The first day of the rest of our lives
"It's me." Ginny told the two people guarding the door.
"Oh! Come in, but keep quiet," Hermione whispered to her friend.
Immediately Ron turned around while casting a silencing charm towards the four poster bed where Harry was sleeping.
"Why? What's going on?" She said anxiously, a worried look appearing on her face. "Is Harry all right?"
"He's fine, he's just exhausted and needs to rest," replied Hermione.
Ron put his arm around her shoulders and quietly said, "Well, I would be, if I had just defeated the most dangerous wizard in recent history."
Ginny was led to the side of the bed by her brother.
Carefully, not wanting to disturb Harry, she observed him as he slept. Immediately she noticed that he wasn't resting; at least not how she would have liked him to be.
Even though Harry was asleep, he didn't look relaxed or peaceful; his body seemed tense.
Ginny was just about to get angry at Ron and Hermione for not taking good care of him, but stopped herself. She realized that both of them were as tired as he was, and even if they knew him better than anybody, they didn't know him as well as she did. After all hadn't she spent enough time studying him, knowing him? If there was someone on this planet that knew how to make Harry comfortable, it was her.
Luna was right again, Ginny thought. Luna had warned her before coming here that the others might be touchy, and suggested to keep her temper in place; as these were extraordinary circumstances, she said.
Ginny had realized that she was tired and could easily explode, but she wasn't nearly as knackered as Ron and Hermione. She made a mental note to remind herself of this later.
Now she wished she had a potion of dreamless sleep or some other way to make Harry comfortable.
After thinking for a few moments Ginny took out her wand, pointing it at him, then casted a charm that produced a low humming sound. She then carefully passed her hands through his hair and bent down to mutter something in his ears.
All of Ginny's ministrations seemed to work, because Harry's expression softened and his body clearly relaxed.
Both Hermione and Ron were observing her actions. They knew that both Ginny and Harry had become entwined over the months; but hadn't realized just how much until that moment.
Once that Ginny was satisfied she softly kissed Harry's forehead and walked to Ron's side.
"He is going to be all right," she stated with absolute conviction.
Hermione said, "Not bad for someone who died…" and Ron finished, "…and then came back to life."
"What?" Ginny almost yelled - it was a bit too loud for everybody's liking.
"Shhh," They quickly led her away from the bed.
As Ginny was searching for a chair to sit down, she whispered, "You mean he really..." She didn't dare finish the sentence. "But I thought it was all a trick… how, when?" Her face said distress all over.
"Listen, Ginny," a doubtful Hermione said, "We're not sure that it should be us who tell you; wouldn't you prefer that Harry tells you himself?"
"Do you know how many times in the same night Harry had to live through Cedric's death?" Ginny answered and they both nodded, completely understanding what she was trying to convey.
"I won't make him go through that again," Ginny paused. "Kingsley will want to know everything that happened, and then most surely Mum and Dad, then everybody else."
They knew she was right; it was Ron who finally spoke. "All right, Ginny, we'll tell you what we know. Remember though that we got separated during the fight, so of the last part we only know what Harry told us."
"Get comfortable," Hermione told her, "it's a long tale."
"Hungry? They're really good," Ron motioned to some sandwiches on a table nearby, "Kreacher made them."
"It's all part of the story, take one," Hermione answered the puzzled look in Ginny.
Emphasizing the seriousness of it, Ron began. "We do know this; Harry died, or more precisely he tried to get himself killed by..." and making an effort, he managed to say the name, "Voldemort," He paused, waiting for the world to end, but when it didn't he decided to continue, "so that by sacrificing himself he would protect us, just like his mother did for him."
They then proceeded to tell her everything, beginning at their escape from the wedding, their stay at Grimmauld place, and the plan to break into the ministry.
The story was somewhere along the break in to Umbridge's office when Ginny noticed that Ron and Hermione were holding hands - she couldn't help but smile; and pointing to their entwined hands asked, "When did that happen?"
Ron's ears went bright red; it was Hermione who answered though, "Oh! He's come a long way, a very long way."
Ginny laughed at her embarrassed brother. Hermione just smiled, "Which reminds me, can I borrow your wand?"
With a questioning look Ginny handed her wand to her friend, but thought nothing more of it.
And they continued their story, when they arrived to where Phineas Nigellus Black had told them about her break in to Snape's office; Ginny had the expression of someone recalling a long lost memory.
She interrupted saying, "Something strange happened at that time! I thought we were dead, but Snape pulled me into his office and gave me some orders, mainly that I would give these memories to Harry if he should die or be incapacitated before the final battle."
She pulled a small bottle with a silvery liquid out of her robes, "he said that it was of the highest importance, and that it was Dumbledore's orders, which the portrait in the office confirmed."
"It's confusing; he made me forget everything, but then said I would follow through with the orders when I'd judge the time to be appropriate." She sighed, "At least it was something like that…"
"Ginny, probably you can remember now because the caster of the spell is dead, so everything should come back to you in due time." Hermione assured her.
Ginny sighed, "I guess, it's just that I don't like to forget parts of my life."
"It reminds you of the chamber," Ron said, more like a statement than a question.
"Yes!" Was her answer.
Returning to their tale they proceeded to tell her about the Horcrux and its effects on them.
Ginny couldn't suppress her anger when she found out that Ron had abandoned them, "You slimy little..." she was looking for her wand and the appropriate insults to her retreating brother, when she realized why Hermione had asked her for it.
"Calm down, he's more than made up for it," Hermione said while putting her hands on Ginny's shoulders in a calming but at the same time restraining way.
"Besides, when he returned I punched every single bone in his body," she said with a smirk.
"Harry had to intervene to stop me," she then made a pause; "I guess he felt obligated to. After all Ron had just saved his life a few minutes before."
"I guess so," Ginny muttered unconvinced. Her smile didn't return right away but she was more interested in hearing the rest of the story than retaliating against her brother, there would be time for that later, she thought.
Continuing their story they arrived to the final battle, to the part where they saw Snape asking Voldemort to let him go and get Harry.
"It's hard to believe that Snape did all that to protect Harry and follow Dumbledore's plan." Ginny said with a sigh.
Speaking for the three of them, Ron admitted. "At the end, he was Dumbledore's man, through and through."
"Yes, he was," Ginny added.
Hermione was silent, when she talked it was only to mutter, "He didn't deserve to die like that."
"How did he die?" Asked Ginny.
"Riddle," she answered, "he turned his snake against Snape, it tore his neck to pieces," the memory made her sob.
Both Ron and Ginny embraced her, until she calmed down.
"The room would have been splattered in blood if it hadn't been for thet bubble shield that locked Snape with Nagini and prevented him from any possible escape, it was horrible. He was still alive when we reached him, yet we couldn't do anything but watch him bleed to death," Hermione couldn't stop talking, but was also crying out of control.
After a while she regained some composure and carried on, "He ordered Harry to pick up his memories, his last act was to tell him to look into his eyes, and then he died."
"His eyes?" inquired Ginny.
"Yes," she answered with a shrug, and tears overwhelmed her once more.
Ginny held Hermione close, understanding and comforting her.
The girl who had begun school with no friends whatsoever; who had solved the mystery of the basilisk; who held the trio together whilst they were hiding from the world, had finally broken down.
Ginny sincerely admired Hermione for her courage, for her strength and endurance. "It's all right to cry," she soothed her patiently; "It's all right."
Hermione's tears didn't look like stopping any time soon.
She was crying and calling the names of the people who died; Snape, Dumbledore, Cedric, Colin, Tonks and Remus, among others. She kept asking why they had to die.
Only after quite a while had she calmed down a little.
"I wasn't smart enough or quick enough to save them…I failed them…I could've saved someone, I should've..." Hermione wasn't allowed to finish.
"Shhh." Ron tenderly put his finger on her mouth, motioning for her to be quiet.
"What you, what we've gone through is by far more than most people have to endure in a lifetime," he assured her.
"Hermione, you have been under stress for a whole year, planed the downfall of the Death Eaters, were tortured by Bellatrix, fought her off. Do I have to continue?" He asked her.
Barely keeping herself under control, Hermione shook her head.
"What we're trying to say, Hermione, is that there is only so much a person can take, it's fine to cry," her friend assured her.
Ginny continued, "At school, we - the DA - had each other, but out there you were all alone, you couldn't contact us, you had no one, no one; and yet, against all odds you triumphed."
Now she was standing in front of her, with her hands on her shoulders.
"In the future many people will come out with a thousand things we could have done better, but the difference will be that they will have forever to analyse things, whereas you had only a few seconds, minutes at best."
"What you have achieved is remarkable and I admire you for it. I am so proud of calling you my friend, my sister."
Ginny was about to cry, but to avoid it she added, "And I can't imagine what I'll say if you somehow manage to put up with that dolt on your side who I call my brother, and for some reason that I can't understand I love even if he, more often than not, is a royal pain in the neck."
That did it. Hermione chuckled, and slowly it became louder until it finally turned to laughter.
Ron looked at Ginny with respect.
When Ginny looked back at Ron she answered his unasked question. "I have had lots of practice with Harry."
At this, Hermione laughed again and said "No wonder Cho failed miserably, she never stood a chance."
"You bet!" Ginny said with a grin.
The three friends laughed at this.
"I've just had an idea," Said Ginny, cheerful.
"Should we be scared?" Asked Ron.
"I'm going to tell Bill to get married again. That way we can all enjoy ourselves without worrying."
"You want us to re-clean The Burrow for Mum? Don't count me in!" Protested Ron.
"You're not serious, are you?" Asked Hermione.
"Of course not, it would be nice to have a celebration though," Answered Ginny.
"Something to take our minds off the sorrow."
"This time Harry and I will be dancing all night long," Ginny sighed.
Ron was staring at his shoes.
"Ginny, there's something else you should know," Ron said, hesitating.
"When we were at the burrow, Harry was distant from you, because I told him to do so…"
"I told him to stay away from you," Ron didn't dare look up, he knew how her hands were at her hips, her smile had faded, how she looked so much like their mother when angry.
"So, it was your fault that he was so distant from me!" Ginny said with the kind of calm that preceded a storm, "Your fault that he would not talk to me," another threatening pause, "that we couldn't share a single dance at the wedding," and yet another pause, "we could have had a few more moments together."
"Do you have any reason for that?" she asked with fury in her eyes. Hermione was preparing for the worst, yet Ron without losing his temper and with absolute calm, just answered "Ginny, I didn't want you to get your hopes up because we knew that we probably weren't coming back."
Ginny was speechless, after a brief pause, she only managed to ask, "What?"
"What I said," he looked at her with very sad eyes, "The three of us," he paused to think how to say what was coming next, " even if we never said it out loud knew that chances were, we wouldn't be coming back alive."
Her shocked face revealed that that was not what she was expecting to hear, all anger, all signs of the coming storm had disappeared; she just walked very slowly towards her brother and with teary eyes enveloped him with the strongest hug she had ever given him.
Ron, also with teary eyes, just whispered, "You have to understand you weren't there, none of you were there," which caused even Hermione to look at him confused.
"Five years ago, when you were trapped in the chamber of secrets, we were hidden when we heard McGonagall inform the rest of the teachers what had happened. I was scared, terrified, but so was he, and back then to him you were only my sister, but you were already part of his family, can you imagine how much would it pain him to lose you now?" Ron made a pause. "Because I can really imagine how much it would pain you to lose him," Ron would not meet her eyes, "That's why he broke up with you, that's why I pushed him to be distant from you. We were trying to protect you."
That broke any resistance left in both Ginny and Hermione. They started crying.
"It was so hard for him to break with you, but he didn't have any other choice, you would have gone through hell this year."
"I know, I'd probably be dead," mumbled Ginny.
Ron kept going, there were too many things he wanted to say and felt that this was the time to do it. "When we were hiding, sometimes I wanted to run to you," he said turning to Hermione, and be with you, I could feel or at least hoped that you felt the same."
"But it wouldn't be fair, that we had each other, while Harry and Ginny had to give up on each other."
"That first night on Grimmauld Place I woke up and found that we'd been holding hands while asleep," It was Hermione's turn now, "But later I also thought on how unfair it was that you two couldn't be together," she told her best friend.
"When we were in the tent, he would take out the marauder's map, and stare for hours at what I am sure was your dot on Hogwarts."
"He never did stop thinking of you, I want you to know that," said Ron, "everything he did," he made a long pause here, "he didn't do it for fame, but you already know that. He didn't do it for revenge either; he did it so that YOU would be safe, and so that nobody else has to go through what he had to. That made it worth it to him, you would be safe."
"I guess what I'm..." he corrected himself, "What we are trying to say is that you better make him very, very happy, because if there is somebody on this planet that deserves to be happy it's him."
Her eyes were still teary, but smiling, he said, "Otherwise my dear sister, I'll make sure you pay dearly for his tears, because remember you are talking with one of the two who brought down Greyback." touching her nose menacingly with the tip of his finger.
Ginny just smiled, and while still had tears in her eyes, answered in a very self assured tone that sounded kind of Hermioneish, "We'll be very happy together, thank you, and remember I took down Bellatrix."
"Mmmh, but if I remember correctly, it was you, Luna and this pretty lady at my side, who kept her occupied until my mum FINALLY had to intervene and take care of that thing."
"Ouch!" Was everything Ron could say when two pillows crashed into him, "I guess I hit a sore spot there." He announced, triumphant, and started to laugh.
That began a pillow fight between the three of them, and even for Hogwarts it was a strange picture. In a few minutes there were feathers flying everywhere, and three teenagers were laughing and bragging to each other their achievements in the defeat of the Death Eaters.
At some time in the fight, one of them decided to use magic to multiply, animate and make the pillows fight the other two, soon enough the other two did the same, and somehow the three of them had to fight the advancing pillows they hand conjured.
Ron noticed a very fast pillow that was going to hit Hermione in the head, and when he took the hit in her stead; she looked at him with loving eyes.
Due to their distraction several pillows advanced on them, had it not been for a smirking Ginny, both of them would have been hit very hard.
"Wake up lovebirds! Real heroes don't need rescuing from pillows, you're pathetic!" Ginny called them while still laughing.
"Who are you calling pathetic? You little underage witch!" Hermione yelled at Ginny.
"This is what I did to Greyback!" Hermione used one pillow to throw several through the window with a spell.
"Yes, and he got up so my brother had to take care of him like this." Another pillow suffered the blast from Ginny's wand.
Soon enough they were again bragging to each other about their deeds in the recent fight.
It began with the Greyback pillow, they didn't notice how, but the advancing pillows were transformed in their eyes, first into death eaters, then the idiots of Fudge's ministry, and of course they also turned into Riddle and anything that had caused them grief since they began school.
Their laughter had turned to cries of hatred.
It wasn't a game any more: They were discharging all their pent up anger and fury to an enemy that no longer existed, either because it was dead, arrested or, it had escaped.
To Riddle's name they dedicated their worst insults and curses, and it felt so good to release all of their anger at something, even if it was a substitute of the real enemy.
Soon they were screaming at the top of their lungs, above all yells was a question, yet it wasn't the obvious Why? It was simply, How stupid can you be? Or more accurate, How do you dare attempt something so foolish?
The cathartic release lasted for quite a while, they just had too many things to vent, after all they had been through a lot.
Eventually both the multiplying and animating charms stopped.
Ginny, Ron and Hermione were panting, completely out of breath, yet they felt a lot better.
At some point Ginny giggled, but she didn't know why, she just felt like it, then she noticed that she could finally laugh again, and with the laughter came the realization that they didn't have to worry about tomorrow, at least not more than any average teenager witch or wizard normally did.
"What's so funny?" Ron still panting asked her.
"Today is the first day of the rest of our lives", was Ginny's answer, "and I plan to live it to the fullest."
She added, "Too bad my boyfriend is knocked out over there to really enjoy it," and laughed.
"I should wake him up and give him a good snog,"
"Don't you dare," Ron and Hermione yelled at the same time.
"Ok, just kidding."
But to Ron's displeasure she informed them, "However dear brother of mine, later today when we wake up all rested and better, you better not be near, because he sure is going to get it."
"What do you mean?" Ron's laughter had disappeared.
"He owes me a full year of snogs plus interests," Ginny pouted, and then with a nasty smirk she just added, "It's going to be so good."
Ron was livid, his face white like a ghost, and was about to protest when Hermione's laughter broke the tense moment.
Ginny joined her laughter at Ron's face.
He only managed to say, "It's not funny."
Which made them laugh even harder.
They finally stopped when Harry began to stir on his bed; at once they stood and made signs to each other telling themselves to be quiet.
Ginny headed over to Harry's side and smoothed his hair, she yawned and Ron whispered into her ear, "Don't do anything I would do." She gave her brother a mischievous smile, Hermione couldn't suppress a yawn and Ron pulled her by the arm, towards an empty bed near them.
Ginny took off her shoes and loosened her clothes a little, then scooted herself besides Harry. A tiny smirk was etched in her face, after all it wasn't everyday that a young witch slept in her boyfriend's bed in the boys dormitories, and even better, her brother Ron wasn't being a prat about it.
For a few minutes Ginny kept thinking about the latest occurrences. She was sure that they hadn't seen the last of Hermione's struggles, or Ron's, or of course Harry's. What would happen to Harry? Ginny decided she'd probably need some help; and for that, Luna and her mother both sprang to mind.
Now two thoughts came to her. The first was about her mother, what would she think if she saw her like this? The second, she questioned herself about Harry still being her boyfriend. She immediately discarded the second thought, but did worry about the first.
After some time like this, she heard Ron's snores and smiled to herself, glad that at least she wouldn't be the only one in trouble if they were discovered. A yawn escaped from her mouth, she decided to just enjoy the moment.
Harry began to stir and in his sleep he hugged her. Ginny was pleased with herself, she liked being like this, feeling very, very comfortable in bed with him.
A moment later Harry's hand touched her in a not very appropriate way, this quickly changed her train of thought. Several images rushed to mind: their first kiss, moments that they spent alone in the Hogwarts grounds, and some of possible futures, their wedding, herself pregnant with their first child, and many more images.
Harry moved again, and this time his hand landed in a definitively very inappropriate way. Thoughts of her mother returned to her mind, but had to admit that she was really enjoying Harry's intimate, albeit unconscious caress, she then concluded that perhaps they shouldn't be that comfortable, and with a smile she pulled his hand aside, thinking that at least not yet.
With a yawn her body finally claimed the sleep she owed it, and for a few hours she rested.
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