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Dear readers - Thank you so much for your patience as you waited for me to finish this story up! I certainly hope you enjoy the final chapter. If you haven't already done so, check out the companion story, "You Do Approve, Don't You?" on my page. Much love and thanks - and please leave a review!

Ginny Weasley

These past few weeks had been the happiest of her life. Happier than all the birthday parties her family had celebrated with her, happier than the moment she finally received her Hogwarts letter. From that first moment in the common room to this last one by the lake, she knew that she would cherish those memories forever.

Even though Harry was still well within her sight by the side of the lake, Ginny had already begun to miss him. The way a jolt had gone through her body every time they held hands, the way they had spent hours talking about everything and nothing, the way that they had been able to communicate so much in wordless glances – she felt that she would never again be able to find that with another person. But instead of sadness or anger, all she felt was a deep emptiness. He had unwittingly taken a piece of her heart with him, leaving that space.

It had never been like this before, not with Michael or Dean. She had cared for them, but something this time was different, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. As silly as it sounded – Ginny knew her brothers would ridicule her if she ever said it – it was as if being with Harry made her completely whole.

She thought back to that time long ago, when she was a mere ten year-old chasing the Hogwarts Express as Ron rode away. She had cried that time, wondering how she would fill her days. Ron was the brother to whom she was closest. Fred and George had each other, and Percy, Charlie, and Bill were all too old to be interested in playing games with their two youngest siblings, so naturally, she and Ron has bonded closely. She had spent that rest of the day moping, wondering what to do with herself. Breaking into the broom shed was no fun when she had no brothers to avoid, even if Charlie’s old broom was still there.

But as that year wore on, she had become excited by one thing: Ron’s letters, telling his family about how he had become friends with Harry Potter! The famous Harry Potter, best friend to her brother – there was no doubt she would meet him someday. She had pestered her mother to tell her everything she knew about Harry (which wasn’t much, other than the story about how he had somehow defeated Voldemort). She had filled her diary with musings about him, and by the end of that year she had developed a crush on the boy she had never even met.

Then came the embarrassment of her first year at Hogwarts – the blushing, the petrified squeaks, even that foolish valentine. But there was also the fear, the darkness. She remembered the moment she awoke in the Chamber of Secrets to find Harry next to her. My knight in shining armor, she had thought before bursting into tears. It was the stuff of tales, the way he had rescued her, but it was one of the more terrifying moments in her young life as well.

Ginny knew that those feelings had faded with time as she had befriended Harry. She no longer saw the celebrity; she saw his kindness, courage, and unwavering loyalty. And there was an even deeper connection; both of them knew what it was like to have Voldemort invade their minds. Ginny could never fully explain how that felt to anyone, but Harry had understood it immediately. It was one of many things that made her feel so at ease with him.

Neither of them were moved to tears very easily either. She couldn’t quite remember how it came up in their conversation – during a similarly sunny day by the lake, no less.

“I never cried after my first year here,” she had said. “I used to do it every now and then at home, but only rarely. But after – after the Chamber, after him, it’s…”

“It’s as if he took away your ability to do it,” Harry finished for her. “That’s how it’s been for me.”

She did find the way Voldemort connected the two of them a little odd. What would it have been like, she wondered, if Voldemort had never attacked Harry’s family, or better yet, if Voldemort had never existed? Would she and Harry have ever even interacted? By his very existence, Voldemort had made Ginny show certain aspects of her personality that may never have come to light. Despite all the terrible things he had done, Ginny could never fully separate Voldemort from her relationship with Harry.

It was useless to wonder that now. She and Harry had parted ways. Part of her understood his desire to keep her safe, but the other part of her felt empty. They could have had months or even years, but – it all came back to Voldemort. She shook her head at the irony of the situation – without Voldemort, they may never have gotten together. But now, because of him, they could no longer be a couple.

She glanced up and spotted Ron and Hermione, who were standing inches apart. Part of her envied Ron. Harry would allow him to follow no matter what. And he had Hermione, even if he was too thick to fully realize it. Turning away, Ginny followed the crowd back to the castle, where everyone would change out of their dress robes and gather their last few odds and ends. The train was leaving in only a few hours.

“What will it be like, I wonder?” came Luna’s voice from her left.

By now Ginny was used to her friend appearing suddenly, so she was not startled to see her there, Neville in tow. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Hogwarts, without Dumbledore,” Luna replied. “Daddy always said that Dumbledore was a great headmaster. What will it be like, without him to protect us?”

“McGonagall will keep us safe,” Neville said, sounding reassured. “The teachers here were all loyal to Dumbledore. They’ll do their best.”

“Still…” Luna trailed off.

Strange, how quickly the world could move on. Ginny remembered how, two years before, the school had been similarly beset with grief at the murder of a fellow student. Dumbledore had implored the students to remember, and yet Ginny hadn’t been able to stop wondering at the sense of near-normalcy at Hogwarts when the next term started. Now she wondered how long it would take the school to forget about Dumbledore. It wouldn’t be easy, considering the state of the Wizarding world at the moment. And the presence of Dumbledore’s tomb beside the lake would help the school remember him.

Dumbledore’s death would clearly eclipse the fact that Harry had broken things off with Ginny. Luna and Neville were still chatting, oblivious. How would they sit on the train home? They – Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Neville, and Luna – had all made plans to find a compartment together; how would they break the news to this close circle of friends? In any case, Ginny was exceedingly glad to know that none of their circle of six would broadcast the news to the rest of the school – though undoubtedly, the news would spread like wildfire once the likes of Romilda Vane and her friends caught wind of it.

Turning once more, she saw that Ron and Hermione had approached Harry. The three were deep in conversation, perhaps plotting their next move in their supposedly important mission. She could not stand by without knowing what they were up to.

Perhaps, if she played her cards right, she might find out.

* * *

Ginny’s trunk was packed, her dress robes stowed near the top, her spellbooks and potion kit gathered up from the various corners of the castle. All around her, her classmates (well, Romilda and Vicky, mostly) were conversing in strident tones, acting as chipper as it was possible to be on such a dreary day. Or perhaps they were speaking in normal voices and were acting subdued, and it was simply Ginny’s perception that all the other girls were much more cheerful than she was. Either way, she had to leave the room. Checking that her wand was in her pocket, she slipped into the hallway that contained the Gryffindor girls’ dormitories. She located the door labeled Sixth Years, and knocked quickly before pushing the door open.

Hermione was alone, pondering some moldy old tome she had likely procured earlier that year with a look of distaste upon her features. As the older girl looked up at Ginny, she hastily stuffed the book into her trunk, slamming the trunk lid down before seating herself upon it. “Oh, Ginny! Are you packed already? I just finished, I was about to check my covers to make absolutely sure – ”

“He broke it off,” Ginny stated baldly.

Hermione simply stared. Ginny approached her friend’s four-poster, and collapsed onto it. She thought she had cried all her tears out for today, but she couldn’t stem the flow.

“Harry, he- he broke it off,” she repeated, voice wobbling. “Something about it being too dangerous, something stupid…”

“Oh, Ginny.” Hermione stood and sat beside Ginny, pulling her into a comforting hug.

“I s-s-said I didn’t c-care,” she hiccupped, “but he told me it couldn’t work. B-b-but I don’t care, Hermione, I think I love him – as a friend or as a boyfriend, it doesn’t matter, b-but I love and care for him and d-d-don’t want to let him go!”

She was babbling, and she could hardly believe that she had just made that statement, but it had just slipped out. And what did it matter, anyway, since Harry had already put a stop to their relationship? She pulled away from Hermione, dashed the tears from her eyes, and inhaled deeply to get her breath back under control. “If I just knew what he’ll be doing next year to hunt Voldemort down, I wouldn’t worry so much….” Ginny met her friend’s gaze with an expectant look.

Hermione’s expression was inscrutable as she gently replied, “Ginny – I can’t.”

“But – you and Ron know! I was Harry’s girlfriend, Hermione, and before that I was his friend! You think he wouldn’t trust me?”

“It’s not just because we promised Harry. We swore to Dumbledore that we wouldn’t say anything.”

Ginny stared at her friend as a sudden realization clicked into place. “You’re going with Harry!” she cried.

“Yes. And I promise you, Ginny, Ron and I will do everything in our power to keep him safe. There’s a way for this war to end – we just don’t know how long it will take.”

Hermione stood and continued to gather up her last few belongings as Ginny made her way over to the window. The view was, like any in Gryffindor Tower, magnificent. The sun shone warmly over the grounds, heralding summer and belying the sadness that pervaded the school – a sadness that had been increased tenfold in Ginny’s heart.

Was it really only a few days before that she and Harry had spent an afternoon by the lake, just talking and holding each other so happily? How had the world managed to change so completely in those last few days? It’s been like something out of someone else’s life, he had said to her just hours before. Someone else – someone like Michael or Dean, perhaps, someone who didn’t have the most powerful Dark wizard in centuries after him. But she didn’t want someone else; she wanted to be with Harry.

Her schoolgirl crush had never really faded, though it had evolved into something deeper. Perhaps this was why she felt this breakup more deeply than those with Michael or Dean, even though she had dated each of them for a longer period of time. Her relationship with Harry had been far too short, that much was clear. It was by far the shortest relationship she had had, but she was more than sure that it had been the most meaningful – to her, at least. Ginny hoped that Harry felt the same way. They had been together so briefly, though, that she knew it was simply impossible that they had effected a change in anyone else’s life simply by being together. Why, even with Harry’s celebrity-like status, it was self-centered of her to think that.

In her mind, Harry was the only one for her. His stubbornness and nobility – the very reasons he had broken up with her in the first place – made her love him even more. And she was sure, based on his words from earlier, that he had not wanted to break things off. We could have had months, or even years.

A lock clicked shut; Hermione had finished her packing and was looking at Ginny expectantly. And as Ginny followed Hermione out the door, she knew that this was the thought that would sustain her while Harry was away fighting Voldemort: Perhaps, if this war was ever over, Harry and Ginny could have those months and years – perhaps even a lifetime together.

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