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Chapter Seventeen: Ever After

In the end, Dumbledore had to pry Ginny away from Draco’s body and lead her inside at well after midnight. The fight had gone for more than ten hours and the remaining two had seen Ginny clutching at the body of the man she loved, weeping. Dumbledore led her inside gently and as he did, her tears ceased and she found herself being walked into his office.

The room contained two other people; Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. Ron was sitting in a corner staring blankly at a wall while Harry paced back and forth, biting his lip. Harry looked up eagerly when Dumbledore entered and surveyed Ginny with horror.

Her robes were torn, hanging loosely around her as was her top and her jeans were ripped. An angry looking cut lay along her collar bone and her hands were bleeding from thousands of little cuts. She swayed slightly and her face was white, her bloody lips making a stark contrast. But, to Harry, the worst thing was her eyes. They were full of sorrow and rage and hate and Harry could not meet them for long before wrenching his gaze away. He was confused, for a moment – she couldn’t know about Hermione, surely? His eyes filled with tears again at the memory of his best friend and the slight smile that had tilted her lips as she fell, and the connection from her to Ron immediately made him glance at his friend anxiously – Ron had showed no sign of noticing anyone come in.

Turning his attention back to Ginny, Harry again pondered what could have made her so distraught. Malfoy will know, he decided and he peered over her shoulder…

But Draco was not there.

Realization hit him and at once he knew what had brought about Ginny’s grief – there was no doubt that the proud youth was dead. Harry couldn’t help but take a step backwards; another death, another life taken away so quickly.

“He’s dead, isn’t he?” Harry whispered.

Ginny ignored him for a moment, walking to the window and staring out into the black night. Although she could not see it, she knew that the bodies of many lay on the lawns, covered only by a blanket – sometimes with the house crest on it, sometimes with a gold to indicate an adult, or black; telling all who saw it that a Death Eater lay beneath it. Somewhere in the darkness of pain and grief that reigned over her mind she wondered at the irony of it; in death, the two enemies did what they could not in life, and lay side by side, each accepting their own fate…

Not like they had any choice, anyway.

“Ginny?”

Ginny turned her head to him heavily again. “Yes.” Her voice was dull and uncaring; it sent shudders crawling down Harry’s back for the umpteenth time that day. Harry looked down at his own grimy fingers and wondered at them; they had killed today, he reminded himself. They had killed.

“Was it worth it, Harry?”

Harry’s head jerked upwards suddenly and he watched her grimly. “Worth what?”

“The death of one man. One man – evil, yeah, but still just one man. Was it worth so many deaths? Was it worth his death?”

Harry stared at her wordlessly, unable to answer her. He opened his mouth and shut it again, repeating the process several times until finally he spoke. “No more innocent deaths, Gin. We don’t have to live under that shadow. Draco died freeing us.”

She turned to him and for a moment anger flared in her eyes. “You think I care? Harry, I would have had them win if he was alive. I wouldn’t care. I’d give you-know-who life again if it would bring him back.”

She seemed unable to say her love’s name and it hurt Harry to hear her broken talk. “Everybody’s lost, Gin. You’re not the only one. One of my best friends is dead…” his voice broke and he trailed off.

Ginny’s eyes flicked to Ron, and from process of elimination she realized that Hermione was dead too. A sob welled within her but did not emerge; she held it in and nodded dully. She sat on the windowsill again, head in her hands and Harry turned away from her. The room was silent; a room of despair and grief and pain.

“Was it worth it?” Harry repeated hoarsely. “No. Of course it wasn’t.”

***

At Draco Malfoy’s birth, his mother prophesized that none would mourn at his death save one. Ginevra Weasley proved once and for all that the prophecy was truly broken, and at his funeral more then two hundred people showed in the large church. However, in the front row sat only two; Ginny and Pansy clung to each other, trying to come to terms with the fact that Draco was gone forever, never coming back. Their tears fell throughout the service until at the end, when Ginny stood white-faced and limped to the front. She sat down and adjusted the microphone, and people prepared themselves for her speech, knowing she could not stand with a twisted ankle that she had got in the fight.

Yet they were wrong. At a wave of the priests wand, an object materialized in the air; Ginny’s cello. She stooped for a moment and unzipped the case, pulling the wooden instrument out with gentle care. There was a tense, waiting silence in the chapel and Ginny fulfilled her promise to Draco as she began to play.

It was a mournful dirge and brought tears to the eyes of all who heard it; only Ginny stopped crying, chewing on her lip and letting the notes stream out from her. Her body curved around the majestic instrument and the people wept and Ginny felt too keenly the empty space beside her where Draco should be.

***

The four houses of Hogwarts disbanded after the Final Battle. Most of the students mingled in to the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw Common Rooms; they were comfortable and warm unlike the damp dungeon that Slytherin’s had abided in for so long. Yet the Slytherin Common Room was not empty; there was still one resident.

Ginny Weasley still slept in Draco’s bed, wondering often how his scent could still be on the sheets, after so many weeks without him. She did not understand how she could go on; yet, after the loneliest Summer Holidays ever, Ginevra returned to Hogwarts.

She became a healer, of sorts. She became an expert at Potions and even reached an understanding with Professor Snape. They would spend hours in silence brewing potions for Madame Pomfrey and when Ginny’s tears fell, Severus Snape understood and did not try to use stilted words to bring her comfort. They worked on; and that was exactly what Ginny wanted.

She was the best at making a Dreamless Sleep Potion. She needed it; every night she took it so that she would not be wracked with nightmares of Draco’s death; of his final smile; of the bitter taste in his mouth as he died. Yet her body, as bodies do, became accustomed to the potion and began to get immunity to it. Ginny woke screaming, and this time Draco was not there to draw her into his arms and comfort her.

Her grades began to fail, except in Potions. She could not find it within herself to study anymore; instead she spent most of her free hours in the graveyard that Hogwarts had erected, several kilometers away from the school. There, Death Eaters and students were buried alike, and though Ginny spent most of her time there by Draco’s grave. She knew his epitaph off by heart:

Draco Malfoy
1980-1997
I’ll love you forever
I’ll miss you forever

It was not the only grave she visited however; she attended always to the mounds of the Death Eater’s she had killed… Wondering of their wives and children; whether they had had them – where they were now. Did their families hate her?

Her whole life seemed to be a question now. She no longer knew what she was here for… Ginny had become a lost soul, drifting from place to place with no purpose in life. The shocking amount of deaths had taken a lot out of her; and unlike Harry and Ron, she could not bury the memories of the people with laughter and mourning.

She dyed all her clothes black one day, thinking with a sudden pang how cliché Draco would have found it. But she did not like the colours anymore and her old favourite colour; the warm red that she had once loved reminded her too much now of blood. The blood that had soaked the ground, after the battle.

She spent many hours in the forest, knowing that the Centaurs would protect her and wishing that people didn’t feel the need to protect her. Yet they did. There had been a number of suicides after the battle and Ginny was monitored closely.

Astoundingly, Dumbledore was still alive, now one hundred and sixty years old. Yet his age was beginning to show, and there had been talk of appointing a new Headmaster or mistress of the school and letting him rest. Yet Dumbledore’s eyes still sparkled occasionally.

A plaque had been put up in the great hall with the hundreds of names of the fallen. Draco’s name was near the top; often Ginny levitated a box and climbed onto it, tracing her fingers over the carved bronze letters again and again. Draco Malfoy, 1980-1997. Neville’s name was there too; Dumbledore said that there were many victims in a war.

Draco Malfoy, 1980-1997. It had become a mantra in her head, sounding in her footsteps, in the chatter of those around her. She knew the other students thought her strange; she didn’t care.

One winter day she stood by his grave, watching the flecks fall onto the marble tombstone. She heard footsteps behind her, crunching in the soft white covering but didn’t look around.

“Hello Ginny,” came Harry’s warm voice.

“Harry.”

“We’re going to Hogsmeade, Gin. D’you want to come?”

“No.” she didn’t have to think about it.

“Oh come on, Gin. You know me ‘n Ron can’t come to Hogwarts much, what with him keeper for the Canons and me in the Ministry. Please?”

She turned slowly and met his earnest eyes with a heavy heart. “I can’t, Harry. Please don’t ask me.”

“Gods, Ginny, don’t you think this charade has gone long enough?” he exploded suddenly.

“By ‘charade’ I take it you mean my love’s death?” Her voice was very quiet, and Harry had to strain to hear it.

“Gin, you have to let it go! He’s going to have been dead a year, in a couple of months! Don’t you think it’s time you’ve done grieving?”

“Are you done grieving then, Harry?” Her voice was harsher then she meant. “You’re over Hermione? You don’t care she’s dead anymore?”

He flinched at her name. “That’s a little unfair, Ginny.”

Her eyes saddened. “Yes, I know. I’m sorry. But I can’t come. Sorry.”

Harry touched her cheek with his gloved finger. “We worry about you Ginny.” On an impulse, he hugged her tight, and to his surprise she let him, listlessly standing in his embrace.

“Goodbye, Harry. Have a nice time.” The polite words fell out of her mouth dully and Harry sighed, meeting her brown eyes – no longer warm as they once were.

“Bye Gin. Look after yourself.”

She appreciated the irony of this and her mouth twisted up into a bitter smile. He shuddered slightly at it, wondering where the sweet Ginny Weasley had gone.

Not that I need to wonder, he berated himself mentally. Ginny had turned and was once more reading the lines on the headstone, over and over again. She did not hear his crisp footfalls leaving.

A/N: I'M SORRY SO SO SO SO SORRY!!!!! Forgive me, o faithful readers!

The Epilogue will be up as soon as this is approved.

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