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Aftermath... by deemarie

Format: Novella
Chapters: 10
Word Count: 25,279
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Genres: Romance
Characters: Ginny, Harry
Pairings: Harry/Ginny

First Published: 01/17/2004
Last Chapter: 04/05/2004
Last Updated: 04/05/2004

Summary:
What happens afterward...


Chapter 1: Chapter 1. The End of the War
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A/N – The Potterverse and all its attendant things belongs to JKR, Warner Bros, Bloomsbury Press et al. The idea however is mine alone. I am responsible for this. You can blame me or praise me, as you like.


Afterwards…

By DeeMarie

Chapter 1 The End of the War

If it hadn’t been for the fires lit by spells missing their marks, she would never have seen him staggering out of the Forbidden Forest that late May night. Ginny Weasley had just finished casting a spell to tie up the fallen Death Eater before her when the firelight had reflected off something on the edge of the forest. She pushed her tangled red tresses back from her face. Sweat had dripped from her brow and stung her delicate brown eyes. The forest was dark; the trees had always kept light from penetrating even this close to the edge of the wood. She narrowed her eyes hoping for a better view, raising her wand to be ready for anything.

The fighting had been going on for hours. It had begun in Hogsmeade, the only totally wizarding village in England. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was too well protected for a full-scale assault. Lord Voldemort, the Dark Lord, the most evil wizard for hundreds of years had decided to attack the village. It was his only hope of enticing Harry Potter out. Through deception he had gained the knowledge of the prophecy that tied his fate to the 17-year-old wizard. Neither could live while the other survived. He wanted to live – forever.

It was the only way to draw the boy out. Harry was too well protected. Voldemort had tried other means, coercion through dreams, outright possession, but the boy had always managed to escape. Voldemort was tired of waiting, tired of subterfuge, so the assault had begun. It had the desired effect. He sensed the boy’s rage and frustration. The Dark Lord summoned Harry deep into the Forbidden Forest for the final confrontation.

The light flashed again and Ginny was ready. She crouched low; the firelight behind her would make her too easy a target. The voice was low. She heard it clearly despite the noises about her.

“Ginny!” He had seen her. It was Harry. He lurched to a pine tree at the forest’s edge and wrapped one arm about it. Harry slowly slid down the trunk, the firelight flashed in the lenses of his glasses again.

“My God, Harry!” She wanted to jump up and run to him. He was hurt. Caution stopped her. She didn’t know who was about. Death Eaters had been spotted on the grounds. The defenses had been breached. She had to get to him. The bushes she was hiding behind offered precious little cover as it was. Ginny was lucky to have seen the Death Eater first now bound before her. Her reaction had been just luck, she knew that. The Death Eater had been more surprised at seeing a student there than she had been to see him. The full body-binding spell she used would keep him immobilized for hours, but who knew how long the fighting would last? Ginny had tied him up.

Now she needed to cross the small exposed patch of ground to get to Harry. How? She scanned the area. No one was near. She didn’t want to get up and run, exposed to who knows what. She would have to crawl over. Low to the ground, she wouldn’t be seen. She slid to her belly then in as loud a voice as she dared, she tried to tell Harry she was on her way.

“Stay low, Harry. I’m coming.” He had heard her. Harry nodded from where he half-lay, half-sat beside the bole of the pine. It seemed to take forever for her to crawl to the edge of the forest. Her heart was beating so fast she feared it would burst in her chest. Stray bits of grass worked their way into her mouth, she spat them out. A searing pain shot up her leg and she nearly cried out. A jagged protrusion from a root she hadn’t seen had torn into her thigh. She grit her teeth and crawled on.

Finally Ginny had reached the safety of the forest shadows. She rose into a crouch and covered the short distance to Harry quickly. “Harry! Harry!” she whispered. He can’t be dead, her mind wailed. His eyes were closed, his head lolling back. Sweat had plastered his usually unruly black hair to his head. His robes were covered with blood. “Come on, Harry, look at me.” He opened his vivid green eyes and slowly righted himself. Ginny sighed in relief.

“Got to get to the castle,” he breathed.

“We can’t. There’s too many of them about. The Death Eaters are on the grounds.”

“Where…” he whispered. Ginny looked about her. Then she spotted it.

“Hagrid’s. It’s not far. If we stay to the edge of the forest, we can get there. Can you stand?” With a grunt of pain, Harry hoisted himself to his feet, staggering into her as she rose beside him. She grabbed onto him, her arms encircling his waist. Harry sucked in air as her arm had grazed one of his wounds. No time to apologize now, she thought, we have to get moving. There were voices coming toward them. She didn’t know if they were friend or foe. She wasn’t going to take the chance to find out.

“Ready?” she asked. Harry nodded. They retreated further into the shadows and cautiously made their way toward Hagrid’s hut. Five minutes of painful walking had brought them to the cabin. They skirted around to the back door.

“Alohomora!” Ginny whispered pointing her want to the door. She pushed the door open and they staggered inside. They had both spent many hours here and didn’t need any light to find Hagrid’s bed. Harry collapsed onto his side. Ginny quickly went back to the door. She shut it and placed a complicated locking charm on it. It would take more than a simple alohomora to open that door now.

They needed light. She had to tend to Harry. Ginny knew what to do. She went to each window and pulled the shutters closed. The charm she used at each of them would block out any light coming from inside and prevent anyone from looking in seeing them. She secured the front door as the back. She lit the fireplace with bluebell flames. They were smokeless; it would still look as if the hut were as empty as it had been since Hagrid had disappeared.

Ginny knew the spell to use to keep the sounds they would make silent to prying ears, yet would allow just enough noise to filter in from outside to let her know when the fighting ended. She had done it none too soon. Harry had begun to cough. He tried to stifle the sound. He was aware enough to realize they were still in danger. She was so close to a window that she could hear someone approaching the cabin. She tensed. Harry was watching her. Ginny put her fingers to her lips. He nodded understanding. She opened the shutter slightly, and then pressed her ear to the gap.

“Gregory!” the man’s voice called. “Gregory where are you?”

“Here, Da!” She knew that voice. Goyle and his father were outside.

“Get over here boy!”

“What do we do now, Da?”

“We get out of here. Can’t Apparate here. Got to get off the grounds.”

“Where will we go, Da?”

“Denmark. I have friends there. They’ll hide us. We’ll lose ourselves there. With the Dark Lord gone, our protection here is over.”

“You’re sure he’s gone?”

“Look at the mark, boy. It’s gone. Nothing left of it. He’s dead. The Potter boy won. Now stop asking questions and let’s go!” They moved off. Ginny stored the knowledge of their location and closed the shutters. She turned back to Harry.

“I’ll get some water heating. We need to clean those wounds. Try to get your things off, Harry.” She watched him as he struggled painfully out of his robe and then she went to the fire. She conjured water in the cauldron sitting there. Ginny hefted it onto the hook and pushed it over the flames. The bluebell fire would heat it quickly.

Ginny found one of Hagrid’s pillow cases and tore it into strips for bandages. Grabbing towels, Ginny brought them to the bed. Harry had managed to get his shirt off but had collapsed onto his back. He could do no more. She removed his trainers, and then unbuckled the waistband of his jeans.

“Come on, Harry, try to help me. Raise your hips, I’ve got to get these off you.” He raised himself up a little and tugging as gently as she could, she pulled them off him. Ginny hoisted his legs onto the bed. “The water should be warm enough now. I’ll be right back.”

He didn’t make a sound as she tended him. Ginny knew he must be in pain. She cleaned him up as best she could and using the healing salve Hagrid had kept for his Care of Magical Creatures class, wrapped Harry in her makeshift bandages. He had begun to shiver. Shock must be setting in. Ginny covered Harry with Hagrid’s quilt and went to tend her own wounds.

She had scraped her stomach raw as she crawled to Harry as well as opened her thigh. She took off her Henley shirt and stepped out of her jeans. There weren’t enough bandages so she rubbed some salve onto her stomach after she had washed up.

There were splinters in the gash on her leg. She picked them out, stifling the moans of pain by putting the heel of her free hand in her mouth. She washed the cut off and applied a liberal amount of salve. The last of the bandages wrapped her leg. She stood by a window. There were still sounds of fighting. It still wasn’t safe. How long would this go on? They must all know by now that Volde – no Riddle, after all that’s who he truly was, was gone. They must be desperate.

A low moan sounded from Hagrid’s bed. She turned to him. He looked to be asleep. She walked over to check him. He was still trembling. She tried to tuck the quilt about him tighter. He opened his eyes.

“I’m c-c-cold,” he whispered.

“It’s the shock, Harry. You’ll warm up soon.”

“N-n-no, I w-w-won’t.” He started to shake violently then. She could hear his teeth chattering. She had to get him warm. This wasn’t good.

“Move over, Harry. I’ll try to get you warm.” She crawled in next to him and pulled the covers about them. She chaffed his arms. “Is that better?” He nodded. “Get some sleep. I’ll keep an ear out. As soon as it dies down out there, I’ll go get help.” Harry shut his eyes. Ginny held him close. Slowly his trembling eased. His breathing became even and deep, he was asleep. The adrenaline that had kept her going had ceased to flow. Exhaustion overwhelmed her. Before she knew it, she too slept.

It was the feather-soft kisses that began to rouse her. They began at the nape of her neck and drifted down to her shoulder. His tongue licked her skin and she shivered, desire sparked. His hands caressed her. She felt his hard-muscled chest against her back. His hand reached around to touch her now sensitive skin. She wasn’t quite awake. She wanted to hold on to this dream. Heat began pooling somewhere below her stomach. She moved against him and a low moan sounded in her ear. It sent a frisson of desire down her spine.

His hand moved lower. He was doing things to her that made her lose rational thought. She was awake now, her body moving in ways that drove him on. There was no stopping this now. Neither of them could. Neither of them wanted to.

Who knew heat would be so pleasure filled? She wanted more. She was glorying in it. She urged him on. Their kisses filled with passion. She was rising higher, her body matching the movement of his hand. Then suddenly she was over the edge, calling out his name, begging for something more. He couldn’t refuse her.

He was on top of her, pressing her down. There was a sharp pain, but only for a moment and then he began to do things to her she never dreamed of. She had thought that she couldn’t have felt more pleasure but she did. It was building again, to a fevered pitch. He cried out and that sent her spiraling out of control. The universe exploded around her and she claimed his lips.

It was a while before he could move off her. His breathing was ragged in her ears. A sweet lethargy settled over them. He slid off her and gathered her against his chest. Soon they were both asleep.

One moment Ginny was asleep, and the next she was awake. Awake and aware. Oh, God, no! We can’t have. We didn’t. Harry’s hand caressed her breast. We did. Dear Lord! I did! A tear slid down her cheek. Carefully she left the bed so she wouldn’t wake him. She looked down. She needed to confirm with her eyes what her brain had already accepted. The evidence was there to see. Little crimson drops on the sheet, some staining her thigh.

Numb, she went over to the cauldron and used the still warm water to clean up. She found her undergarments on the floor by the bed and quickly got dressed. She used her wand to clean Harry up and got his boxers back on him. Please let him think this was just a dream.

She checked for noises outside. The grounds were quiet now. The first rays of dawn were dusting the landscape. She could see the doors to the castle from here. They opened. The headmaster and Madam Pomfrey began to descend the steps. Ginny knew they were coming. She undid the locking charms and lifted the silencing spell. They were there a few minutes later. Madam Pomfrey placed Harry on her magically conjured stretcher and took him back to the castle followed closely by Dumbledore and herself.

Madam Pomfrey had treated both hers and Harry’s wounds. She pronounced Ginny fit to leave. Ginny didn’t talk to Harry Potter again until well into August.






Chapter 2: Chapter 2. In the Cold Light of Day
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Aftermath...

By DeeMarie

Chapter 2. In The Cold Light Of Day

Was it only June? It seemed to Ginny that months had passed since that night. In reality it had only been a week. As crazy as the whole situation was, it was as if the school had returned to normal. How could they do that? How could they pretend that night never happened? Shock she supposed. No one wanted to remember the horror. She did not want to remember what happened. She tried to shrug it off, pretend it was just a dream. It was her body that betrayed her. Laying in her bed at night her skin craved his touch. In her dreams she felt his kisses, his caresses, the feel of him on top of her. She wanted it to stop. If only she could go away. Everything here reminded her of that night.

Harry asked Ron to bring Ginny to him. He needed to talk to her. Ginny refused to go. Hermione had tried to talk to her, Ginny didn't want to. She couldn't face him. She didn't want to believe it had happened at all. She had to go home. Ginny wanted nothing more than to be back in her own room. She wanted to be far away from anything that reminded her of Harry.

Harry thought at first that it had been a dream; Ginny, warm and willing in his arms. Her body fit so perfectly against his. Her skin like silk under his hands. The soft sounds she had made as he stroked her, surely that was just a dream. That was Ginny, Ron's sister, a little girl. He closed his eyes, trying to deny it, wanting it to be a dream. The images floated in front of him as he lay in the infirmary bed. There she was, lying next to him. Her long red hair tossed across the pillows. Her skin was milky white and sweet to his lips. When he touched her, she had arched into his hand. He couldn't stop. Neither could she. Then when they had finally joined and he had looked into her chocolate brown eyes, he had seen the woman she had become. It excited him, inflamed him and pushed him over the edge. He couldn't deny it. It was real. He needed to see her again, to talk to her, to see if she wanted this to go further. He did.

Harry couldn't call it love. Not yet. Was this what love was? It was nothing like what he felt for Cho. This feeling did more than tie his stomach in knots. This involved more than his heart. She just had to come to see him. She just had to.

Though Ron and Hermione begged her to go to Harry, Ginny refused. She knew she was hurting him; she was hurting herself. Ginny just could not face him. What would they say? What would they do?

Harry didn't love her. She didn't love Harry, not anymore. She had purged him from her heart after the Triwizard Tournament. Not once had he spoken to her after the Yule Ball. She might as well not have existed. That hurt. It tore her apart. She locked the feelings she had for him away and threw away the key. She vowed never to look back.

In the three years that followed they formed a friendship of sorts. Ginny didn't get too close, she was afraid of risking her heart again. Harry was fearful that his affection for her would put her in grave danger.

"Ginny, he's asked to see you. I know he's wanted to talk to you all week. I can see it in his eyes. Why won't you go?" Hermione had cornered her outside Flitwick's classroom.

"I'm not ready to see him yet." It was the truth. "I can't. I need time to think things through. What happened that night to both of us scares me, Hermione. I can't face it right now."

"If you talk about it..."

"I don't want to!"

"You have to, Ginny. How can you face your fears, if you don't? You need to speak to someone. Harry was there with you. Whatever happened, he will understand. Come on, Ginny. Come with me now."

"NO!" The students around them turned to Ginny. Hermione backed away surprised by Ginny's anger. Ginny cast her eyes downward. "I'm sorry, Hermione," she whispered. "Give my apologies to Harry. Tell him...tell him I'm sorry. Tell him it's better this way. He doesn't owe me anything. I...we..." she couldn't continue. Before she started crying she bolted, leaving Hermione staring after her.

She hurried through the corridors, bumping into people. She didn't look up. She didn't want anyone to see the pain in her eyes. She ran headlong into a set of purple robes.

"Professor Dumbledore. I'm sorry sir."

"It's alright, Miss Weasley. No damage done." She hadn't raised her eyes. "Is there something wrong?" His voice was so caring, she couldn't resist. Ginny raised her eyes. Dumbledore's expression soothed her. There was compassion in his eyes. They invited her trust; they showed how much he cared.

"Yes, professor, there is."

"Come along, Miss Weasley. Let's go to my office."

Dumbledore contemplated the young woman across from him. She had been through so much in the six years she had been under his care. He admired her resiliency. What had happened to her when she was only 11 would have damaged most witches permanently. She had great strength of spirit to have bounced back the way she had. Now though, now her spirit had faltered.

"Miss Weasley, please tell me what's wrong."

Ginny stared into the bright blue eyes across from her. There was no judgment in them. Still, she couldn't tell him, nor would she lie to him. "I can't, professor. I don't want to have to lie to you."

"Very well," he sighed. "If you won't tell me what's bothering you, will you tell me what you want to do about it?"

The answer was out of her mouth before she could stop herself. "I want to go home."

"You want to leave? You don't want to finish your education?"

"No, professor. I do want to finish my time here. It's just that I can't stay here right now. Everywhere I go, everything I see reminds me of that night. I can't face it anymore."

"This has something to do with Harry Potter."

She couldn't deny it. It was useless to lie to the headmaster. "Yes," she whispered her eyes downcast.

"You really should talk to him."

"I can't. Not now. Not yet."

"Very well, Miss Weasley. I will grant your request." Ginny looked up at him. There were thanks in her eyes. "However, I would like you to consider talking to Harry as soon as possible. Whatever happened, it did involve both of you. He may be as distraught as you."

"I know, sir. I will speak to him, eventually. I just need time to sort things out on my own."

"I will hold you to that, Miss Weasley." He stared into her eyes intently. Rather than disconcerting her, his gaze seemed to calm her. "I will arrange for you to take your exams at your home. I expect to see you back here come September. Now go tell your brother good-bye and go pack. There will be a Portkey waiting for you in the Entry Hall." Ginny left murmuring her thanks. She headed to the infirmary.

"She still won't come, Harry." Hermione was telling him about Ginny. "I tried, but she seems so scared."

"Scared?" Ron looked at Harry. He and Hermione spent every spare moment with Harry. "Why is she scared, Harry? What happened?"

"I can't tell you, Ron," Ron tried to interrupt but Harry just held up his hand. "It's something I have to speak with her about first. You'll just have to accept that." It seemed to calm Ron a bit. Normally, Ron would have kept at him, but that night had changed not just Harry. It had changed them all.

With the prospect of death facing them, not like when they were children, but real and violent and horrifying, Ron and Hermione had sought each other out. There was no bickering, none of their normal behavior. Harry had seen them from the landing on the stair. He was trying to leave the castle himself. Voldemort was waiting for him. Ron and Hermione had faced each other in front of the fire in the deserted common room.

They were staring into each other's eyes, their breathing coming in rapid gasps. Ron grabbed Hermione by her shoulders and pulled her into his arms. The kiss was urgent, desperate. They clutched at each other.

"I need you, 'Mione. I don't know if we'll come out of this alive. I need you now."

"Ron we can't. I can't. Not if this is just because of - of Voldemort," Ron, for once didn't wince at the sound of the name.

"No, 'Mione. It's not because of him precisely. I've been trying to tell you this all year. The words just weren't there. I was scared. I was afraid you wouldn't feel the same. I love you, Hermione Granger. I have for the longest time. I was too much of a fool to see it though." She stared into his eyes.

"Ron, I love you too."

"Do you?" incredulity flooded his voice. She just nodded. "'Mione," he whispered and their lips met. They pulled apart. He took her hand and started toward the portrait hole.

"Ron, where are we going?"

"Room of requirement. I want to be with you, Hermione. You do want that?" She nodded. "We can't be alone here. I want to show you how much I love you." Hermione grabbed his hand tighter and pulled Ron out of the common room.

Ron didn't tell Harry about that. Neither of them did. Harry could tell though, that they were finally together. They had both changed.

"Ron?" a voice came from the infirmary door. They all turned. Ginny was there. Hermione smiled, so did Ron. Harry's brow furrowed. If she were here to see him, surely she would have come to his bedside. "Can I see you, please?"

"Sure, Gin, come on over."

"No, in private please." The smile faded from Ron and Hermione's faces. Harry stared at the foot of the bed. She hadn't even looked at him. Ron got up, shrugged his shoulders at his two best friends and went to Ginny. She pulled him into the hall. Ron waited for her to start. She tried to look him in the eye. She started to say something, but her voice caught.

"Ginny, what is it? Are you okay? What's wrong?"

"I've come to say good bye."

"Good bye?"

"I'm going home, Ron."

"Now? But the exams...You haven't talked to Harry. He needs to talk to you, Gin."

"I know. I can't. I need to go home. I can't stay here anymore. Professor Dumbledore is getting me a Portkey. I have to go." She turned to leave. Ron grabbed her arm.

"Ginny, talk to me. Something happened, didn't it? What happened after you found Harry?"

"Nothing happened."

"Gin, don't lie to me. You never could, you know."

"Just tell Harry I'm sorry. It was a mistake. There's no obligation. I won't bother him again. He shouldn't concern himself about me." Ginny's eyes were glistening with unshed tears. "I've got to go." Before Ron could stop her, she turned and ran, leaving him staring after her.

"Something happened between you, didn't it, Harry?" Hermione said after Ron had left.

"Did Ginny say anything to you?"

"No, she hasn't. She usually tells me everything. She hasn't really spoken to me in days."

"Then I'll not say anything either. You'll just have to wait until she's ready," Harry said as Hermione started to protest. Before it could go any further Ron came back.

"Where's Ginny?" Hermione asked.

"Gone. She's leaving, going home. Harry, she said to tell you it was a mistake, she's not going to bother you. She said you shouldn't feel obligated to her."

Harry's heart broke.


Chapter 3: Chapter 3. Waiting and Wondering
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A/N - I just love the winter. Snowed in here, so I have time to add to my story. You don't have to wait until Sunday.



Aftermath…

By DeeMarie

Chapter 3. Waiting and Wondering

June had melted into July. Hot, humid weather had marked the time since Ginny had returned home. The air weighed on her heavily. It had made her ill. She spent most of the mornings in the bathroom. The rest of the days she spent studying or sleeping.

The week she spent taking her exams had been draining. It had taken all her energy to sit through them. It hadn’t helped that Madam Pince had been the one to administer the tests. Ginny could tell the librarian wasn’t pleased to leave her sanctuary of musty old tomes to do this, even though it was only for a couple of hours each day. They were finally, blessedly over. Ginny could relax. It didn’t matter to her how well she had done.

She sat in the alcove of her open window. She was waiting for her parents to return from taking Ron to see Hermione. They were celebrating Harry’s birthday there. It was closer to the home he shared with Remus Lupin. Harry still wasn’t fully recovered. The amount of magical energy needed to Apparate was too great for him yet. A Portkey would most likely aggravate his injuries that hadn’t completely healed yet. He used Floo powder, much as he hated it, but only for short journeys, like the one from his home to Hermione’s. The Burrow was too far to risk travel.

Ginny refused to go. If there was one thing her illness had made her grateful for it was that it prevented her from traveling. Her mother had left her a light meal for lunch, but Ginny didn’t feel like eating. She didn’t want to think. Thinking only brought pain.

She was watching the birds darting in and out of the trees that lined the road to Ottery St. Catchpole. She could hear their raucous calls. The flashes of colour as they darted about made her smile. Suddenly they scattered. A larger bird had intruded upon their play. It flew low, skimming the tops of the trees. It was headed toward her house. She recognized the bird as sunlight glittered over her white feathers. Ginny sighed it was Hedwig.

Hedwig landed at Ginny’s feet. She gave a soft hoot of greeting then extended her leg to Ginny. She untied the letter from the snowy owl’s leg, and then stroked the soft-feathered head. “I’m sorry he’s made you come again, Hedwig. There won’t be a reply.”

Hedwig snapped at Ginny’s finger, as if to say how foolish the girl was being. “Don’t act like that, I’m not the one who’s sent you on a fool’s errand.” Hedwig gave a small screech. “There’s not going to be an answer. You can get that through your head right now. If I know Harry, he’s told you to wait for one. You’ll be here for the rest of the summer. You might as well leave right now. If I were you, I’d refuse to bring me anymore.” It looked as if Hedwig shook her head in disapproval.

“I’m sorry, Hedwig,” Ginny sighed. “That’s all the reply he’s getting. You had better go.” Hedwig stretched her wings and flew off. Ginny went to her vanity and opened the small secretary. There were 9 other identical envelopes inside. She placed the latest on the top of the small pile, and then closed the lid. She had only opened the first one. Ginny tried to throw them away, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Back in the alcove, she remembered the first letter. She had read it so often deciding if she would reply, she had it committed to memory.

Ginny,

I got your messages from Hermione and Ron. We can’t go without talking about what happened. We can’t ignore it. Ginny, I made love to you! I took something precious from you.

You told Ron to tell me it was a mistake. Was it? I remember everything. You never told me to stop. You wanted me as much as I wanted you. Was that a mistake?

If you can’t face me, at least write to me. We need to understand why it happened. We need to talk about how we feel about one another.

Obligation? I don’t know what you mean by that. All I know is I was your first. Ginny, you were mine. There is something there I know there is. Please, Ginny, I need to hear from you.

Harry

She had debated whether to answer Harry for two days. She had made that promise to the headmaster. She wrote back.

Harry,

Please understand I know we should have talked. I just couldn’t. I don’t really know how I feel about this yet. If I can’t get my own thoughts in order, how can I deal with you?

You’re right, Harry, I didn’t tell you to stop. I couldn’t. At that moment I needed to be with you as much as you needed to be with me. After all we have been through, you and I, there’s a connection there. You and I are the ones that Riddle tried to control. You and I know what it’s like to have him inside our heads. We both survived. I suppose that was our reaction to that.

I cannot deny that making love with you was wonderful. It has been the most wonderful experience of my life. I will never forget what you made me feel physically. Was it love? No, Harry. It was lust, pure and simple. That was the mistake, Harry.

There is no obligation. Don’t feel you have to pursue any relationship with me because of it. It was just one night. One incredible night that I will treasure. There was no love there. I did get over you, a long time ago.

Don’t let this keep you from coming to the Burrow. I’m sure once we have had the time to look at things logically, we will be able to move past it. We can still be friends. I wouldn’t want to come between you and Ron in any case.

I will remain always your friend,

Ginny

His reply had come quickly. Ginny never opened it. She sent a short note back to Harry asking him not to pursue the subject. It was a while before he replied. The last two weeks had seen the remaining 7 letters sent. Each time she sent Hedwig back without a reply. Harry had better get the message soon.

Harry sat in the Granger’s garden. The smell of hyacinths inundated his senses. He was still tired. The wounds had healed, but it was his strength that had failed to return as quickly as he hoped. That was to be expected, Madam Pomfrey and Professor Dumbledore had told him. His life force was so entwined with Voldemort’s that when he had defeated the Dark Wizard, it was as if a piece of Harry had died with him.

Harry knew now that a part of him did die that night. It had taken so much out of him. It was more than shock that had set him shivering, his soul was tired, ready to leave. If it hadn’t been for Ginny, he would have departed this life. She was right, there was a connection. As he staggered through the forest searching for a way out something had called to him, drawn him to that spot.

She had taken him to Hagrid’s, tended his wounds. Still he was slipping away. It was her warmth that had held him there. She didn’t realize it but as she held him she shared her strength with him. He felt it creep into him urging him to hold on. With her beside him, he knew he could. Sleep claimed him. In his dreams he was with her sharing laughter, life and finally love. She had become a part of him. The velvet touch of her skin against his chest and stomach had roused feelings in him he had never felt before. His arm had draped around her and the rise and fall of her breathing enticed him.

She had a pleasant musky smell. He needed to taste her, so he started to kiss her. When she had turned to him, looked into his eyes and had gone over the edge, it was too late for him to stop.

When she left he was devastated. Why? He could understand her confusion. It had been so sudden, the change in their relationship. It was Hermione and Ron who had taken it upon themselves to for force her to come to him. Harry was content to let her approach him in her own time. He had only asked them once to see if she would come.

At first he was angry with Ron and Hermione. He knew if he shouted at them it would do no good. They were only trying to help. They were as hurt by Ginny’s leaving as he was. Ron even more so, it hurt him badly that he couldn’t help her.

He had been released from hospital in time for NEWTs. Considering what he had just been through and his lack of strength the practical side of his exams were unnecessary. Dumbledore had convinced the board of governors of that. Harry sat for only the written portions. He spent the afternoons in the common room. He hadn’t the strength for much more than that. It took the whole week to write the letter to Ginny. He threw so much parchment into the fire; Harry was surprised that he hadn’t set the tower ablaze.

Ginny’s answer arrived the morning they were leaving Hogwarts. Harry waited until he was alone in his compartment on the train to open it.

There was no love in what they had done? It was merely the result of lust combined with mutual experiences? No, she can’t be right. Then to say they remain friends? Friendship was all she wanted from him? How could she feel that way? A million questions tumbled through Harry’s mind. This wasn’t the Ginny he knew. What happened to her that night? What happened to him?

Remus Lupin had taken charge of Harry. He and Mad-Eye Moody had faced down the Dursley’s at King’s Cross when Vernon Dursley had started to fuss. The muggles were unaware of what had transpired in the Wizarding world. When Mad-Eye had subtly, for him at least, threatened him, the elder Dursley had backed down. Dudley was another matter.

As soon as Harry had passed through the barrier, Dudley had begun to threaten him under his breath. Harry was in no mood to banter with his cousin. Dudley didn’t know that Harry had powers that went beyond a 17-year-old wizard’s knowledge. He didn’t pay attention to the fact that the only reason Harry was returning to Privet Drive was to collect his things and then leave. There were books and mementos from his childhood stored there that he was never able to bring to Hogwarts, things that were the only joy for him in his youth. Mad-Eye and Remus Apparated to Arabella Figg’s to wait for him. Harry left with the Dursleys.

Dudley followed Harry up the stairs and into Harry’s room. He was savoring the prospect of thrashing Harry the moment the door was shut. Like a predator sensing his prey, Dudley knew Harry was weak and vulnerable. Dudley shut the door, deftly triggering the lock. Harry wouldn’t know what hit him, literally. Dudley turned to his cousin an evil smile on his lips.

Harry knew what was coming. When Dudley turned to him the smile instantly disappeared. There was a white aura surrounding the wizard. The energy Harry was gathering was tossing his hair wildly. He seemed to loom over Dudley.

“I’m of age now, Dudley. There won’t be any interference from the Ministry. Just for your edification (or is that too big a word for you) I am now the second most powerful wizard alive.” Dudley backed away from him.

“The only reason you are still in your present form and not the pig you really should be is because despite everything your mother was my mother’s sister. My mother wouldn’t want me to sink so low. (Alohomora!) Now I suggest you go find your friends and make yourself scarce until I leave.” Dudley didn’t need to be told twice. He bolted. Harry stayed the way he was until he heard Dudley leave the house. He collapsed onto the bed panting. It had taken a lot of strength and bravado to pull that off, and it left him weak in the knees.

With a few deft waves of his wand, he gathered the only happy memories left here. There were some very old toy soldiers that he had scrounged from the trash when he was 9. Bent, paint pealing, nicked, but they were his. In a dark corner of his wardrobe were all his old school books. Robes of various sizes that measured his growth over the years hung in the wardrobe. Stray inkbottles, quills, their points blunted were also gathered up. Finally tucked neatly beneath his mattress, he pulled the worn faded blanket that he had been wrapped in when brought to this house. Not much to show for 17 years of life. Each item was precious to him. He placed them carefully in his rucksack. Harry took one last look around and sighed. This part of his life was over. Time to make a new start. Tomorrow he would send Hedwig with a letter to Ginny. He wanted that new start to include her.

Two replies, that’s all he had gotten. He sent the last letter yesterday. If she didn’t answer this one, he would leave her alone, for the time being. Ron had invited him to the Burrow for the last two weeks in August. He would see Ginny then. In the meantime, he would plan on how to speak to her.

“So this is where you are,” Hermione’s voice intruded into his thoughts.

“Sorry for deserting the party, Hermione,” Harry smiled at her. “I just needed a little time to myself.” Hermione sat next to Harry. She took his hand in hers.

“Still no word from Ginny?”

Sighing Harry said, “No. She won’t answer. I’ve tried. I don’t think she’s even read them.”

“You can’t be sure of that.”

“It’s funny, Hermione, but in a way I can. Ever since that night I can sort of feel things about her. It’s not strong or clear, but I can tell.” He paused not knowing how to explain this to Hermione. “She’s written to you, has she said anything? If she’s sworn you to secrecy,” Harry held up his hand as if making a solemn vow, “I’ll understand.”

“No, not a word about that night. I’m not going to push her, Harry. I tried that at school and she ran. I don’t want to push her away.” Harry squeezed Hermione’s hand.

“We’ll just have to wait for her,” he said.

“Come on, Harry. Let’s go back inside. It is your party, after all,” smiling they left the garden.



Chapter 4: Chapter 4. Decisions to be made
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Aftermath...

By DeeMarie

Chapter 4. Decisions to be Made

Pigwidgeon fluttered about the sleeping girl, hooting softly. He wasn't his normal self. The letter he carried was too important. He sensed that when Ginny had entrusted it to him. Hermione pulled herself from sleep when she felt the breeze the Scops owl was making with his fluttering wings.

"Pig, what are you doing here so early?" Hermione held out her hand and Pig settled on it. Hermione untied the letter. Pig flew over to her dresser. "I gather you want an answer right away." The tiny owl hooted in reply, hopping from claw to claw. "Give me a moment." Hermione opened the letter and read. Her eyes went wide, her mouth an O of surprise. She scrambled out of bed and over to her desk. A hastily written reply was soon attached to Pig and off he flew. Hermione got herself ready just as quickly.

The letter said to meet Ginny at the Leaky Cauldron at noon. Hermione arrived at precisely the stroke of 12. She looked about the crowded room for the trademark red Weasley hair. She almost missed her. Ginny as sitting tucked away in a dark corner. Her eyes were downcast. Hermione rushed over.

"Ginny," she panted as she took the chair opposite her friend. "Are you okay?"

Ginny looked up. Her eyes were red-rimmed and puffy. She had been crying. "I'm glad you're here, 'Mione." Ginny reached out and took the older girl's hand. "Can you help me?"

"I'll do the best I can. Ginny, are you sure about this?"

"As sure as I can be without being checked. Is there a way to find out for sure, without going to a healer?"

"Yes. There's an apothecary near here that carries some home testing supplies. We'll go there and head back to my house." There was an awkward silence. "Have you talked to your mum?" Ginny shook her head.

"I want to make sure first."

"She'll be angry, won't she? What about your Dad?"

"Yes, they both will be. I think, once I explain everything, they'll probably understand, though. It was an accident, after all."

"An accident? I don't think accident is the proper term for getting pregnant." Hermione regretted those words as they left her mouth. "Oh, Ginny, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that." Ginny just shrugged. "Have you said anything to Harry?" She didn't want to ask it, but she had to.

"No, I want to make certain, first. I mean if it's a false alarm, I wouldn't want to scare him."

"I'm sorry, Ginny, but I have to ask. Are you going to tell him if you are?" Ginny gave Hermione a sharp look. "Well, you haven't spoken two words with him since that night." The anger in Ginny turned to sadness.

"I'll tell him. It will be his child too. I can't do that to him."

Two hours later the girls were back in Hermione's room.

"Are you sure that's right?" Ginny asked anxiety lacing her voice.

"We've done this three times. Short of a blood test, you're definitely pregnant." Ginny sank down on to the bed, sighing. She hid her face in her hands. "Ginny, are you okay?"

"No, Hermione. I'm going to have a baby. I'm not okay." Hermione didn't know what to do. Nothing in her experience, nothing she had ever read, prepared her for this.

"What are you going to do?" Ginny still sat, her head downcast. There was silence in the room. The only sound was the ticking of the clock on Hermione's night table. Each second seemed an eternity to Ginny.

Tick - I'm going to have a baby.

Tick - Harry's baby.

Tick - How do I tell him?

Tick - How do I tell my family?

"Hermione, come with me?"

"Where?"

"I've got to tell Harry. I've got to tell him now."

They knocked on the door of the cottage Remus and Harry shared. Ginny stood behind Hermione. She was trying to find the courage to face Harry.

Harry opened the door. "Hermione," he said smiling. "What brings you..." Ginny came to Hermione's side. Harry's smile faded.

"Can we come in, Harry?" Hermione asked. Harry nodded and stepped aside. Hermione led the way into the sitting room. Remus was there reading. He looked up when Hermione entered. He started to smile as he stood. The half-smile froze on his face when Ginny came in.

"Professor," Ginny said tentatively. She wasn't sure of her welcome, considering how she had been treating Harry.

Remus let his smile grow. "It's Remus now, Ginny," that seemed to relax her. Remus glanced at Harry standing behind Ginny. Harry's brow was furrowed, his lips drawn into a thin line. "Please girls, sit down." Hermione and Ginny took seats on the small settee. Harry sat in the chair across from Ginny. As Remus sat he said, "What brings you here, ladies?"

"I've come to talk to Harry," Ginny barely whispered.

"Sorry," Harry said. He hadn't quite caught her words, her voice was so quiet.

Ginny sighed and looked directly at Harry. "I need to tell you something."

"Hermione," Remus said. "Would you mind helping me in the kitchen? Something tells me we need to get some tea ready." Hermione nodded. She gave Ginny's shoulders a squeeze and followed Remus out.

Harry never took his eyes off Ginny. "What is it, Ginny?" There was a hint of anger and hurt in his voice. Ginny couldn't blame him for that.

"Harry, I'm..." she paused, "I'm pregnant." She braced herself for what was to come.

Pregnant. The word hung in the air between them. Harry hadn't expected this. He was stunned. "You're sure?" Ginny nodded. The silence dragged out.

"I'm sorry, Harry." Sorry, she was sorry? He was trying to come to terms with his feelings about Ginny. He was trying to figure out if he should go to see her and force the issue of their feelings. Now that was taken out of his hands. She was sorry. Sorry for what? Sorry for allowing this to happen? Sorry that their lives just got one hundred times more complicated? Sorry that he had touched her? "Harry, say something," she pleaded.

"What do you want me to say, Ginny? What can I say?" Ginny's eyes were downcast. "You haven't said two words to me since that night. You won't answer my letters. You've shut me out when all I wanted was to talk to you about us. And now you come to me when you're in trouble. I don't know, Ginny. Tell me what I should do. That seems to be what you want."

His words stung. Tears were forming in her eyes. She deserved this. He was right. "Please, Harry, forgive me?" Harry sat back. "I was wrong. I was scared. I was...I don't know what I was! I don't know who I am now. I'm even more scared now, Harry."

"How long have you known?"

"Not long. Hermione helped me with the test today. I wasn't really sure. I thought I was ill. I thought it was stress. It never occurred to me that I might be...Mum's been trying to get me to explain why I came home early. I couldn't tell her. I think she suspects something."

Dear Merlin, Harry thought. What were her parents going to say? "When are you going to tell your parents?" There was a hint of sarcasm in his tone. He couldn't help it. He was angry. She looked at him, finally. She hadn't missed the sarcasm. Ginny's temper began to flare.

"Look, Harry, I understand that you're angry. I deserve that. I should have talked to you. You don't have to speak to me like that, though."

"Yes you should have talked to me, Ginny. If this hadn't happened, if you hadn't gotten pregnant, would you have talked to me?" Ginny couldn't answer.

"Can't answer that? Or won't. Never mind, I think I know. Your letter, your only letter made that perfectly clear. You didn't want to talk about us then. You don't want to talk about us now. We have to talk about us."

"Us? There was no us, Harry. There never was. You barely acknowledged my existence. How could there be an us if you didn't see me?"

"Is that what you thought? That I didn't care? Not even a little?"

"What was I supposed to think, Harry? You didn't say two words to me after the Yule Ball. You really didn't want me around did you? You only tolerated me in the DA because I'm Ron's sister. The only reason you've talked to me at all the past two years is because Ron and Hermione are too wrapped up in each other. That's all our relationship was. I was only a substitute for them."

"That's not true. I've told you things I could never have told either of them."

Ginny got up and walked toward the nearest window. "That's all there was to us, Harry. Tom Riddle was all there was between us. There was nothing but shared pain between us."

Harry came to stand behind her. "Is that what you think?" Ginny nodded. "There's more to it than that, Ginny." She turned.

"More? What more could there be? It that's true, then I'm not the only one guilty of not talking! Why, Harry? Why couldn't you let me know there was more?"

Harry couldn't stop himself, his anger, his frustration poured out. "Because I was afraid for you! I didn't want him to know how I felt! He knew I loved Sirius and look what happened! If I told you I cared, if I let myself think about it, he would have known. He would have used that. I couldn't let that happen. I didn't want to take the chance that I'd lose you too."

"You care? All that time you cared? You never said anything."

"Yes," he said simply.

"I hate him," she spat. "He's ruined everything! We could have had a chance, a chance at a normal life. Now it's all gone!" She was really sobbing now. Harry folded his arms around her. He just let her cry. He was still angry. Now he wasn't sure whom he was angry with. Her sobbing started to ease.

"You okay, Gin?" he asked. She raised her head.

"A little better." He let her go. Ginny felt a deep sense of loss away from him.

"What do we do now?" she asked. Harry led her back to the settee. He sat beside her.

"When are you going to tell your parents?" That wasn't what he wanted to ask. They still had more to talk about. Ginny looked tired. There would be time for talking later.

"As soon as you decide what you want to do." Harry looked pointedly at her. "I know I'm keeping this baby. No one is going to change my mind. I want you to be a part of this. You have to decide how much you want to be involved. It's up to you, Harry. I can't ask for more than that."

"You want me to answer now?"

"No Harry. You need to think about this. I can wait. I'll have to tell them soon though."

"I can tell you this right now, when you do tell them, I'll be there. You won't have to face them alone."

"Thank you." An uncomfortable silence settled. Ginny took a deep breath. "Don't do anything out of a sense of duty." Harry let a long breath out.

"I don't know if I can promise that. It's going to be a part of my decision, I think." Ginny turned quickly to him intending to protest. He spoke before she could. "Ginny, it's a part of this situation. What we did was in the heat of the moment, consequences weren't even considered. If the circumstances had been different, who knows what would have happened. Now we have to face the facts. The fact is I've gotten you pregnant. I have a responsibility now."

Ginny sighed. "I don't want to force you into something you will regret. I don't want you to hate me."

Here was something Harry could reassure her with. "I'll never hate you, Ginny. I may get angry, but I'll never hate you," he said with a small smile on his lips.

"I better go now." Ginny said exhaustion lacing her voice. "You need to think and I need to go home."

"I'll get Hermione."

Harry went to the kitchen. Hermione and Ginny left quietly. Remus was trying unsuccessfully to look busy with the tea things.

"Ginny's pregnant, Remus." The teacups rattled.

"So that's what happened." He turned to Harry. "Do you want to talk?"

"Not right now. I'll be in my room if you want me."

I'm going to be a father. Ginny is having my baby. It ran like a mantra through his mind for the last hour. He thought about her. The shy girl he had encountered at 11. Ron had told him that really wasn't like her. She was as rowdy as the twins. Normally she never shut up long enough for anyone else to talk. Her crush on him had suppressed it. Yet he saw flashes of her independent spirit. In Flourish and Blotts he had seen it. The way she had put the Chamber behind her and gone on with her life had shown she was a true Gryffindor. He had become too involved in his own problems to see how she grew over the years. It wasn't until after Sirius died that he finally started to see her for who she really was. He liked what he saw.

I'm going to be a father. Ginny is having my baby. He had told her he cared. He did. She was there when he needed her. When Ron and Hermione had become so wrapped up in trying to figure out their relationship he knew he needed something they couldn't give them. His own grief and frustration prevented that. Ginny was the one who was there for him. Even when he couldn't bring himself to talk, he knew if he had wanted to she would have been there. He was grateful for that. Her quiet companionship had been a comfort. When had it changed? When had gratitude turned into something more?

I'm going to be a father. Ginny is having my baby. Not alone, though. I'll see to that. You're not going through this alone Ginny. You said you wanted me to be a part of this. I will be. I have to be. I don't know how your parents will take the news, but you don't have to worry about me. Not anymore, not ever.

I'm going to be a father. Ginny is having my baby. Did he love her? Is that why that night happened? Did he love her or just want her comfort? Was that what that night was? Two injured souls sharing, reaching out to each other for one beautiful thing amid all the horror. One thing so beautiful that his heart ached for more. His heart did ache for her. He needed her in his life. He needed her by his side. Was that love?

I'm going to be a father. Ginny's having my baby. Love. This child of theirs was going to need it too. He knew that well enough. He grew up without it. How did he survive without it for so long? Or did he lack it? Was the love that marked him by his mother's sacrifice the key to his survival? Was it the love of his father that he carried in his heart that taught him how to give and receive it? His parent's love was there, he felt it keenly now. Was it Ginny who awakened this? He knew no matter what happened he would love this child. He would love his son or daughter as his parents had loved him.

I'm going to be a father. Ginny's having my baby. Not alone though. He would see to that. It suddenly became clear to him. He wasn't sure if what he felt was love but he knew it could be. If they were together, sharing this, then things would work out. He was going to marry her. Not just because of the baby, but because there was something there. Something more than shared experience. They didn't make love just because of that. It was part of it, yes. Part of it was affirming they were alive. Part of it was how she saved him, kept him from letting go of life. Part of it, the most part of it was how he felt about her. How he could almost say he loved her. They would build a life together. They had to try. This child would have two parents together, parents who loved him.

A son, it could be a son. Someone he could teach about life. Someone he could share his love of Quidditch with. He could do that with a daughter too. A lovely little red-haired beauty with green eyes. She would be his mother come to life again.

I'm going to be a father. Ginny is having my baby. A soft smile played with the corners of Harry's mouth.

"Remus!" Harry shouted as he bolted from his bedroom. "Remus! You've got to help me. I need to get a ring! We're going to Diagon Alley right now!"





Chapter 5: Chapter 5. The Family Gathering
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Aftermath...

By DeeMarie

Chapter 5. The Family Gathering

They were all gathered around the kitchen table in the Burrow. Arthur and Molly sat quietly, worried looks on their faces. Remus was there. As Harry's guardian, he felt he should be there for Harry's sake. Harry and Ginny sat side-by-side. He had taken her hand to show his support. Ginny squeezed it.

"What have you called us here for?" Arthur asked the young people sitting across from him. Ginny looked at Harry. He smiled at her. Ginny took a deep breath.

"There's no other way to say this. Mum, Dad, I'm going to have a baby, Harry's baby." Molly gasped. Arthur's brow furrowed and a frown formed on his face.

"Ginny," Molly sputtered, "how...when? Are you sure?" Ginny nodded.

"It was that night, when Harry defeated Riddle. I found him at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. He was hurt. I had to help him. I took him to Hagrid's hut. I tended his wounds. He was going into shock. He needed to get warm. I crawled in beside him. We fell asleep. Then it just happened."

"Just happened?" Arthur said quietly. "Things like that don't just happen, Ginny. Harry explain your behavior."

"It's difficult to explain, sir. You're right, Mr. Weasley. It didn't just happen." Ginny looked at Harry, her eyebrows raised. "I was in shock. Ginny doesn't know this, but I was...well the best way to describe it was that I was tired, tired of the fighting, tired of life, I suppose. I was ready to die..." Molly and Ginny both gasped at that.

"I had become someone I didn't know anymore. I didn't like it. I had caused pain and heartache to everyone I loved. Maybe the world would be better off without me.

"Ginny wouldn't let me go. My heart was cold; she held me and warmth flooded it. She cared. If one person cared, then perhaps I could go on. We did sleep. We were both exhausted.

"I had a dream. Ginny was there. Before either of us could stop, that's when it happened. You might say I took advantage of her."

"No, Harry," Ginny said. "I should have said no." She turned to her parents. "We are both responsible for this."

"Ginny," Harry said, giving her fingers a squeeze, "let me finish, please." She nodded. "I intend to stand by her, sir. She won't go through this alone. If she'll have me, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, I would like to have your daughter's hand. I want to marry her." There was stunned silence from the Weasleys. Remus smiled. He was proud of the boy.

Ginny spoke first. "No, Harry, I can't marry you. Not if it's out of a sense of duty. Not if it's just to do the right thing."

Harry turned to Ginny. "You said you would abide by my decision, Ginny. Did you mean that?"

"Of course I did, but...."

"No, Ginny. I've decided. Our child needs us. Both of us, together." He turned back to the Weasleys. "It is the right thing to do, though. It won't be easy, I know that. I will try to make her happy. I will try to do my best for both of them."

Mr. Weasley turned to Remus. "As Harry's guardian, what do you say?"

"Well," Remus began, "he's of age, you know, Arthur. I think that if this is what Harry wants, then I'll support that decision. I will be there for him, for them both. I trust Harry." Molly and Arthur looked at each other.

Arthur turned to them. "If you'll give us some time alone?" The three of them left the kitchen.

"Molly," Arthur said.

"Arthur, I don't know what to say."

Arthur smiled at his wife. "Reminds me of us, doesn't it?" Molly smiled back.

"History repeats itself," she said.

"I suppose so, sweetheart. Look how it turned out for us, despite your parent's objections."

"They came around, eventually."

"After Charlie was born. It was a long time before they trusted me to take care of you."

"Yes, Arthur. We were in love."

"I think they are too, my dear. They just don't realize it yet."

"Are you sure? I know Ginny had a crush on him for years, but lately I'm not so sure."

"Molly, don't you remember how I was at the beginning? I had my own crush on you since the day we met. I thought that I'd gotten over you too. It wasn't until you started dating god-awful Duncan Macsen that I finally realized I loved you."

"That's true, but we were older...."

"Molly, times were different then. Our children have had to grow up a lot sooner than we did." Molly's brow was drawn up.

"Do you trust Harry to keep his word? Do you think he would hurt Ginny?"

Molly shook her head. "No, he wouldn't hurt her. I do trust him. I love him like one of my own boys."

"Then give him a chance."

"It's not Harry I'm worried about, Arthur."

"Ginny?"

"She's still a little girl, Arthur. She's my baby."

"Let her go, Molly. Let her grow up. She's 17 now. Neither of them need our permission, you know."

"You're not angry?"

"No, disappointed, but not angry. Life is risk, Molly. I say let's let them risk it."

"I don't want to see her hurt."

"I don't either, but I think there will be some hurt involved here. They have to learn to work through it and find their own happiness. Molly, let's give our consent."

"If you're sure, Arthur."

"I'm sure, love." Molly hugged her husband. She would trust to his judgment. She always had and things had turned out well. They called them back in.

Arthur stood up and went to Harry. "Take care of her, son. Make her happy." He took Harry's hand and shook it. A small smile tugged at the corners of Harry's mouth. He turned to Ginny.

"Ginny, if you want this," he said taking her hand in his, "if you trust me to take care of you," he reached into his pocket and took out the small jewel case, "marry me, please." He flipped the case open with his thumb.

The ring was beautiful. A small but flawless square-cut emerald surrounded by diamond chips was set on a band of white gold. On either side a small ruby baguette was set into the band. Ginny's eyes widened, never had she seen such a piece. She looked up into Harry's emerald eyes. The green was for him, the ruby red for her. She wanted to trust him, she had to trust him. The sincerity of his request was plain to see.

"Yes, Harry. I will marry you." Harry took the ring from the case and placed it on her finger. Tears were glistening in Ginny's eyes.

"May I kiss you?" She nodded. He leaned down to her and placed the softest of kisses on her lips. Arthur had his arms around Molly. Molly hugged him to her. She was crying softly.

Telling Arthur and Molly had been the easy part; Harry thought wryly, he still had to face six formidable wizards who were bound not to be happy. Without giving Harry time to prepare what he would say, Molly had contacted her sons to come for dinner. Ginny and Harry had asked, pleaded actually, for her parents to break the news. They had refused. If Ginny and Harry were going to face this, then they had to be the ones to break the news.

"You're what?' Percy had shouted. He had leapt up from the couch where he had been sitting. Harry looked at the siblings arranged before him. Ron's mouth had dropped open. He quickly shut it, and the corner of his mouth curled into a small grin. He had wanted Harry and Ginny together.

Bill and Charlie had glared at him, and then turned both their eyes on Ginny. She had a bemused expression on her face. She smiled at them. They weren't happy, preferring to reserve judgment. It was Fred and George who surprised everyone. George had beamed at Harry. Fred drew out his wand.

"What did you do to her!"? Fred shouted. He started to cast a spell, but George had grabbed Fred's wand arm and directed the spell upward. It charred the ceiling where it had struck.

"Fred!" Ginny shouted at him. Fred lunged at Harry. It took all of his brothers to stop him. Harry just stood there, shock on his face. Fred turned to Ginny advancing on her.

"Ginny, you couldn't have. How could you have done that? You're better than that!" Fred was shouting.

"Fred," Harry said stepping in front of him.

"You bas...." George then conjured a silencing spell on him.

"Fred, stop!" shouted Ginny. "It wasn't just Harry. He didn't do this alone." Fred stopped struggling. He turned to Ginny; there were tears in his eyes. "What's done is done." Ginny said to them all. "You'll just have to accept this. I'm not changing my mind. You all consider Harry a brother anyway. Well now he's really going to be one! Get used to it. We made a mistake and now we're going to fix it." That's the second time she's call this a mistake, Harry thought.

"I was hoping you would all," she glared at Fred, "support us. Maybe I was hoping for too much, maybe...." Tears started rolling down her face. Ginny bolted to her room.

"Thank you!" Harry spat at the men before him. "This is hard enough on her. She needs all your love, but I guess she can't count on all of you. Sorry Ron, George. I suggest you all take a good long look at yourselves. You all know I would never hurt her. I'm standing by her. I'm taking my responsibility for this seriously. I hope that after you consider what just happened here, you come to your senses." Harry left to go to Ginny.

"Let Fred go," Bill said quietly. His tone brooked instant response. George cast the counter charm. "Harry's right, so's Ginny. We can't change what's happened."

"You're going to let him get away with this?" Fred shouted.

"Then what do you propose we do? You want revenge? What will that do to Ginny, Fred?" Percy said. Fred backed down.

"Is what he did so terrible?" Ron asked. "Don't look at me like that. Are any of you still virgins? Even you, Percy, so shut your mouth. We were all smart enough to use contraceptive charms. What happened between them came in the heat of the moment. They weren't thinking straight. I can't blame them. They needed each other. Harry's is doing right by her."

"Fred, you really shouldn't be angry, you know," George said. "You were nearly in the same predicament last year with Angelina, weren't you?" Fred's shoulders slumped. The boys all stared at him. "Why are you so angry about this?"

"Because I don't know if I would have done what Harry did. I was too scared," Fred shouted.

Charlie put his arm around Fred. "Fred, you're a Weasley. We're honorable men. You would have stood by her. Besides, this is Harry we're talking about. Do you honestly think he would hurt her? I don't, not really. If Mum and Dad are on their side then I'll not go against them." Fred looked at his brothers. Slowly the truth of Charlie's word sunk into all of them.

Harry knocked on Ginny's door. "Ginny, may I come in?" She opened the door. Tears still stained her cheeks. She stepped back. Harry came in. He had never been in her room before. He looked around. The room suited her, he thought. The walls were pale green. Along the top, were stenciled vines of morning glories in shades of blue and white. There were some shelves that her schoolbooks sat on along with some cloth dolls, mementos of her childhood. She had a vanity and dresser both painted the same green as her walls with the morning glory pattern on them. The coverlet on her bed was a bright yellow, a stuffed unicorn rested against her pillow. It was elegant but sweet.

Harry turned to her. "Don't let Fred get to you. They'll come around. We'll show them."

"That's sweet of you to say, Harry," she said. "I'll be okay. It's just the pregnancy. My emotions have been hard to control. Hermione gave me a book. It says that my hormones are out of balance right now. Sometimes I'll get like this."

"You'll have to let me read it. I want to know what's going to happen." She smiled at Harry. He was so sincere. He opened his arms and she walked into his embrace.




Chapter 6: Chapter 6. The Wedding
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Aftermath

By DeeMarie

Chapter 6. The Wedding

Ginny and Harry were to live in his cottage. Remus had moved his belongings to the gardener’s quarters on the grounds of the small farm. The day before their wedding, Ginny brought most of her belongings to her new home.

Harry hesitated in the hallway. “What is it, Harry?” He took a deep breath. This was a delicate matter and in her present state he didn’t want to upset her.

“Please don’t get upset, Ginny. But I have to ask you something.”

“What is this about, Harry?” Harry’s heart had begun pounding in his chest. He hoped he had the right words.

“It’s about your things. Where do you want to stay?” Ginny was puzzled. “If you want your own room, I’ll understand. If you need time to adjust…”

“Harry,” she laid a hand gently on his arm. “Take my things to your room.” Harry cast a hopeful look at her. “We’re going to be married. You said we need to raise our child together. We can’t do that if we’re apart in our own home.”

“I don’t want to pressure you, Ginny. This is all so new to us. I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.”

“I want this, Harry. If we are going to make this work, we have to do this. I trust you.” He gazed into the chocolate brown depths. Harry hadn’t kissed her since she accepted his proposal, he wanted to now more than anything. Would she let him? He leaned in closer. Her lips were slightly parted her breathing had sharpened. She knew what he wanted. They had to take a first step. His lips brushed hers. It was a tender, tentative kiss. Ginny’s heart skipped. They broke apart. A soft smile played about her mouth.

“Let’s get my things to our room.”

The gazebo was festooned with ivy and morning glories. Harry wore dress robes in a deep green. He had somehow managed to get his hair to almost behave. At least it didn’t stick up. Ron stood by his side as Second. His navy blue robe fluttered when a breeze blew. The wedding mage, dressed in her traditional red robes, stood behind a table strewn with rose petals. The Candle of Love waited to be lit, the Circlet of Joining upon a small black serge pillow next to it. Around the gazebo stood the Weasleys and Remus. Hermione was in her place as Witness.

Molly and Arthur led Ginny to the mage, Arthur in deep purple, Molly in lavender. Harry thought the years had fallen from them. Ginny’s white robe set her hair aflame. A circlet of wild flowers adorned her unbound hair. It fell to her waist in rivers of red. They were before the mage now. Molly took Ginny’s hand; Arthur took Harry’s. The elder Weasleys joined Ginny and Harry hand-in-hand.

“We are here to bind two souls together,” the mage began. “The joining of man and woman, wizard and witch is sacred.” Harry and Ginny’s eyes met. “To give up a solitary existence and live for another is never easy. The journey does not follow the well-beaten path. Do you pledge to walk the path together, to catch each other when you stumble, to love each other in tempest tossed time and when seas are calm?”

“We do,” they said together. The mage took up the golden Circlet. It was seamless. She bound their joined hands.

“As this endless circle binds your hands, may your love bind your lives.” The mage removed he Circlet. She moved their hands over the candle. “Light this Candle so it’s flames may illumine your path.” The flame kindled as Ginny and Harry concentrated upon it. A steady blue flame appeared, its light cast a glow about Ginny and Harry.

“Do you bear a token of the bond you wish to make this day, Ginny?” Hermione handed Ginny Harry’s ring, a white gold band with a single ruby set upon it. “Place it upon his finger.” She did. “Do you accept this token freely?”

“Yes, I do,” Harry whispered.

“Have you a token in return, Harry?” Ron handed Ginny’s ring to Harry. The band matched his, but with an emerald. “Place it upon her finger.” Harry slid the ring onto Ginny’s finger. “Do you accept this token freely?”

“I do.”

“May your promises made here this day last a lifetime. You are now joined.” The mage smiled sweetly at them. “I suggest you kiss Mrs. Potter now.” Smiling, Harry nodded at the witch. Harry and Ginny kissed gently. The family gathered round them. Hugs, handshakes and good wishes were shared.

Fred walked over to Harry. Harry raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry for the way I acted, Harry. Take good care of her.” He held out his hand to Harry. Harry gave Fred a broad grin and took Fred’s hand, shaking it vigorously.

Harry and Ginny stood outside the cottage door. “This is an old muggle custom, Ginny.” An impish grin upon his face, Harry opened the door. He picked her up and carried her inside shutting the door behind with his foot. She rested her head upon his shoulder. He carried her to the bedroom door. Setting her down he opened the door. Ginny stepped inside. Candles were glowing all about the room. Morning glories were draped over the curtains surrounding the four-poster bed. Harry had copied the walls of Ginny’s room at the Burrow, the same soft green bordered by blue and white morning glories. The curtains and bed linens were a pale green. Ginny looked around amazed.

“Do you like it? Ron, Hermione and I worked to conjure this last night and this morning.”

“It’s lovely, Harry. Thank you.”

“I wanted you to feel at home.” She stroked his cheek.

“It’s thoughtful of you, Harry. I love it.” They stared into one another’s eyes. Ginny broke eye contact. She walked over to the bed. There was a white box on it.

“That’s from Hermione. She left it here this morning.”

Ginny smiled. She picked up the box and walked to the door. “I’ll just go and change, Harry. I won’t be long.” Harry gulped. Ginny left the room. Harry’s heart began to pound a little harder. He wasn’t sure what to do. He went to his dresser and pulled out his pajama bottoms and retrieved his robe from the closet. He changed quickly, putting his dress robe neatly away. He padded quietly to the kitchen. Remus said he would leave them a bottle of wine chilling. Harry grabbed the bucket, two glasses and the corkscrew.

He had uncorked the white wine and had finished pouring when he heard Ginny come into the room. He turned to her. He had died and gone to heaven. He had to have. There before him was an angel.

Candlelight made her hair glow. Her eyes sparkled. Her shoulders were creamy white, her bare arms sinewy. The gown was white. The bodice was lace that gave a tantalizing view of her breasts. She came toward him. The firelight cast behind her and he saw the silhouette of her legs through the fabric.

“Wine?” she asked.

Harry handed her the glass. “You’re allowed one. I’ve been reading that book.” She took it and sipped lightly. Harry’s eyes were drawn to her throat as she swallowed. Her neck was long. He wanted nothing more than to place his hand along side and feel the pulse beating there. Was it hammering as hard as his? He looked into her eyes again. He took the glass from her hand and set it down. He reached out and pushed her hair back over her shoulder. She was breathing rapidly, the fabric caressed her skin. Harry placed his hand on the side of her neck. Her heart was beating in time to his own.

Harry undid his robe and took it off. Ginny’s eyes widened. His shoulders were broad. His arms well muscled. There was a light dusting of hair on his chest. Her eyes followed the line of hair downward across his flat stomach. When she realized where her gaze was traveling she snapped them upward. Ginny raised her hand and touched the spot over his heart. His skin was warm. He breathed in deeply relishing her touch.

He claimed her lips. She stepped into his embrace, her hands flat against his pectorals. He stroked her back gently making her tremble. His hands caressed her shoulders. He pushed the straps of her gown off her shoulders. His lips moved from her mouth to her neck, she was making soft sounds of pleasure. His lips moved to her shoulder. She smelled like cinnamon. He nipped the place where her neck met her shoulder.

“Oh, Harry,” she breathed. She pulled her arms out from the straps of her gown and stepped back. The gown polled at her feet. His breath caught in his throat, his mouth went dry. He had never seen anything more lovely.

“You’re beautiful. More than beautiful, Ginny. There aren’t words…” Her eyes half closed. His words were sending her to another place, a place of joy. He picked her up and carried her to the bed, laying her gently upon it.

“Are you ready for this, Ginny? Do you really want this?”

“More than anything, Harry. Be with me now.”

He undressed and lay down beside her. “Let me touch you, Ginny. I want to make your body sing for me.” She nodded. He began. Play her, he did. The melody of her heart sounded in his ears. She tentatively touched him. He smiled. Her softness matched his hardness.

The song was simple at first, each learning the other’s tune. Soon the tunes began to merge. Melody and harmony, each kiss a grace note. A soft song sweetly sung. The tune became more complex, the sound building, becoming louder, more strident. Now, now was the time for the music to join. Their songs merged into one.

“Ginny, Ginny…” he cried out. They reached the crescendo together. Music and light became one. Pulling her close to him, Harry kissed her tenderly. Neither had said the word love.

Ginny lay awake next to Harry. Her eyes traveled his frame. It had been nearly three months since that night and Harry still bore the marks. She remembered tending each of his wounds. She had dismissed using magic to tend him. She hadn’t the skills nor did she want to take the chance that magic might aggravate whatever had happened to him. At the time she had been concerned about his injuries and in pain from her own. Now as she finally looked back, she realized there were other things going on in her mind. Things she had pushed away because of the situation.

As she had lain there waiting for Harry to fall asleep, she had held him close. He needed warmth. She had started to rub him, his arms, his chest; she had wrapped her legs in his. There were feelings emerging she wanted to ignore, thought she had. She felt the need to give him her warmth, her caring. If she didn’t he wouldn’t survive. It felt good to hold him as he fell asleep. It felt somehow right. As he drifted off she felt a strange stirring within her, as if Harry were sharing something. At first she wanted to block it. She didn’t want to be hurt. There was something that compelled her to accept what he offered without knowing. She had thought she heard him breathe her name, she couldn’t be sure. It was then that sleep had claimed her exhausted body. Ginny remembered dreaming of Harry, whole and healed and loving her. That was why she hadn’t resisted him. She wanted that love, hoping for it even if it was just for the night. She had denied her feelings for so long. That night with Harry in her arms, she couldn’t deny it.

It was daylight that brought clarity. What they had done was wrong. Wrong for him, wrong for her. She was his past, not his future. Yes they shared a bond in Riddle. This bond would only bring painful memories. Harry needed more than memories, he needed a future.

He wouldn’t get that now. Ginny sighed. She would have to do everything in her power to give him that future. She decided never to mention the past to him. Harry would never regret this decision. He may not love her now, but that would change. It didn’t matter about her feelings. She liked Harry. Enough of love would follow, she was sure of it. I’ll make you happy, Harry. Whatever it takes. I may not ever hear ‘I love you’ from you, but I will make sure you never regret this. She closed her eyes and sleep came quickly.

Ginny turned in her sleep brushing his legs. It had brought him awake. He turned so she would be comfortable against him. This was how he had woken that night, too. The feel of her backside against him has set shivers all along him. Despite his injuries, Ginny had given him something. Something miraculous. He remembered being tired, wanting not to go on. It had to be over. All he wanted was to join with those he had left behind, those who would never know what he had done, what he had become.

Yes Ginny had given him hope. He didn’t understand how. He had lain in her arms, felling her try to warm him; not knowing his soul had grown cold. Little by little the warmth entered him. The more he felt it, the more he wanted. The more he wanted, the more he took. It was pulling him back from the abyss. Drawing him back to life. His strength was returning. Ginny had moved against him. It was the only way he could respond, warmth for warmth.

Since that night he had thought about it. He cared for Ginny. He knew she didn’t love him. The crush was over. Yet there was affection there. They had talked, shared things about how she had coped with what Voldemort had done to her. It was harder for Harry to share with Ginny, but he had tried.

After what happened, though, he had to know what she felt. He wanted to tell her how she had saved him, how he wanted to see if there was more to their relationship. There had to be more. There just had to be.

She left and Harry was lost again. There was no way he could talk to anyone about it. There was Ginny to consider. She had to be the first; he needed to know how she felt.

Even after they agreed to this marriage, they hadn’t really spoken about it. They talked about the baby, and how she was feeling physically. He had gone with her to the healer for her initial visit. It was too clinical. They needed to talk. Harry was burning to talk. She had to know he wanted this to work. He wanted to fall in love with her. He was already half way there. His eyes opened.

A sea of red was before him. Her hair was draped over her shoulder. He gently moved it aside, and brushed his fingers along her skin.

She moved. Harry held his breath. She turned to him, a smile on her lips; he could see her clearly in the first light of dawn.

“You’re awake,” she said to him. “Couldn’t you sleep?”

“I did and very well, thank you.” Ginny blushed, it set her freckles dancing. She looked into his eyes.

“What do you want now, Harry?” She was bold. Harry’s mouth curled up.

“You, Ginny Potter. Right at this moment, just you.”




Chapter 7: Chapter 7. One Little Word
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Aftermath...

By deemarie

Chapter 7. One Little Word

Ginny,

That night was more than just need, more than just affirming life. There has to be more. We have to talk. I know you're confused. So am I. If we talk about this, we can help each other.

You're right, there is a bond. I think it goes beyond Tom Riddle. It goes beyond the fact that we both survived. I knew you would be there for me, Ginny. As I staggered through the forest, I could feel you were near me.

The only reason I'm here writing this to you is because you gave me hope. Hope that I hadn't become like him. Hope that there was enough Harry left in me to keep from becoming like Tom.

Write to me. Tell me when we can talk. We need to talk.

Harry

Ginny has slipped out of bed after Harry had fallen back to sleep. She was weak in the knees. She had tossed on Harry's robe and gone to her vanity. These last few days Harry had been so gentle with her. She didn't deserve it. She had treated him so badly. Yet he had been so kind and forgiving. Why? Maybe there was an answer in his letters. She couldn't bring herself to read them all. Not now, not yet. Perhaps just the second one.

Hope, Harry said she gave him hope. How could she do that? How could she give Harry any hope? The only hope she had that night was the hope of finding his body.

Ron and Hermione had staggered back into the common room after trying to defend the castle. Many of the 6th and 7th years had volunteered to help defend the school. They were bruised and battered, tired but unhurt. Ginny was waiting for them. She had been assigned the task of keeping the younger students safely in the tower.

Where was Harry? Ron and Hermione had been reluctant to tell her anything. Ginny had pleaded with them. Ron told her that Harry wasn't with them. He had to be, he wasn't in the tower. Hermione told her Harry had gone to face Voldemort. Where? The forest. They had seen lights and sparks rising above the treetops.

Alone? Oh dear Merlin, not alone? Ginny had bolted before Ron and Hermione could stop her. Once outside she scanned the treetops of the Forbidden Forest. There were no signs of a fight. It couldn't be over, Harry couldn't be dead! She had to find him. A surge of adrenalin had started her heart pounding. Where, where was she to look? She didn't know how or why she knew but she knew she had to head toward Hagrid's. Trusting to instinct, she headed towards the hut, keeping to what little cover there was.

Ginny shook her head. She had been vividly reliving every detail of that night. She was shaking. She had to stop this. The past is the past, you can't change the past. Ginny took a deep breath to ease her shaking body. She refolded the letter and tucked it back in its place in her letterbox.

Harry hadn't said it, I'm selfish. Yes, I am. He needed to talk and all I could do was push him away. Why? Why did I do that? I should have talked to him. I should have told him how scared I was, I am. Ginny turned to see Harry's sleeping form. He was sprawled on his back, one arm covering his face, the other stretched out. His chest was rising and falling in peaceful sleep. At least he's content right now. At least, I've done that for him. He needs that.

Their first day of married life had been a little tense. After making love, Harry had fallen back to sleep. Ginny couldn't. She was awake and felt so alive. It had been beautiful, joyful. She had made Harry happy. It was a first step. She left him sleeping and had gone to shower and change, and then it was off to prepare his breakfast. She wasn't Molly Weasley's daughter for nothing. Her skills nearly rivaled her mother's.

There was just one problem. She hadn't counted on her morning sickness. The minute the sausages hit the pan and the aroma filled her nostrils, her stomach recoiled. She wouldn't make it to the bathroom, so she bolted out the backdoor into the garden. Harry had found her there. Ginny was kneeling at the base of some bushes.

He took her in his arms and held her until she got her body under control. "Okay now, Gin?" he gently asked her. It was a moment before she could find her voice.

"Yes, I think so," she said hoarsely. "I think I've strained something." Harry's arms tensed around her.

"It's not the baby?" anxiety flooded his voice.

"No, no," she whispered, "it's okay. Morning sickness. The sausages, when I put them on..." Ginny's eyes widened. "The sausages!" She struggled to rise from Harry's arms.

"Ginny, calm down. I took them off the fire before I came out."

Ginny started to cry. "They're not burnt, are they? Oh I know they are! Breakfast is ruined and it's all my fault." She was sobbing. Her mind was shouting for her to stop but she just couldn't. Harry hugged her tighter to him.

"It's not ruined, Gin. They're not burnt. Calm down." He rocked her in his arms until she stopped crying. She looked up at him, her eyes begging apology. "Hormones?" he asked. Ginny nodded. "I told you I was reading that book," he chuckled. That had calmed her. Still, for the rest of the day both she and Harry had tried to avoid anything that would set her off. They had succeeded, somewhat. Harry had made a tentative attempt to draw Ginny out. He wanted her to talk about that night last May. Ginny's resolve to put the past under lock and key was stronger. She refused to answer any of his questions, so Harry backed away.

Dinner was much better. Her morning sickness gone, Ginny had prepared a pasta dish. Harry had set the table. Candlelight and soft music was the backdrop for a very romantic evening. The conversation was light, neither ready to spoil the mood. Ginny looked lovely in her midnight blue dress, it set her skin glowing. As the evening wore on, Harry felt his desire growing. His heart started pounding after they had cleared up and Ginny had kissed his cheek before going off to change for bed. Harry waited for her under the covers.

Last night she had been an angel. Tonight she was desire. Sky blue lace covered her body. Unbound, her hair fell in soft waves. When she saw Harry her eyes sparkled with passion. She joined him in bed and it was a long time before they fell into an exhausted sleep.

And so it had been, a routine set to their days. Harry would rise first and take care of breakfast. Ginny would rest until her stomach enabled her to rise. They would tread carefully around each other through most of the day. Harry wanting to talk, Ginny avoiding the past. The nights were for passion.

Ginny looked at Harry again. He was beginning to stir. Quickly Ginny pulled off his robe and slid back into bed just before he reached for her. His arm came around her and his eyes opened. He smiled at her.

"Morning, Gin. Did I wake you? Are you okay?"

She smiled back at him. "Morning. No you didn't wake me. I'm okay. My stomach is fine this morning."

"You want to try making breakfast?"

"I don't think I should risk that just yet." Then she giggled. "Besides, I'm not giving up breakfast in bed. I like that too much."

"Slave driver," Harry muttered before giving her a hungry kiss.

They were clearing up the lunch dishes when the owl arrived. Ginny's Hogwarts letter tied firmly to the owl's leg. Harry untied it and laid it on the table. She sat at the table just staring at it. Merlin, they had both forgotten this.

"Aren't you going to open it?" Harry asked as he placed his hands on her shoulders in comfort.

"What's the point? I can't go back to school. Not now." There was pain in her voice. Ginny realized now that she would never be able to finish her education. The thought depressed her. Harry sat down next to her. He pushed the letter to her.

"Open it Ginny. There just might be good news for you." Ginny looked at him, tears sparkling in her eyes, a hopeful look crossed her face.

"Do you think so? Have you done something?"

"No, Ginny. Professor Dumbledore knows our circumstances. I'm sure he's arranged something for you. Can't have the cleverest witch in her year give up her studies, can he?" Ginny took up the letter, her hand was shaking. She opened it carefully. Upon the letterhead these words were written:

Dear Mrs. Potter,

My sincere congratulations upon your wedding and the impending arrival of the next generation of Potters. You and Harry will be fine parents. I look forward to the next class of Gryffindors bearing the Potter surname. I suspect that generation will be as mischievous as the last.

That being said, I am sure you are concerned with your status. I have presented your situation to the board of governors. Your exam marks were the highest in your year. Well done, Mrs. Potter. That was impressive considering the circumstances surrounding the whole school last year.

After discussion and careful consideration, we have decided to allow you to continue you education via correspondence. An appropriate curriculum is being prepared. However, we do find it necessary for you to attend school for at least a week before the Christmas holiday to assess your progress. If Harry would care to accompany you, appropriate quarters will be arranged.

Enclosed is the usual letter from our deputy headmistress outlining the books and equipment needed for your course work.

Special consideration will be given, if necessary when it is time to administer the actual NEWT exams once we have assessed your progress before the Holidays.

Once again, wishing you my most heartfelt congratulations, I remain,

Professor Albus Dumbledore
Headmaster

Harry watched as Ginny read the letter. Her tears were quickly replaced by a smile. He watched her grin get broader and her eyes lit up. The news was good. She looked at him once she finished and suddenly she threw her arms about Harry, squealing with delight.

"They've done it, Harry! I can still finish!" She pulled back slightly and kissed him. This was the happiest Harry had seen her in months. He enjoyed the kiss, the happiness behind it. "I'm so happy, Harry. I can do what I've so longed to do. It hasn't been ruined." I can study for my NEWTs."

The smile froze on Harry's face when Ginny had said that one little word. That one little word had sunk into Harry's heart. Ruined. Did Ginny believe that by marrying him, by having his child, that her life was ruined? A piece of his heart froze along with his smile. Ginny saw him stiffen.

"Harry, what is it?" He waved the question off.

"Nothing, Gin. I'm really happy for you."

"Harry Potter," she said, "there's something wrong. I can tell."

"Ginny, please, there's nothing wrong. I'm really quite happy. Never better. Can I read the letter?" She handed it to Harry. He read it quickly. There was an expectant look on Ginny's face. "Do you feel up to a trip to Diagon Alley?" he asked.

They spent the afternoon shopping for her school things. Ginny was so happy, she practically ran from shop to shop. Harry put on a brave face, but what she said still echoed in his mind. What if she hadn't been allowed to return to her studies? Would a life with him be so bad? Would it have so overwhelmed her that she would have grown to hate him? As Ginny selected her course books, Harry shook himself mentally. I can't dwell on this. I can't think of what ifs. Ginny's happy. I have to keep her happy.

Later that night Ginny lay awake. There was something bothering Harry, she could tell. He tried to cover it up, but he wasn't fooling her. Their conversation at dinner, though amusing, slightly teasing, was still a bit stinted. They had made love, but there was something missing. Ginny couldn't put her finger on it, but Harry had held something back. She looked at him. Even in his sleep, there was something wrong. Normally, he was relaxed, almost smiling. Tonight his brow was slightly furrowed. He usually held her in a tight embrace as she slept; tonight he was sprawled on his back, barely touching her.

Whatever it was she had done, and she was sure it was something she had done, she would make it up to him. Their happiness depended on it. Harry had seemed truly happy. She wasn't going to ruin that. She had been growing happier too. Feelings had begun to stir in her. Feelings she hadn't had in a long time. Things were finally falling into place between them and Ginny was determined to keep that. She snuggled up against him and wrapped one arm around his chest. It seemed to ease his sleep and she felt his arms take their familiar place around her. She let out a deep breath and fell asleep.

Harry had been dozing fitfully. It was only after Ginny had moved into his arms he had woken. He looked at her. There was a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. He was being stupid of course. It was just a word. She's been in a highly charged emotional state for such a long time. She didn't mean it. She couldn't mean it. That wasn't the Ginny he knew.

She had faced Tom Riddle and survived. She had braved a battle with Death Eaters and come out the better for it. Embedded in her breast was an independent spirit. If they had kept her from school, she would have found a way to come out the better for it.

Ginny didn't say that to hurt him. Harry didn't think she had that in her. Move on, Harry. Take it as a remark that comes from her condition. A child and a husband who loved her would make her happy, even if she couldn't continue her education. Love her he did. He knew that now. A deep love, a lasting love. What had started as gratitude had changed to affection. Affection had become desire. Desire had blossomed into love. This was forever, he knew that. He wasn't going to lose forever.


A/N Sorry this took so long. Writer's block. I know it's not an excuse but... That being said, I think the rest of he story will come along nicely. Please read and review.

Chapter 8: Chapter 8. Spilled Ink
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Aftermath…

By deemarie

Chapter 8. Spilled Ink

Ginny,

You can’t mean it. I can’t forget about what happened. How can you? Why would you want us to ignore what happened? Please, Ginny, please you must write to me.

Harry

Why didn’t she open his letters? Ginny was weeping. Harry and she had just had the most terrible row. She had retreated to their room after Harry had stormed out of the house.

Her books had been spread across the kitchen table that morning. She was trying to complete an essay for Professor McGonnagal. It was a particularly difficult subject and her concentration was intense. Harry had come up behind her and startled her when he gave her a gentle kiss. Her hand had jerked and knocked the bottle of ink over, spilling across the parchment that she had been struggling over.

“Harry, look at what you made me do!”

“Sorry, Gin. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“This is difficult enough, you can’t just come in here and bother me.”

“Bother you?” Harry said, hurt in his voice. “I didn’t think I was a bother.”

Sighing Ginny replied, “You’re not a bother and you know it. It’s just that I need to finish this paper and get it back to school by the day after tomorrow.”

There was a strange look in Harry’s eyes. “That seems to be your excuse for everything these days, isn’t it?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just what I said,” Harry crossed his arms. “I know finishing school is important to you, Ginny. Lately that seems to be all that matters to you.” Ginny’s mouth hung open. “What about me? What about us?”

“I haven’t been neglecting you,” Ginny said. It wasn’t true and she knew it. Guilt started to enter her heart.

“Yes you have, Ginny.” The guilt started to change to anger.

“Then where have you been every night, Harry?” He couldn’t believe she had just said that.

“You think this is about sex?”

“Isn’t it? Isn’t that what you came in here for?” Harry couldn’t answer her; he was too stunned. “Come on, Harry. I have six older brothers. I think I know a randy bugger when I see one.” She couldn’t help it. That wicked Weasley temper was exerting itself.

“I can’t believe you think that’s what this is about.” Ginny’s eyes narrowed. “Go on, finish what you were doing. I won’t bother you again.” He left the room. Ginny heard him rummaging through the bookcases in the sitting room. Ginny shook her head and grabbed a fresh sheet of parchment. She began copying what she had written. For fifteen minutes she tried to recapture her thoughts about the assignment. It was no use; the thoughts had been replaced by anger tinged with guilt. Harry didn’t help matters. She heard him muttering in the sitting room. She couldn’t make out the words but she knew he was fuming over the disagreement.

Ginny slammed her quill down. They needed to get this out in the open. Harry had been in an odd mood for days now. Ginny had noticed but dismissed it because of the schoolwork she needed to get done. She had promised herself to make things up to Harry over the weekend. Friday was only two days away. Surely he could wait until then. Ginny went to the sitting room.

Harry was sitting on the sofa reading. He couldn’t concentrate. He’d read the same sentence three times now, and it still made no sense. Sighing, he tried again. Thoughts of Ginny filtered through his concentration. He wasn’t angry with her before they had argued. He knew studying for NEWTs was hard enough. He didn’t expect her to be at his beck and call.

Yet over the last few days it was as if he didn’t exist once the sun came up. Ginny’s morning sickness had stopped and she’d taken over the kitchen. She would make breakfast and call to Harry. By the time he arrived in the kitchen her nose would be buried in a book or she would be deeply concentrating on a paper.

Harry had tried to engage her in light conversation, she answered politely, but he could tell her heart wasn’t in it. It hadn’t bothered him at first, but today he had wanted to talk. He wanted to help, if he could. She had completely ignored him at breakfast. He pursed his lips and cleared away his half-eaten food and left the house. The walk hadn’t improved his mood. Yet he still wanted to talk. He came back into the kitchen and kissed her. It was an accident, that’s all. Harry hadn’t meant to startle her, but when she had lashed out, it made his anger bubble over.

“Harry, we should talk,” Ginny said quietly as she sat next to him.

“Taking a break? How long can you give me, Ginny,” sarcasm lacing his voice. “Shall I time this?”

“That’s not fair, Harry.” Ginny said quietly. She was determined to control her temper.

“Not fair? I don’t recall setting any ground rules.”

“If you’re not going to try – “

“Ginny, I’ve been patient with you. I’ve given you peace and quiet. All I wanted was to talk a bit. Not long. I’m sorry I caused you to spill the ink, but it was an accident.” Ginny couldn’t answer that, she wanted to. Her temper was simmering. She knew if she did, there would be hell to pay. She couldn’t do that. Not to Harry.

Harry sighed, “Look, Gin, I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. There’s a reason they’re called Exhausting. All I want to do is help. What can I do to help?”

Ginny turned to Harry. “It’s sweet of you to volunteer. I do appreciate it, but I really want to do this on my own. I have to make sure I can handle this.”

“Why, Gin? Why is this that important?”

“If I’m to do what I want to do, I need to be able to handle the work load on my own, Harry.” They hadn’t talked about this. Harry wanted to know what her plans were.

“So, tell me, Ginny. What’s going on in that head of yours?”

Ginny wasn’t sure if Harry would understand. They never got the chance to talk about their plans for the future. She knew that Harry had planed on becoming and Auror once. His plans had changed since the war ended. The deadline for him to apply for Auror training had passed. Well, he might as well get used to the idea of her plans.

“I want to work for the Ministry, Harry.” There was a small smile curling Harry’s lip at that.

“Following in your father’s footsteps?”

“Yes…and no,” she said. “You know I have an ear for languages.”

“Yeah, that’s come in handy on a couple of occasions,” he said.

“I want to work for the Department for Magical Cooperation.”

“That’s great, Ginny. You could do well there. Whenever there’s a need for a translator at an official function, your presence would be a boon.”

“You don’t understand, Harry. I want to work in the trade division. I want to travel.”

“Travel?” Harry’s lips pursed.

“Yes, I think I could be really useful. I could handle trade negotiations when an ambassador needs help.”

“But it wouldn’t be frequent. You wouldn’t be gone for a long time?”

“I might, you never know.”

“But what about the baby? What about us?”

“We’ll work things out, I’m sure.” She looked expectantly at Harry. She wanted his approval.

“When would you want to start on this career, Ginny?”

A small smile played about her lips. It seemed to her a good sign. Harry was considering this. “As soon as possible after the baby comes. I want to stay home for about a year and then start work.”

“A year?” Harry said. “Only a year? But the baby won’t be walking or talking. A baby needs his mother. Especially then.”

“And he’ll have me, Harry. He’ll have both of us. You’ll be here.” Harry was frowning. Now what was the problem? “You will be here, won’t you, Harry?”

“Yes, I will. I’ve found I like being a gentleman farmer. But Ginny, I want us here, together. Like your mum and dad.”

“But Dad works – “

“I know that, Ginny,” Harry said quickly. “I was hoping you would want to stay home and take care of us. I was hoping for more children. I want a big family like yours. You are so like your mother.”

“Is that who you think I am? My mother?” Harry couldn’t think that, he just couldn’t.

“Don’t you want to stay here? Ginny, you don’t have to work. I’ve plenty of gold. You could have a good life here with me, with our children. You would never have to struggle like your mum. It would be the life you’ve always wanted. A life your mum would be proud of.”

“I’m not Molly Weasley, Harry. Mum loves the life she chose. Sure they struggled, but they wouldn’t change what they have.” Ginny took Harry’s hands.

“It’s not that I wouldn’t be happy, Harry. But I don’t want the same things from life than mum wants. I want to be useful; I want to make changes happen, Harry. Our world needs to change. I want to be part of that. A part of what you started.”

Harry pulled his hands from Ginny’s. He just couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Life here, with him, with their children wouldn’t be enough? He walked over to the window and stared out at the field. She would never love him. Not like he loved her. He would never be enough for Ginny. How long before she left him?

“This place,” Harry said, “is what my parents wanted, you know. Remus found it. The house is like the one in Godrick’s Hollow. I was born in a place like this, a place my parents would have settled into. A place where they would have raised a family. I could have had brothers, sisters, like you.”

Ginny came and stood behind him. “We can do that, Harry. We can bring children into the world. This is a lovely home to raise a family in.” Harry turned on her, there was anger flashing in his eyes.

“A place with an absentee mother?” Ginny’s hand came up to her mouth. “You’ll never be entirely happy here, will you Ginny? I’ll never be able to give that to you. How long will it be before you find you can’t stay? How long before you leave me, leave us for good?” Ginny was shaking her head, trying desperately to come up with the right words.

“I could never leave you, Harry. How could you think that? I would never leave you or our child.”

“Do you love me, Ginny?” Ginny could no longer breathe. There was only one way to answer him.

“I do care for you, Harry. You’re more than just a friend. But I cannot say ‘I love you’ and mean it. Can you?” Harry couldn’t bear to look at her any longer. He didn’t want her to see the hurt, the anger in his eyes. “Harry, please…” He wouldn’t stand here and cry in front of her. Without another word he strode past her. She heard the kitchen door slam behind him. Ginny hadn’t moved.

Tears started leaking from her eyes. She ran up to their room. She cried for quite a while. Somehow she had grabbed Harry’s pillow and was hugging it to her. Oh, God, she thought, I’ve done it again. I’ve hurt him. How can we think about the future when all I do is hurt him?

I can’t give up my dreams. I just can’t. Oh Harry, how can I make you understand? She looked toward her vanity. Her letterbox was there. Is there an answer in what you wrote to me? Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she went to the vanity and grabbed the next letter.

He had pleaded with her, begged her to write to him. If she had only responded. She wanted to. But how could she? He wanted more from her than she was ready to give.

How long she had loved him in her own childish way. That had been only a crush. A child’s feelings and he’d broken her heart. She had moved on. The little girl longings had been replaced. He had become as much a brother to her as Ron was. She had been happy with that. She was a friend for him to confide in. It had been difficult at first, for him to share. Still he had begun to open up to her. By the time Riddle had begun the final assault, they had shared memories and experiences. Harry was comfortable around her. It was what they both wanted.

Ginny folded the letter and returned it to its place. Seven letters remained unopened. Ginny fingered the next one. Should she read it? Would it only be more pleading? More of Harry’s heartache? Could she stand it?

She pulled the letter from its place. She was staring at her name. It was carefully written. Not his normal hasty hand. This one was important. Oh Merlin, why am I hesitating? Why can’t I face this? She bowed her head. Tears wouldn’t come anymore. She stilled herself, trying to work up the courage to see what Harry had written.

What was that? A strange sensation fluttered in her abdomen. It was brief and almost impossible to feel. Had she imagined it? She stilled herself even further, breathing shallowly. Ginny waited.

There it went again. Longer this time, stronger. It was as if there was a butterfly inside her beating its wings, seeking escape. The letter fell from her hand. She brought both hands to her abdomen. Again, I have to feel this again, she pleaded. Move again, baby. The third time was very strong. It was the baby.

The reality struck her. Astonishment flooded her. Our child, she thought. Harry’s and mine. A life we created. Ginny’s head came up. The letter would wait. She retrieved it and put it back in her secretary. She ran out of the house. She had to find Harry!


Chapter 9: Chapter 9. The Butterfly Effect
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Aftermath…

By DeeMarie

Chapter 9. The Butterfly Effect

Harry slammed the door hard behind him. He had to get away from the house, away from Ginny. He started to run. He ran across the yard and vaulted the fence that led to the fields. Harvesting had just been completed and the field had been mown. Fresh furrows of dirt had been turned and Harry ran between them. He ran hard and fast, the tears that had threatened to brim over in front of Ginny, made his cheeks wet. He wanted to scream, to howl out his anger and frustration. He let his mind go blank, concentrating only on putting one foot in front of the other.

He reached the end of the field and turned left, following the fence that bordered his property. His side ached from the effort it took to keep up the pace. If he stopped he would think and that was the last thing he wanted at the moment. He slowed his pace. He was jogging now, still concentrating on his feet. He looked up. He was fast approaching the stone wall that surrounded the gardener’s cottage. Breathing heavily he made for the wall. 20 yards, 10 yards, 5... He came to an abrupt stop. He placed both hands on the cold stone and leaned over the wall gasping for air. He had stopped crying. His lungs labored, his legs were aching and weak. He lay on the wall more than leaned on it.

He needed some water. Remus would probably be home. Once he was able to stand, he would go to the cottage. It was only a short walk to the back door.

Remus had been cleaning away his lunch tings. He saw Harry running toward the cottage. He watched as Harry collapsed against the wall.

Harry was angry. Remus knew the signs. Every time Hedwig had returned from Ginny without a reply, Harry had gone running the field. He always returned dirt streaked, breathing heavily, and holding his side. Remus had been expecting this, only he had thought it would have come sooner.

He knew Harry and Ginny had been dancing around the last 6 weeks. Harry had wanted to explore the past and what happened to them. Ginny, he suspected, had wanted only to dwell in the present. Remus knew Harry was right. If they talked, really talked about that night, then their true feelings would have come out.

Remus knew they loved each other. They were just to afraid to admit it. Afraid the other wouldn’t feel the same, afraid the other did feel the same. Why was love so hard? If only he had spoken his own heart. He remembered the girl with the curly brown hair and eyes that were the color of a doe’s. Remus shook his head and looked out at Harry again.

Harry wasn’t laying across the wall any longer. He was standing, still breathing heavily and holding his side. He bent over, a pained look on his face. Remus grabbed a pitcher of water and a glass and went out the back door.

“Thought you might need this,” Remus said. Harry grabbed the glass and started to drink. “Why don’t you come inside, Harry. You look exhausted.” Harry followed Remus inside.

Harry sat at the kitchen table, his breath becoming normal. Remus sat across from him, placing the pitcher in easy reach of Harry. They sat quietly. Remus was waiting for Harry to speak first. That’s how they always began their conversations. Harry was thinking now. He was going over everything he and Ginny had said.

“I said some foolish things, Remus,” Harry began. “I let my temper get the better of me. How could I do that?”

“None of us is perfect, Harry. You were angry, I gather?”

“Yeah, but I really didn’t have a reason to be. I know how much completing her schoolwork means to Ginny.” He took the glass of water between his hands and turned it slowly. “I love her so much, Remus. All I want to do is make her happy. She wants a career. That’s a good thing, but it will take her away from me, from the baby.”

“Do you honestly think Ginny Weasley,” Harry looked sharply at Remus. “I mean, Ginny Potter would neglect those she loves for a job?” The expression on Harry’s face softened.

“No. No she wouldn’t.” Harry remembered how staunchly Ginny has supported him over the years. How many times had she risked expulsion to help him?

“Harry, she does love you. I can see it.”

Harry sighed. “I don’t think so, I asked her and she couldn’t say it.”

“You’re not giving up, are you, Harry? Don’t lose hope. You know what happed the last time you gave up on her.”

“If you hadn’t been there…” Harry’s voice trailed off as he remembered.

“Harry,” Remus put a comforting hand on Harry’s arm. “Give her time. Try to understand. There’s so much going on in her mind right now.”

“But I said some truly awful things…”

“We all do when we’re angry. Talk to her, explain why you said them. She’ll understand, eventually.”

There was a quick knock on the door and Ginny burst into the room. “Remus, have you seen…” She saw Harry. “Oh, Harry! I’ve been searching for you! I felt it! I felt the baby move!” She had come to Harry and was kneeling by his side, her face lit up with joy. Harry grabbed her arms and helped her into a chair.

“When, Ginny? When did you feel the baby?”

“A little while ago. I was in our room. It was amazing.” She paused, her hands dropped to her abdomen. “It’s happening again!” She grabbed Harry’s hand and placed it on her abdomen.

“The baby’s not big enough for me to feel it yet, Ginny,” he said gently. “A few more weeks and then I can feel the baby too.” There was a brief look of sadness in his eyes. “What did it feel like, Ginny? Tell me.”

Remus watched them. He knew this was an important moment for them. Smiling, he left them alone. Ginny felt as if they were the only two people in the world. No, make that three. The baby was moving gently inside her. She was trying to think of the right words to tell him what this felt like, to explain how each movement stirred her heart.

“It’s a fluttering, Harry. It’s like a butterfly…no, it feels like a small bird trying it’s wings.” Harry looked into her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Gin. I didn’t mean half those things I said.” Ginny’s hand went to Harry’s cheek.

“We’ve both said things we didn’t mean, Harry.” She lowered her eyes. “ I have been neglecting you, and I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional. You only wanted to help me today. I should have realized…” Harry’s hand came up under her chin. He raised her face so he could look into her eyes.

“I said some awful things. I know you would never leave your baby or me.” He was searching for forgiveness in her eyes. “It wasn’t fair of me to ask if you loved me. There’s a reason I did though. You see, Ginny…dear heart, I love you.” Ginny’s breath caught. “If you can’t say it back to me right now, that’s okay. I just wanted you to know. You’ve given me something special, Ginny. This is the only way I know to give you something special in return.” He leaned into her and kissed her gently.

They walked back to the house together arm-in-arm. Neither had said anything after their kiss. Harry told Ginny to get some rest, she looked tired. She agreed, a nap would do her good. Harry tucked her tenderly under the covers. He grabbed fresh clothes and headed for the shower. Ginny tried to sleep. The baby had stopped moving and she tried to blank her mind. Thoughts of the life she, Harry and the baby would share kept intruding. It was no use. Sleep wasn’t going to come. She sat up. She could see herself in the Vanity’s mirror. Her hair was a mess. She got out of bed and sat at the vanity and began to brush her hair.

The secretary lay open. The letter from Harry lay on top of the pile. She put down her brush and picked up the letter. Harry said he loved her. That in itself was amazing considering how she had been treating him. What did this letter say? Ginny broke the seal and began to read.

Dearest Ginny,

Please, please write to me. I’m sorry, dear one for what happened. I don’t know what come over me; I didn’t mean to do it; it just happened. Please, Ginny, I didn’t mean to rape you. I thought you wanted to do it too.

Rape? My God, Harry thought he raped me? Dear Lord, no, he can’t have thought that. I was as willing as he. She continued reading.

Now I see that you didn’t want to do it. Please forgive me, I can never forgive myself. I stole something precious from you, I can never give it back. I want you to know that I feel more than just friendship for you. I realize now that these feelings have been coming for a long time, but I was too stupid to know it. When you curled up close to me - and I know now that it was to save my life, not because you loved me - I thought you were wanting me as much as I wanted you. When you did nothing to stop my advances, I mistook your concern for me to be a desire as great as my own.

Oh, Harry. No. You can’t blame yourself. I did want you. I wanted you so very badly. There was more to read.

I raped you. There is no other word for it. I let my passion and my instinct take over in a weak moment, now we both must deal with it for the rest of our lives. I cannot atone for my crime, all I can do is let you know that, on my part, it was more than just lust, there were deep feelings involved. At the moment I woke next to you, I knew that I needed you. When you responded to my embrace, I took your lack of struggle to be consent. Now I must live with my guilt.

No, Harry, Ginny thought, it’s my guilt, not yours. I let you love me that night. I wanted you even more than you wanted me, I just didn’t realize it. She continued the letter.

I do not ask that you forgive me completely; I know that what I did was wrong. Just realize my weakness took place in a moment of emotional stress, I still need you; if you can’t accept me as a lover, please accept me as a friend who erred. I cannot let you withdraw from my life. You have become as much a part of my life as Ron or Hermione. I would like you to be more, but if that cannot be, please see it within yourself to let me be your friend once more.

I’m a fool, she thought. A cruel, selfish fool. I thought only of my own pain. Oh, Harry, I’m the one that needs to be forgiven. There was one paragraph left.

If you cannot forgive me enough to be my friend, I don’t see how I can go on living. My obligation to the Wizarding world has been completed; Voldemort is dead. I want to find out if we can be more than just friends. I want to find out if what we shared can blossom into something more. Can we fall in love? If we can’t, if it just isn’t possible anymore, knowing what I did to you, at least let’s try to remain friends. Without your love or friendship, I see no reason to continue on with my life. I must hear from you. If not, I see no other recourse.

With hope for more,

Harry

Ginny looked into her mirror. Tears were coursing down her cheeks. The letter fell from her numb fingers. She stared at her reflection. What had she become since that night in May? She knew now that she had run. She ran from the love Harry had offered her. She ran from what she felt for him. She ran because she loved him. She had always loved him, since she was 10 years old and had seen him at King’s Cross. She ran because he was never going to love her as much as she loved him, and she couldn’t bear that thought.

He did love her. Harry loved her so much that the thought of life without her was life not worth living. She hadn’t even opened the letter. What stopped him? Ginny buried her face in her hands and sobbed. Great wracking sobs that shook her body to its core.

“Ginny?” Harry said opening the door. He saw her at the vanity and ran to her. He pulled her into his arms and began rocking her, stroking her hair. “Ginny, what’s wrong?” She couldn’t answer. She clutched at his shirt and sobbed into his shoulder. Harry saw the letter. He knew which one it was. Each word had been burned into his memory.

Lifting Ginny gently, he took her to the bed. They lay there, Ginny crying into Harry’s shoulder. Harry held her in a tight embrace, letting her cry it out. He knew they would talk when she was ready. Finally the sobs subsided, exhausted Ginny fell asleep. Harry lay next to her until he was sure she was deeply asleep.

Harry went to the vanity and picked up the letter. He knew she hadn’t read any of the letters he sent after the first one, but he didn’t realize she kept them. He folded the letter and went to put it in her letterbox. There they were, all of them. Just 4 seals broken. The last six were more pleading her to write to him, asking Ginny to meet somewhere or come to his birthday to talk. This one, though, this one was where he had hoped she would respond, pull him from despair. Harry could keep his feet no longer. He sat down and remembered.

Harry had spent a sleepless night. Another sleepless night. He hadn’t slept well since Ginny had sent her note, he still had it, it was committed to memory.

Harry,

Please don’t write anymore. I’ve answered you. We have to forget what happened. Move on, Harry. Find someone who will make you happy.

Ginny

Doesn’t she know? She’s the one who can do that. She’s the one that I want to fall in love with. Ginny, you’re the one I want to find out about love with. Please, Ginny, please, teach me, snow me, love me.

Harry scanned the brightening sky. Where was Hedwig? He usually sent Hedwig to Ginny in the morning with his letter. By nightfall the owl would return. Yesterday’s letter had been difficult to write. Hedwig hadn’t left until mid-afternoon, still she should have been back by now. Perhaps Ginny was writing a reply? Harry’s heart clutched onto that hope. In the back of his mind he knew the truth, Hedwig needed to rest. She would return without a letter. Harry had fallen asleep at the window. It was Hedwig’s return that woke him, a letterless Hedwig.

No, Harry refused to dredge up that memory now. If Ginny asked, he would tell her the truth, but he didn’t want to think about it now.

He checked Ginny. She was still sleeping soundly. He kissed her cheek and went to the kitchen.

The evening shadows were just entering the bedroom window when the baby’s movement woke Ginny up. She stretched, working the kinks of tension from her back. The baby continued it’s movements. Ginny put her hand on her abdomen. It was no longer flat. Her belly had become rounded. Harry had remarked about that two nights ago. He found it extremely attractive. The remark had made Ginny smile.

Harry. Where was he? She had fallen asleep in his arms. She needed to talk to him. They finally had to talk about the past. Ginny was wrong. Harry and she needed the past if they were to have a future. And she wanted that future now more than ever. I love him she thought. I never stopped loving him. I will always love him. He needs to know that.

She found him in the kitchen. The smell of lamb stew drew her there. Harry had learned to cook since he and Remus came here. Now he was sitting at the table making notes on the paper she had abandoned that morning. He looked up and smiled at her.

“Hope you don’t mind about this,” he said pointing to her paper. “It’s good, but there are a couple of things that would make it even better.”

Ginny smiled back at him. “Thanks, Harry. I wasn’t happy with what I had. I appreciate the help.” She went to sit next to him. She took the quill from his hand. Ginny turned back to Harry. “It’s time.”

“It is,” he replied.

“Harry, I’m sorry I didn’t write. I just couldn’t bear it. I was scared. I was running, Harry. Not just from you, but from myself as well. Harry, I should have at least written. What happened? What happened after you wrote? That letter was desperate and I never answered you.”

Harry sighed. It was time to tell her everything. He began by telling her how he felt waiting for Hedwig to return, falling asleep at the window.

It was Hedwig poking her beak in his ear that woke him. He slowly drew his head up. There was no letter. Harry sighed. Hedwig poked her head under his chin. She nudged at him. Harry stroked her feathers. “It’s okay, Hedwig. I don’t blame you. This is all my fault. Come on, I’ve got some owl treats here somewhere.”

Harry handfed her the treats, stroking her feathers. “You’ve been a great friend, Hedwig. The truest.” He gave her one last treat, then left the room. Remus was asleep in the chair in the sitting room. He was exhausted. He had just finished his transformation for this month. Harry stood in the doorway, arms crossed leaning against the jamb. He stood like that for awhile. I wish there was something I could do for you, Remus, he thought. All the times you were there for me and I can’t really repay you. I can’t repay anyone.

“I’ve done all I can. It’s over now.” He looked about the room, then turned and looked around the house. This would have been a great home to grow up in. He imagined the house filled with the laughter of children, the love of his parents. Harry went to the bathroom. He turned on the tap for the tub and let the warm water slowly fill it. He turned to the sink.

“Here I am. The boy who lived. I’m 18 years old and I don’t know what to do with my life. I thought being an Auror might be worthwhile, but I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to spend my life facing the dark side. I’ve been there too long and it nearly took me over.

“Quidditch? The real thrill is the flying. But I can’t stay on a broom forever. Once on the ground, everything returns to normal.

“What do I have here? Remus doesn’t really need me. I only remind him of what he’s lost. Ron and Hermione have each other now. They don’t need me. Ginny. Ginny doesn’t want anything to do with me. What’s left?”

He picked up the straight razor that Remus kept on the sink. He turned it in his hand. Light glinted off the blade.

“Do you know how incredibly selfish you are being right now, Harry?” Remus’ voice startled him and Harry dropped the razor. “Not to mention incredibly stupid.”

“What’s left for me, Remus?”

“There’s so much here, Harry. You have people who love you. The Weasleys consider you another son. Molly and Arthur would be devastated.” Remus walked to the tub and turned off the tap. “You’re more than a brother to Ron. Hermione considers you family. And,” he paused, “you are my son. Yes, my son.” Harry started to cry. “If it’s Ginny Weasley you’re worried about, I say give her time.”

“She’s not answered any of my letters. She doesn’t even want me for a friend.”

“You honestly believe that? After everything you’ve been through, you think she would just leave you like that?” Harry lowered his eyes. “I don’t know what happened, and I’m not asking you to tell me. But I suspect that Ginny may be scared, Harry. I think you need to give her time and the space she needs to come to grips with everything.

“This isn’t a fairy tale, Harry. Evil isn’t defeated and everything turns out happily ever after. There are consequences to all our actions. It takes time for people to recover. You haven’t yet, have you, Harry?” Harry shook his head.

“Come with me, Harry. Let’s talk. Talk about any and everything. It may not solve all your problems, but it may help you understand.”

“For the next few days all we did was talk. It helped. I realized you would talk to me eventually. Those other letters were just asking you if you were ready to talk.”

“Oh, Harry, please forgive me,” Ginny said softly.

“Already done, dear heart. The moment you accepted my proposal.” Harry held open his arms. Ginny sat on his lap and was folded in his warm embrace. “About your career,” Harry said. “Whatever you want is fine with me. Your dreams are different from mine. We’ll work this out.”

“Harry, I appreciate that. We have time to work all this out. We need to talk all this out. I’m sure we can some up with a plan we both can agree on.” She leaned on his shoulder. “I realize now that we should talk. About everything.

“I was afraid, Harry. I was afraid I would remind you too much of the past, I would remind you of Riddle and all of those things he did to you. How could we have any future if all you see when you look at me is what happened to you?”

“Don’t you see, Ginny? The past is a part of that. It’s because we share that past that we can make a future together. You understand what happened to me. You know what it was like to have Voldemort try to take you over. It was the same for e. We can talk about it, we can help each other heal. That’s what that night was about. Reaching out to each other, sharing the pain, starting the healing process.” Ginny looked up, chocolate brown eyes met emerald green.

“You said you love me, Harry.”

“I meant it, Ginny. I didn’t know it then, but I’ve loved you for a long time. I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, but it did.”

Ginny sat staring into Harry’s eyes. He could see she wanted to tell him something. She was trying to find the right words. Ginny took a deep breath. “I thought I was over you. I had taken the silly school-girl crush and squashed it. I was happy just to be your friend.” Ginny looked away. Where had her courage gone? She was a Gryffindor after all. She had been running away from this for a long time. It was time she started acting like the true Gryffindor she was. She turned back to Harry.

“I can’t deny it anymore, Harry. I love you, too. I’ve loved you since I saw you at King’s Cross all those years ago. I’m helplessly, hopelessly in love with you.” Harry went completely still. “I always will be.”

“Ginny,” he breathed. Gathering her in his arms, he kissed her deeply. Harry stood, Ginny cradled in his arms. He took her to the bedroom where they reveled in their discovery.


Chapter 10: Chapter 10. Epilogue
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Aftermath

By DeeMarie

Chapter 10. Epilogue

“Let’s raise a glass to Harry and Ginny Potter. May they spend the next hundred years together, raising laughter and love along with Arthur James and Lily Molly.” Remus raised the toast, his hand shaking.

Harry leaned into Ginny and whispered in her ear. “I think Remus has had quite enough, don’t you?” Ginny giggled. This was the third toast Remus had offered at the Potter’s anniversary party. He’d drained the glass of champagne each time.

“Let him celebrate,” Ginny whispered back. “He’s just happy we named him an ‘official’ grandfather. Look at Dad,” she said as she pointed to Arthur. Arthur had drained his third glass and was sitting next to his wife with a bemused expression, slightly glassy-eyed. Harry kissed his wife gently on his cheek.

“AJ’s grown so, Ginny,” Hermione said. She was holding her godson watching as he tried to catch the finger Ron was wiggling in front of him. Ron had a huge smile on his face as the black-haired, brown-eyed boy tried to grasp at the prize just out of reach.

“He’ll be a seeker someday, Harry,” Ron said. “My godson will win the Quidditch Cup. I know it.” Harry and Ginny gave the couple a knowing smile.

A soft gurgling sound came from the baby in Molly’s arms. Little Lily was tugging at the string that dangled from her grandmother’s collar. “She has your eyes, Harry dear,” Molly said as she tickled the little girl under the chin.

“And her mother’s hair,” Harry added. “But her smile is all yours, Mum.” Molly blushed and patted her granddaughter.

“Looks like Lily needs her nappy changed,” Molly said. Hermione handed AJ to Ron.

“Let me take my goddaughter, Mrs. Weasley. I’ll need to learn to do this. Ron and I are going to be around here often taking care of our godchildren.”

“You take care of the nappies, ‘Mione,” Ron said laughing as AJ finally caught his finger.

Harry turned to Ginny. “The babies are well-in-hand, come with me?” He stood taking Ginny’s hand. He led her out the back door of their cottage into the garden.

The sky was clear as glass. A quarter moon shown through the trees swaying in the late summer night sky. They stood just a few feet from the back door. Harry was behind Ginny, holding her against his chest. “Have you heard from the Ministry, yet?” Harry asked her.

“I’ll be starting after Christmas.”

“So soon?”

“It’s just work here, Harry,” Ginny said leaning back in Harry’s embrace. “Percy won’t let me take any overseas assignments for awhile.”

“Are you disappointed?”

“No, not really,” she said. “Percy’s right. He is in charge of the trade department. Remember how we used to laugh at his attention to detail?” Harry smiled remembering how funny he thought it was when Percy was obsessing over cauldron thickness. “Turns out, he’s really good at what he does. He wants me to spend a couple of years in domestic trade before tackling the international stuff. He’s right, it turns out.

“Besides, I want to be here to watch AJ and Lily grow. They were remarkable, aren’t they, Harry?”

“How could they not be with a mother like you, love.” Ginny turned in Harry’s arms. She put one arm around his neck, she stroked his face with her free hand.

“You always know the right thing to say.” They kissed tenderly. Their lips parted and Ginny leaned her head on Harry’s chest. “I love you, Harry,” she whispered.

“I love you too, dear heart.” The sound of babies gurgling happily drifted out to them. “Let’s go see what those babies are up to.”



A/N While I have enjoyed posting here, I find it is time to move on. I have enjoyed all of your reviews and encouragement. If you wish to read more of my works, please go to GinnyPotter.com. I will continue to come to this site to check out the works of some of my favorite authors. It has been a real pleasure writing for all of you. My thanks to all.


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