The End of the Beginning

Chapter 41

Ron watched Harry go with a grin on his face.

"George, take over? I need to go find Ginny." Ron stood up.

"She's cooled off about that spat you had so don't spoil it." George slid into Ron's vacant spot, talking over his shoulder.

"I'll keep it in mind." Ron shut the door behind him. He could hear Celestina Warbeck floating up the stairs, which would mean Ginny was going to be in her room. He climbed the steps to the next landing and knocked on the door.

"Come in."

Ron opened the door. Ginny was sitting on her floor sorting through photos. "Hey Ginny, what are you doing?"

"Trying to find the best pictures for the scrapbook Mum gave me for Christmas." She picked up one of her, Fred and George making faces in Diagon Alley. Smiling, she put it on top of a small pile to her right.

"Listen Ginny, I'm sorry about our fight." Ron took a seat across from her.

Ginny sighed. "Me too. I know you were just trying to help."

"Yeah, well I never have been much good at that." Ron chuckled.

"It's the thought that counts." Ginny laughed. "Besides, I think I'm slowly coming to terms with it. Mum wants the best for me….for us." She gave him a significant look. "Thing is, I'm the only one who really knows what's best for me. You know?"

"Yeah. I do." Ron smiles, coming to that conclusion wasn't easy for him either. "It makes things a lot simpler, let me tell you."

"I get it now." Ginny looked intently at him, "I really wondered why you seemed so relieved when you came back and you and Hermione were just friends. You seemed happy and I just couldn't get it."

"Sure I was sad at first." Ron shrugged, "But eventually I understood that it was what was best for everyone. Even if it broke Mum's heart not to have Hermione officially in the family."

"Yeah." Ginny lets out a breath. "So, what brings you up here? I know you didn't quit your game just to come apologize."

"How did you…."

"Come on Ron. I can hear you all. These walls aren't made of stone you know."

Ron thought about all the things he had heard come out of Fred and George's room over the years. "Point taken."

"So what's up?"

"Well," Ron paused, unsure of how to broach the subject. "Hermione sent her patronus after Harry a few minutes ago."

"And?"

"Well, you remember from D.A. meetings that it was an otter right?"

"Yes, what's your point?"

"Well now it's something else. A doe." Ron watched his sister pause midway through picking up a photo.

"A doe?" Ginny asked quietly.

"Yeah. You remember what Hermione told us about patronuses and what could make them change?"

"Yeah, I do." Ginny nodded. "So are they, like, together now?"

"I don't know." Ron shook his head, "But I don't think it will be long now. Hermione has felt this way for a while, but I think you knew that already."

Ginny let out a long breath. "Yes I have. I thought for a while that it was a one way street, but I couldn't keep denying the way Harry looked at her." Her eyes began to water and Ron shoved the photo album out of the way to scoot closer. Ginny stared at the wall to her left and Ron saw her swallow hard.

"Ginny…"

"I want them to be happy, I do." Ginny wiped her eyes, "But damn it I loved him."

"I know you did." Ron spoke soothingly, "But you can't force these kinds of things. Think of how miserable we would all be if we did."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"You're going to be okay. You're a beautiful girl and some guy will be really lucky to have you. If I don't hex him first." Ron smiled. "Hermione is your best friend and this is going to make her so happy. Harry too."

Ginny kept staring at her wall, tears gently falling down her cheeks. "Can I be alone Ron?" she whispers.

"Yeah. Always here if you need me." Ron stood up and made his way to the door.

"I know." She whispered behind him.

Ron closed the door softly behind him.

Poor girl. He thought to himself. I hate to see her so upset, but this is how things are supposed to be.

Ron made his way back downstairs to watch his brothers, who had retired the board game in favor of exploding snap. In the back of his mind he pictured his sister in her room crying and for a brief moment felt his confidence waver, but he couldn't be convinced that the patronus he saw come gliding in earlier wasn't a confirmation of something he had known for months now.

There was no one on earth who could match up to Harry when it came to Hermione and if the boy would just open his eyes, he would realize that no one meant as much to Harry as Hermione did.

He had watched them for years. Seen the looks they gave one another. Heard them finish each other's sentences and complete each other's thoughts. He had seen the devotion spilling from Hermione's eyes and the contentment on Harry's face.

He'd spent so much time being jealous and looking after what he thought he wanted that it hadn't dawned on him until this past summer that there really wasn't any other way things could be.

It was what was best for everyone. And they would be so bloody happy together, if only the two bludger heads would get around to admitting it.

Just then, Harry walked in and there was snow on his jacket, his hair was a mess and he had a huge grin plastered across his face.

It's about damn time.

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