As I Lay Me Down
Ginny sat in the Great Hall, watching Ron and Hermione walk out of the room. The large space between them told her that Harry was there, hiding under his Invisibility Cloak, trying to escape. For one brief second, she allowed herself the luxury of anger. How dare he just up and leave her after he’d practically promised to be with her again when it was over.
And it was over, she knew. For her, her family and everyone in the castle and beyond its walls, it was over. She sighed. But not for him. She knew that it would never be completely over for him. She’d seen Ron and Hermione looking at each other earlier, and she knew that it was only a matter of time before they snuck off to somewhere private and left Harry alone. He didn’t need to be alone after all that had happened to him today.
So she pondered the problem for a moment. She couldn’t follow them – the halls were too empty for her to manage that. Whatever they were going to do, it would probably eventually lead them to the one place Harry felt at home: his dormitory in Gryffindor Tower. Ginny looked round at her Mum and Dad, holding on to each other in grief and joy commingled. She choked back tears as she thought of Fred, lying on a cold stone floor that he could never feel and swiped at her face impatiently.
She just couldn’t think about that now. If she did, she’d break down and bawl in front of the entire assemblage. And if there was one thing Ginny Weasley never allowed herself to do, it was cry in public. Not for Harry’s departure, not for Snape’s tortures, and not for her own brother’s death would she cry in front of others. She supposed, thinking upon it as a way of removing her thoughts from Fred, that it had to do with being the only girl. Brothers would tease if she cried, so she’d stopped crying.
She slipped, unnoticed, through the crowded aisle, taking in the rare sight of Luna determinedly snogging Dean Thomas. Ginny stifled her laughter; he didn't seem to mind. Sneaking out of the Great Hall, she paused for a moment to view the destruction of the castle around her. Don't think about it, she reminded herself. Think about Harry; get to Harry. With the thought repeating in her brain, chasing itself round and round, she ran, gaining speed, through the deserted hallways, leaping over fallen statues. She ducked under a tapestry and came out into a shortcut to the seventh floor, where she ran past the Room of Requirement, hopping through the rubble that had poured out of its blasted-open door and down a hallway, where stood the Fat Lady of Gryffindor Tower, her pink silk dress singed around the edges, with her friend Violet, toasting one another in celebration.
Violet saw the young girl first and gave the Fat Lady's frame a tug. It swung upon its hinges, revealing the large hole behind it. Ginny crawled through. By some small miracle, the common room seemed mostly undisturbed, though the frantic flight of the youngest students had left small traces on the rug. Compared to the rest of the castle, it was immaculate. Ginny trooped to the girls dormitory and opened the door, staring at the scene before her in dismay. Half the tower was missing, and beds from the floors above had toppled into the lower levels. She closed the door and walked quickly down the stairs, mounting those to the boys dormitory instead.
There, on a small sign at the topmost door was the words 'Seventh Years'. She pushed open the door hesitantly, as if afraid that there might be someone inside, but a cursory glance showed her she was alone. She'd snuck in this room once before, the previous year, and her eyes unerringly sought the bed that Harry had occupied then. It was empty, and cold. Ginny looked towards the fireplace. The embers were still glowing in the remains of the night's fire, and Ginny thought briefly of relighting it. A bustle outside the door stopped her, as into the room walked Kreacher, a long gash dripping blood onto his face, and a golden locket around his neck.
"Master will be tired," the elf was muttering to himself, apparently not noticing Ginny's presence. "Master will need food and a warm bed, and so will Master Weasley and Miss Hermione." Still oblivious to any other presence in the room, Ginny watched this strange turn of events with some misgiving. After the maggots incident of the previous year, she was almost terrified of what horrors the elf would put poor Harry through. As the thought of stopping him crossed her mind, she strained to listen to the creature as it continued whispering to itself.
"Poor Master, to have to deal with so much for those ungrateful wretches. Filthy Malfoy boy, to fight against my Master and Master Regulus' cause." Understanding dawned. Somehow, through some miracle, Kreacher's loyalty seemed to have shifted from the Black family to Harry. She cleared her throat to get his attention.
"Ah, it's the girl my Master longs for, come to wait for him," he muttered, turning towards Ginny. "Mistress Ginny, Kreacher is happy to serve the love of his Master, and asks what he can do for her." Trying to keep her jaw from popping open, Ginny looked at him kindly.
"I'm just waiting here and wondered if I could help you with anything?" she made the offer a question, not sure how he would respond to her offer.
"Nothing, Mistress. You fought just as bravely as the Master, Kreacher saw you. You need rest and a hot meal, too. The elves created a feast for the fighters, but Mistress ran out before it was served. Kreacher brought some for the family he serves, the Potter-Weasley family, and he will be happy to give some to the Mistress."
Ginny couldn't help but stare: the Potter-Weasley family? He could only mean Ron, Hermione and Harry, and apparently, herself as well. What had brought such a change in the elf's manner? Resolving to ask Harry, if he didn't throw her out of the dormitory, that is, what had happened to turn the foul creature to such a pleasant companion. As she sat at a small table he conjured for her and ate a hearty meal at his insistence, he went about making the room comfortable.
No sooner had she finished eating than he spoke. "Now, Mistress, up into the bed. You'll need your rest. Master will wake you, Kreacher is sure."
Too sleepy to argue, Ginny did as he commanded and crawled beneath the welcoming covers, as Kreacher sat on a chair by the bed and dozed off. She struggled to keep her eyes open, but the exhaustion she'd been running from all day finally caught up with her, and she drifted into slumber.
It was there Harry found them both, Kreacher's soft snores mixing with Ginny's gentle breaths, sleeping peacefully, waiting for his return. Careful not to wake them, he motioned Ron and Hermione into the room. Ron's eyes bulged momentarily as he saw his sister asleep in Harry's bed, but the hot meal on the low table was too much temptation for him, and he began to push the food into his mouth until he saw Hermione's look of complete disgust. He grinned sheepishly and waited for her and Harry to join him before resuming his meal at a more civilised pace.
When the food was gone, Hermione slipped off her shoes and crawled between the covers of Ron's bed. With a hesitant look at Harry, who nodded, Ron joined her, his eyes following Harry as he took off the shoes he'd been wearing for at least three days and slid quietly into the bed with Ginny. She murmured something incomprehensible before turning towards him and snuggling into his chest, where a great weight seemed to lift at the presence of her arm across his stomach. Sighing in contentment, for the first time in his life, Harry Potter fell asleep with only the thought of his own happiness.
Shel - I really hope you enjoy this story. I wrote it just for you, as you've been such an incredible person to get to know on the site.