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About a week later, Ginny traveled to the flat for a visit with Hermione. Kingsley, the new Minister of Magic, had asked Harry to come and see him. Harry had left promptly for the Ministry of Magic earlier in the day. Ginny stepped out of the living room fireplace in a flash of green light. After greeting Hermione, they both went into the kitchen and Hermione put the kettle on for tea.

"So are you the chief cook?" said Ginny with a smile.

"We've been sharing the cooking duties since we don't always take meals together. To be honest, Harry is as good at cooking the muggle way as I am using magic. He told me that he had to help his Aunt Petunia with the cooking whenever he stayed at the Dursley's house." 

"So give me the grand tour of your flat."

Hermione smiled and, acting like an exaggerated and animated real estate agent said with spread arms, "This is the kitchen." Walking a few steps and making a dramatic sweeping wave of her hand she said, "And this is the very spacious living room because it still lacks adequate furniture."

Ginny giggled. Hermione took her by the hand and led her across the room. "Please step into the hallway." A few steps further in, Hermione stopped at the first open bedroom door. "This is Harry's room."

Standing at the door, Ginny looked into the bedroom and said, "Just a bed and nightstand?"

"Yes, well..." Hermione smiled, "Harry is still in 'tent mode'. He's working on that one."

Beckoning Ginny further down the hall, Hermione said, "This is my room."

Ginny looked in and saw a partially assembled bookshelf and several stacks of books on the floor.  Other shelves lined the walls with more books and magical pictures of her parents and friends. The room had curtains on the window and was bright and cheerful.

"And finally, over here is the bathroom," said Hermione in a sing song voice and pointing with both hands as if introducing a performer.  Then in an analytical voice she said, "There were some problems with this room initially. So I wrote up a schedule and list of rules." She opened the medicine cabinet. "See, here they are right here." With satisfaction she said, "No further problems since."

The teakettle began to whistle and Hermione hurried off. Ginny snickered to herself and made her way back to the kitchen.

Hermione poured the tea and motioned for Ginny to sit down. As she watched Ginny sip her tea she asked, "So Ginny, how are you doing?"

"I have been doing a lot of thinking lately trying to sort things out. Hogwarts will be open again this fall for classes as usual. Mom and Dad want me to go and complete my seventh year studies."

"I've said the same to both Harry and Ron."

"And I've been thinking about Harry and me and if ... if I need to fit him into my plans. I've been wondering ... can you tell me ... is he happy with the way things are now?"

Taking a sip of her tea, Hermione said, "He's comfortable with our current arrangement. We talk most evenings about the activities of the day. He gets a lot of satisfaction out of working behind the scenes at the Ministry with Kingsley and the Auror department. Right now, I think Harry just wants to settle into a normal quiet life that is not filled with death threats. He wants some solitude away from publicity and notoriety for a while."

After taking a sip of tea Ginny said, "How does Harry feel about me?"

"I think it best that you ask Harry that question," said Hermione. After a sip of tea she asked, "How do you feel about Harry?"

"The more I've thought about it, the less sure I am that Harry and I are ready for each other. I care very much about Harry and you. I've watched the two of you, even when he was with me, right after the end of the war. I see something between the two of you. Especially in the way you look at and treat each other. Like two birds in flight, free to go in any direction, and yet able to fly in formation without even thinking about it. That's something that hasn't developed yet between Harry and me. On one hand, I want Harry and me to be together. And on the other hand, I feel a bit like a wedge keeping you apart."  

"Ginny, it was thoughts of you that kept Harry focused on our mission last year. You made a difference to our success even though you weren't physically with us. We all gave Harry strength to walk into the forest that night. You were his last thoughts. We all were the reason for his choice to come back out again. Please, never think that you didn't matter to us, then or now." 

"Thanks Hermione, you really are my best friend." Feeling misty eyed, she blinking away a tear.

Ginny said, "Recently, things are changing in my life and I don't think I want to settle down with someone in a quiet lifestyle just yet. I've met some people while working on the pitch at Hogwarts. If I'm good enough, there are quidditch opportunities that could open up for me and lead to a professional career. Please don't say anything to Harry or Ron about it."  

Hermione nodded. "My lips are sealed."

"Thanks. I want to see if I've got what it takes. It will consume almost all of my time if it happens. That wouldn't be fair to any boyfriend who is looking to settle down. I don't want to hurt Harry. I care about him and our close friendship. I want that friendship to continue."

After a short pause, Ginny looked at Hermione and asked, "Can you tell me how you feel about Ron?"

Hermione took a deep breath and said, " I care very much for Ron. There's a depth of friendship between us that is hard to describe. I know that friendship will never be broken. We argue a lot because we're both stubborn and opinionated. That was one of the strengths we both brought to our trio over the years. It provided critical perspectives and insights that helped us quickly develop action plans for the situations we found ourselves in. But for a relationship that might eventually lead to a marriage, I feel that Ron and I don't have the right foundation yet. Ron and I have not really talked about it. But I think we both know that, right now, we're not what we need to be for each other for that kind of relationship."

"Hermione," said Ginny, "I really value our friendship. When you were with Ron, I knew you would be there anytime for me, just to talk. I've been worried that that might end if you and Ron are not together."

"Ginny, whatever happens, it will not affect my relationship with you or your family. Both Harry and I are indebted to you and your family's generosity for so much. You gave us a safe place to hide, a family to belong to and good people we can trust. I am comfortable talking to you about anything. You feel like a sister to me. We might not see each other as often but you're still my best girlfriend and I want to keep it that way. We must stay in touch."

"We will," said Ginny. "You feel like a sister to me too."

They both squeezed each other's hand across the table.



There was a whoosh and Harry stepped from the green flames of the floo. He saw Hermione and Ginny sitting at the kitchen table, each holding a cup of tea, and smiling at him. After a wary glance and tinge of apprehension, he walked to the kitchen.

Hermione said, "Hi Harry. Ginny and I have been catching up."

"Hi Hermione. Hi Ginny."

Hermione said, "So how did your trip to the Ministry go?"

Harry said, "Really well. I met with..." riiinnnngggg!!! Ginny jumped in surprise. Hermione got up and went to answer the muggle phone.

Ginny said with a shocked expression, "One of those would take some time for me to get use to." Then she smiled and said, "But Dad would love it."

"Hello... Hi Mum, how are you? ... What's that? ... Yes? ... Yes? ... Calm down Mum... Okay... Okay, I'll be there in a few minutes... Okay... Bye."

As Hermione moved to take her coat off the hook she said, "Sorry Ginny. Will you give me a few minutes to clear some things up for my Mum? She needs some help with a Ministry form. I won't be too long. See you two in a bit."  

"That's fine, I'll wait." said Ginny as the door closed behind Hermione. Ginny turned to look at Harry.

Harry said, "Hermione's parents have been working their way through Ministry regulations. They're trying to get their fireplace connected to the floo network. There's a lot of extra security to deal with."

Ginny just nodded. After a pause and feeling a bit unsure of himself he said, "Can I warm your tea?"

"Yes please, thanks."

Harry refilled her tea, poured one for himself and then sat down in the chair next to Ginny at the table.

Ginny said, "I was hoping I would see you today. There's something I want to show you."  She reached into her coat and pulled out an envelope with the Hogwarts crest on it.

Harry said, "You got your Hogwarts letter already! Are you going to complete your seventh year?"

"Yes, Mum and Dad say it's really important for me to finish properly. What about you?"

"I'm still sorting it out. I definitely want to complete my seventh year. But I also want to stay clear of the Daily Prophet."

Ginny nodded and then pulled a badge out of her Hogwarts envelope and handed it to Harry.

"Wow!!  You're captain of the Gryffindor quidditch team. That's fantastic Ginny! Congratulations!" He excitedly put his arm around her and gave her a hug. But that caused some other feelings to resurface that he had not expected. As he slowly released her, their eyes met and he could see that she had experienced something too.

Ginny said in a soft voice, "I think there are some things we need to talk about." After a short pause, Harry nodded.

Ginny said, "I think my seventh year will be a very busy one. Besides all of my studies, I've got this new responsibility." She took the badge back from Harry and put it into the envelope. "But there are other reasons that I have to go back. Last year was such a bad time to be at Hogwarts. I became very close friends with Neville, Luna and a few other people. We worked so hard together to resist the horrible way students were being treated. I think I know a little about what prison must be like. While you were away this last month, I've had time to remember and think about the relationships I have with those people. It has helped me understand the kind of friendship you share with Hermione and Ron. These friends need me now and I need them, at least for a while. We need to help each other put last year behind us and move on."

Harry nodded. With a thoughtful expression he said, "It's something very hard to describe isn't it? A deep familiarity and connection, a bond."

"Yes." said Ginny. "That's it. The sort of feeling ... like ... these people are part of me."

He smiled warmly and nodded his understanding.

"I've also done some reflecting on our relationship. I think that I'm a bit over dominating you." She smiled, "I get that from Mum." With a caring expression she said, "I think I might be trying to force more between us than there really is right now."

Harry saw that her eyes were starting to tear up.

"I think that a romantic choice must be freely made by both involved. And if that means we're to be just good friends ..." Ginny was unsuccessful in holding back her tears, "I ... I will accept that."

Harry had become misty eyed also. He took her hand and lovingly held it. After a moment he said, "I haven't been fair to you either. I've been very wrapped up in myself lately. There are still some things that seem incomplete about who I am. I'm thankful for the time apart you've given me to start sort things out. It was hard to do when we were together. Your attractiveness tends to boggle my perceptions and thinking."

"Thanks," said Ginny smiling through teary eyes.

Harry said, "Maybe it was infatuation with you or just my poor relationship skills with girls. I can be really thick headed at times as you well know."

But..." he took her chin with his hand and gently guided her eyes to his, "you helped me get through some of the darkest times of my life. Please, don't ever forget that I am forever grateful to you. I don't ever want to lose our friendship. You are part of my family."

Ginny turned and put her arms around him and said, "Oh Harry, thank you, thank you. You will always be my dear friend." Harry wrapped his arm around her. They put their heads on each other in an embrace of truest friendship. They held each other in a short moment of silent comfort and then separated.

After another moment, Harry said; "So... tell me about some of your plans for the Gryffindor quidditch team."

Harry listened to her describe with enthusiasm her early planning. He didn't speak much, it was her team now and he would only give her his thoughts if she asked for them. She had some really good ideas and he felt sure the team was in very good hands with her as captain. He made an offer to help her anytime, she need only ask. But knowing her as he did, he was certain she had a very clear idea of what she was going to do.

As they talked, some of the pranks and practical jokes the team members had played on each other in previous years were remembered. This caused fits of giggles and laughs between them. During the laughter following a particularly funny story, involving Fred and George of course, Hermione returned.

Seeing them laughing she said, "You two are getting on well. What have I missed?"

Still giggling, Ginny said, "Oh ... Harry and I have just broken up."

"Erm..." The look on Hermione's face was priceless and it made both Harry and Ginny break into laughter again.

After a moment, Ginny said, "Well, I need to get back to the Burrow. I have a lot of planning to do."

Ginny and Harry stood up and they gave each other a firm hug. "Thanks Harry." she said to him with a sigh.

"Umm... thank you too." He held her at arm's length and said, "I want to see your games; let me know when."

"I will," said Ginny with a warm smile.

She turned to Hermione who still had the remains of a bewildered look on her face. Hugging her, Ginny whispered in her ear, "Talk with me later. There's more I want to tell you."

Hermione whispered back with a smile, "Most certainly."

Ginny walked to the fireplace and took a pinch of floo powder. She smiled and happily waved goodbye to both of them. Then, tossing the powder into the fireplace, she stepped into the green flames that erupted saying "The Burrow!" and disappeared from sight.

Harry put one hand on his side and took a sip of his tea. He looked at Hermione with a self-satisfied expression on his face. Hermione raised her eyebrows and gave him a half smile, her expression saying, 'you-think-your-so-good'. They both snickered.

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