The Sugar Quill
Author: Ellyse (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Hope of Her  Chapter: Default
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She flew at him, just as she had all that time ago in the Gryffindor common room

The Hope of Her

 

 

Harry kept the Invisibility Cloak on as he padded through the corridors of his beloved Hogwarts. Most people were in the Great Hall, celebrating, commiserating and spending time with their loved ones, but now and again lone individuals or small groups would scurry by.

 

After replacing the Elder Wand in Dumbledore’s tomb, Harry had managed to extract the Marauder’s Map from Hermione’s beaded bag before she and Ron had drifted away, fingers interlaced, presumably intending to talk, to mourn and – most likely – continue what they had started in the Room of Requirement.

 

Harry had scanned the Map and found her name in seconds. He was so used to looking at it after all this time that the capital G and W seemed to jump out at him until his eyes rested on her whereabouts.

 

Ginny Weasley.

 

She was in the Gryffindor common room. Harry was not entirely sure why, but he was immensely grateful she had extracted herself from the crowds. Elated as he was at his victory, he was finding being the centre of everyone’s attention extremely wearisome.

 

He had forgotten to wear the Invisibility Cloak as he turned his back on Ron and Hermione’s entwined forms and headed back to the castle. He had therefore been instantly accosted by Ernie MacMillan, who had wrung his hand over and over with his pompous congratulations; Professor Sprout, whose words had been indistinguishable because she addressed them into her handkerchief between sobs; and a group of girls Harry did not know, who had charged at him wailing his name, causing him to make a hasty escape up two flights of stairs. After the latter incident, Harry had decided it was definitely time to wear the cloak again, and thus he had made the rest of his way to the Gryffindor common room unimpeded.

                                                                                               

The Fat Lady’s portrait was deserted. Harry was not surprised: the paintings were holding their own raucous parties all over the castle, and he suspected the Fat Lady and her friend, Vi, had relocated into the portrait of the handsome knights on the fourth floor. So Harry pushed open the empty portrait without a password and stepped into the Gryffindor common room for the first time in over a year.

 

It was completely deserted, save for one lone figure, sitting on the window sill, hugging her knees as she stared at the morning sky. She looked up as he entered the room and gave a little start.

 

They stared at one another. Harry felt his heart struggling, just as it had in the Room of Requirement.

 

“Hi,” Ginny said softly.

 

“Hi.”

 

She stood up, but stayed by the window. There was something between them; not an awkwardness, exactly, but the physical space separating them as they stood at either end of the common room seemed to symbolise the space and time that had divided them for almost a year.

 

“Are you all right?” Harry asked, mainly because he couldn’t think of anything else to say.

 

Ginny nodded. “I came up here to sort my head,” she said. “I thought you’d have lots of people to see – to talk to.”

 

“I needed to see you most of all.”

 

“I knew you’d come and find me, when you were ready. I’ve just been waiting.” She gave a little laugh and said with only a trace of bitterness, “still waiting…”

 

“No more waiting,” Harry said.

 

He threw the Invisibility Cloak aside and strode towards her. She flew at him, just as she had all that time ago in this very common room. Harry pulled her to him, holding her tightly, and the space between them vanished.

 

How long they remained that way, Harry could not say. They remained locked in the embrace, clinging fiercely to one another, as though an aftershock of the battle might throw them apart once more. Their bodies were pressed so tightly together, Harry was sure he could feel her heart, thudding in her chest; the glorious drumming that confirmed she was alive, she was real, she was here.

 

Eventually, Ginny stirred in his arms, although her fingers still grasped at his robes. Harry placed a hand on each side of her head, holding her face to his, desiring nothing more at this moment than just to look at her.

 

Her face was drawn: she had dark circles under her eyes, presumably caused by a combination of worry, grief and lack of sleep. Her hair was askew, red strands trailing out of her long ponytail. Her freckled face was grimy from battle, although the wet hair around her face suggested she had recently made some attempt to wash it. Fresh tear tracks shimmered down her face and tiny droplets were caught in her eyelashes. There was a bruise above her jawbone and a gash across her cheek, which she seemed to have acquired since leaving the Room of Requirement.

 

Harry thought she looked unutterably, impossibly beautiful. He opened his mouth to try to express this, but Ginny was struggling to say something.

 

“You – you were –” Ginny sighed at her incoherence. “You were amazing, Harry. Just - amazing.

 

Harry, who had been on the receiving end of similar sentiments for a good few hours, shrugged and said nothing. Ginny tried to say more, but failed to form the words. So they continued to stare at one another, as though they had never before seen anything quite so wonderful. Harry was captivated, completely mesmerised by her bright brown eyes.

 

Then suddenly they were kissing. Fierce, greedy kisses, born of too many months apart, too many hours spent wondering and worrying about each other. Harry’s lips bumped against her mouth, her cheek, her chin - he did not particularly care. He just wanted to kiss her, to impatiently snatch at passion in this way.

 

Ginny made a whimpering sound and they broke apart. Harry knew what she meant: this would not do; this mindless oblivion. Not now. They resumed their staring, clasped in one another’s arms as though they were performing a very static dance.

 

After all this time, now the moment of their reconciliation was finally here, Harry wasn’t quite sure what to do with her. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to hold her or kiss her. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to sit with her, talk with her, laugh with her, cry with her, or do certain other things with her that he was – for once - too tired to think about right now, not to mention too frightened of the newly-revealed duelling abilities of Molly Weasley to act upon.

 

Ginny seemed to be similarly perplexed. Emotions flickered across her face like fireworks, lightening and darkening it in turn. Finally, she gave a dry sob and rested her forehead against his chest. Harry’s hand found the back of her head. He stroked her smooth hair

 

“I thought you’d gone…” Her voice was a hollow whisper. “I didn’t… I thought you’d gone and – I - I felt like I was broken…”

 

“I’m so sorry… But -”

 

“I know – you had to.”

 

They looked at one another for a long time. Then Ginny punched him on the arm.

 

“Ow!”

 

“Well,” she said unsympathetically, “Merlin’s wotsits, Harry. You didn’t half scare the life out of us.”

 

There she was. Ginny had settled on a disposition at last, and it was her own: fiery, funny, fantastic Ginny. Harry’s already considerable infatuation with her seemed to double, and he seized her mouth with a kiss that almost knocked her backwards.

 

“Hm,” said Ginny, when she straightened up, trying and failing to repress a smile. “You won’t get back in my good books again that easily.”

 

Harry smiled back and put a hand on each of her shoulders.

 

“I know,” he said. “There’s so much I have to tell you, Ginny. So much I…”

 

She put a finger against his mouth. “Harry,” she said seriously. “You don’t need to tell me now, you really don’t. To be honest, I’m not sure I can take it right away – what with everything else. It can wait. We’ve got so much time now.”

 

Harry almost shivered at her worlds: they had time. Just as it had hit him on his birthday, that his future had been so cast in Voldemort’s shadow it had been hazy and uncertain, now he realised how different it was. What lay ahead was still difficult to see, but that was because it seemed to be bathed in such a blindingly brilliant light.

 

Just like Ginny.

 

Harry wanted to somehow convey how much she had meant to him this year. How the thought of her and the hope of her had driven him on and on. But when he tried to find a way to express this; when he attempted to think back on the momentous journey he had undergone, he could not see beyond the past few hours of darkness. Then he remembered something: a shining moment in the chaos; a dazzling lone star in an otherwise tumultuous universe.

 

“When I faced him – when I thought I was…” Harry swallowed, not wanting her to look any more anxious than she already did. Although he needed to tell her. “When I thought I was going to die, do you know what I saw? In my last moments?”

 

She shook her head, her eyes wide and glassy.

 

“You – us. In the common room, after the Quidditch match last year.”

 

Ginny made an exhaling noise, somewhere between a laugh and a sob.

 

“That’s what I see when I cast my Patronus. Although it’s not really the same thing…” she mumbled.

 

“I think it is.”

 

She fell into his arms again. Harry felt that his knees were about to buckle: for the first time in months, he did not feel as though someone was going to leap through the window and attempt to kill him or, worse, kill the ones he loved. Secure in her embrace, he felt ludicrously safe. The feeling made him so weary that he felt she was supporting him; that he would just collapse if she were not there.

 

Perhaps Ginny sensed this, because she took his hand and led him to the comfiest, squashiest chair by the fireplace. Harry sank into its depths and suddenly realised how much his muscles had been aching. He thought Ginny was going to sit on the chair next to his, but she scrambled on top of him and settled on his lap. Harry put an arm around her back and one across her knees, wondering whether he had in fact died in the forest, and this was some heavenly afterlife in which he could stay, warm and unharmed forever, cosseted between the world’s comfiest chair and Ginny.

 

The thought of death made him remember something he had stupidly, selfishly forgotten.

 

“Ginny, I’m so sorry about Fred. I should’ve said sooner… I’m so, so sorry.”

 

Ginny bowed her head and fiddled with his sleeve.

 

“I was there,” Harry continued. “I saw it happen. He went –”

 

“Laughing,” said Ginny. “I know. Percy said.”

 

She smiled, but a tear trickled down her cheek and landed on Harry’s hand. She wiped her eyes quickly.

 

“I-”

 

She tried to speak but more tears spilled down her face. She blinked impatiently and shook her head as though to banish her grief.

 

Harry realised she was trying to be strong for him, but she hardly needed to prove anything: she would always be one of the strongest people he knew. He also knew she only cried under exceptional circumstances, such as when dragged from the Chamber of Secrets after months of possession by Lord Voldemort and a near-death experience. She was hardly unreasonable. And now, mourning the loss of a brother, was a very exceptional circumstance.

 

Gently, he took hold of her wrists, which were still wiping at her eyes and brought them to her lap.

 

“It’s okay,” he said quietly.

 

In fact, this seemed to calm her, and the tears stopped as soon as they had started. She gave him a watery smile which made him ache for her and her terrible loss.

 

When she finally spoke, her voice was low, as though she were struggling to repress the emotion bubbling beneath her words. “Poor George,” she said. “Poor Mum. Poor all of us. And…” Her voice cracked. “Poor, poor Teddy Lupin.”

 

Harry thought of the chubby, blue-haired baby in the photograph and a lump ballooned in his throat.

 

Ginny sniffed. “It’s weird,” she said. “I can't fully feel it yet. I mean, I know I’m crying and stuff but…” She sighed. “I’m feeling so much that I can’t really feel anything at all. I’m numb.”

 

Harry nodded, knowing exactly what she meant.

 

“It’s all just too much,” Ginny said, and as she spoke her voice became more controlled. “I’m so happy and so sad and so disbelieving and so shocked and just so, so relieved.” She gulped. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Listen to me… You must be feeling – I have no idea what you must be feeling.”

 

Harry thought about this.

 

“Tired,” he said eventually. “So, so tired.”

 

He thought of the last time he had slept; a fractured sleep filled with worry at Shell Cottage the night before last. It felt like years ago.

 

“You should go to bed,” Ginny told him.

 

“In a bit,” Harry said. His hand rested on the side of her head, his thumb stroking her tear-streaked cheek. “Not yet… I’ve been waiting for this for too long.”

 

“Well,” Ginny started to say, “that’s your own silly –”

 

But Harry cut her off with a snigger.

 

“What?” Ginny asked.

 

“I’ve just remembered something, speaking of waiting too long.” He wondered if it was wildly inappropriate to start talking about it now, but the thought was stuck in his head and he wanted to share it. “Guess what happened, right before the battle?”

 

“Do I want to know?” Ginny asked jadedly. “Did you manage to do something even more dangerous than dying? Did you -?”

 

“Ron and Hermione kissed.”

 

Ginny’s eyes were wide with shock.

 

No!

 

“Yes.”

 

Ginny gasped. “I saw them holding hands downstairs earlier, but I thought they were still doing their we’re-almost-but-not-quite-a-couple thing.”

 

“Yeah. Well, it was more of a snog, to be honest.”

 

“Bloody hell. How did it happen?”

 

“He said something nice about house-elves.”

 

Ginny’s eyes widened. “Are you joking?”

 

“No,” Harry said earnestly. “He really did. And Hermione just went for him, right there.”

 

Ginny began to giggle. Harry grinned.

 

“You know, they could’ve chosen any of the many idle moments we’ve had over the past year, or – even better – some time in the six years they’ve known each other. Would’ve done us all a favour. But no. Ron and Hermione - they snog in the middle of a battle.” 

 

Ginny was now shaking with laughter. Harry joined in and soon found it very difficult to stop. Before long, both he and Ginny were completely beside themselves; Ginny clutching her stomach with pain and he with his head thrown back in mirth. Because even though his muscles burned when he laughed and he was not sure if anything should be funny at a time like this, the thought of his two best friends finally snogging seemed beyond hilarious.

 

“Nutcases,” Ginny said finally.

 

“Who - them or us?”

 

“Dunno. All of us.”

 

Ginny stroked his cheek absently. She ran her finger over a small cut that Harry had no recollection of acquiring.

 

“Has Madam Pomfrey seen to you?” she asked.

 

Harry shook his head. “She was a little busy.”

 

“You look all battered,” Ginny said disapprovingly. “I mean, a few scars,” she pointed at his forehead, “are cool and sexy and everything, but I wish you wouldn’t get yourself in such a mess, Harry. You look half dead.”

 

“For a moment, I was all dead,” Harry grinned.

 

“It’s not funny!” Ginny said, looking half-furious, half-amused.

 

Harry quickly assumed a remorseful expression.

 

“Harry Potter,” Ginny fumed. “If you hadn’t just saved the wizarding world, I’d be seriously cross with you right now.”

 

“You’re pretty when you’re cross,” Harry said, leaning towards her.

 

“Oh, shut up,” Ginny said, against his lips.

 

Harry had no trouble obeying that. He abruptly ceased all attempts at conversation in favour of kissing her as he had been dreaming and longing of kissing her all year. His hands reached around her back again and he pulled her towards him, as though they could never be close enough. Ginny’s hands were in his hair, her warm touch soothing the pounding of his tired and throbbing head.

 

Harry wanted to deepen the kiss, but didn’t know whether that would be pushing things; he thought he should be grateful she was speaking to him for the moment, let alone kissing him. But as he was working up the courage to make the first move, he felt Ginny’s tongue on his bottom lip. Deciding that she was possibly the best thing in the world, if not, the universe, he opened his mouth with such eagerness that they both laughed. But then their tongues were playing and there was no more laughing, just wonderful, thoughtless oblivion…

 

Eventually, Ginny pulled away. Harry groaned and tried to find her lips again, but she offered her cheek with an air of mock-snootiness.

 

“Are you still mad?” Harry asked.

 

“Yes,” said Ginny, despite the fact that she was grinning from ear to ear. “You have a lot of making up to me to do.”

 

“I do?”

 

“Yes you do,” she said firmly. “You can’t just go swanning off for a year, no owl or word you’re all right, and expect me to be fine with everything.”

 

Across her face formed a look that Harry had not seen in a long time; a mischievous, teasing expression that seemed to make the room get a lot hotter.

 

“I demand some recompense,” she breathed.

 

“What did you have in mind?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.

 

“Not sure yet,” she said. “Kiss me while I think about it.”

 

Harry did not need telling twice.

 

When their throes of passion gave way to fatigue, Ginny laid her head on his chest and Harry rested his cheek on her scented hair. She ran her fingers up and down his forearm and he fiddled with the end of her long ponytail.

 

“I missed you so much,” Harry said.

 

“Same here,” Ginny replied. She looked at her hands. “You know, I used to gaze at those awful posters – those Undesirable Number One pictures – just to see your face.”

 

Harry tilted her chin up so she was looking at him. “I used to look at the Marauders’ Map to see where you were,” he said, “and just stare and stare at your name, hoping you were all right.”

 

“What about your name? Whenever it was mentioned, whether it was praised or cursed, I thought my heart would burst, I wanted to see you so badly.”

 

They gazed at one another for a long time, the aching sadness of the previous year almost visible between them.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Harry said. He felt himself shrinking into the depths of the chair, trying to get away from her in his shame.

 

“Harry, don’t – not now. I was only joking before…”

 

“But I am,” he said. “For everything. For being the one to end it, for pushing you away for a year. For not seeing you for a year – it’s been rubbish.”

 

“It really has.”

 

“I was just so afraid. So afraid that something would happen to you because of me. That they’d know how much I love you…”

 

This time Harry looked at his hands. He had not planned to say it; until that moment, he had not been truly aware he had felt it. But as the words left his mouth, he knew they were true – of course they were true: he was hopelessly, desperately and entirely in love with her.

 

He forced himself to meet her eyes. She had sat up straighter on his lap so they were face-to-face. She was wearing the most blazing of blazing looks, and yet when she spoke, her voice was soft and serious.

 

“I love you too,” she said.  “I always have.”

 

Harry felt his face split into a massive grin. It felt strange: he could not remember the last time he had smiled like that. Ginny too was beaming at him, her smile completely dazzling. Harry could not remember the last time he had seen that either. The sheer force of the happiness they emitted was almost overwhelming.

 

They were back in their bubble, back in the shining place they had been in Ginny’s room the previous summer, before they had been so offensively interrupted by Ron. Except that now there were no interruptions: no nosy brothers, no murderous supervillains, just him and her. The world could wait. All that mattered to Harry was her and her smile. Because in that smile he could see Ginny once more; the real Ginny; the Ginny he loved.

 

“So no more messing around, okay?” said Harry, feeling oddly assertive. “You won’t be able to get rid of me now.”

 

Ginny leaned forward. “I think I’ll be able to live with that,” she whispered.

 

As they kissed, Harry’s mind spun; this surely could not be his life. This must be someone else’s. Where were the dragons, the duelling, the Death Eaters? Something this glorious could not be happening to him. Yet it was; she was happening to him. And here she was, in his arms, kissing him and loving him.

 

Ginny, unable to stop smiling to kiss properly, buried her head in his shoulder and nuzzled at his neck. Harry caught her fingers, which were tracing his jaw line, and kissed them. As he did so, he closed his eyes. It was with a huge effort that he opened them.

 

Ginny looked up and smiled as he rubbed his eyes behind his glasses. Then she became stern.

 

“You should get rest,” she said firmly. “You need sleep.”

 

“I need you,” he said.

 

“You have me.”

 

Harry rested his head against the warm material of the chair. “Can’t I just sleep here?” he murmured. The boys’ dormitories seemed an awfully long way away,

 

“No,” said Ginny. “You’ll get a stiff neck. You’ve got loads of important stuff to do tomorrow, and you can’t do them with a stiff neck.”

 

Harry thought of speaking to Kingsley, to McGonagall, and probably every other person in the wizarding world. He thought of mourning the dead and honouring the living; of breaking up the Death Eaters and building up Hogwarts. Then he thought she was probably right – it was bad enough that most of his body ached already.

 

“For starters, you can’t snog properly with a stiff neck,” Ginny continued. “And you’re doing loads of that tomorrow.”

 

“Am I?” said Harry happily.

 

“Of course you are,” she said, giving him a quick peck by way of a preview.

 

“Oh, all right then,” said Harry.

 

Suddenly, the next day seemed a lot brighter.

 

Ginny slid off his lap and held out her hand.

 

“Come on.”

 

Harry took her hand, but still could not summon the energy to move.

 

“Mum’ll kill you if you don’t get any sleep,” Ginny added.

 

Harry stood up.

 

“Don’t want to mess with your mum,” he yawned. “Especially not know.”

 

“I know!” Ginny giggled. “She was amazing.”

 

 “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so terrifying in my life,” Harry laughed, as they started up the staircase of the boys’ dormitories, “and that’s saying something.”

 

Somehow, he managed to make it up the stairs, probably entirely due to the small hand on his back, pushing him forward. He barely noticed how empty his old dormitory looked, with his, Ron and Dean’s belongings all missing from it.

 

Harry walked towards his beloved four-poster. He hardly knew what he was doing as he slumped on top of the covers fully clothed. He was dimly aware of Ginny removing his shoes.

 

“Thanks,” he mumbled.

 

He gazed at her, willing himself to stay awake, willing her not to leave. Until she kicked off her own shoes and was crawling towards him over the mattress.

 

“You’re staying?” he asked, too tired to even attempt to hide the eagerness and need in his voice.

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said.

 

With his last ounce of strength, he stretched out an arm and she reached him, laying her head just next to his shoulder. Her hand found his other, resting on his chest, and their fingers intertwined. Harry turned his head slightly and kissed her lightly on the forehead. She snuggled closer to him, letting out a deep contented sigh.

 

The echoes of the battlefield that had been ringing in Harry’s head; the banging, crashing, screaming turmoil was replaced by their quiet breathing, growing slower and slower in unison. The smell of fire and fear and singed flesh was replaced by the wonderful flowery scent that encircled him and calmed him. And the images; the violence and panic and death that were etched in his memory began to fade, as the last thing Harry saw before he closed his eyes was her: peaceful, beautiful Ginny.

 

Finally, Harry slept.

 

*      *      *

 

A/N: Thank you to Zsenya, for being my beta for this.

I really felt Ginny’s role in DH was as Harry’s hope, which is why he thought of her in his “last” moments; she was the future he thought he was losing. I hope I’ve conveyed that in this fic (amongst all the snogging, of course).

 

 

//
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