Six feet from the edge - by Kirkis - Harry Potter fanfiction
Harry Potter books, and all characters therein are belong to J. K. Rowling, © 2001/2002 Warner bros. In short, they aren't mine, so please don't sue.
I'd like to say ten things to my Beta Reader, Seldes Katne. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Six feet from the edge
"Please come now I think I'm falling
I'm holding on to all I think is safe
It seems I found the road to nowhere
And I'm trying to escape
I yelled back when I heard thunder
But I'm down to one last breath
And with it let me say
Let me say…
Hold me now
I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinking
That maybe six feet
Ain't so far down"
- Creed - One last breath
Harry hadn't done much more than think for the past few days. When not in class, he'd spent most of his time wandering the grounds of Hogwarts contemplating everything that had happened over the past few months. Ron and Hermione knew full well what was going on in his mind, but the rest of the school was beginning to think he'd lost his mind. Harry himself would've agreed with them, for he'd been over and over it in his own mind a thousand times or more and he kept coming back to the same conclusion; he would destroy Voldemort even if it killed him. But every time he was ready to accept this conclusion, something held him back. He knew what it was, he just didn't know how to deal with it. So he kept wandering and thinking, churning all the information stuffed in his mind over and over again.
Days had turned into hours, and he still didn't know what to do, but he knew in less than twelve hours, Hogwarts would run out of time. The carefully placed Magical wards and shields were slowly being picked apart by Voldemort's Death Eaters. Dementors roamed the outlying areas around Hogwarts, kissing anyone who tried to interfere with the Death Eater's work. The Ministry of Magic was still far too chaotic to mount much of a counter-offensive. The new Minister of Magic, Amos Diggory, was concentrating his efforts on solidifying the Ministry. The only help that had come from the Ministry was to send all available Aurors to Hogwarts in the hopes that the Ministry could mount a counter-offensive on the Death Eaters before Hogwarts was penetrated. This had been the suggestion of the newly appointed Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Percy Weasley.
The only thing that could stop the attack on Hogwarts was for Harry to leave its safety and face Voldemort. So Harry knew what had to be done, it was just the matter of the reoccurring thought that held him back. He knew he had to decide now, if Hogwarts was to remain safe. All that was left to do was to find her, to try to tell her. He had no clue what to say, but something had to be done.
Harry stopped dead in his tracks, he was halfway across the grounds in front of the castle. He turned, realizing finally that he couldn't continue thinking in circles. With one single thought echoing in his mind he set off toward the front stairs of Hogwarts. The sun was setting over the Forbidden Forest, casting a red-orange glow across the castle. A few paces from the steps, a peculiar red-orange glint just ahead of him caught his eye. He looked up to find Ginny Weasley coming down the front steps toward him.
Now or never, he thought as she approached.
"Ron's told me what you've been wandering around about for the past few days," said Ginny a few steps from him.
"Ginny, I have to talk to you about something, so please just stay quiet and listen." She gave him a confused look, but remained quiet. Harry paused to collect his thoughts, before realizing that for the first time in about a week his mind was practically blank. "You and I go back to your first year, and even though we really didn't speak much to each other over the next few years, we still managed to stay friendly. The past three years we got to know each other better, I think maybe even better than anyone else knows us. I know you want to help, I know you want to go with us when we go, but you can't, I need-"
"No, Harry. I'm going with-"
"Please, Ginny, let me finish,"
"You can't tell me I can't help!" shouted Ginny, tears welling in the corners of her eyes.
"I can't force you, I'm asking you!" Ginny froze, her mouth half open. She obviously wasn't expecting that. "Let me finish what I was saying. I've been thinking over the past few days about something Voldemort told me, he said I was part of him, just like he was part of me, and that as long as I'm alive, a small part of him will always be alive. He said I could never truly kill him unless-"
"No!" cried Ginny, shaking her head forcefully.
"It's true, Dumbledore all but confirmed it before his death." Ginny continued shaking her head and saying 'no', tears streaming down her cheeks. "I've thought about it and I realized that I've always known. The only logical thing that I have to do is move forward, accept my fate and die to destroy Voldemort."
"No, Harry, no! You can't…I…you just can't do that," sobbed Ginny.
"But," Harry went on, "every time I decide to just accept it as fate and move ahead, something holds me back." Ginny looked up at him; her tears were still flowing, but her sobs had stopped. "If I die, then it's like all my life, I've only been waiting around to die. And something inside me can't accept that. The only problem is, what have I got to live for? Fame? Fortune? I look ahead in my life and all I see down those paths is emptiness. Ron and Hermione have each other, your mum has all of you. I have no one."
"You have me," said Ginny weakly.
"That's right, I've got you, but only if you stay here," said Harry.
"No, I'll stand with you, I'll fight with you-"
"If you go, I'll have to protect you, with my very life if I have to."
"You have to stay here." Ginny shook her head gently. "To fight Voldemort I have to walk along the edge of life and death. I need something to tie me to life, someone to hold on to, to get me through, to keep me from losing my way and falling over the edge. To give me something to live for." Harry watched as realization broke over Ginny. Her tears subsided and she raised her head to look him in the eyes. "I don't know what the future holds after Voldemort, but I'm willing to face it if you're with me." Harry paused, watching Ginny take in everything he'd said. It was clear she could barely believe it, Harry could barely believe it himself. He loved her. He hadn't fully realized it until he started talking to her. It wasn't like fireworks going off, it was just a strange calmness.
"I want to believe that there could be something between us. so If you say you'll wait for me, if you'll be here when I get back, then I promise I'll come back here, back to you," Harry finished. Ginny took a deep breath and when she spoke, her voice was slightly broken.
"I'll be here, if you promise to come back alive." Harry nodded.
"I promise," he said. Ginny smiled, her wet freckled cheeks glistening in the setting sun. Their timing was perfect, they both moved into an embrace, and Harry was sure he'd never felt anything quite as wonderful as Ginny's warm arms wrapped around him.
After the happiest few moments Harry had had in ages, they moved apart, though they kept hold of each other's hands. Ginny looked up into Harry's eyes. Harry had only just realized how completely beautiful freckles were. Ginny cleared her throat, and spoke.
"This is usually the part, um… where the Hero and Heroine…kiss," she said, blush pouring across her cheeks. The thought occurred to Harry how much better kissing her would feel, but he was willing to bet it would be even sweeter without the threat of Voldemort looming overhead.
"When I get back, I promise," he said. Ginny smiled, and leaned in, laying her head on his shoulder.
"I'll hold you to that promise too, Harry," she said. They stayed like that long after the sun had fallen behind the darkness of the Forbidden Forest, until Harry finally broke their embrace.
"It's time to go, I need to find Ron and Hermione," he said. He turned and headed back into Hogwarts, Ginny watched as he went up the stairs, and into the castle. She knew he'd be going, she knew he'd be making the fight of his life. But he'd promised to come back, as long as she waited for him, and she had no intention being anywhere else. She'd keep her promise.
"Miss Weasley, it's been nearly six hours, you'll come inside right this instant," said McGonagall sternly. Ginny didn't even acknowledge her. She wasn't going to move. Nothing, not Death Eater, Voldemort, or Merlin himself could force her to move. She'd been standing in that one spot since Harry left. Since he'd gone with Ron and Hermione, since he'd looked back at her before he took hold of the Portkey that carried him into the heart of danger. Her legs were numb and her feet were throbbing, but she wasn't going to move. She wasn't completely sure why McGonagall and the rest of the teachers hadn't simply put a sleeping charm on her and carried her off.
* * *
"Miss Weasley," said McGonagall, taking hold of Ginny's arm, "come on, no more of this foolishness." Ginny jerked her arm free, and for the fifth time tonight, she repeated herself.
"I'm not moving, Harry said he'd come back as long as I was here."
"I doubt very seriously that he meant for you to be exactly on this spot, Ginny. I'm not telling you to go to bed, only to come inside and have something to eat."
"I'm not hungry," said Ginny. Just then her stomach gave a loud grumble, betraying her.
"Come on, the house elves have brought a plate down for you, and there isn't anything you can do waiting here," said McGonagall. Ginny's legs were numb, her feet were sore, and her stomach was very empty. She turned back to McGonagall, and spoke very business like.
"I'll sit on the steps and eat," said Ginny; McGonagall nodded. Ginny turned and moved her foot to step toward the castle, her leg bent from under her and she tumbled forward caught by McGonagall.
"You see, Miss Weasley, you've stood too long, come on." They turned toward the castle, and had only taken one step when Ginny heard a quick rushing sound behind her. She recognized it instantly, a Portkey. She turned back, ducking under McGonagall's arm, but what she saw nearly made her collapse.
Ron was scrambling toward Harry, who was lying face down, flat on the ground. Ron crawled over to him and pushed him over on his back. Ron looked up toward the castle, catching sight of McGonagall, who was already headed toward them.
"Help me get him to Hospital," he said, as McGonagall knelt by them. Ginny finally managed to get the message to her legs to move, and bolted toward them.
"Harry!" she cried, tumbling to her knees beside him.
"Relax, Ginny, he's ok," said Hermione, resting her hand on Ginny's forearm. "He just overexerted himself." Relief filled Ginny, she smiled teary-eyed at Hermione. Meanwhile, Ron was gazing strangely at his younger sister.
"We should get him up to the infirmary immediately," said McGonagall. She stood and magicked a stretcher for Harry, then levitated him onto it.
"You were waiting for him?" asked Ron as they headed up to the infirmary.
"Yes, why do you ask?" she asked, wiping the corners of her eyes with one sleeve.
"No reason," he said, dismissively. Ginny watched as his eyes wandered to Hermione. Now that Harry was safe and on his way to hospital, the second most pressing matter resurfaced in Ginny's mind.
"Ron," she asked. He looked back toward her. "Is it over, is Voldemort-"
"Voldemort's gone," said Ron, shifting his gaze forward. "But it's never over, you can't snuff out evil, you just can't. Best you can do is beat it back, keep it beat down. Voldemort is dead, but there'll be others. We've got peace for now though, Ginny, so you don't have to worry." The thought occurred to Ginny that Ron had just spoken probably the wisest words he'd ever uttered. Ginny hoped they weren't the only wise words he'd ever utter.
"Anyway, Harry told us to bring him back no matter what," said Ron. "He told Voldemort that he had someone waiting for him, that he couldn't die." Ron's eyes shifted quickly back to Ginny. She grinned but otherwise gave no other indications that Ron was correct in assuming she was the one Harry had spoken of.
They reached the Infirmary, Madam Pomfrey had Harry put in a bed. Ginny, Ron and Hermione settled down in chairs around his bed.
"I've got beds for the two of you," said Madam Pomfrey, pointing to Ron and Hermione.
"We're fine, Madam," said Hermione, despite the fact that she had a pretty serious looking burn on the side of her neck. "Just a few nicks."
"A likely story, come along you two," said Madam Pomfrey, ushering Hermione out of her seat. "You're all right, dear," she said to Ginny. "You'll need to leave them be, you can come back-"
"I want to stay!" said Ginny, more forcefully than she had intended.
"Nonsense! These three need rest, they certainly-"
"Ginny…" A mellow voice spoke softly from behind Ginny. She turned on her heel and stepped back toward the bed.
"Harry, I'm here," she breathed. He'd barely moved, but his eyes were open in two small slits, and his hand shakily raised off the bed. "Try not to move, Harry, you need rest."
"I came back…just like…promised…" he whispered, his eyes opened a little farther, far enough for Ginny to see their rich green color.
"Just rest, Harry, I'm here," she said, taking his hand. She turned back to Madam Pomfrey, keeping the sternest look she could muster on her face. "I'm staying here tonight, I won't keep him up, but I'm staying by him." There were no further arguments about it, Madam Pomfrey simply walked away shaking her head. Ginny pulled her chair up close to the bed, and laid her head down next to Harry's leg. Her hand still clinging to his, she fell asleep
For years to come Harry couldn't remember the dreams he'd that night, only that he'd slept more soundly than any other night in his life. He awoke the next morning to a dimly lit Hospital ward, and a strange warmth near his legs. He sat up part way, and reached over to the nightstand for his glasses, pulling his hand out from under something warm in the process. He put his glasses on and discovered Ginny Weasley asleep in a chair, her top half slumped against Harry's leg. He had pulled his hand out from under hers.
* * *
She hadn't awakened when he moved, and he really didn't see any reason to wake her right off. Besides, he was content to study her as she slept. Her hair was fiery red, similar to the other Weasleys, but Ginny's had always looked brighter. Even her eyelashes were the same flaming red. Her cheek was smashed against Harry's leg, pushing her lips into a slight pucker, giving Harry the strongest urge to kiss them. He resisted. Instead he looked over to his left, where Ron was lying in a bed, asleep, and Hermione in the next bed from him, also asleep. Harry turned slightly to look out the window. An orange glow poured dimly across the sky over Hogsmeade.
Harry was just wondering how long it would be before sunrise, when he heard a soft coo from the edge of his bed. He whipped his head back around to find Ginny stirring. She raised her head and gazed up at him. Her eyes seemed so much brighter than any other Weasley's eyes. Ron's couldn't possibly be the same color.
"Harry," she said groggily. "Are you all right? Did you get enough rest?" she asked, rubbing her eyes with one hand. Harry smiled, and nodded.
"Kept my promise," he said. "Sorry I was unconscious when I got back, hope you're not angry." Ginny leaned forward and wrapped her arms around his neck, embracing him.
"I'm not angry at all," she said. Her embrace was different this time, it wasn't as long, and it felt less tense. In all likelihood it was because they'd both feared it might be their last embrace. But this time it felt like the first of a thousand embraces. A thousand embraces with Ginny sounded like the most wonderful thing Harry could imagine. The possibility of spending the rest of his life with someone, a possibility that he had almost never considered before, suddenly became not only within his grasp, but it seemed impossible to prevent.
"I kept my first promise, but I still have one more to keep," said Harry, smiling. To his surprise Ginny barely blushed, instead, she scooted her chair a little closer. "I've never done it before though, you know, so don't be upset if I don't do it right," he added, inching his face toward hers.
"That's okay, Harry, neither have I," said Ginny, leaning in toward him. A second later their lips touched, and a wave of pure sensation flowed all over Harry's body. They were kissing, his lips on hers, his hands touching her face. Harry hadn't ever kissed before, but he was certain no one could possibly kiss better than Ginny Weasley, and any guy who had never been kissed by her, Harry pitied.
Slowly, ever so gradually the kiss came to a close, and Harry and Ginny moved apart. Ginny spoke first.
"Wow," she said, wide-eyed and flushed. Her mouth opened and closed once or twice as she searched for words. "Wow," she repeated, bringing a quiet chuckle out of Harry.
"All right, I kept all my promises," said Harry. "But this is where I'm not sure where to go, for the past three years I've known what was ahead of me, what I had to do. Now all that's over, and I never imagined myself living beyond it."
"That's all there is to do, Harry, live," said Ginny. "You have a future, and you can do whatever you want, you don't have to be this famous wizard everyone thinks you are. You can just be you and live your life. At least, that's what I think."
"You're right, Ginny. For the first time in years, I haven't the foggiest idea what the future holds, but I'm completely hopeful of it. I've got my friends," said Harry.
"And you've got me," said Ginny, laying her head back down on Harry's leg.
By the time Ron and Hermione awoke, Harry was dressed and he and Ginny were waiting to go down to the Great Hall and get some breakfast. Neither Ron, Hermione, nor Madam Pomfrey would know that Harry and Ginny spent nearly twenty minutes sitting on Harry's bed talking and waiting for the sun to rise. Ron and Hermione dressed quickly and followed Harry and Ginny out of the infirmary.
"Oh, I forgot, we have our Defense Against the Dark Arts final today!" said Hermione, stopping dead in her tracks.
"Are you kidding? We just defeated the Dark Lord! Do you honestly think they're going to make us do anymore exams?" said Ron.
"Of course, the purpose of school is to learn, and the purpose of exams is to see how much you've learned," said Hermione. Ron breathed in for another retort, but Ginny cut him off.
"Actually, they probably won't, Hermione. They'll probably figure if you can defeat probably the darkest wizard ever, you really don't need to be tested any further. At least not in Defense Against the Dark Arts," she said, much to Hermione's dismay. "I, on the other hand, have my Transfiguration exam today, and McGonagall probably won't dismiss me from it." She hesitated, and looked back over her shoulder down the corridor that eventually led to Gryffindor Tower. "I should probably go back and get my textbook," said Ginny.
"Like the word "probably", do you, Ginny?" said Ron, glancing sidelong at Ginny.
"Oh, you hush!" she scolded quickly. "I'm going back for my Transfiguration book."
"Good idea, I need to get my Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook anyway, I'll go with you," said Hermione. "We'll meet you in the Great Hall," shouted Hermione as she and Ginny headed away.
"Hermione," shouted Ron, but it was too late, Ginny and Hermione were already trotting away toward Gryffindor Tower. "She's nutters!" said Ron, turning back to Harry. Harry only grinned in agreement.
"Lets go," said Harry, heading off toward the Great Hall.
"She was waiting for you, Harry," said Ron. Harry stopped and turned back to Ron. He hadn't moved, instead he stood there looking oddly at Harry.
"What?" asked Harry, stepping back toward him.
"She was waiting for you," said Ron. "When we got back, she was there, waiting for you. And you told Voldemort someone was waiting for you." His tone wasn't accusatory, on the other hand, it sounded conclusive.
"Yeah, so?" said Harry. Ron only looked at him with the same odd look on his face.
"You have feelings for her?" he asked. Harry froze and an unusual tension filled the surrounding air, thick enough to cut. How would Ron react to Harry's feeling for Ginny. Only one way to find out, Harry thought.
"Yes, is there something wrong with that?" said Harry. Ron appeared a little shocked, maybe he hadn't expected Harry to come right out and say it. Whatever the reason, Harry never found out, a moment later Ron had stiffened his face a little, and drew in a solid breath.
"No, as it's you and all," he said. "I mean, she'd end up with someone anyway, I mean-" Harry grinned and stepped over toward Ron, throwing one arm around Ron's shoulder.
"C'mon, lets get some breakfast." Ron looked Harry in the eyes questioningly for a moment, then he smiled.
"All right." They once again set off toward the Great Hall. "You know, Harry, if you two got married, that would make you my brother-in-law," said Ron, almost nonchalantly. After the initial shock of the fact that Ron was suggesting that Harry and Ginny might get married had worn off, Harry replied.
"Hadn't thought of that," he said. "Then if you and Hermione get married, that'll make Hermione my sister-in-law." Ron blanched.
"Wha-what do you mean, me and Hermione," said Ron, turning toward Harry.
"Oh c'mon, you don't honestly think I haven't noticed you two?" Ron went from pale white to scarlet almost instantly. He didn't acknowledge it, but he hadn't denied it either. "Percy's already married to Penelope, and if Fred marries Angelina, and George marries that Muggle-girl he's met, what's her name?"
"Olivia," said Ron
"Yeah, Olivia," said Harry. "This is turning into quite a great happy Weasley family." They both laughed almost all the way down to the Great Hall. Hermione and Ginny were already waiting for them in the Entrance Hall.
"There you are," said Hermione as they came in. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing, c'mon," said Harry, stifling a little chuckle.
"You actually got your Defense Against the Dark Arts Textbook? I'm telling you, they couldn't possibly give us an exam after what we've done," said Ron as they made their way across the Entrance Hall.
"You're only saying that because you never studied," retorted Hermione.
"Of course I studied, how can you say that after all those curses we deflected? I had to study, I didn't want to die, did I?" said Ron. Harry just let them argue, Ginny seemed to know about the two of them too.
The Great Hall was full, all the house tables were alive with chatter, but an immediate silence broke over the entire room when Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny walked in. All eyes were suddenly fixed on the four of them. Harry nearly turned and ran, he had barely thought about everyone's reaction when word finally got around. He only wanted to eat his breakfast in peace with his friends. Harry felt a warm hand close around his, and looked down to find Ginny's hand clasping his gently.
"C'mon, Harry, breakfast will get cold," she said, pulling gently on his hand. He followed as Ginny led the way down the length of the table to their usual seats. All eyes were still on them as they settled down.
"May I have your attention," said McGonagall, tapping her goblet with a fork. Harry noticed two men standing on either side of McGonagall. One he recognized as Amos Diggory, Cedric Diggory's father, and the man he'd heard was the new Minister of Magic. The other was Percy Weasley, who seemed to be trying to hide his pride in his brother, but wasn't doing such a great job of it.
"The House Cup Ceremony usually takes place at the year end feast, but in light of recent events, the teachers and I feel it appropriate to award it today." A murmur spread across the room. "As you all know, Lord Voldemort has had his sights set on Hogwarts ever since Professor Dumbledore's death earlier this year, last night he made his move during the chaotic take-over within the Ministry of Magic. Three of our students chose to go and meet Lord Voldemort and face him head on. As a result of their courage, of their selflessness, and determination, the House Cup this year will be awarded to Gryffindor." Another murmur, louder than the first, spread through the room. McGonagall had to tap her goblet a few more times before she could continue.
"The Ministry of Magic has been re-organized, and upon receiving the news of the events that transpired last night, unanimously agreed to award our three students with the highest honor the Ministry can bestow. Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, please rise." Harry's worst fears for what was to come after the defeat of Voldemort seemed to be coming true. Amos Diggory stepped forward to speak, and Percy came around the table and headed toward Harry, Ron and Hermione.
"Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, you three showed what true Wizards and Witches are made of last night. Your deeds last night have earned this for you, but a simple award cannot express the gratitude we all feel and the honor you all deserve. I award to each one of you, the Order of Merlin, First Class, for the defeat of the Dark Lord."
The explosion of cheers was deafening, everyone, even most of the Slytherins, was celebrating. Harry, Ron, and Hermione all three blushed, as Percy placed a large gold medal over each of their heads. When he got to Ron, he actually threw his arms around his brother, and Harry could've sworn he heard Percy say to Ron "I've never been more proud." When he got to Harry, he shook his hand vigorously and said, "Good show!" Harry had had enough, he had spent most of his early years in the Wizarding world being referred to as "The Boy Who Lived" he hand no intention of being labeled "The Wizard Who Defeated the Dark Lord'. He pulled Percy closer and shouted over the crowd into Percy's ear.
"Actually, Ron did all the really hard work, I just helped Hermione keep the Death Eaters off him." Percy looked very skeptical. "Really," said Harry. "My wand doesn't work against Voldemort's, you know, so Ron had to do all the fighting." Percy shot a look back at Ron, who grinned. If Harry could help it, Ron would get all the credit for defeating Voldemort, he was welcome to it. Harry had had enough of fame.
The last of the year was hectic, Ron and Ginny turned out to be right. The three of them didn't have to take any more exams, much to Hermione's dismay. Harry had tried very hard to get the story circulating that Ron had actually defeated Voldemort, but unfortunately for Harry few people believed it. The end of year feast came and went and soon Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were aboard the Hogwarts express, and heading home.
Home, what's that? Privet Drive was never a home. I'm sure Mrs. Weasley will let me stay at the Burrow. But that isn't really my home, is it? I want my own home, I want to live till I'm two hundred, sitting in the parlor, covered in grandchildren, with someone, someone like Ginny, thought Harry, glancing over at Ginny. She was reading an old Muggle storybook, part of a summer assignment for her Muggle Studies class. His eyes wandered to Ron and Hermione, who were discussing some of their plans now that they were out of school. Of course, Hermione actually had plans; Ron, on the other hand, had no clue what he was going to do, except head back to the Burrow. Hermione had written her parents and told them she was going to stay for a few weeks at the Burrow immediately after school. The thought occurred to Harry that a great big happy Weasley family didn't seem so bad after all.
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