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Author's Note: Hello everyone! Thank you for all the feedback. I really appreciate it. This chapter is very emotional. I have to say that I am naturally a very big Harry/Hermione shipper, but after writing these moments between Harry and Ginny I actually now root for them. So writing the couple convinced me to like the couple... odd. Anyway please enjoy the latest and as always reviews are much loved and appreciated!
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Chapter 12- Dusk


Hermione sat across from Ginny in their usual booth at the Hermit having met her friend for lunch. Ever since her conversation with Harry a few nights ago, Ginny had been a mess. And like any good friend would do, Hermione had asked Ginny to a lunch date so that the two could talk one on one.

“I just wish he would’ve screamed or yelled or cursed me to kingdom come. I don’t even care. I wish we could’ve had a good row about it, ya know?... But instead he just stood there like… like he was so heart broken. I-I just never wanted this to happen. I never wanted to hurt him.” Ginny fumbled with her empty glass spinning it around slowly in a circle as she recounted her story. Even though they were in a public place and Ginny never cried in public, she could feel the lump grow in the back of her mouth and a hotness form at the edge of her eyes. She swallowed it back down though, refusing as she always did to be the teary eyed, pretty girl bawling in a pub. It wasn’t even one o’clock yet… She couldn’t turn into that girl at least for another four hours.

“Are you still going?” asked Hermione, her concern for her best girlfriend etched all over her face.

“Yes. I’ve already signed the contract… It’s magically binding. I leave at the end of the week,” she sighed, trying to exhale the emotions beneath her chest. “He’s not even speaking to me.”

Hermione reached across the table to pat one of Ginny’s hands. “He’ll come around Ginny. Just give him some time.”

At those words, Ginny gave an airy laugh. “I feel like it’s déjà vu… every few years you give me the same advice. You should really stop repeating yourself,” she said with a sad smile. Hermione tried to give one in return but found that she couldn’t. There was too much pain in Ginny’s eyes to smile.

“How are your parents taking the news?” asked Hermione in attempt to change the subject.

The younger witch just shook her head, rolling her eyes. “They’re trying not to freak out…”

“It’s only because-”

“I’m the baby. Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it plenty of times… Honestly, I’m twenty one and they still treat me like I’m eleven,” she muttered annoyed. No matter what, there was nothing Ginny could say or do to stop her family’s reaction. She was the youngest and to top it all off she was the only daughter. The combination pretty much meant that she would forever be babied.

The two sat in quiet contemplation. Hermione smiled at the thought of her surrogate parents and their treatment of their only daughter. As she looked up she caught her friend’s furrowed brow. She saw the ache that had momentarily left the room while they spoke of her parents once again return to her innocent blue eyes.

“I think you’re doing the right thing, Gin,” she stated sincerely.

“Really?” Ginny’s voice came out thick, barely above a whisper. Her eyes immediately filled with tears. “You may be the only one... Because even I think I’m fucking this up.” Ginny placed a strained hand on the edge of her tear ducts trying to push the tears back in.

Hermione shook her head as sure as ever. “No you’re not… Gin, Harry will be waiting for you when you get back. And this… this will be good for you. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you’ll see. You’ll finally get to go out on your own for once… without those blasted brothers of yours being so protective or tattling on you for every little thing. It’s important to exercise your independence. And even if it turns out to be complete shit,” Ginny smiled a watery smile with Hermione’s curse knowing how rare the occasion, “Well it’s only a year of your life. You’ll only have wasted a year. And even so, you’ll at least have had some experiences to throw under your belt.”

“I s’pose you’re right.” Hermione shot her a quirked eyebrow successfully getting Ginny to laugh despite herself. “Ok… well I guess you’re always right,” she conceded.

“Damn straight,” Hermione replied. Ginny smirked at her friend’s humor. As they got silent once more, Hermione reached her hand across the table and squeezed Ginny’s. Looking her directly in the eye, she said, “It’ll be ok, Gin. It’ll all be ok.”


**********


Harry was lying on the couch sinking into its deep cushions as Hermione returned home from her lunch with Ginny. He barely registered her arrival. Even as she stepped into the room and called his name, he continued watching his program. With a sigh, Hermione grabbed the remote and turned the volume down before sitting on the sofa’s edge. He had been practically comatose the last few days, coming and going without a word.

As she sat down, he didn’t even look at her and instead tilted his head so that he could see around her in order to watch his show.

“Harry.” Again he ignored her when she spoke his name even though she was directly in front of him. Finally with a huff she switched off the television completely. “I will force you to talk to me. Don’t even doubt it.”

He lay silent. No smart come back or cheap shot or yell of disapproval that she’d turned off his program. He merely looked up at her waiting for her to speak her peace so he could go back to zoning out the world and basking in his own misery.

Hermione sighed and resigned herself to just accepting Harry’s attitude just like she had always done over the years when he’d gotten in a certain mood. “I just got back from seeing Ginny,” she began watching as Harry’s eyes darkened over, “She wants you to come to her going away dinner tomorrow.”

She studied his face as she waited for some sort of response. She didn’t get one though.

“It’s at seven at the Burrow… She’s leaving in two days Harry. And I know it’s none of my business, but I think you should try to say goodbye and send her off on ok terms.” Harry’s features gave way to nothing. Hermione continued to press forward though. “Will go with me tomorrow? To the dinner?”

Harry nodded a small degree.

“Will you at least attempt to speak tomorrow?” asked Hermione only to get another nod from Harry. “Well I guess that’ll do then,” she finished handing the remote control back to him. He took it and flipped his show back on as she left the room.

Much to Harry’s displeasure the dinner at the Weasley’s came faster than he was ready for. He felt like he hadn’t prepared himself nearly enough. There were just so many things that he wanted to do. He wanted to yell and scream, but knew he couldn’t. He wanted to curse Ginny and beg her not to go, but knew that even if he did it wouldn’t matter. She had made up her mind long before asking him what his opinion was and he knew there was no changing it. What he thought made no difference. No matter how badly he wanted to scream at her or knock sense into her it would do no good. It was a losing situation. If he yelled, it would only drive her away faster. She was convinced to do this and he could not stand in her way, so he had accepted his defeat in all of its bitter misery.

All that he could do was sit still and watch as the girl he wanted walked out. All that he could do was think and mope. All that he could do was give in.

So he was defeated, resigned to silence as he felt the inner workings of his chest slowly break and fall to the ground one by one. The shattered remnants of his hopes left scattered in her wake.

The entire family was there. Bill, Fleur, Victoire had come from shell cottage. George and Angelina sat in the den. Charlie had made it back for a brief visit and Percy had even come. Then there were others, special guests that Molly had invited for the occasion like Luna, Neville, Seamus, Dean, Andromeda and the five year old Teddy.

Harry had done his best conversing with the family with faux happiness and playing with Teddy. He conjured up as much strength as he could, but even before the group had sat down for dinner Harry could feel his strength waning. Every time he and Ginny made eye contact he felt his heart strings contract and his gut clench. He knew she could see it. He knew because he saw hers do the same.

So as George and Charlie set the table, Harry slipped out to the garden for a breather.

The air was slightly warmer than usual for mid-March. He inhaled deeply. He could smell the spring season approaching in the sweet breeze as it rustled through his hair. With a far off gaze, he watched as the last of the sun’s rays peaked over the horizon shedding the last bit of warmth and light for the day. He stood there, his hands falling limp at his sides.

Suddenly he felt a hand in his, giving his a subtle squeeze.

Turning his head slightly to the side his eyes rested on Hermione. The corner of her mouth twitched slightly into what could have been a smile, but it faded away as her knowing eyes grasped his. Harry turned back to the setting sun. He let out a shaky breath and she held his hand tighter in her own.

“I don’t want to do this,” he said just barely above a whisper. He didn’t have to look at her to know that she had heard him. He knew he didn’t even have to utter the words. She could feel them pulsing through his hand into hers.

“I know,” she said.

They stood like that, soaking in the last beams of light as the night stole into the day.

Harry closed his eyes trying to muster all the courage and resolve that he could. He could feel Hermione’s strength passing through their hands allowing him to borrow some for the evening. A part of him was grateful for her willingness to just give him whatever she could. She always did that. He knew she would hand him the world if she could and would do so selflessly.

With a small exhale, she turned to him once more. “Dinner’s ready, Harry. Come on, let’s go eat.”

Harry nodded solemnly and with one last squeeze from Hermione their hands broke apart. They returned to the Burrow and Harry did his best to pretend to be happy.


**********


It was time.

Ginny watched as the other players said their goodbyes to their families who had come to see them off. Todd was there checking people in and organizing everyone. They stood in the middle of a great field waiting for the portkey to activate and knowing they only had a few more minutes left.

She turned back to her parents.

“Oh Mum, please don’t cry… I’ll be alright,” reassured Ginny as her mother engulfed her in one of her famous Mrs. Weasley hugs.

“I can’t help it…” Pulling away, Mrs. Weasley kept her hands on Ginny’s shoulders looking her over. “You’ll write me?”

“Of course.”

“Everyday?”

Ginny just stared at her mother. “Mum, I’m not going to write you everyday. I probably won’t even have time! We’ve got a packed schedule.”

“Right… right. Well at least once a week then?”

“Absolutely.”

Molly Weasley embraced her only daughter once again, clutching her tightly. Ginny could only sigh at her mother’s obvious problem with letting her go. She knew it was going to happen. The woman had nearly bawled her eyes out when she first told her that she would be spending the next year in America... in Los Angeles nonetheless.

Ginny pulled away and moved down the line to her smiling father.

“You have everything, pumpkin?”

“Yes,” she confirmed before leaning in to kiss his cheek and give him a hug. Mr. Weasley too could not help but give her an extra squeeze before they parted. Ginny could see the near tears in his eyes.

Clearing his throat and swallowing the lump that was there, he told her to be safe. She nodded before again moving down the line to the rest of the family. Fleur had kissed each of her cheeks twice, George had softly punched in her the shoulder before picking her up in a massive hug lifting her two feet up, Percy had muttered something about not staying out too late and taking advantage of her opportunity, Charlie had whispered in her ear that if she got a tattoo while away he wouldn’t tell mum.

Finally Ginny reached the last in the row.

“So he didn’t want to come?”

“I don’t think he could bare it,” answered Hermione truthfully. Ginny nodded sadly before pulling Hermione into a big hug which she of course returned fully. “I love you, Gin. Be safe… You’ll be breaking hearts in America soon enough, I’m sure.”

As she drew back, Ginny gave a wink that caused Hermione to chuckle. “The states don’t even know what’s about to hit them.”

Sighing heavily, Ginny reached down picking up her bag and then stepped back to look at her entire family before her. “Well… I guess I’ll be off then.” With a few last farewells from them, she smiled at her loved ones before turning to join the growing group of athletes around the trash can that would be their portkey to LA.

Ginny approached her peers, fellow Quidditch players that had been recruited for their talent to play in the LA area. All were chatting excitedly about their upcoming training. Even though a part of her was raring to go, another part of her was so full of sadness that she felt she might cry right there in the midst of all that nervous anticipation. Her heart had joined her stomach in the pit of her belly. It had sunk there ever since Hermione had arrived alone.

She wanted to see Harry so badly. She wished that he could be there, but she understood how he couldn’t. It would be hard to watch her go. It would be hard to watch him stay, to see him standing alone without her next to him. Six years. She had kissed him all those years ago in the common room and now she was leaving him. After loving him and wishing he was hers, she finally had him and now she was leaving.

“Three minutes till! You should start making your way over to the portkey,” called Todd to the few players that had yet to gather round the trash can.

Ginny inhaled as she felt the back of her throat spasm with her shaky indrawn breath. Six years. She prayed to God that she wasn’t screwing this up. Six years together. “Please it can’t all go down the drain,” she prayed under her breath.

Her insides were eating away at her. Oh, God. She needed courage. Turning around, her eyes found Hermione’s. She could feel her friend’s words of reassurance from the pub wash back over her. “Gin, Harry will be waiting for you when you get back…. And even if it’s complete shit... Well it’s only a year of your life.

Hermione stared right back at Ginny, her eyes conveying that everything would be ok. Ginny felt herself ease slightly with Hermione’s calm. Her face was sure. Suddenly something off to the right caught Hermione’s attention and her face broke out into a wide smile. Quickly she looked back at Ginny and pointed off through the crowd. Ginny’s head whipped to her left, hoping beyond all belief.

And there he was.

He stood there, his hands stuffed in his pockets. He looked straight into her eyes with such a sad longing. It was all she could take. Her breath shook as she exhaled and immediately tears slid down her cheeks. She was crying in public, but she didn’t care. He was here. He came.

Dropping her bag, she ran to him.

And just like their first, she kissed him with all the passion and wanting she had. Her hands held his face to hers gently. She could taste him mixed with her tears, but she didn’t care. His hands found her hips pulling her to him. He returned her kiss with just as much love. She could feel the ache behind his kiss, but she also knew there was understanding in it too.

They broke apart slowly with Harry leaning his forehead against hers.

“I love you, Harry. I love you so very much,” she said against his lips.

“One minute!!” called Todd from within the heart of the crowd of athletes now all touching some section of the trash can.

Ginny kissed him again. Breaking away only to kiss him twice more. She could feel a new set of tears fall from her eyes. How could she do this? How could she say goodbye? How could she walk away willingly? But she knew she had to. She had to do this. Her life would not be mundane, her life would be spectacular. And here was her chance. She needed to live and the only time she could do so was now. She kissed him one last time.

Pulling away she turned around without even one last look to him. She knew she couldn’t look into his eyes; his beautiful green eyes would only make her stay. She couldn’t afford to stay. If she did, she would end up hating him and the thought of that was the reason for her feet carrying her back to the group, for her hand reaching down to pick up her dropped bag, and for her two fingers finally resting themselves on the portkey. She refused to be one of those wives that resents her husband, that resents her children, that resents the life she was given. No, she could not do that to Harry.

One day in the future they would be married and have loads of children. One day they would have a house and garden gnomes wreaking havoc on their lawn. One day they would be together till death do they part.

But that day was not today, that time was not now.

Now was hers and even though it was selfish she knew she had to take it before it slipped right through her slender fingers. And so with a resolve she never thought she could have, she felt a familiar pull at her navel.

Then she was gone.

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