It was a Defense class with Snape, the next day. Ginny was absolutely exhausted. Staying up late talking to Harry hadn't been a good idea, but at the time she had loved it. Ginny was beginning to regret it now, however. She let out a little yawn into her elbow.
Ginny jerked up, her plaits flying out in all directions.
"What did I just say?"
Snape was smiling, knowing he had her.
"Umm … something about … um –"
"You don't know. You weren't paying attention. Ten points from Gryffindor. Why are you so tired, may I ask?"
"I'm not tired, sir," said Ginny.
"Nonsense. You were up with that Potter boy, weren't you. Doing things you shouldn't?" Snape leered over her desk, his wand clenched in his hand. "If I find out that you two were doing anything illegal, I personally will see that you are both expelled." He rapped his wand firmly on her desk, before striding back to the front of the classroom.
"What was that about?" whispered Ella Stilt, once Snape was firmly preoccupied helping a Slytherin with a spell.
"I'm not sure."
"Probably jealous of you and Harry," muttered Ella, before hurriedly turning back to her textbook.
"Copy down the words on the blackboard," snapped Snape. "Then get into partners and practice the spell. I want no injuries or complaints or unnecessary noise."
After copying down the paragraph on the Persistent Counter-Jinx, Ginny and Ella stepped down to the other side of the classroom and joined the growing crowd practicing shooting spells at each other.
"Ready?" said Ella.
Ginny clutched her wand. "Ready."
Ella shot a weak stunning spell at Ginny, and she tried to use the Counter-Jinx. It ended up backfiring and blowing up a pillow.
The feathers blew up in all directions.
"Weasley!" yelled Snape. "Clean that up! Can't even aim a simple jinx."
Red-faced, Ginny summoned the feathers and tossed them in the bin. Ella helped, grinning to herself and whispering little insults to Snape under her breath.
"Try again?" Ella said, once the feathers were cleared.
Ginny nodded, and the two of them placed themselves again in the jinxing area.
Ginny took a deep breath, and tried to ignore the other students around her, all getting the jinx perfectly right.
The first three times she tried the jinx, it failed miserably, sparks flying weakly from her wand.
The fourth time, the jinx misfired.
It landed on the chain which held up a cage of cornish Pixies.
The cage fell, breaking open with a clang. Pixies swarmed out, buzzing excitedly. Students screamed and several hid under desks.
Ginny took a big gulp. "Sorry, professor."
Snape currently had three pixies tugging on his hat, and another buzzing up his robes.
"See me after class!" he said, scowling viciously.
"I would have stuffed the feathers up his nose," said Harry, very loudly.
Ginny shushed him. "It was just annoying, you know. I caught him glaring at me at breakfast."
Harry squeezed Ginny's hand. "He glares at me all the time, you know. Welcome to the club."
"Is it because I have red hair? He doesn't like anyone with red hair, does he?"
"I guess not," said Harry.
They walked down the streets of Hogsmeade, Harry's arm sitting comfortably around Ginny's waist. They turned into the tavern, and stomped their feet on the floor, snow slipping off their shoes onto the grate.
They ordered two butterbeers and sat in a tiny stall. Ginny worried idly about her exams, and Harry hoped that they would win the next Quidditch match. "If the Dementors don't scare you first," teased Ginny, remembering the incident from Harry's Third Year.
"They won't," said Harry. "At least - not unless Voldermort gets out first."
"You know - I know he'll come back, Harry, but can we not worry about it till it happens?" Ginny fumbled with her drink.
"That's exactly what he wants, Gin," said Harry. "He wants us to ignore him. He's gathering followers right under our noses."
"I know," sighed Ginny. "I just - I don't know."
"We can't ignore the situation." Harry's hands were tense around his drink, the knuckles white in the cold tavern.
"Gin - I'm going to have to fight him, you know."
"I know. But - you will let me help you, won't you? Harry?"
Harry was silent, staring down at the yellow ooze in his mug.
"Harry. You're not fighting V-Voldermort without me." Something in the name terrified Ginny, but she seized Harry's hand from across the table and held it tight.
Harry just smiled a little, and tilted his head. "You know how I call you Gin?"
"Yes, but don't change the subject."
"Gin is a type of muggle alcohol. Maybe when we're both 17, I could take you out and we could try some?"
"Try some ... gin?" Ginny laughed.
"Yeah. And maybe some tonic as well. A Gin-and-tonic. That's what my uncle used to drink all the time after work, and apparently it tastes nice."
"Maybe I should start calling you 'Tonic'," laughed Ginny.
"We are Gin and Tonic!"
"The best and only decent sort of beverage!"
Harry laughed, his green eyes crinkling behind his glasses.
Ginny took a snapshot of that moment in her mind - and kept it to herself, snuggled deep in her heart.
The soul is grey. Grey, with blue streaks.
Ocean blue, and light blue, the sort that sits on the edge of the sky.
It's slightly warm in my arms.
Behind me, there is a procession. A sad celebration of a great life lived.
Wands are raised, hundreds of wands, in hundreds of shaking hands.
Hundreds of lumos spells light my way.
I carry Albus Dumbledore away, leaving only pain behind.
It's my job. I don't exactly have a choice.
The funeral was a sombre one. There were speeches from dozens of people whom Ginny had never met, let alone heard of. They stood up at the end as Dumbledore's body was carried away.
It was ... odd.
Dumbledore was meant to turn up to Breakfast the next morning, thought Ginny. In his tall hat, with his long grey beard somehow avoiding his porridge bowl. His light eyes behind his half moon glasses peering at her as he walked past, making her comfortable and confused at the same time.
But he wasn't going to walk past anymore.
Ginny shook her head.
Death is a disappearance, she thought.
And not a very nice one.
She was jerked out of her thoughts by a hand on her arm. "Can we talk?"
It was Harry. She let him pull her out of the crowd, and away from the gossiping people hovering around tables of food and butterbeer. His hand was comfortably around her waist, just where it belonged.
She was just about to ask if he was alright, when he pulled away. His hand left her waist, and his face was hard and determined.
"Are you alright? Is it too much?"
Harry looked at Ginny right in the eye. "I have to go, Ginny."
"I don't understand," stuttered Ginny.
"I have to fight Voldermort. Dumbledore gave me a job to do, and I have to do it. We have to ... stop."
"We have to break up."
"It's for some stupid, noble reason, isn't it." Ginny pinched her arm, and was dismayed to find that she wasn't dreaming.
"Voldermort uses people his enemies are close to – imagine what danger you'd be in! He'll know. He'll find out. He'll try and get to me through you."
"I don't care! I'll be safe if I'm with you!"
"Gin," said Harry, and the familiar nickname made Ginny tear up, for the first time in over a year.
"I'm sorry." He bit his lip, then turned, and walked away.
"Harry. Harry! Tonic! Harry!"
Harry disappeared into the crowd.
Ginny turned away, then, and looked out into the Forest.
It was so big, and just then, she felt so very very small.
I wrote this chapter listening to 'you are 16 going on 17' from The Sound of Music, and i realised how much i flipping love that movie!