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dancing in the desert in the pouring rain

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It’s Ginny’s fourth year when she first sees two girls kissing. She’s heading to the locker rooms to change before practice, and she gets there early so she’ll have time to get warmed up on her own, but no sooner does she walk through the door than she sees Katie and Alicia together, pressed against one of the walls. Ginny’s stomach does a flip, which she doesn’t even want to try to interpret, and she feels like she’s intruding on something, so she quickly turns and leaves the locker room before being seen. She could warm up with the rest of the team.

It’s also Ginny’s fourth year when she kisses a boy for the first time. Michael’s nice enough, and a decent kisser, not that she’s got anything really to compare it to. Michael’s kisses are wet, and there’s a lot of tongue involved, which Ginny doesn’t love, especially because Michael doesn’t seem to know exactly what to do with his tongue, just that he’s supposed to use it. So it’s kind of… thrashing around in there, and Michael’s pressing himself up against Ginny, and he’s actually a little rough. Ginny isn’t enjoying it, exactly, but she pushes back against him anyway, thinking a little of Alicia and Katie, and then banishing that thought from her mind.

That’s how it is with Michael. All rough, wet, kisses, with too much tongue. But Ginny enjoys the attention he gives her. She savors the little looks he shoots her, though she ignores the fact that they’re not the same looks her father gives her mother, but more… hungry than warm and loving. And that they were often followed by Michael pushing her against some wall or bookcase, and then going at her with his tongue.
He’s nice enough. They don’t talk much, really. It’s mostly snogging with Michael. Ginny isn’t sure how she feels about that. She says as much to Luna one day, when they’re sitting by the lake together. Luna looks at her thoughtfully.

“It sounds like you don’t appreciate his style of kissing very much,” Luna says, her voice soft. Ginny supposes it’s true.

“I guess not,” She says.

“And you said it’s not much more than that. Mostly kissing.”

“Well, it isn’t.”

“So the thing you do with him the most, you don’t enjoy,” Luna says. Ginny frowns.“Well, I wouldn’t say that, exactly…”

“Mmm,” Luna said, and when Ginny didn’t reply, she began talking about some creature her father had featured in the Quibbler, but Ginny was still mulling over what Luna had told her. She did like being with Michael… didn’t she?

She didn’t end up breaking up with Michael until the end of the year. She would’ve broken up with him sooner, if it weren’t for Ron’s stubborn insistence that she was too good for him. What Luna had said back at the lake had definitely stuck with her, and Michael’s sulking after the quidditch match had sealed everything. Almost as soon as she’d broken up with Michael, she starts dating Dean Thomas.

Dean is a much better kisser than Michael. He’s more gentle, and doesn’t use his tongue at all, which Ginny is grateful for. He’s sweet to her, and gives her much more adoring looks than Michael ever gave her. She can’t say the same of Dean’s best friend, Seamus, though. Whenever she and Dean are together and within Seamus’s field of vision, she can feel his eyes boring into her. She isn’t sure what his problem is, but she mentions it to Luna anyway, one day, while they’re picking flowers on the lawn. Luna sighs thoughtfully.

“Well, Dean is his best friend. And maybe, since Dean’s been dating you… he’s been spending less time with Seamus. I’m sure it’s nothing against you, Ginny. When you get jealous, the wrackspurts make it almost impossible to be rational,” She says, and Ginny smiles in spite of herself.

“Yeah, that’s probably it… thanks, Luna,” She said. Luna only smiled back at her, and continued gathering flowers.

After that, Ginny makes sure to include Seamus in their conversations. Not that she’d been purposely ignoring him or anything, but she supposed it would be hard if your best friend started dating someone. You’d have to figure out where you stood. She thought about how she’d feel if Luna got a boyfriend, and her stomach twisted unexpectedly, and altogether uncomfortably. If that was what it felt like imagining your best friend in a relationship, she could only imagine how it felt living it. So she brought Seamus into their relationship, and he warmed up to her.

Almost as soon as he does, though, Dean starts to get… distant. Ginny notices him staring past her a lot of the time when they’re sitting together in the Great Hall, or in the common room. He’s not nearly as subtle as he thinks he is, and she follows his gaze to Seamus. Ginny’s not an idiot, and she can put two and two together. Dean was clearly at least crushing on his best friend, if not more. And thinking about it, Seamus clearly felt the same. Ginny suddenly feels as if she were in the way of something that she was not meant to be there for, so when someone shoves her who she knows definitely isn’t Dean, she uses it as an excuse to break up with him.

It takes them a few weeks, but Ginny’s studying in the common room one evening, and she looks up to see Dean and Seamus holding hands and Dean gazing at Seamus lovingly. It’s a different look than he’d ever given Ginny, and she’s happy for them both.

Harry kisses her during the Quidditch victory party, and it’s all she’s ever wanted. She’s had a crush on Harry for years, the boy who lived, then Ron’s best mate, and then just Harry. Of course, when she was dating Michael and Dean, he wasn’t exactly the first thing on her mind, but she had to admit, her feelings for him had never gone away completely. So kissing him is all of those years of pining realized.

And he’s a fantastic kisser, and then they start dating and kissing more, and it’s nothing like Michael or Dean at all. They talk, really talk, about things that matter, like You-Know-Who and the conflict that they both knew was coming and when Ron and Hermione were finally going to get their act together and realize they were head over heels in love. With Michael, it had mostly been quidditch talk, and with Dean, the conversation was more friendly than meaningful, but Harry… he feels right.

Only something doesn’t feel right. Not quite.

Before she can figure out what that thing is, though, Dumbledore is dead, and Harry is breaking up with her, and then she spends several weeks moping, mostly talking to Luna, and occasionally her family, but honestly, they could be smothering sometimes. Luna knew just how much space to give her, and she loved the blonde for it.

She perks up for Bill and Fleur’s wedding, because although she might have been in a bit of a slump, this was her brother’s wedding, and damn if she wasn’t going to be in a good mood for it. Before the wedding she kisses Harry again, though she knows she shouldn’t. But honestly, that hadn’t exactly stopped her before. Her good mood is shattered when the wedding is crashed, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione go missing. She returns to school in spite of it all. This is her chance to prove herself, she tells herself as she steps onto the Hogwarts express and waves to her family on the platform. The atmosphere on the train is different this year, and everyone feels it. She finds a compartment with Luna, Neville, Seamus, Lavender, Anthony Goldstein, Ernie Macmillan, and the Parvati twins, their faces grim. Ginny is pressed between Neville and Luna. Ginny notes Dean’s absences with a start, but after looking at Seamus’s lost expression, she decides not to mention it.

That’s when it hits her. They’re going to have to fight this year. And there was no Dumbledore to inspire them, no Harry, Ron, or Hermione to lead them. Hell, now she was the only member of her family attending Hogwarts. She straightened.

“Things are going to be different this year. We know that,” She said. All the eyes in the compartment were drawn to her.

“They’re going to be terrible,” Seamus says dejectedly, and Ginny’s heart aches for him. Dean was his constant, and now… Merlin knows where he was.

“We’re going to have to fight back. Dumbledore’s Army,” She says firmly. Neville frowns.

“But… Harry’s gone,” He says. Luna nods.

“Yes. But isn’t this what he’s been training us for all along? A war?” The word hangs heavy in the air, because there’s no denying what this had become. They were at war now.

“You’re right. But… who’ll lead us?” Neville asks. Ginny looks at him for a moment, before making a decision.

“You will.”

“What?” Neville asks incredulously.

“You’re going to lead us. You’re one of the bravest and smartest people I know, Neville. If anyone can lead us, it’s you.”

“I… but what about you?”

“What about me?”

“Well, you’re… brave and smart too. And determined. And you don’t hesitate to stand up for what’s right. Plus, you sort of started leading us just now,” Neville says. Ginny frowns, considering this.

“Why don’t you lead together?” Comes Luna’s voice to her right.

“That’s a good idea,” Says Anthony, and the others in the carriage voice their agreement. Neville and Ginny glance at each other, equally surprised, before Ginny accepts that they could make a good team. They could definitely balance each other out. She nods slowly.

“Alright. We’ll lead together, on one condition,” Ginny says, and Neville seems okay with it, so she keeps going.

“What’s that?” Luna asks.

“That you lead with us. You’ve got all these good ideas, Luna. That’s something we’re going to need,” Ginny says. Luna looks surprised for a moment, before nodding.

“Okay. I’d love to help in any way possible.”

And that’s how their rebellion starts. The year is, in reality, much worse than any of them had anticipated. The Carrows are brutal, and the new curriculum is horribly prejudiced and dark, and the responsibility of leading a resistance, even when divided among three people, is a lot to take on. Ginny finds herself taking the fall often, and she isn’t the only one, which is what really hurts her. She tells Luna one night, after Neville and Seamus had been caught attempting to smuggle a pair of second years away from the Carrows, that she’d rather be the only one getting tortured. Luna looks at her, eyes deep and feeling and sympathetic and adoring and in pain all at the same time, and Ginny wonders for a moment how one person can hold so much inside them.

“You’re a good person, Ginny,” Luna says after a moment, and Ginny laughs dryly.

“I try. But that doesn’t make me a good person, Luna. It’s selfish, honestly. It hurts me to see other people hurt,” She says, and Luna looks at her again with those eyes, now slightly amused and twinkling despite everything.

“That’s what makes you good, though. If it hurts when people are suffering, it means you care about them. That’s good. Plus, I have a sense for good people. And nargles. Good people and good nargles. I think it’s because they’re rare. Good nargles, not good people. Good people are everywhere, if you look for them,” Luna says matter-of-factly, and Ginny has to pause for a moment. Because here is Luna, a child, in the middle of a war, one that is being fought with children, believing in the good in the world. The good in her. And not just that, but believing in an abundance of it.

“You are… something else, Luna.”

“I know I am. So are you, Ginny,” Luna replies, and Ginny ignores the way her stomach flips. There are more pressing things to worry about, like Neville and Seamus.

Time goes on, and Ginny notices scars adding up on her body from many disciplinary sessions. She knows that someday, these scars might be a reminder of something she wouldn’t want to think about, but now? They’re a badge of pride. They’re proof that she’s fighting back.

She and Neville attempt to steal the sword of Gryffindor together the next week. They have a rough plan, which they, of course, don’t stick to, and they’re caught and sentenced to detention with Hagrid, which isn’t as bad as it could have been.

She says goodbye to everyone before Christmas break, and spends the holidays with her family, although Christmas and New Years are forgotten almost completely in favor of planning and preparing and fear. She returns to school on edge, and her stomach drops when Luna doesn’t return. She spends a lot of time with Neville and Seamus now, with Seamus stepping into a leadership role now that Luna was… missing. So they listen to Potterwatch and they write graffiti on the walls and they stand up for the other students and get punished for it, and the days blend together. Ginny thinks with resentment how terrible it is, what the Carrows are doing.

“It’s twisted, is what it is,” She says furiously to Seamus and Neville and Lavender one evening in the room of requirement, “Hogwarts was a safe haven. They have no right… no fucking right to come into our home and turn it into something like this.”

“It’s disgusting,” Seamus adds, and the others nod in agreement. Then they return to their various tasks. Conversation has been difficult lately. There’s not much pleasant to talk about. It’s draining Ginny. She misses her family. There was never a shortage of conversation with them. She misses Harry, and the hours they spent talking about anything and everything. And she misses Luna. Luna, with her inspirational words and ability to see the good in everything, while still acknowledging that things are bad. She catches other members of the DA shooting her sympathetic looks, the same kind they give Seamus, and she ignores what it means. She ignores everything that isn’t surviving and helping the other students. They’re at war. There’s no time to think about… whatever this was.

Over Easter break, Ron is discovered and the Weasleys have to go into hiding. It’s torture, worse than what she endured with the Carrows, to be separated from the DA, sitting around doing nothing at Aunt Muriel’s. Because, of course, nobody lets her help with anything, and she’s back to being useless. The youngest Weasley. The girl Weasley. She hated it. She wanted to be Ginny who fought back and helped people.

When she gets word from Neville through the enchanted galleons that her brother and his friends are back at Hogwarts, she knows what that means. This is their final stand. She arrives with her brothers and Lee and Cho. She greets Hermione, Harry, and Ron enthusiastically, and then she sees her. Luna. Suddenly, she’s bounding toward her friend and wrapping her in possibly the tightest hug she’s ever given. Luna laughs airily, and Ginny does the same. For a moment, it’s like the war doesn’t exist.

“I’m so glad you’re okay. I was worried sick,” She says, and Luna laughs.

“I was worried about you, too. Harry and Ron and Hermione saved me though,” She says, smiling at them over Ginny’s shoulder. Ginny finally turns to the rest of the room. It’s time to fight.

Her mother, of course, wouldn’t allow her to fight. Percy had returned, and apologized to all of them, which had made her happy, but pacing in the room of requirement, she couldn’t feel satisfied. She couldn’t stand it, just sitting in the room of requirement as people- her friends- died just outside. When Harry gives her an excuse to get out of the room, she takes it gladly, darting out of the room and into the fray. It’s… terrifying, to be honest.. Yet Ginny feels prepared. Wizards and witches are falling around her, and curses and hexes and jinxes fly freely, but Ginny finds a rhythm among the chaos. She works her way to Tonks, who is the first person she recognizes in the chaos.

People are dying around her and Ginny is suddenly overwhelmed by how this war is being fought with children, at a school, and suddenly she’s separated from Tonks and fighting alone, firing off hexes and jinxes. She glances around, searching the crowd for threats or familiar faces but everyone blends together until her eyes find Michael dueling a Death Eater. She moves toward him, but is sidetracked by another Death Eater, and by the time she’s dealt with them, Michael is lost again in the crowd.

Ginny fights in a blur, aware of how close she is to death, but she persists until Voldemort’s voice (it sends shivers down her spine, and she can’t help but think of the diary) booms out an hour long ceasefire. She heads toward the Great Hall. As soon as she enters, she’s drawn to a group bearing her own red hair huddled around a body. She doesn’t think, only moves, until she’s standing with them and looking down at her older brother. The brother who had let her play pranks with him, and practiced quidditch with her, and cracked jokes over dinner, dead. A sob forces its way out of her throat, and someone pulls her into their side.

Time passes quickly, and they return to fighting. It doesn’t go on for very long, when the voice that bores into Ginny like wicked icicles echoes around the school again, and suddenly, everyone is crowding outside, because it can’t be possible, Harry can’t be dead, he can’t-

“Harry Potter is dead. He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him. We bring you his body as proof that your hero is gone. The battle is won. You have lost half of your fighters. My Death Eaters outnumber you, and the Boy Who Lived is finished. There must be no more war. Anyone who continues to resist, man, woman or child, will be slaughtered, as well every member of their family. Come out of the castle now, kneel before him, and you shall be spared. Your parents and children, your brothers and sisters will live and be forgiven, and you will join me in the new world we shall build together.”

But there he is. She hears someone scream, and she could’ve sworn that it was Professor McGonagall, only she’d never heard her make any sound like that, only now Harry was dead, and-

Bellatrix’s laughter cuts through the air now, and Ginny wants nothing more than to step forward and fight both her and Voldemort herself. She hears Ron and Hermione, and she lets out a scream of her own.

“Harry. HARRY!” Suddenly, everyone is shouting, until Voldemort calls for silence. There’s a loud flash, and then the silence washes over them like a wave.

"You see? Says Voldemort, striding backward and forward beside the place where Harry lay. "Harry Potter is dead! Do you understand now, deluded ones? He was nothing, ever, but a boy who relied on others to sacrifice themselves for him!"

"He beat you!" Yells Ron, and Ginny has never been prouder to call him her brother. Suddenly, the charm breaks, and the defenders of Hogwarts are shouting and screaming again until a second, more powerful bang extinguishes their voices again.

"He was killed while trying to sneak out of the castle grounds," says Voldemort smugly, but that was a lie and both the crowd and he knew it, "killed while trying to save himself-"

But Voldemort breaks off as Neville pushes forward to charge toward him. Ginny’s heart drops as Neville was disarmed. Please, no. First Fred, then Harry… she couldn’t handle losing Neville too.

"And who is this? Voldemort almost hisses, and Ginny’s blood boils. "Who has volunteered to demonstrate what happens to those who continue to fight when the battle is lost?"

Bellatrix gives a delighted laugh.

"It is Neville Longbottom, my Lord! The boy who has been giving the Carrows so much trouble! The son of the Aurors, remember?"

 

"Ah, yes, I remember," says Voldemort, looking down at Neville, who’s struggling back to his feet, like Ginny had seen him do so many times, unarmed and unprotected, standing in the between the survivors and the Death Eaters. "But you are a pureblood, aren't you, my brave boy? Voldemort asked Neville, who stands facing him, looking defiant and more than a little scared, hands balled into fists. Neville’s a fighter, and Ginny has never been prouder of him, nor has she ever been so scared for him.

"So what if I am?" Says Neville loudly.

"You show spirit and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom."

"I'll join you when hell freezes over," says Neville. "Dumbledore's Army!”, and Ginny joined the resounding cheer from the crowd.

”Very well," Says Voldemort, "If that is your choice, Longbottom, we revert to the original plan. On your head, be it."

Voldemort waves his wand. Seconds later, out of one of the castle's newly shattered windows, something that looks like a misshapen bird flew through the half light and lands directly in Voldemort's hand. Ginny recognizes it with a start as the Sorting Hat, and her stomach churns. Voldemort shouldn’t be touching that hat-

"There will be no more Sorting at Hogwarts School," says Voldemort, "There will be no more Houses. The emblem, shield and colors of my noble ancestor, Salazar Slytherin, will suffice everyone. Won't they, Neville Longbottom?"

Ginny holds her breath. She wants nothing more than to charge forward herself as Voldemort points his wand at Neville, who stiffens. Boney, pale fingers force the hat onto Neville’s head, and it slips below his eyes. She can’t stand and do nothing. She moves forward, but she isn’t the only one, and the crowd is held back by several Death Eaters’ poised wands.

"Neville here is now going to demonstrate what happens to anyone foolish enough to continue to oppose me," Says Voldemort, and with a flick of his wand, the Sorting Hat burst into flames. Ginny screams as Neville, aflame unable to move, did exactly that.

And then many things began to happen at once.

What sounds like a thousand cries are heard as people pour out to attack, and Grawp thunders toward the crowd as well, scattering the Death Eaters. But what Ginny notices is Neville breaking free of the Body-Bind-Curse, the hat falling to the ground, and Neville reaching into it and drawing out a silver blade with a ruby handle. Ginny whoops, as he’d finally succeeded at getting the sword they’d tried to capture months ago. In a single stroke, Neville raises his arm and brought it down on Nagini’s head as Voldemort screamed in fury.

Ginny, charging forward to protect Neville now, hears Hagrid’s recognizable scream.

"HARRY! HARRY- WHERE'S HARRY?"

She glances at the place where Harry’s body had been laying, and sure enough, it’s gone. She has a glimmer of hope that she forces down, that maybe, maybe, Harry had made it out. She knew this was irrational, though, and focused on the battle at hand. Everyone is pushed back into the castle by the approaching crowd.

It’s utter chaos, screaming and shouting and the sounds spells flying and of bodies falling reign. Ginny finds herself casting hexes and jinxes left and right as she fights her way into the crowded Great Hall, where the majority of the battle seems to have moved. She reaches Luna and Hermione as they duel Bellatrix and steps forward, eager to get a crack at the woman who had tortured Neville’s parents and killed Harry’s godfather and so many more good people. The four duel viciously, but Bellatrix evenly matches the three of them together, and Ginny is the most scared she’s ever been as a flash of green light arcs out of Bellatrix’s wand toward her. She can feel the air crackle as it misses her by inches, and she’s about to retaliate when she hears a roar from behind her.

“NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!” Comes the voice of her own mother, and when she tells the girls to step back, they oblige. Her mother is the most focused and furious Ginny’s ever seen her, as her wand twirls and Bellatrix’s grin turns to a snarl. A few students rush forward to assist, Anthony being one of them, but Ginny’s mother waves them back.

“No! Get back! Get back! She is mine!” She cries, and Ginny is so, so proud of her family.

Most of the individual fights have mostly ceased, and everyones’ eyes are on her mother and Bellatrix or Voldemort, McGonagall, Slughorn, and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Ginny can’t draw her attention away from her mother for a moment, though, and she finds herself pressed against Luna’s side, with Hermione’s arm against her back.

"What will happen to your children when I've killed you?” Taunts Bellatrix, cackling, "When Mummy's gone the same way as Freddie?"

Ginny’s blood boils again, and her grip on her wand tightens. Hermione and Luna press closer to her, and Ginny is overwhelmed with contempt for Bellatrix and Voldemort and Death Eaters, and love for her family and friends.

"You - will - never - touch - our - children - again!" Screams Ginny’s mother, and Bellatrix leans her head back and cackles, and Ginny recognizes it as the same expression Sirius had worn as he died. She predicts what’s going to happen a moment before it occurs, and sees the curse soar from her mother’s wand and hit the woman directly over her heart. The woman’s eyes bulge and her form freezes for a moment before she topples fully to the floor.

Voldemort lets out a terrible scream, and with a flash his three opponents are thrown backwards, and he’s charging toward her mother, pointing his wand at HER MOTHER, and Ginny’s drawing her wand when-

“Protego!”

Ginny looks for the source of the charm that saved her mother’s life and sees none other than Harry Potter standing defiantly in the middle of the Great Hall, wand drawn. She shouts his name, and is joined by countless others. He wasn’t dead after all. Her little spark of hope had blossomed.

"I don't want anyone else to help," Harry says loudly, "It's got to be like this. It's got to be me."

Voldemort hissed.

"Potter doesn't mean that," he says, his red eyes wide. "This isn't how he works, is it? Who are you going to use as a shield today, Potter?"

"Nobody," says Harry simply. "There are no more Horcruxes. It's just you and me. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good.”

"One of us?" Jeers Voldemort, looking like a snake about to strike. "You think it will be you, do you, the boy who has survived by accident, and because Dumbledore was pulling the strings?"

"Accident, was it, when my mother died to save me?" Asks Harry. The two circle each other, and Ginny’s breathe catches in her throat as she realizes what, exactly she’s witnessing. She’s witnessing what looks to be the final battle of the Second Wizarding War. "Accident, when I decided to fight in that graveyard? Accident, that I didn't defend myself tonight, and still survived, and returned to fight again?"

"Accidents!" Screams Voldemort, but still he makes no move to attack, and Ginny holds her breath still. “Accident and chance and the fact that you crouched and sniveled behind the skirts of greater men and women, and permitted me to kill them for you!"

"You won't be killing anyone else tonight," says Harry as they circle, and stare into each other's eyes, green into red. "You won't be able to kill any of them ever again. Don't you get it? I was ready to die to stop you from hurting these people-"

"But you did not!"

"-meant to, and that's what did it. I've done what my mother did. They're protected from you. Haven't you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can't torture them. You can't touch them. You don't learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?"

"You dare -"

"Yes, I dare," Says Harry. "I know things you don't know, Tom Riddle. I know lots of important things that you don't. Want to hear some, before you make another big mistake?"

"Is it love again?" Says Voldemort, and Ginny has forgotten how to breathe at this point. "Dumbledore favorite solution, love, which he claimed conquered death, though love did not stop him falling from the tower and breaking like an old waxwork? Love, which did not prevent me stamping out your Mudblood mother like a cockroach, Potter- and nobody seems to love you enough to run forward this time and take my curse. So what will stop you dying now when I strike?"

"Just one thing," Says Harry, and Ginny frowns, trying to figure out what Harry has up his sleeve.

"If it is not love that will save you this time," Says Voldemort, “You must believe that you have magic that I do not, or else a weapon more powerful than mine?"

"I believe both," says Harry, and though briefly shocked, Voldemort begins to laugh, his shrill expression of amusement echoing around the silent hall. Ginny wants nothing more than to step forward and put herself between Voldemort and Harry, but remembers Harry’s request that no one intervene.

"You think you know more magic than I do?" Voldemort says. "Than I, than Lord Voldemort, who has performed magic that Dumbledore himself never dreamed of?"

"Oh he dreamed of it, but he knew more than you, knew enough not to do what you've done."

"You mean he was weak!" Screams Voldemort. "Too weak to dare, too weak to take what might have been his, what will be mine!"

"No, he was cleverer than you," Says Harry, "a better wizard, a better man."

"I brought about the death of Albus Dumbledore!"

"You thought you did," says Harry, "but you were wrong."

Ginny frowns in disbelief as those around her muttered indistinctly. What does Harry know?

"Dumbledore is dead!" Voldemort hurls the words at Harry, “In the marble tomb in the grounds of this castle, I have seen it, Potter, and he will not return!"

"Yes, Dumbledore is dead," Says Harry calmly, "but you didn't have him killed. He chose his own manner of dying, chose it months before he died, arranged the whole thing with the man you thought was your servant."

"What childish dream is this?" Says Voldemort, but still he did not strike, and his red eyes do not waver from Harry's.

"Severus Snape wasn't yours," Says Harry. "Snape was Dumbledore's. Dumbledore's from the moment you starting hunting down my mother. And you never realized it, because of the thing you can't understand. You never saw Snape cast a Patronus, did you, Riddle?"

Voldemort does not answer. They continue to circle each other like wolves about to tear each other apart.

"Snape's Patronus was a doe," Says Harry, “The same as my mother's, because he loved her for nearly all of his life, from the time when they were children. You should have realized," He says as he sees Voldemort's nostrils flare, “He asked you to spare her life, didn't he?"

"He desired her, that was all," Sneers Voldemort, "but when she had gone, he agreed that there were other women, and of purer blood, worthier of him-"

"Of course he told you that,” Says Harry, "but he was Dumbledore's spy from the moment you threatened her, and he's been working against you ever since! Dumbledore was already dying when Snape finished him!"

Harry had certainly pulled out something unexpected.

"It matters not!" shrieks Voldemort, who had been following every word with rapt attention, but now let out a cackle of mad laughter. "It matters not whether Snape was mine or Dumbledore's, or what petty obstacles they tried to put in my path! I crushed them as I crushed your mother, Snape's supposed great love! Oh, but it all makes sense, Potter, and in ways that you do not understand! Dumbledore was trying to keep the Elder Wand from me! He intended that Snape should be the true master of the wand! But I got there ahead of you, little boy- I reached the wand before you could get your hands on it, I understood the truth before you caught up. I killed Severus Snape three hours ago, and the Elder Wand, the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny is truly mine! Dumbledore's last plan went wrong, Harry Potter!"

 

"Yeah, it did." Says Harry. "You're right. But before you try to kill me, I'd advise you think what you've done… Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle…”

"What is this?"

"It's your one last chance," Says Harry, "it's all you've got left… I've seen what you'll be otherwise… Be a man… try… Try for some remorse…”

“You dare-?” Says Voldemort again.

“Yes, I dare,” Says Harry, “because Dumbledore’s last plan hasn’t backfired on me at all. It’s backfired on you, Riddle.”

Voldemort’s hand trembles on the Elder Wand, and Harry grips Draco’s very tightly. Ginny watches intensely, knowing that whatever Harry had planned was about to be realized.

“That wand still isn’t working properly for you because you murdered the wrong person. Severus Snape was never the true master of the Elder Wand. He never defeated Dumbledore.”

“He killed- ”

“Aren’t you listening? Snape never beat Dumbledore! Dumbledore’s death was planned between them! Dumbledore intended to die, undefeated, the wand’s last true master! If all had gone as planned, the wand’s power would have died with him, because it had never been won from him!”

“But then, Potter, Dumbledore as good as gave me the wand!” Voldemort’s voice shakes with malicious pleasure that made Ginny want to wince. “I stole the wand from its last master’s tomb! I removed it against the last master’s wishes! Its power is mine!”

“You still don’t get it, Riddle, do you? Possessing the wand isn’t enough! Holding it, using it, doesn’t make it really yours. Didn’t you listen to Ollivander? The wand chooses the wizard…The Elder Wand recognized a new master before Dumbledore died, someone who never even laid a hand on it. The new master removed the wand from Dumbledore against his will, never realizing exactly what he had done, or that the world’s most dangerous wand had given him its allegiance…”

“The true master of the Elder Wand was Draco Malfoy.”

What. The. Fuck.

“But what does it matter?” He says softly. “Even if you are right, Potter, it makes no difference to you and me. You no longer have the phoenix wand: We duel on skill alone… and after I have killed you, I can attend to Draco Malfoy…”

“But you’re too late,” Says Harry. “You’ve missed your chance. I got there first. I overpowered Draco weeks ago. I took his wand from him.”

Harry holds up the wand he was holding, clearly not his own, apparently Draco Malfoy’s, and Ginny can’t help thinking of what a genius he is, and how brave.

“So it all comes down to this, doesn’t it?” Whispers Harry. Ginny watches with bated breath. “Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does… I am the true master of the Elder Wand.”

A red-glow bursts suddenly across the enchanted sky above the crowd as an edge of dazzling sun appears over the sill of the nearest window. The light hits both of their faces at the same time, so that they are suddenly a flaming blur. Ginny grips her wand tightly, praying.

“Avada Kedavra!”

“Expelliarmus!”

The bang is like a cannon blast, and the golden flames that erupt between the two, at the dead center of the circle they had been treading, mark the point where the spells collided. Voldemort’s green jet meets Harry’s spell, and the Elder Wand flew high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last. And Harry, with the unerring skill of the Seeker, catches the wand in his free hand as Voldemort falls backward, arms splayed, the slit pupils of the scarlet eyes rolling upward. Tom Riddle hits the floor with a mundane finality, his body feeble and shrunken, the white hands empty, the snakelike face vacant and unknowing. Voldemort is dead, killed by his own rebounding curse, and Harry stands with two wands in his hand, staring down at his enemy’s shell. The man who had killed and hurt so many, who had possessed Ginny herself at age eleven, was dead. And the world was free of him.

Suddenly she was charging toward him and they were cheering because Voldemort was finally dead, and then there was a blur of congratulating Harry and she was reaching forward to knock him on the arm in congratulation and thanks but he is swept away all too soon, and she finds herself sitting on a bench next to Dean.

“Hey, Dean,” She says, and he beams at her.

“He bloody did it,” Dean says, and Ginny nods.

“He did,” She says, before enveloping Dean in a hug. A few moments later, she hears Luna making some sort of commotion in the hallway, and moves toward her with an apologetic look cast at Dean, who shrugs understandingly.

“Oh, look, a Blibbering Humdinger! Oh, hello, Ginny,” She smiles at Ginny, whose heart does flips in that moment, and who finally realizes what she’s feeling, and who looks at Luna intensely like there’s nothing and no one else around.
“I love you,” She says. Luna smiles.

“I love you, too.”

“No, I mean, you don’t get it, I-“ Unable to form the words, Ginny simply steps forward and presses her lips against Luna’s. Suddenly, she’s thinking back to Alicia and Katie, and kissing Michael Corner and Dean and Seamus and Harry, who she loved so much, but at this point, was more like a brother to her, and suddenly everything made sense. She’d loved Dean a little, and Harry a lot, and Michael… well, he’d been decent, but she’d loved Luna the whole time. She pulls back, searching Luna’s eyes for a reaction, any sign that she felt the same way, and that Ginny hadn’t just completely ruined her relationship with her best friend. There it was, though, that little sparkle, and then Luna’s face forms a genuine smile.

“You finally figured it out, did you?” She says cheerfully.

“I- what?”

“The nargles,” Luna says, as if it explains everything. And maybe it does, because now Luna’s leaning forward and kissing her and it’s wonderful. And Ginny’s mind flits back to the war and the bodies and Fred and her family and Harry, all things that she’s going to have to deal with. But for now… well, for now, she can savor this moment. She’s been waiting for it for a very long time.