And I would be the one
To hold you down
Kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
"Possession" - Sarah McLachlan
There is something that lingers in the air. An earthy heady scent, it’s still sharp like summer, but hinting at change—one that promises shorter days and crisper nights, autumn fruit and falling leaves.
But not yet.
Now the water in the pond ripples, still wonderfully warm, with dragonflies skimming along the surface. The long grass rustles in the wind and the wild flowers sway, faces wide-open, basking in the sunlight. The summer heat has cracked dry the rutted earth under the orchard swing, and the chickens have to stab extra hard to break through the soil to find sustenance.
Still summer, still warm, still time.
But her birthday has come and gone, and now it won’t be long before she’s boarding the Hogwarts train. This year will be different, though, her last year. The school will no longer be a place of terror, but instead a place reminiscent of what it once was—students laughing, house points that actually mean something, and teachers who care about their students. Faces will be missing, and some of the corridors will look different—but the boats will still bring the first years across the lake, and the opening feast will be just as magnificent, with hundreds of glittering candles floating mid-air and the tables overflowing, groaning, with mouthwatering food.
But an ache resonates, deep under her ribs—in the pit of her stomach. And despite the fact that she will be Quidditch Captain this year, and despite the fact that Hermione is coming back to school with her—this gnawing still lingers.
She can ignore it. She can find all sorts of ways to distract the inevitable and pretend it isn’t there. But time is fleeting, and it won’t be long before she’s boarding a train and leaving the one person that she doesn’t want to leave. Ever again.
She responds automatically, though her thoughts are lost in the unruly nature of his hair. Her fingers work to smooth his wet locks, trying to tame it, yet all the while hoping they do not. The bright sunlight glints off his hair, turning its tips almost purple. Hers strikes brilliant red against it, brushing across her knuckles as she works.
The wooden pond raft that they float on dips slightly as he moves, shielding his eyes to squint up at her. She looks back at him. The water dances circles on her swimming costume, over her hands, across his face.
“You don’t have any plans tonight, do you?” Harry asks. “No large family dinners, or any last-minute shopping trips to Diagon Alley with Hermione?”
Ginny laughs in the back of her throat, and returns to her ministrations of taming the wild. She dips one foot back in the deliciously warm water, daring the fish to nibble her toes.
“Good,” he says and settles back onto her lap, closing his eyes.
He smiles a crooked smile, and it lingers behind his closed eyes. “I just don’t want this to end, that’s all.”
She kisses his forehead, smiling.
“You don’t have any plans tonight, do you?” She uses the ends of her hair to tease the tip of his nose. “No babysitting the godchild or any last minute we-must-save-the-world Auror assignments—or anything wholly unnecessary like that?”
He grins at this. “No.”
“Good,” she says, dropping the lock of her hair and kissing him, tasting the summer sun on his lips. “Perfect, then.”
They continue to float, lazy, in the center of the pond, saying very little but soaking up every moment. The sun willingly dries their skin, the dragonflies continue to entertain on the water’s surface, and the occasional fish nips at their heels dangling in the water, reminding them that they are not entirely alone.
Later they lay on the bank of the pond—she curled into him, her head on his shoulder. He draws lazy circles on the small of her back, and she falls into sleep, mind full of soft kisses and summer sun.
“Come here,” she says and he does so willingly. She guides him back against the broom shed, her body pressing fully against him. The roughhewn boards graze the back of her knuckles as she pulls him close.
There’s something about kissing him that’s incredibly addictive.
There are lingering kisses in the orchard, captured while arms overflow in fruit, and nectar is still thick and sweet on the tongue.
There are laughing full-blown, belly-aching kisses, bestowed after flinging soapy dish water—faces wet and hands still foamy with bubbles.
There are loving kisses inhaled after night flying with freezing cold lips in need of heat and the smell of cold still lingering on their skin.
Then there are soft kisses just below her ear, or on the delicate space just above her belly-button, or on the pale side of her wrist…tasting him on her lips, sweet like Butterbeer, mulled like wine, or heated like Firewhisky.
Or kisses such as now…in this moment…ones that are so honest, so real, so true…where the tangible weight of meaning lies thick enough to taste in the atmosphere surrounding them. Just them…a bubble of space; pressing in, engulfing, pulling her under, and taking her breath away.
As she moves even closer still, his fingers weave their way into the length of her hair, and an urgent need erupts within her to convince him that this—all of this—isn’t fleeting. It’s real. That he is so much a part of who she is now, that being away from him will be like loosing a limb—or worse. That waiting to see him until he finishes his Auror training will be unbearable, but that she can somehow make it through the few months at the beginning of school without seeing him, as long as they don’t lose sight of this—them—each other.
And when he breaks her impassioned kisses and looks at her with eyes full of concern mixed with awe, a shuddering breath courses through her and she simply smiles and whispers, “Don’t worry, I’m storing up my reserves.” And with a rush of skin she begins to kiss him again, and this time she makes certain that she takes his breath away.
Only a week remains before she will have to travel to King’s Cross, and he to his Auror training, and together they attend what will hopefully be the last memorial service for someone lost during the war. It isn’t a funeral, because there isn’t a body, just confirmation from a recently imprisoned Death Eater, and that is enough. The family is finally able to put closure on their grief and a memorial service is held.
Harry has gone to as many funerals and memorial services as he can, and Ginny has never let him go alone. It is painful, always, but yet it seems, despite these poignant moments, it’s worth it. People flock to Harry, their hero, still, in all their uncertainty—and just as much as they feel that way, she feels that way too. But she also knows that he needs something solid to lean against, and somehow, inexplicably, she knows that she is that to him.
And there are moments when it all becomes too much…he’s so fragile…and tormented, and in those moments…those moments…she can be the strong one, pulling him close, whispering in his ear, and wiping away any tears. A fierce desire to protect him, to shelter him, rises up within her like a possessive roar—and she knows that she will, to the very end, protect him and reassure him that all of this death, all of this destruction, all this pain, is not his fault.
And sometimes…sometimes…she thinks that she’s successful.
This memorial should be the last reminder, she hopes, the last funeral, the last service. So many lost, so many dead, there can’t possibly be any more…it isn’t fathomable. And she doesn’t know if either she or Harry could stand it if there was another funeral to attend. Another reminder of all that they have lost…and all that will never return.
She presses the lapel of his dress robes with her hands, smoothing the silken fabric, and fights back her own tears. The service is over. They stand just beyond the memorial, under the shade of old oak, twisted and strong with age. People stream out and away, and they are alone for the moment. If she dares to look up, into his eyes, her careful façade will break, and she cannot afford that, she must be strong. For him. And, setting her jaw, she knows that she can be strong, she always is—but in this moment—she can’t look at him or it will all slip away.
But he seems to know.
He lifts her chin, and automatically she crumbles before him so effortlessly. He has this effect on her, looking into the depths. She can’t hide, and she isn’t sure that she wants to anyway. Her eyes pool to the point of overflowing.
“Thank you,” he says.
“For what?” she nearly laughs, her voice cracking with wet tears. She swipes at them, wiping them away before he can. Her strength has left her, and she bemoans it. What good is she to him now? Useless.
“For being here,” he says, “always…always being here, no matter what—even when it’s painful.”
She nods. It’s all she can do, really, because if she dares to say anything further the words will come out in a rush of girly hysteria accented by silly hiccups and unstoppable tears—and she despises those things. She hides her face in his chest, pulling him close, ashamed. What has happened to her this summer? Has she become some sort of spineless sap?
His arms slink around her waist, pulling her tight to him, and holding her up. She relaxes against him, and it’s in this moment that she realizes, he doesn’t care. He doesn’t mind her tears, or the fact that she’s ruining the front of his dress robes. Not now at least, and it’s a relief really—how much have they changed—and perhaps in some ways, it is the war and its aftermath that she has to be thankful for those changes. But it’s more than just that, it’s his arms strong and sure around her, holding her, supporting her as she breathes in and breathes out.
“Ginny?” He swallows, she can feel him trying to pull back so that he can look at her, but she still holds tight to his middle, unwilling to take her face from his robes. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” She nods again, her cheek rubbing awkwardly against his chest. Squeezing him until she knows she’s forced all the breath from him. “Just—don’t go anywhere, not yet.”
“I’m not,” he says, “I won’t.”
And she knows that this is true. He isn’t going anywhere. Not this time.
He’s with her.
It’s late. The familiar sounds of evening have softened from the constant churring song of the nightjar, to that of the occasional cricket and lonely toad. A breeze blows though, rustling the leaves and the grass. It barely touches her hair, lifting wisps off her shoulders, tickling her skin, and she finds comfort in the warmth of Harry’s body. His arm is tucked around her as they sit on the crest of a hill studying the distant lights of Ottery St. Catchpole. The lights are few and twinkle intermittently, interrupted by the wind swaying across the landscape.
The nearly-full moon creates pockets of light and shadow in its attempt to reflect the sun, and the overall effect on the landscape is soothing. Harry has added additional light around them with bluebell flames that hang suspended mid-air, like a string of fairy-lights, making it easier for her to see the contours of his face when she looks at him, where, precisely, the length of his leg touches hers, and how exactly their hands lie intertwined on her lap.
The train to Hogwarts departs in the morning. Harry plans to go with her to the station, but they both know that they will have no privacy there…no moment all their own, and that tonight, this night, will be their real goodbye. And neither of them can say it, nor do they want to, and the ache that encompasses them is palpable. Just as palpable as the breeze that blows, and the stars that twinkle in the night sky.
Ginny nudges her new broom with the toe of her shoe. It lies on the ground in front of her just beside Harry’s, and as the two brooms come in contact with one another, they hum a soft sound that is soothing. Magical.
“You’ll let me know when the first Hogsmeade weekend is, yeah?” Harry asks, breaking the silence.
“And the first Quidditch match, too?”
“And you’ll write—yes?” Ginny presses him in return. “And let me know how training is going?”
“And if Ron is being a git?”
Harry laughs at this, and she leans up, nuzzling his cheek.
“Yeah, of course I will.”
They both sigh and the moment hangs heavy in front of them, like the last page of a book you never want to turn.
“Can we just—”
“Why is this so hard?” Ginny interrupts him with a moan, letting her head fall back against his shoulder. “It shouldn’t be, really, should it? I mean we’ve had to say goodbye loads of times before. And it isn’t as if we won’t see each other again or anything—there’s no impending threat, no mortal danger—it’s just that it’s—”
“It’s different this time.”
He finishes for her, and she nods.
“Yeah, a lot different.”
She can feel him breathe in and out, touching the top of her hair with his lips. And then he pulls away, turning to face her, the warmth of his side vanishing like a limb missing, but it is replaced by him pulling her to him and onto his lap. She settles there, willingly, wrapping her legs around him, resting her calves behind him on the ground. His arms tighten around her once again, and he lets his forehead falls against hers.
“This summer has been—”
“Yeah,” Ginny sighs, inhaling the soft scent of him. “I know.”
“I don’t want it to end.” He brushes his hand along her jaw-line and into her hair.
She looks up into his eyes, which are black in the dim blue light. “I don’t want summer to end, either.”
“No—what I mean is, I don’t want this—” He gestures from her chest to his in the small space between them. “To end.”
The weight of his words lie heavy in the air around them, and for a moment, the whole world holds its breath. Ginny’s heart races as she swallows.
“Oh?” Her voice is lost, barely audible, as if coming from a far off place.
“No, not ever.”
Harry’s voice is strong and sure, and she is nearly overwhelmed by the intensity of his gaze meeting hers.
The distance between them is shrinking—miniscule now—and his breath lightly brushes her lips.
“Do you really see?”
“Yes, I think I do.”
The last whisper of space between them vanishes, and she’s kissing him—searching, looking, longing to find the answer—to find him. It comes unexpectedly as he shifts course, twining his fingers deep into her hair, and taking over, overwhelming her with so much passion that she can’t possibly imagine living without tasting his lips, always. And she’s falling, falling, deep within herself—never to resurface because it feels so right to be there, to be in that sacred place with him.
She isn’t quite certain what she wants to hear. Perhaps…maybe…that she is beautiful, that she is cherished, that she is loved—and then, unexpectedly, she does. She hears them all in the simple evocation of her name on his lips, and her heart swells to the point of breaking.
Her breathing comes in waves, and it overwhelms her, pulling her under, and there’s something else inside her that chinks away—gives way—this last standing wall, the last remains of her inner defense. It is substantial and powerful, but it surrenders softly, like a sigh. She feels vulnerable now, but safe, and he holds everything—right there in the palm of his hand. He is hers and she is his, and there’s no place else that she would rather be.
“Don’t leave me,” he says, breaking their kiss and murmuring into her hair. He inhales deeply and Ginny feels him shiver as he holds her. “Not ever—please—I couldn’t stand it if…just… please…”
His last words are so faint and fragile that she barely hears it, but they register so deep within her that she nearly dies from the power of it and she knows…without hesitation…she knows… he isn’t speaking about her departure on the train tomorrow, he’s asking for something much bigger, much more complicated…fathoms…no…worlds deeper.
She twists her fingers into the back of his hair and pulls him even closer still, fully intertwined. And she knows that despite her departure tomorrow, in the grand scheme of things, it will not matter because they will always be pulled back together, to each other, like magnets, and it gives her freedom. Freedom to let go of her longing ache, her gnawing fear of time running out once more, and for her heart to cry:
Because she has never felt so certain about anything in her life: She is his.
“I promise,” she whispers.
He pulls loose from her grip so that he can look her in the eyes. Something lingers in his gaze, something that she hasn’t ever seen before, something so earnest, so pure. It’s as if he is looking at something sacred…beautiful…her…for the first time, and again, once more, all the breath in her being evaporates.
This is real, and with its surety comes the knowing.
And without fanfare—without falling rose petals or swooping doves—she caresses his cheek, looking up into the pale reflected light of his eyes and says with a look of fire that she hopes he can see.