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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.

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