was raised with 6 older brothers. I’ve seen them with nothing on but their boxers. Take off everything but your boxers and give them to me, then after you are in the bathroom take the boxers off and get them to me.”

Ginny spoke to Harry with a tone of voice that indicated she was not to be disobeyed, so Harry took off his shirt and gave it to Ginny, who looked at his chest above his heart, gently touched a new lightning shaped scar, and said, “Where did that come from?” The scar looked very much like the one on his head, but it was new, open, and looked like it had dirt rubbed into it. Harry did look rather battered.

Harry took off his jeans and handed them to Ginny, saying, “I probably got that when Riddle killed me last night.”

Ginny almost yelled, “WHAT?! Harry, what happened? What do you mean ‘when he killed you?’ Harry?” Ginny was frantic.

Harry said, “Later, please. I really have to go to the loo right now….” And Harry left for the bathroom. He took the time to grab a towel, take off his boxers, throw them out the door at Ginny, and went to the loo. From there he went to the showers, and let the warm water soak his body. There were bruises all over his body, and he was really stiff. Maybe his scar didn’t hurt, but everything else did. Right in the middle of the shower he started to think about all the people who had died; Fred, Tonks and Lupin, Colin, all of the people who died, and broke down in tears, but after at least 10 minutes of crying, pulled himself together.

Drying himself off, he wrapped a towel around his middle and peaked out the bathroom door. Ginny was waiting for him, and got up and gave him his boxers. After putting them on Harry walked back into the bedroom, put his now cleaned clothes back on, cleaned his glasses and looked around the room.

In Ron’s bed, Ron and Hermione seemed to be sleeping in each other’s arms. On the table next to his bed were 3 wands, his Holly and Phoenix wand, Draco Malfoy’s Hawthorn wand, and the Elder Wand, the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny. Ginny was staring at him with that fierce stare of hers, hands on her hips, waiting for him to say something. Harry grabbed the 3 wands, did a quick shaving spell with his wand, and put all three wands in a pocket, then took Ginny’s hand. Ginny had been practically frantic with worry when Harry left, but when he grabbed her hand she felt just a little better. He went to the stairway, saying as he went, “How long have they been sleeping, and how long have you been here?”

Ginny answered, “Ron and Hermione tried to stay awake to guard you and keep people away from you. I came up less than an hour ago to allow them to sleep. Were they sleeping together like that when you were traveling?”

“No, that’s new,” said Harry. “Hermione has liked Ron for a long time, but your brother is kind of thick about that type of thing sometimes.”

Ginny replied, “Ron is thick about a lot of things sometimes. When are you going to tell me about the scar and what happened and how you survived and how you killed he-who-must-not-be-named?”

Harry answered, “Ginny, call him Voldemort or better yet Tom Riddle. I’ll tell you everything, but give me time. It is a very long story, and it is going to take some time to tell it.”

While they were talking they were going down the stairs. As they got to the common room Ginny said, “Quiet! I have to check on my mum.” There was a 4 poster bed in the common room, with curtains all around. Molly Weasley was sleeping in the bed. Harry asked, “What happened to your mum, Ginny?”

Ginny turned to Harry and speaking quietly, almost in a whisper, said, “I don’t know. After she killed Bellatrix Lestrange and you killed Tom – Tom Riddle, she just shut down. She just held me close, kept saying ‘Fred is gone” and “I killed her” and ‘You’re alive, Harry’s alive’ and “A mother shouldn’t have to bury her children.” Then she would break down and cry and hold me. After you disappeared, Dad told me to take Mum up to the Gryffindor common room, transfigure a couch into a bed, and get Mum down to sleep for a while. I held Mum and she and I went to sleep. I woke up about an hour ago. Hermione came down and told me about you and asked if I could come up so she and Ron could get some sleep. They are really worried about you.”

Harry, also speaking very quietly, said, “I’m worried about your mother. I guess I’m worried about everybody. Where is your dad?”

Ginny answered, “I think Dad and Percy are at the Ministry. I saw them leave with Kingsley Shacklebolt. I think I saw Charlie or George on the other side of the bed. Fleur was helping heal people, and, oh she’s sleeping in that chair! Bill left at the same time as Dad and Percy, but I do not know where he went. Harry, I’ll wait for you to tell me about most things, but getting killed? What happened? Were you dead when Voldemort said you were? When I saw you I didn’t care if I lived or died. I just wanted to kill Voldemort, and I didn’t care if I got killed in the process. I felt that when you died, I died with you. All my dreams, dead! Dead! Dead!” As she was saying these things her voice was rising, and she was beginning to speak not quietly but in an urgent tone of voice with a lot of emotion in it. She then said, with her face inches from Harry and looking directly into his eyes, “Harry, I love you. Don’t leave me!”

“Ginny, what did you say?” said Harry.

Ginny answered, her voice rising again, “I love you, Harry. I love you! I don’t want to lose you again!” She then kissed Harry with the softest, gentlest kiss imaginable.

At this, Harry broke down again, pulling Ginny’s close to him sobbing. “I didn’t want to die! I had to let Riddle kill me to kill-” Harry stopped for a moment, holding Ginny’s face close to his. “To kill … to kill …part of him that was in me. I cried over every friend I was leaving behind, but just as the killing curse hit, just as I died, there was only one person … Oh Ginny, I thought of your blazing eyes, your fierce determination, your kisses. Oh to lose those forever. I don’t know, maybe that’s why I came back.”

Ginny’s eyes had gotten big, and there was a look of horror on her face as she said, “You did die. Oh Harry! How come you’re alive?”

“It’s sort of complicated,” said Harry. “I was … I saw Dumbledore …I really thought I was dead, but I had a choice, and I came back. And afterwards, when I left with Ron and Hermione, you were with your mother, and I thought, I thought…” Harry’s voice got soft and he had a shy look on his face. “Maybe we would have years and years to be together.”

“Harry, I meant it when I said don’t ever leave me,” said Ginny. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” said Harry. “I love you, and the Burrow was the 2nd place where I felt at home. Hogwarts was the first. You have the best family.”

Molly woke with a start, and reached over to where Harry and Ginny were standing, talking right by the bed. She touched Ginny, then Harry, and then said, “You’re both alive! I dreamed you were both dead, that everybody in the family was dead, that Voldemort had killed us all. Are we all alive?”

“Not all of us, Mum,” said Ginny. “Fred’s dead.”

“It’s all my fault!” said Harry. “We didn’t find the Horcruxes fast enough. There was too much we didn’t know and we wasted so much time last winter and I should have confronted Vol …Riddle sooner and why did your whole family have to be involved. Mrs. Weasley, I’m so sorry.” Harry burst down in tears.

“One of my sons is dead,” said Molly, getting out of bed. “But one has come back to life. And Bellatrix Lestrange, damn her to Hell, I really killed her?” Harry and Ginny both nodded yes.

“Harry, when they said you were dead, I thought I had lost another son,” said Molly. “We love you like a son.” Molly held Harry and Ginny, while Harry and Ginny both softly cried.

Finally Harry said, “Sorry I broke down and started crying. I should be stronger than that.”

Molly looked Harry directly in the eye, and with all the emotion and sympathy she could muster said, “Harry, after all you have been through, you have every right to cry. This war has been hard on everybody but in some ways harder on you. Voldemort brought so much death and destruction to so many! Thank you for ending him, for killing him.”

Focusing for a moment solely on her mother, Ginny asked, “Mum, are you all right?”

“I don’t know. Losing a child is so hard!” said Molly sobbing a little at this. “I still feel empty from when I lost both of my brothers the last war…and…and now this and… but…but you just move on.” Molly had tears running down her face and you could see she was trying hard to maintain control. “I am sorry, Ginny, that I lost it this afternoon. I still cannot believe that I could be mad enough to throw the Avada Kedavra curse. That bitch! May she…rot… in…Hell. I ought to be sorry I killed someone but if anybody deserved death …Harry, were you dead?”

Harry looked at Molly and Ginny. He was still tired, he’d only had four hours of sleep, or he might not have mentioned Horcruxes, but said in answer, “I was the last Horcrux. Tom Riddle had to kill me to kill the part of his soul that was in me. Then when Neville killed the snake all I had to do was kill what was left, the shell of a body Riddle had. The hardest part was walking into the forest, walking by you, Ginny.”

When Ginny heard this she shouted out, “Harry, I felt you, I felt that you were walking out into the forest. I thought my heart would break. How could you?”

“It wasn’t easy,” Harry said, looking at the two women, and then looking down at the floor. “It was really hard.” Then Harry looked right at Ginny and said, “Ginny, when I walked by you it would have been so easy to grab you and run away and hide with you. I was losing you forever. For a long time I just did not think about the future, not like a future after the death of Riddle. There was a good chance I was not going to survive. But it didn’t make the walk to Voldemort any easier. Knowing that I would never see anyone again was the hardest thing I ever had to do. When the curse hit me I think I really was dead, but then I was given a chance to come back to life. It would have been so easy to have stayed dead, it was so peaceful, but I thought of all the people who were counting on me. I saw Dumbledore. Dumbledore said to do what was right, not what was easy.”

Ginny and Molly were both just amazed. Molly said, “Oh Harry, I had no idea! Oh my! What a horrible thing to have to do. What a brave, brave man you are!” Ginny held on to Harry so hard it was beginning to hurt.

Ron and Hermione were just coming down the stairs. Ron saw Harry and Ginny hugging and yelled, “Potter, what do you think you are doing! Stay away from my sister!” Harry was tired and hurting and did not want to confront Ron, so he just sat down.

Ron was threatening Ginny’s happy ending, and she went over to Ron, put her hands on her hips and began to yell, “RONALD WEASLEY, BACK OFF! HARRY BROKE UP WITH ME TO TRY AND PROTECT ME, BUT WE – NEVER – STOPPED – LOVING EACH OTHER. Voldemort is dead; Harry and I are back together, so deal with it!”

Then in a softer voice, she said, “Besides, you need to worry about your own girlfriend, Hermione here, who has loved you for years and you were too thick to see. Kiss her, and butt out of my private life.”

Ron stood there dumbfounded. Hermione turned to Ron hoping for a kiss, and finally Ginny put her hands back on her hips and yelled, “RONALD, HOW THICK ARE YOU? HERMIONE IS WAITING FOR A KISS. KISS HER NOW.” Ginny then put her hands on Ron and turned him towards Hermione, and he bent down to give Hermione a little chaste kiss. Hermione was having none of this little chaste kiss stuff; she grabbed Ron and snogged him good, and gradually Ron returned the kiss. Hermione hugged Ron, tightly pressing her body against him, and Ron finally held Hermione tightly in return.

Harry thought Ginny was very much like her mother. When they got angry there was the same raised voice and hands on the hips.

Ginny went back to hug Harry, but it was beginning to hurt even more, and he thought he could feel some blood seeping out of a new wound on his chest. Molly and Ginny both saw Harry in pain. Molly said, “Where is Fleur?!”

Ginny remembered seeing Fleur and joined in adding her “Fleur” to Molly’s.

“Somebodee call? Let me wake up, pleeze,” said Fleur in a tired voice from one of the chairs.

Harry and Ginny both walked over to the chair where an exhausted Fleur had fallen asleep. Molly noticed that both of them were limping. Harry said, “Look at Ginny first, please,” and Ginny shouted back, “HARRY, YOU IDIOT, you’re the one bleeding.”

Fleur looked at both of them and then said to Harry, “take off your shirt, Arry.” Harry’s chest showed the effects of not only the killing curses but also all the Cruciatus Curses Voldemort had thrown at him, all the dirt that had rubbed into his wounds that he had not been able to wash out. The scar on the chest had pulled apart, and although it may have started out similar to the scar on Harry’s forehead it was now open and really rough-looking. There was a scar on Harry’s chest where the locket had rubbed against his skin, still looking raw. There were also lots of scars, scratches and bruises from the last 2 days. Fleur waved her wand over his chest, and said, “Such strong curses, most people could not move after.”

“Ginny made me forget how much I hurt, sort of,” Harry said with a sigh. Harry was obviously still in pain.

“Arry, anyone else I would ave in ospital for week! Hermione, take thees note to infirmary and get thees potions for Arry.” Fleur then spent some time waving her wand over Harry, trying to heal bruises and close the scar on his chest.

Fleur then turned her attention to Ginny. “New curses too close to old scars,” she said. Ginny nodded her head yes. Ginny was obviously in some pain and still tired. Fleur did some wand work on Ginny, and when Hermione got back she sent Ron up for potions for Ginny.

Before leaving Ron asked, “Is anybody else hungry?”

Harry said, “Can we eat in here? I’m not ready to face crowds of people yet.”

Molly told Ron, “Go find Charlie and F- - George – and tell them to come here.”

“Here we are,” Charlie answered from the other side of the bed. George, Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson’s heads also appeared from that side of the room.

Meanwhile Fleur had some lotion to rub into Harry’s cuts, and Fleur, remembering when she treated Bill’s cuts, turned to Ginny and asked, “Ginny, do you want to do this?”

“Yes, please,” said Ginny, and she rubbed the lotion in Harry’s raw-looking chest.

When Ginny was done with the lotion, Harry put his shirt back on and said, “Kreacher” and the house elf appeared. Instead of asking for food right away Harry paused and then said, “Kreacher, thank you for all you have done for me, for rallying the house elves to fight Tom Riddle. Is there anything I can do for you?” Harry was not sure why he asked, but he had not thanked Kreacher since the battle, and felt it was time.

Kreacher stood there embarrassed. “House elves is not suppose to ask masters to do for them.”

Harry replied, “There must be something you or the house elves want that I could do for you.”

“Kreacher is not asking for himself,” Kreacher said, obviously embarrassed and ill at ease. “Two house elves died in fighting, and other house elves wanted to know if they could be buried in a grave with marker like you dug for Dobby. Sorry I should not ask. Kreacher is bad house elf.”

“As far as I am concerned, you are a very good house elf,” Harry said. “That is just what I wanted to know. Is there a graveyard for house elves around here?”

Kreacher said, “There is a place where house elves is buried, but no markers, no one knows where but house elves.”

Harry replied, “Well then we need a proper graveyard with markers! Can you wait a couple of days until we have a little time? I will make sure the 2 hero house elves that died have a proper burial with grave markers!”

Kreacher replied, “Elves will wait as long as it takes. We has already waited centuries.”

Kreacher stood there obviously still ill at ease, like he wanted to ask Harry something but could not get it out. Harry said, “Thank you again for all you have done for us, for rallying the house elves. Is there anything else we can do for you, or anything else you want to ask me? Please feel free to talk to me.”

“May Kreacher talk to Mr. William Weasley? Mr. William is not Kreacher’s master,” said Kreacher.

“You may talk to Bill Weasley, and to anyone he asks you to talk to, and do anything he asks you to do. If you have any doubts or questions you can ask me, but I want you to feel free to help as you see fit. I order you to do what you think is best for me and the Wizarding world, without having to ask me for permission. Thank you again Kreacher.”

Kreacher responded quietly, and obviously pondering what Harry had said, “Asking Kreacher to do without being told is not easy, not what house elves do. I will try.” Then louder and with more confidence he said, “Does master need anything?”

Harry said, “Can you please bring a simple supper for the Weasley family, well for everybody here?” Harry sort of waved at the group of people around the room.

With a crack Kreacher was gone. A few minutes later another house elf appeared with a simple supper of tomato soup and various meat sandwiches. “Sorry, Kreacher is busy,” said the house elf, and she was gone.

Harry and Hermione looked at each other. “I have never lived with a house elf,” said Hermione, “but delegating someone else to serve food to your master? Strange! Kreacher isn’t just your servant anymore.” Both Harry and Hermione pondered the changing relationship between Kreacher and Harry.

Ginny turned the bed back into a sofa, and the family ate quietly for the most part, with Harry and Ginny talking quietly with Molly, Ron and Hermione talking softly to each other, and George and Charlie mostly silent eating with each other. Fleur ate a sandwich, sat back down and promptly fell asleep again. As soon as Ron and Hermione had finished eating, a 1st year Gryffindor girl came in with her mother, father and baby sister. Hermione looked at a list, took them to the dorm, came back down and sat next to Ron. She looked at Ron and smiled, put her head in his lap with a contented smile on her face, and promptly fell asleep.

Ron was exhausted. He had only had about 3 hours of sleep this afternoon, after almost 2 days awake before Harry had won, but he had a hard time napping. It was late afternoon, and he hoped they could get a good night’s sleep soon. He kept looking at Hermione, not really believing what was happening between them. Ron always knew that Hermione was a girl and not a boy, but how come he never realized that he could think of her like that? ‘Could she kiss! And she had all the right female parts and she seemed to like him and could she kiss!’

Harry was awake after his nap, sort of, but his mind was just numb. Two days or more awake and a short nap in the afternoon. He could not sleep, but he was maybe not fully awake. Having Ginny beside him was comforting. He had been terrified that he would lose her even if he somehow lived through the battle with Riddle, but it seemed that she wanted him back. Beyond that Harry couldn’t think. There was still too much chaos to think that things were over.

After the meal was done, Ginny just sat silently looked at Harry. She was terrified that things were not turning out like she imagined. Fred was dead. Her mother was not in good shape, and several other people seemed to be in bad shape as well. Harry held her hand and said that he loved her, but was that real, was that permanent? Was she going to get her Happily Ever After ending, or was some other witch going to come and steal Harry away? Nothing would make all the horrible hurts go away, the scars mental and physical, but would she at least get Harry? She was small, she was young, and she had to fight for everything she ever got, fight to be allowed to grow up. Was she going to have to fight for Harry too? She was not going to give up Harry without a fight! Harry, or her family, or … ‘I cannot let Harry see me crying. This is too much, really, but … concentrate on Harry. Smile at him. Hold his hand. Don’t let him know you’re scared.’

Saturday, May 2, about 5:30 PM

Bill Weasley learned some amazing things at Gringotts after the battle. He sent a message to Kingsley before he left Gringotts, on his way to visiting him at the Ministry. Upon arriving, he was ushered into Kingsley Shacklebolt’s office, noting as he was that it was obviously not an office that had been occupied by the current occupant for long. The whole Ministry showed evidence of the turmoil of the last few hours. Bill’s father was there. Kingsley greeted him, saying, “Bill, I want to introduce you to Jane Smith, the closest thing we have to a head of finance at this time, and Al VanLente from North America, head of the International Auror Association. Jane, what is the state of our finances right now?”

Jane answered, “Maybe enough cash for 2 weeks. Strange things have been happening with finances ever since Voldemort took over, and we cannot figure out where all the money went.”

Al said, “It’s going to be a tough sell to tell the countries sending Aurors and other Witches and Wizards to help that Britain is broke. Do your best to find some money.”

Bill replied, “A lot is going on. Goblins are always honest, as they say, but they are not always helpful. There is a connection between house elves and goblins that most wizards do not comprehend. When a house elf needs to get money to buy something his master wants there is a special area at Gringotts where house elves go, very private. Harry burying Dobby and his friendship with Kreacher have changed something. The Goblins are becoming helpful! There may be money available, lots of stolen money that we can get fairly quickly. The only problem is that only Harry can access the money.”
Kingsley looked surprised, saying, “Only Harry? No one else?”

“Only the person who defeated Voldemort, or a relative, can get into most of the vaults,” Bill confirmed. “The goblins would like me to help, but it is not easy. The only quick way to solve the problem is for Harry to marry. Adoption and other possible solutions would take years.”

“Bill,” said Arthur, “Are you telling me that if Harry and Ginny are back together we should encourage it and not discourage it?”

Bill looked at his father, not knowing quite how to answer. “Dad, I’m just stating a problem. Maybe Kreacher can help. He is Harry’s house elf and he has been part of these discussions. Kreacher, can you come here please?”

There was a crack and Kreacher was in the room. Bill asked, “Kreacher, are Harry and Ginny back together?” Kreacher nodded yes. “Should they be together?” Kreacher strongly nodded. “What do we need to do to encourage them?”

“Just keep them together. Old magic will work very quickly, Kreacher thinks,” Kreacher said. There was more discussion on just what various people were going to do the next 24 hours, and to the surprise of everyone Kreacher stayed and listened.

Kreacher walked out of the room with Bill and said, “Kreacher has Harry’s permission to work with you, Mr. William. He has asked Kreacher to use his own judgment. That is by far the hardest order Kreacher has ever been given. Help me to do the right thing, Mr. William.”

“Thank you Kreacher,” said Bill. “I think we need to work together on Harry’s estate, and I think I am really going to need your help. Doing the right thing is often not easy, but you are doing what Harry would want you to do.” Bill was beginning to feel very sorry for the old house elf. Just obeying orders, especially when you have been bred and charmed to obey orders, was easy. Having to make your own moral and ethical judgments was hard for anybody, but for a house elf it must be torture. Bill could see why the Goblins had gotten Kreacher involved in the Potter estate issues as soon as Harry had killed Tom Riddle; it was probably necessary.

Back at Hogwarts, after everybody was done eating, Charlie handed Harry the Daily Prophet. The evening Prophet was usually delivered before 5:00 PM, but it was after 6:00 PM and the paper had just gotten there.


Saturday, May 2, 1998






Many details unclear. Hogwarts and the Ministry in chaos. You are asked not to try to go to either place until things are under control. We will have many more derails tomorrow. Please excuse us if the next couple of editions are late.

On the front page of the one-page paper there was the limited amount of information the paper knew about what Harry, Ron and Hermione had been doing the last months, plus some information on what others had been doing. Little of it was really new. There was also a little information on the Battle of Hogwarts, but the article was very incomplete.

On the back there was an article from Rita Skeeter about “The Life and Loves of Harry Potter.” Most of it was a rewriting of her previous articles on the subject. She finished up with, “We can only speculate what Harry Potter and Hermione Granger have been doing these last months. We do not see how Ron Weasley could hold much attraction for Miss Granger. As for poor little Ginny Weasley, who Harry dated briefly last year, it is hard to see how a little witch with such modest skills and looks could compete with all the witches who are going to be after the Famous Harry Potter.”

Harry read the front, looked at the Rita Skeeter article on the back but did not read it, and passed the one page newspaper around. He said, to no one in particular, “They did not say enough about Ron or Hermione or any of the rest of you or anybody else. The headline makes it sound like it was mostly me! I hope tomorrow they give others credit.”

“Harry,” Ginny said, “You were just telling mom and me how you had to allow Voldemort to kill you, sacrifice yourself, before he was killed. And then after you came back you, YOU, you were the one who dueled him and killed him. Yes other people helped but give yourself some credit! In the end you did it.”

Harry looked at Ginny and tried to think of something to say, but decided that this was an argument he was probably not going to win, and one red headed female he did not want to be fighting with.

Ginny finally read the last article. It was all Ginny could do to keep from exploding. “Poor little Ginny Weasley, …with such modest skills and looks” Harry Potter was Hers! Ginny was terrified. Others were already trying to take Harry away from her. How many older, bigger, better looking witches would be after HER Harry? ‘NO! NO! She would show them!’

George took the paper from Ginny and read the last article. He looked at his sister and at the last sentence in the article and thought…

When they were done, Harry got up and pulled Ginny up with him. The article had got him thinking and in response, he went over to Ron and Hermione to have a word. Ron gently woke Hermione up, looking at Harry expectantly.

“We have a job to do,” Harry said quietly.

Ron nodded as they all looked at each other, then the two couples left, Ron and Hermione holding hands, Harry and Ginny holding hands.

Molly noticed as they left that Ginny seemed to be part of the Harry, Ron, Hermione group, and that they were 2 couples now. She wondered how long this would last. She thought back to some of the conversations over the last month or so when Ginny told her that Harry was the only boy she had ever loved, that she had had boyfriends but Harry was the only one she could ever see marrying and spending the rest of her life with. Seeing Ginny and Harry together both pleased and worried her. They were so young, about as young as she and Arthur were when they became intimate, too young really.

“What is the Elder Wand?” asked Ginny as they walked. “And where are we going?”

“To Dumbledore’s tomb,” Harry told her and as the two couples walked through the shattered castle and out onto the grounds. Harry tried to share with Ginny something about the Elder Wand and the part it had played in ending Riddle. The whole story was so complicated that he could only share little bits of it, and in the end he had to promise to tell the entire story from beginning to end. There were few people around them as they walked and talked, trying to clean up and repair the castle though not too many, so they were more or less alone.

The walk to the tomb was through a grassy area that was full of the evidence of the battles that had been raging around the castle. As they were approaching the tomb Harry continued saying, “As powerful as this wand is, I don’t want it. Too much death, too many black things are tied to this wand.”

Ron shook his head as his friends resolve. “I still think Harry is crazy not keeping the most powerful wand in the world.”

But Hermione piped up in support of Harry reminding them that, “Dumbledore’s portrait said this is the right thing to do.”

The tomb was shattered, and Dumbledore’s body was lying exposed. Fawkes the Phoenix was sitting atop the largest fragment of the broken tomb, watching Harry with bright, piercing eyes. Harry put the wand back and re-covered the body with the cloth wrappings. He then touched the edge of the tomb that was left standing and said in a loud voice, “Reparo!” Harry could feel power go out from his wand. He had never felt such a powerful spell. In less than a minute the tomb was repaired, and looked like it had never been broken. Fawkes hovered above the now sealed tomb, seemingly inspecting Harry’s work. Satisfied, he settled back on the restored monument to his former master Dumbledore, shifting his intense gaze to Harry.

Ron and Hermione backed away from Harry, startled by the power behind his spell. Ginny grabbed on to his hand but looked frightened. Ron said, “Are you sure you put the right wand back in the tomb?”

Harry looked at his wand, feeling a bit surprised himself, but it was the familiar Holly and Phoenix feather wand that he held in his hand. It just felt, not heavier, but different. Harry could never explain the difference. Years later the closest he could ever come was “It is the same wand, but just more.” Right then Harry tried to levitate a leaf, and it flew up out of sight. He tried levitating other small things he found lying around and they did the same. It took nearly ten attempts with the simple spell for him to get some measure of control back.

Harry said “This is different. I’m going to have to practice using the wand all over again. It feels right, really right. It feels like it’s my wand, but almost like it’s more my wand than ever. Something has changed.”

Hermione said, “Harry, you were doing all the spells without saying anything.”

Harry replied, with a questioning look on his face, “The wand seems to be reading my mind, like it does when I am doing non-verbal spells, but easily. I could get used to this!”

His friends regarded him warily, but Harry simply smiled, pocketed his wand as though it was an ordinary occurrence and once again took Ginny by the hand. Harry and Ginny led the way back to the castle, with Ron and Hermione following a short distance behind quietly talking to each other. Up in the sky, Fawkes flew along with the group as though he belonged.

Harry had his arm around Ginny, and Ginny was holding on to Harry as they walked. Ginny’s hand was roaming over Harry in a sensuous way which was both pleasant and distracting, but for the moment Harry was just enjoying it. Just before they entered the front door Ginny took both of her arms and put them around Harry’s upper back, pushing her body into him in a way that made Harry very aware that she was bustier than he remembered. His hands roamed from her narrow waist to her bottom, further reminding Harry that Ginny’s figure was even sexier and more enticing than he remembered. Ginny was really pushing herself into Harry. Harry was getting worried that this display was too public at least, if not too much too soon. Just as he was getting ready to break it off Ron said, “Harry, quit feeling up my sister. Oh hi, Dad.”

“Hi Ron, Hermione, hi Harry, hello Ginevra,” said Arthur Weasley.

Ginny backed away from Harry, grabbed his hand but held it at a distance. She knew that tone of voice, and when her dad called her Ginevra like that, she was usually in trouble.

“Where is the rest of the family?” asked Arthur.

Ron said, “In the Gryffindor common room, I think.”

As they walked into the castle a boy’s bathroom appeared and Arthur said to Harry, “Come with me, please.” Harry followed, worried that he was going to get a severe talking to from Arthur.

Arthur turned to verify they were alone as the door closed behind them before turning back to Harry. In a firm but kind voice, he began, “Harry, I’m happy you and Ginny are together, but slow down. I don’t think you can count on that hot blooded red-head to tell you to slow down, so I’m asking you. Please, do your best. She is not even 17. Please do your best to slow her down.”

Harry answered, “I thought you were going to bawl me out. I’m sorry.”

Arthur looked at the young man whom he loved as a son, the one who had been through so much, and said, “I think I can trust you to be a gentleman, but Molly is protective of her only daughter and I would not want to get on the her bad side.”

“No Sir, I don’t either,” Harry assured him.

“Then I have your word, Harry?” Arthur asked.

“Yes Sir, I will try,” Harry promised.

“That’s all we can ask of you, Harry. And as one man to another, who also loves a passionate red-headed woman, good luck.” Arthur’s expression was one of understanding, but also parental concern and Harry understood the faith being placed in him.

Fawkes had followed Harry into Hogwarts castle, but not into the bathroom. As soon as Arthur and Harry came out of the bathroom, Fawkes spread his wings and left the head of the statue he had been resting on, and continued to follow Harry. The Phoenix seldom let Harry out of his sight during the two weeks Harry was at Hogwarts.

Meanwhile, Ginny followed Ron and Hermione into the Gryffindor common room, followed moments later by Arthur and Harry. They arrived to find Bill and Percy already there, working on the remains of dinner. Although the rest of the people in the room had finished eating, there was a modest amount of food left. Arthur saw what was left and immediately fell in beside them to eat. Together they made short work of what was left, before Arthur once again turned his attention to the rest of his family.

“I need to see Minerva, but as soon as I talk to her we need a family meeting,” he announced. The rest of the occupants in the room watched as Arthur left, and for the next maybe half an hour mostly sat silently, although there were a couple of quiet conversations going on.

Arthur was back just as evening was turning to night. He and Molly went over to a corner, and Harry and Ginny watched as Arthur and Molly talked, hugged and cried, and then talked some more. When it seemed they’d come to some decision, Arthur called the family together again.

We are lucky we are not all dead,” he began. “Thank you, Harry, and thanks to all of you. We were so close to losing this war.” Arthur stopped there, to let this revelation sink in. His voice had started to break, his eyes had begun to tear up, and it was how he said it more than the words he used that impressed on everybody just how afraid Arthur had been about losing his whole family to Riddle.

Arthur continued, “We are just beginning to find out how much damage Voldemort and his allies did; most of it before Voldemort was killed but some of it in a brief spasm of violence that occurred afterwards. The amount of death and destruction is staggering, and it ranges far beyond Hogwarts castle.

“Shortly after Harry destroyed Voldemort, Kingsley Shacklebolt approached Percy and me and asked us to come to the Ministry. The Ministry is in terrible shape. Kingsley needed some people he could trust right away. Bill was asked to go to Gringotts to make sure death eaters were not drawing big amounts of money either out of their personal accounts or out of ministry accounts, and we have we think stopped the looting of the Ministry.

“The Ministry does not have enough people to protect Hogwarts or some of the key people that are going to be targets of the escaped death eaters. They are really in desperate shape. Percy and I will be working 12 hours or more a day 7 days a week for at least the next 2 weeks or more. Also, Minerva is going to need help here, and if you agree, I’d like to volunteer my extended family to spend the next 2 weeks here helping out.” Arthur paused looking expectantly around at their gathered midst. All seemed to be nodding or otherwise tentatively in agreement with what he was saying so he went on.

“Thank you,” Arthur said, again having a hard time controlling his emotions. “I cannot begin to explain how desperate our situation is right now. After these 2 weeks we hope to have support from foreign Aurors and other foreign help available to us, and we hope the situation at Hogwarts is stabilized.”

Again it seemed that all within the extended Weasley family agreed and understood.

Arthur continued, “Minerva is at the edge of exhaustion. She cannot work 24 hours a day. All the professors are working together trying to fix Hogwarts, and so the first need we’ve identified is someone to supervise at night. Molly has agreed to work a night shift, 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM. Charlie, George, can you also work night shift, guarding the castle and helping in any way you can?”

Charlie and George looked at each other. “Yeah sure, Dad, anything we can do to help,” Charlie assured him as the two nodded in agreement. Lee Jordan and Angelica Johnson also nodded in agreement and Arthur though that was probably a good thing, more people, just in case.

Arthur continued, shifting his attention to Ron and Hermione. “Would the two of you be willing to guard the Hogsmeade entrance from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM?” Ron and Hermione looked at each other, and then nodded yes. Arthur then focused on Hermione and asked, “Could you also work with Molly to assign sleeping quarters for Gryffindor? We may have a couple of additional rooms shortly, if they are in good shape.” Hermione agreed.

Arthur then looked at Harry and Ginny and said, “Your job may be the hardest of all. We want you to be at the fireplace in the great hall where most of the people will be arriving and leaving. You will be greeting people who are going to be coming to pick up bodies. I expect that it will be an emotionally draining job, but Harry, we think there is no better person than you to do this, and Molly and I feel that Ginny is the best person to support you in this. Are you willing?”

Harry and Ginny looked at each other, squeezed each other’s hands, and nodded yes.

Finally Arthur said to the group, “The last thing we are going to be talking about is sleeping arrangements. Because of the danger to the extended Weasley family, and that includes Harry and Hermione, we want all of us to stay together and with Minerva’s permission, we’ve appropriated the boys’ old dorm room for the family. We need to turn some of the four-posters into twin beds so everyone has their own bed. Everybody needs to be dressed in at least underwear or pajamas for bed. No sleeping in the same bed. Do you understand?”

Ron and Hermione looked at each other and nodded in agreement. Harry nodded yes and looked at Ginny, who was obviously having some second thoughts about this arrangement.

Molly looked at Ginny and said in a quiet voice that did not hide the passion in it, “Ginny Weasley, if Harry can be a gentleman at least you can be a lady! Control yourself!”

“Yes, Mother,” answered Ginny with a wary look in her eyes.

Arthur looked at his daughter, thought about saying something to her, but decided to let it pass. Instead he said, “Finally I want to say that Molly and I love you all, Harry and Hermione included, and we are so proud of all of you. We could not ask for a better family.”

Harry was just exhausted. Ginny was too, but she was still terrified. She had a hard time answering ‘yes’ to her parents partly because she was not quite sure what the sleeping arrangements were going to be. It wasn’t like she was going to jump right into bed with Harry for sex, not that she didn’t want to but she knew that was hardly possible. How separate did they want them? Maybe it wasn’t right, but Ginny had to admit that right then she was terrified of letting Harry out of her sight. “Don’t cry, Ginny, don’t cry,’ she kept telling herself. ‘Act like you’re in control.’

Arthur motioned the 2 couples to follow him upstairs. Once he got there he looked at the sleeping arrangements. The tower was circular, with beds around the outside wall. Harry and Ron had beds next to each other. Arthur thought that it would be better if the girls were not next to the boys, so he turned the bed on the other side of Ron’s into two twin beds and did the same to Harry’s bed. He sat on Ron’s bed, motioned to the other beds, and then said, “Once the 4 of you are down I will go to bed.”

Hermione and Ginny talked, and then went into the bathroom to put on pajamas. Hermione put hers on, and then noticed that Ginny was fussing with hers. She had shortened the pants until there was only an inch of pants leg, and was working on the top. She had a scooped neck, and she was lowering it and raising it until she was satisfied that it showed enough cleavage, and showed a scar that started above her right breast. She raised the bottom of the top so it showed as much of her middle as she thought she could get away with, and fussed with the top so it would not ride up over her breasts too easily. Sometimes Hermione was amazed at how vain Ginny could be, or maybe it was just that Ginny wanted to make the right impression on Harry. Well, if the right impression was to have Harry lust after Ginny, she was on the right track.

Ginny was thinking, ‘I’ve got to show Harry I’m a grown up witch, not a little girl.’ The article in the Prophet still terrified her.

As the two girls came out of the bathroom Harry noticed that Hermione had on rather modest pajamas, with long pants and a top that came down well over the top of her pants. It certainly did not hide her feminine shape, but Harry was used to that after living with her in the tent most of the last year. Hermione went into the bed closest to the door, and then said, “Thank you for setting up the beds this way, Mr. Weasley. We really appreciate it!”

Ginny went and sat on one of the double beds on the other side of Arthur, and motioned for Harry to come over to those beds. Ginny had short pants that were not much bigger than skimpy underwear. She raised her hands over her head and the top rose up, put her arms down under her breasts and pushed up her breasts showing off her shape, and grinned at Harry. He just stared at her. “Ginny, how am I ever going to go to sleep after that?” he whispered.

“After what, Harry?” Ginny said coyly.

Harry took another good look. He had noticed a rather large scar starting a couple of inches above her right breast. “What is that?” he asked.

Ginny replied, a lot of pent up emotion in her voice, “A lot of good it did breaking up with me! Everybody knew I was your girlfriend, Potter’s witch, so I got questioned often and hard. Besides, Neville and I were leading the DA.” At this remark Ginny had a very proud look on her face. Then in a much more somber tone she said, “They put wands there-” and she pointed out a large spot where the scar started “-and over time that scar developed. Umbridge showed them how to do it so it hurt and left a scar. I think it’s like the one on your hand.” And she pointed out the scar on Harry’s hand from detentions with Umbridge. There was another curse scar on Ginny’s thigh.

Harry was horrified looking at the scars. How could he ever make up to Ginny for what he had put her through? He said, “Oh Ginny, I’m so sorry! What can I do?”

Ginny answered in a firm voice, “Do - Not - Ever - Leave - Me - Again!! Just treat me as your fairy princess and make me live Happily Ever After.” Ginny leaned over to Harry and gave him a gentle kiss, and held the kiss for what seemed like forever. Eventually Harry pointed out that Ginny’s father was watching, and whispered, “We need to get to sleep.” Ginny then slipped into one of the double beds, smiling at Harry.

Harry looked at Arthur, who was trying very hard to stay awake. Arthur thought of the discussion at Kingsley’s office this afternoon. He shrugged his shoulders at Harry, almost like “she is your problem now.” Ever since he saw how the girls interpreted the twin bed arrangement, he was thinking of how he could change it back to boys and girls, but Hermione had made his task several times more difficult. He had already given Harry a talking to, and he really did not want to say any more to him. In the end, partly out of sheer exhaustion, he just let Ginny sleep next to Harry and Ron sleep next to Hermione.

Harry shook his head. Ginny was obviously a much more pleasant problem than what he had been facing, but the next weeks were certainly going to get interesting.

The boys went into the bathroom, with Harry coming out of the bathroom clothed. He stripped down to his boxers at the side of his bed and got into the other double bed. Once they were in bed Ginny said in a quiet voice, “Are we going to have to meet families of the people killed?”

Harry said, “Oh yes, we are. I did some of that after the duel, and it was hard. I expect tomorrow is going to be even harder. I’m glad you are going to be with me. When your father said that our job was going to be the hardest of all he was probably right.” Harry and Ginny fell into an uneasy sleep.

I answer every review. I also answer most long reviews with long answers, fix any simple mistakes as soon as possible, and listen carefully to any more complex comments. I have made changes, a few major ones, because of readers' comments. I am trying to stay true to canon. I really like Ginny, the snarky jealous and fiery redhead that is in some ways like her mother. The Ginny who has longed for Harry for most of her life.

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