The Sugar Quill
Author: Alchemilla (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Come and Get Me  Chapter: Come and Get Me
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

one shot hg The usual disclaimer:  It's JK Rowling's and not mine.

Thanks to my long-term beta Yolanda!  This is potentially darker than The Test of Time, so if you are a fan of fluff, then you may want to look elsewhere.

Come and Get Me

His Patronus always came in the dead of night, so that I would awake the next morning with the dual emotions of elation (he's still all right!) and doubt (had I dreamt his message?).  That had been during the winter of my sixth year, the year of waiting.
So I gritted my teeth and put my head in my books, while mentally berating my parents for consigning me to an August birthday.  One-by-one my friends turned seventeen, and though I would celebrate with them in our dormitory (or sometimes late at night  in the girls' Quidditch changing room, passing around a bottle of sherry nicked from beneath Trelawney's cloth-draped 'desk'), part of me would hate them for their sudden freedom of choice.  They could leave, if they wanted!

No one did, of course.  Hogwarts was the still safest place to sit out the War, despite the Draco-sponsored Death Eater trespass last year.  No student went  home for Christmas.  Even picturesque Hogsmeade was soon tainted with murder:  a Muggle's(!) corpse was found in the basement of Honeyduke's one February morning, his St. Mungo's autopsy revealing nothing, which usually implies Avada Kedavra.    Even George's kidnapping wouldn't persuade McGonagall to let me go to the Burrow, damn you.  She knew (rightly) that I would immediately join Harry and Co., underage restrictions be buggered.  George was dramatically rescued by the trio, a week later, without my assistance.  He was tortured and ill, but his personality and pluck would make a full recovery, even if his legs would not.  Weasley mettle, wrote my mother, there's nothing like it.

I never felt so useless.  No letter from Mum was sufficiently detailed; no Prophet article was trustworthy.  No suffusion of feeling from Harry's Patronus would quell my yearning to be there.  Oh, Harry, Harry, Harry...come and get me.

I loved him; I despised him; I missed him.  Sometimes I was so angry that I wondered if our love would ever recover, if our separation and the wounds of the war were just too profound.  My friends now tell me I was sullen and touchy that year.  Thank God for the dogged persistence of Gryffindor loyalty, or I would have pushed them all away.  I was a brutal Quidditch captain, particularly in the cold Spring months after Dad's disappearance.  I unceremoniously usurped the position of Beater from Jimmy Peakes , and every crack of the bat against the Bludger was an imagined crack of a Death Eater's skull (though occasionally it was Harry's, Ron's or Hermione's).   My viciousness made up for lack of strength and those Bludgers insured us more than one victory, though I can't say I enjoyed them.

With the exception of dear Neville, boys generally avoided me.  They skirted me in the halls and carefully inched away from me if I sat near them on the bench in the Great Hall.  I remained the girl of 'The Chosen One', nevermind that everyone knew by now that we had broken up.  Female acquaintances quizzed me about Harry with all the disinterested innocence of Rita Skeeter while close friends dared not ask me anything.  Luna was the least taxing companion; she seemed unfazed by the bloody chaos outside Hogwart's gates, preferring to do Quibbler quizzes and discuss her latest conviction that wizards evolved from aliens.  Dobby would meet me in the Room of Requirement (for we both needed a place to vent our worry and adoration) with generous bundles of comfort food;  I gained half a stone on chocolate profiteroles.  Neville provided a surprisingly broad shoulder and silent support while I wept over the news of my father's murder.

There was no funeral.  Not yet, wrote my mother on tear-stained parchment.  There's a conspiracy to get us together, then murder us all in one blow.  I wrote brutal, furious replies refuting this idea; but I never sent them.

You must soldier on, McGonagall always advised the newly bereaved, in the best tradition of Gryffindor stoicism.  Stiff upper lip, and all that.  Eat, sleep, revise, and you will wake again tomorrow and find that you made it through another day.

Bollocks I muttered, just loud enough that McGonagall heard me, but eventually I found that she was right.

Just when I thought my own private hell would never end, Summer came back to the Scottish Highlands, and with it came Harry.  Liberation Day (as it was later called), 24th June.

It had been a particularly bad week, I remember.  Random attacks had made orphans out of three more Hogwarts students.  Professor Vector had been poisoned at the Three Broomsticks (the toothpick-umbrella in her drink was coated with a deadly varnish) and lay in the hospital wing.  Padma Patil, who had returned to finish her education against her family's wishes, had lost both her mother and twin the previous Sunday.  I watched her slumped, hopeless posture from across our respective tables and toyed with the idea of going over to offer my empathy.

Then Harry had come through the doors -- I'll never forget it.  I heard the exclamations and whispers travel down the table, well before I actually leaned back to see him.  "He's a ghost!" Dennis Creevey had squeaked, as if he were twelve again. "No, a Vampire!" returned Colin, and others cried out 'Oh my God' and even 'The Chosen One!" in a voice of trepidation and awe.    I stood up, almost simultaneously with the teachers and a thousand other students, and stared.  It was Harry, and he was entirely covered in a white... powder? (which explained Dennis' words), except for a streak of fresh blood that ran from his lower lip down his neck (which explained Colin's).  His eyes, though, shone so brightly that I fancied I could see green even from the far end of the hall.  He advanced with long strides, broom in one hand, wand in the other, and I stood perfectly still in the chaos, waiting for him to find me.   So fixated was my attention that at first I didn't even see Professor Snape, just two paces behind Harry, also covered in white dust, from greasy forehead to leather boot.  I heard, above the din, Tonks shouting something from her post at the doors and the approaching shriek of Professor McGonagall:  "STOP RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE Severus."   But Snape kept coming, and only when Harry stopped right in front of me, did Snape stop as well.

What do you think, reader, you would see, on the face of a teenager who has defeated (outwitted, out-maneuvered, vanquished forever) the most evil wizard of our lifetime?  Triumph, elation, relief, pride, mental instability, the taint of murder, an after-tremble, a bitter satisfaction?  Harry simply looked pleased to see me, with his usual close-mouthed smile and slightly cocked nod.    "Hello Ginny," he said.  "Come with me?"

"Severus," said McGonagall, in a voice almost as formidable as Dumbledore's could be, and it took a Herculean effort to tear my eyes away from Harry's face and note that McGonagall had her wand at Snape's neck.  "Explain!!?"

The room was now deathly quiet, and everyone gripped their neighbour.   The pressure on my forearm was Neville's palm, steady as a rock.

"It's all right, Professor," called Tonks in a voice strangled by emotion, from the far end of the room.  "Tell her, Harry."

All faces turned to Harry, but he continued to gaze at me as if he hadn't heard, or simply couldn't be bothered to respond.

"Potter..." hissed Snape, waiting.

Tonks called again, "They're not Polyjuiced or anything, Professor.  It's them and it's okay.  Tell her, Harry."

"Potter!" barked Snape.

The corner of Harry's mouth twitched.  "Snape is one of us after all, Professor," said Harry calmly, still staring at me.

McGonagall gave a single nod of acceptance, as if she knew it all along.  "And Potter..."  McGonagall's voice quavered.  "He-Who-Must-Not be Na-?"

"-is gone, Professor," said Harry, sighing a great, aged sigh; suddenly I could sense his exhaustion.  "Gone to Hell, if there is such a thing. Come with me?"

This last question was directed at me, and said in a whisper.  He held out his broom, horizontally, for me to sit on, though it was strictly forbidden to ride brooms in the Great Hall.

Then the joy and relief broke all around us, with tears and shouts and the wails of first years, rolling and swelling like tympani drums.  Neville let out a sob beside me, and grasped Harry's shoulder with the hand that wasn't clutched to my arm.

I reached out and touched the side of Harry's bloody chin with my fingers.  "Ron? And Hermione?" I asked, almost yelling over the noise.  I had to know.  "Are they...?"

He nodded.  "Yes, Ron's going to be fine.  Hermione and your family...they're on their way to St. Mungo's; they're expecting us.  Now, are you going to get on this broom, or do I have to take you forcibly?"  He broke into my favourite smile, the flirting, cheeky one that he would give me down by the lake on many a June day, a year and a whole lifetime ago, when he would push me back onto the grass and push his tongue into my mouth.

By now they had surrounded us, calling 'Harry Potter' with an almost religious fervour, and then suddenly Neville was helping me onto the Firebolt, and Harry and I rose into the air.   We ascended sharply, for they grabbed at the hem of his robes, before swooping down past Tonks and out the doors.  It was a scene described over and over again in the Daily Prophet, then in international newspapers, then eventually in historian's journals and student's textbooks, though no author truly captured the elation, the euphoric reality, of actually being there.

Journalists described me either as a fiery-haired beauty, statuesque and serene, as if I had foreseen my lover's entrance, or as an apple-cheeked Devonshire milkmaid, quivering and blushing, and plucked by Harry at random.  They wrote that Harry grabbed and dipped me in a novella-worthy, romantic kiss, or that we flew around the room shaking victorious fists and whooping, while students prostrated themselves, collapsed and heaving with adoration.  Much speculation was made about the white powder, which some sources reported was the flesh of You-Know-Who made powdery by Harry's explosive power.  The unexciting truth was that house elves had been repairing the walls of the crumbling Riddle House, and the final destruction had taken place through various rooms, all  full of sacks of plaster powder.   The blood was Harry's; he had lost two teeth in the process.
In any case, we left the castle and flew out over the grounds, my arms around his waist and my cheek pressed hard against his back.   I gripped his t-shirt beneath his robes;  unlike the imaginary Harry that I kept in my bed at night, this one was so solid and so here.  I put one hand up into the hair at the nape of his neck.  Tears stung my eyes for a thousand reasons, none to which I could put a name.

He ran his hand up my arm and hugged it tightly to his waist.   He turned his face to the side, so I could hear him.  "I've needed you, Ginny," he said, with a great chasm in his voice.  "So much."

I made a small choking noise in response and felt an easing of my raging heartache.  How reconciling those three words are!  I've needed you.   Far better than I love you or I missed you.   I thought no one had needed me, not once all year.  My tears flowed and made dark blotches on his shirt.

I thought we were heading for the gates, where Remus Lupin stood smiling, with his back against the swirls of wrought iron, but then suddenly Harry banked hard toward the Forest.  He slowed to a hover among the canopies of summer-bright leaves, then turned and grabbed me.  His kiss was hard and hungry, and I tasted the blood in his mouth.  We clutched at each other, so tightly I thought we might tumble off the broom.

"Oh Ginny," he croaked, pulling back.  "I don't know if you're still mine -- I'm afraid to ask -- but I hope, I hope, I hope you are!  Don't tell me now; if it's over between us...I couldn't bear it.  Just kiss me again and make me believe."

"Harry," I cried and laughed, laying my hands on his face.  "It's never over between us.  We're meant to be, didn't you know??"   And I kissed him and soothed him and made him believe.

And you'd think, wouldn't you, that this would be a good ending to this story...

Author's note:  This one shot is actually part of a much longer story that extends well into the post-Hogwarts years.    It's so long, in fact, that JKR probably will have finished before I do, and then my story will be too AU to post!  Some of the chapters can stand alone, however, and I will post them here and there.

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