When she looked at her timetable the next morning, Ginny wasn't terribly stressed. Of course, the thought of another year of Potions with the Slytherins was as revolting as ever, but on the whole she was happy with her schedule. Looking across the table, she could tell that her brother wasn't quite as happy with the piece of parchment in his hands, but he was a very negative person in matters of school anyway. Hermione was glowing with the excitement of her classes, and Harry was calmly looking at Ron's timetable, taking it all in stride.
Ginny watched him from the corner of her eye for a moment, feeling a weight drop onto her heart. He's always had to take things in stride, she thought. Never has he had time to dwell, except for the summers.
"Bloody hell. I hate Potions," Ron snarled, grabbing a few pieces of toast from the plate in front of him.
"Ron, stop it! Honestly! We have to take it. There's no other way around it," Hermione reminded him, sipping from her pumpkin juice slowly.
Ron turned pleading eyes on his girlfriend. "Can't you have sympathy for me for one morning?"
Hermione swatted his hand as it reached out to her arm. "Not when you whinge like a baby," she scolded mildly.
"I thought that was what you liked about me," Ron replied cheekily, dodging her hand and kissing her cheek quickly. Hermione turned a light shade of pink, and went back to her breakfast.
Ginny smothered a giggle, looking at Harry, whose gaze was at the timetable in his hands. His features darkened, and she frowned lightly. He was displeased... and she couldn't even ask him why. Not here. She sighed, and pushed away her plate. This secrecy business was going to be the end of her.
Her gaze went to the staff table, and she watched as Dumbledore conversed cheerfully with Professor Flitwick. Last night, Harry hadn't said a thing about his meeting with Dumbledore to her, and from what she could tell, Ron and Hermione didn't know anything either. That comforted her and unnerved her at the same time. Harry wasn't telling them anything she didn't know, but he wasn't saying anything to his two best friends. She didn't know if that was a good sign or not.
Dumbledore's eyes left the tiny Charms professor's, and he locked gazes with Ginny. A knowing smile creased his face, and she thought she saw him wink at her before going back to Flitwick. She blinked, and shook her head. It was like he knew something about her...
Her head turned sharply to Hermione's curious eyes. "Yes?"
The older girl eyed her suspiciously for a moment, but smiled at her. "Do you have Defense Against the Dark Arts four times a week like us?"
Ginny glanced down at her timetable. "Yes, I do."
"I suppose Dumbledore wanted to make up for last year's lack of practice. I didn't learn a thing in Umbridge's class," Hermione murmured, and looked across Ron to Harry, who was unnaturally quiet. "What do you think, Harry?"
Ginny observed shrewdly as Harry jumped slightly in his seat, startled by Hermione's question. "What was that?" he asked, blinking rapidly.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Honestly! Why are you so out of it this morning?"
Harry shrugged. "Just tired, I guess."
Ginny frowned, and stood up, gathering up her schoolbag. "I'm off," she said breezily, causing the Trio to look up at her. "See you all at lunch." She walked off, trying to ignore the emerald stare boring into her back. Tossing her hair from her face, she looked down at her schedule to look at her first class of the day, putting Harry from her mind. If he wanted to keep secrets, that was fine by her. She just didn't take very keenly to being in the dark. If he didn't trust her, who did he trust?
When Harry walked into the Potions dungeon for his first class of the new year, he felt a dark, boiling hate surge into his veins as he saw Snape's back at the front of the room. Even though the logical side of his brain told him he was being ridiculous to an extent, he tossed that aside for the blinding, primal side of him that hated everything the Potions Master touched, breathed on, walked past. He'd left the Pensive out. He'd thrown Harry out of his office. He'd stopped the Occlumency lessons. He'd left Harry vulnerable to Voldemort's whims.
Harry took a deep breath, shoving the flood of negativity down to fester in his deepest walls, and exhaled, finding his usual seat beside Ron. The rest of the class trailed inside in clumps, the Slytherins staring and whispering as they passed his table. He ignored them, listening inattentively to Ron and Hermione converse. What Malfoy said couldn't hurt him now. He was numb to everything except the animosity he harbored towards the greasy-haired man at the front of the room.
Snape turned around, and his trademark sneer twisted his lips. "Everyone here? Good." He looked down at a paper on his desk. "We'll be starting the year with the learning of various Healing potions. Knowledge of them might become useful to you in the near future. I have written the recipe for a Nerve-Repair Potion on the board. Can someone tell me what it can be used for?"
Hermione's hand shot up immediately, as usual. As usual, Snape ignored her, and let his gaze drift over the Gryffindor tables. "Mr. Longbottom," he called.
Harry watched as Neville looked up at Snape, pale in the face. "Yes, sir?"
"Tell me what this potion can be used for," Snape repeated silkily, making Harry's blood boil in anger. Ron muttered a curse under his breath, and Hermione dropped her hand, looking mournful. They all knew why Snape had asked Neville this question.
In front of them, Neville gulped. "It can be used in...It can be used as..."
The Slytherins tittered, and Snape smirked. "Stop stuttering and answer, Longbottom."
"It's used for cases when a person has been mildly subjected to the Cruciatus Curse," Neville muttered, looking paler than snow.
Harry's stomach gave a funny lurch, and the rush of blinding hate fought to get to the surface of his mind. Neville's parents had been tortured by the Cruciatus Curse when he was just a little boy, and Snape knew it. It only showed the vindictive, evil man that he was, and Harry hated him more for it.
Snape nodded curtly. "Thank you, Longbottom. Nerve-Repair Potions can be used in many situations were a person's nerves have been mildly damaged. An example of this would be the Cruciatus Curse---to a certain extent. Only mild cases of the curse can be helped."
He looked around the class, a frown across his lips. "Follow the recipe on the board, and by the end of the class period I want a vial from each one of you. The color of this potion should be a light blue. Keep that in mind. You may begin."
Harry struggled to keep himself from hexing the man, and cursed him as he got out the necessary ingredients for the potion. "Bloody bastard," he muttered, slamming his cauldron on the table.
Ron nodded vigorously. "You can say that again, mate."
Hermione pursed her lips, but kept silent. She was obviously as mad as the both of them; she was just better at controlling it.
Midway through class, Ron nudged Harry. "So, what did Dumbledore want with you last night?"
"Oh." Harry grunted as he poured ground moonstone into his cauldron. "Just to check up on my summer. Stuff like that."
"It certainly took a while, Harry. Is there anything you want to tell us?" Hermione asked softly, stirring the mixture inside her cauldron slowly.
Harry shook his head, watching with downcast eyes as Snape came near their table, the sneer widening on his face. "Ten points from Gryffindor, Granger. Keep your mouth closed during my class," he snapped, and walked away.
Hermione stiffened, and Ron started swearing angrily under his breath. Harry had to physically stop his hand from reaching for his wand, muscles tensed with anger. The darkness swelled in him again, and he avoided looking at Snape the rest of the class, knowing he wouldn't be able to stop himself from harming the man if he did.
"Damned bloody prat. Who does he think he is? If only I could hex him..."
Ron was still furious over Snape's behavior toward Hermione by the end of the day. Harry was right with him as they lounged in the common room after dinner. Other than Potions, it had been a good first day back. Charms had come after Potions, and after lunch was Defense Against the Dark Arts and a double class of History of Magic in the afternoon, which meant a doubly long nap for everyone. Harry was relaxing nicely in his favorite chair by the hearth, dreading the next night. Instead of sitting here with his friends, he would be with Dumbledore practicing Occlumency. It wasn't the lesson he dreaded so much; it was the excuse he would have to make up to his friends for being missing every Tuesday night for an hour.
Their first Defense lesson with Lupin had been as enjoyable as they had been in their third year. He was starting with the Patronus Charm in response to the desertion of the Dementors in the summer, and Harry had to demonstrate for the class, which hadn't been hard. Lupin had caught his eye more than once during the period, and Harry had smiled at him weakly. He didn't quite want to talk to Lupin yet, as much as he admired him. He would be reminded too much of Sirius and his parents...and all he wanted to do was to forget it.
Hermione sighed, leaning her head on Ron's shoulder as he ranted. "Ron, please relax. And stop swearing! You're a horrible influence," she hissed, looking around furtively to make sure no impressionable ears were around.
Harry grinned, and closed his eyes, letting his rage simmer below the surface almost forgotten. To think of Snape right now would be blasphemous to the night. He wouldn't think of him now. He wouldn't think of anything now. Except for Ginny...
His eyes snapped open, and he sat up in his chair. Ginny wasn't in the common room yet. He hadn't seen her since dinner, and that was an hour ago. He didn't want to worry, but he felt a keen pang not knowing where she was.
The portrait hole swung open and Ginny entered, looking flustered, and carrying three books in her arms. The three by the fire waved to her, and she dragged herself over, plopping on the hearthrug, near Harry's chair. "I already have two essays to do, and I've only been here a day," she moaned, lying back on the floor and throwing an arm across her eyes.
Harry, who had been so happy to see her that he had nearly grabbed her in his arms as she passed by, sighed wearily. Fifth year was the year of O.W.L.s, and he knew the stress she was going to be under. He had gotten ten O.W.L.s last year, barely scraping by in Potions, and that had been a struggle; he hadn't gotten the necessary "E" for Snape's N.E.W.T.s class, which made him think that Dumbledore was looking out for both him and Ron, who hadn't done any better than him. Now, Ginny was much brighter than he was, but it would be a challenge for her anyway.
Hermione sighed sympathetically. "As long as you don't wait for the last minute to do them, I'm sure they'll be fine," she soothed her younger friend.
"Thank Merlin I'm done with O.W.L.s I wouldn't be you for a second, Ginny," Ron said with a sigh of relief.
She lifted her arm, and scowled at him. "Thanks a bloody lot, Ron. That really makes me feel better," she snapped.
Ron shrugged. "Just telling the truth."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Tact, Ron. Someday, I'll teach you tact."
"Even you couldn't teach that thick moron tact," Ginny said waspishly.
"Oi! Don't talk to me like that," Ron exclaimed, sitting up on the sofa.
Ginny rolled her eyes and stood, walking back through the portrait hole with an angry step. Harry gaped as she left, very confused. She hadn't seemed to be in a bad mood at breakfast this morning, and he didn't understand why she was so snappy tonight. It was more than the essays; someone must have done something to her during the day. He frowned.
"Harry, can you believe how she was acting? I don't think I've ever been so insulted by a relative in my life," Ron proclaimed, looking quite put out. Hermione bit her lip, looking torn between taking Ginny's side or Ron's. She sighed inaudibly, and stayed silent against Ron's shoulder, letting him rant.
Harry shrugged. "I'm sure she didn't mean it," he said distantly, longing to go after her and ask her what was wrong.
Ron grumped on, switching between cursing Snape and berating Ginny. Harry tuned him out, feeling fairly concerned after a half-hour passed with no sign of Ginny. He was ready to go look for her, no matter what it looked like to Ron and Hermione, when the portrait hole opened, and Ginny stepped inside, Professor McGonagall right behind. Ginny, who still looked livid, hurried over to Neville and Colin as the common room fell silent with the entrance of their Head of House.
McGonagall swept the room with her eyes until they rested on Ron. She made her way over to the hearth, Ron looking very nervous under her gaze. "Mr. Weasley."
"Yes, Professor?" he said weakly, straightening up. Hermione slid away from him, blushing slightly. Harry looked on with interest.
McGonagall looked at him coolly for a moment, leaning on her walking stick. "I have decided that you would be an adequate choice for Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. I hope you will accept this honor, and not disappoint me," she said briskly.
You could have dropped a pin in the room and heard it. There was complete silence. Ron goggled at the stern woman for a moment, eyes wide with disbelief. Hermione's eyes popped out, and she looked at Harry in bewilderment. Harry had to hold back a grin, wishing for a camera. The look on everyone's faces was priceless.
McGonagall coughed after a moment of deathly quiet, looking impatient. "Mr. Weasley, did you hear me?"
Swallowing, Ron nodded. "Yes, Professor," he whispered hoarsely.
"Do you accept?"
"Yes, Professor," was the raspy answer.
She smiled slightly, and nodded. "Good. I have taken the liberty of reserving the pitch for next Monday for tryouts from six to eight. Do not waste time." She turned on her heel, and walked out, leaving all the students in the room to stare in wonder at Ron, who looked just as shocked.
Harry grinned widely. "Captain Ron Weasley, eh?"
Ron blinked, and looked at Harry in wonder. "I...I was sure it would be you," he stuttered.
Harry shook his head, and smiled wryly. "Like I said last night, mate: I have no strategy. Look what happens when I play chess!"
Dean Thomas made his way over to Ron, and clapped him on the shoulder. "Brilliant, Ron! Congratulations!"
With that, the common room swarmed around Ron, everyone calling out congratulations and well-wishes. Harry smiled distantly and made his way out of the crowd, looking for Ginny. She was headed out the portrait hole once more, and he ran to catch up with her, his absence unnoticed in the surprised haze of everyone's mind.
Ginny went down the steps and headed through the entrance hall, slipping out the doors quietly. Harry followed her, and found her leaning against a wall, frowning deeply. She heard his hesitant steps toward her, and looked in his direction. "Can I help you?" she asked dully, the light autumn breeze lifting her hair from her neck.
He stopped a few feet from her, confusion overwhelming him. The sun was just setting, sending the reds in her hair into a crazy pattern of color, and he unconsciously realized how pretty she looked during a sunset. "Are you all right?"
She rolled her eyes. "Do I look all right, Harry?" she exclaimed in frustration.
"There's no need to yell at me. I can hear just fine," he replied coolly, retreating behind the emotional walls that had protected him for many years.
Her face fell as she saw his eyes close off, and she took a step towards him. "I'm sorry, Harry," she said softly, reaching out to touch his arm. He pulled back instinctively, watching the hurt seep into her eyes, and she frowned. "Don't do that, Harry. I didn't mean to snap at you," she pleaded.
He remained still. She pursed her lips, and in a quick movement grasped his forearms in her hands before he could pull back. Her touch warmed him immediately, and she kept her grip tight. "I'm just stressed, Harry. All the teachers I had today gave me the lecture about how O.W.L.s are ‘the key to your future,' and then the essays..." she trailed off, looking up at him. "I'm a little scared, Harry. And, you're keeping things from me, too."
Harry jumped at her last words. "What do you mean, Ginny?" he asked nervously.
She turned her gaze downward. "Your meeting with Dumbledore is one thing. Was it so bad that you can't tell me what he said?"
He was at a loss for words. He didn't want to tell Ginny about the Occlumency lessons, because that would include the revelation that Voldemort could see into his mind, and that would lead to the prophecy, but he didn't want to skirt around the issue of secrecy. She would know if he was lying; she was good like that. Mind whirling, his arms slipped from her grasp, and wrapped around her waist loosely, pulling her closer to him. She leaned her cheek on his chest, and they stood in silence for a few moments, letting the light wind brush across their bodies.
Finally, Ginny let out a sigh. "If you really can't tell me, Harry, I won't press it," she said quietly, lifting her eyes to his. "But, you know you can talk to me, right? Same deal as in the summer; whenever you need to talk, you know where I am."
He smirked at her. "So, you're saying I can sneak into your dormitory and scare you with my amazing popping head trick?" he asked innocently, a twinkle in his eyes.
She blushed lightly, but gathered her wits and pressed closer to him. "If the urge hits you, sure," she replied, voice lower than normal.
He licked his lips and tightened his hold on her, feeling heat tunnel through his body. She grinned at him, and, leaning up, brushed her mouth against his lightly. Inhaling sharply, he met her, letting himself go after holding the reins of his feelings for the whole day. The hate that had poisoned him since Potions evaporated as she wrapped her arms around his neck and let him pour everything into her without restraint. Whenever he was with her, he couldn't feel anything negative or damning; all he knew was the high he was always on after a meeting or conversation.
When they ran out of air, she let his mouth go with a little chuckle, and rested her chin on his chest. "Have a bad day?" she asked with a little smile.
He sighed, reaching up to brush a few errant strands of hair from her face. "Yeah, for the most part. Was it that obvious?"
She leaned up and kissed his nose. "Yes. Are you upset about Ron?" she asked worriedly.
Shock entered his gaze. "No! Not at all! Ron's a much better choice for Captain than I am. I can't do a full game strategy. I can't even play chess very well. This is very good for the team," he replied confidently.
She eyed him. "I know you were upset last year when he was made a prefect, and you weren't. I was just making sure you were all right now," she commented, curling up to him.
He grinned wryly. "Well, I was a bit...temperamental last year, wasn't I?"
"Just a bit," she said dryly, grinning.
He sighed softly, and rested his chin on her hair, looking out onto the Hogwarts grounds as the sun sank lower below the horizon. And, the time hit him like a hammer. Who knows how long they had been gone? What if someone noticed, and put two and two together? "Ginny, we should go in," he said gently, trying not to sound too urgent.
She nodded underneath his chin. "I know," she replied wistfully, taking a step back from him. He felt very cold all of a sudden, and he didn't like it. She sighed. "I'm cold."
"Me too," he agreed softly, gazing at her.
Ginny gave him a small smile, and passed him to go inside, touching him lightly on the arm as she passed. He smiled but didn't follow her, watching the sky darken from a vibrant red to the dark navy of dusk. Alone with his thoughts, he stayed out there until Professor Sprout saw him and ordered him to go in, and that was when the sky was already prickled with stars.
"Ginny! Ginny! Wake up!"
Ginny moaned, and rolled over in bed, covering her ears with a pillow. "Go ‘way. It's Saturday," she mumbled.
A sigh was heard. "Ginny, Ron told me to wake you up! You have practice, you know."
Another moan. "No..."
The covers were pulled off her, and she yelped as the cool early-morning air hit her legs, night-dress tangled up around her thighs. She cracked an eye open, and saw Hermione observing her with dismay. "You look like you've had a rough night. Maybe I can tell Ron you don't feel well," she offered with a sympathetic gaze.
Ginny shook her head and sat up slowly, pulling her wand out from underneath her pillow. "I had a fine night, Hermione. I'll be ok. Tell him I'll be down at the pitch in ten minutes," she said blearily, rubbing her eyes roughly.
Hermione gave her a grin and walked out of her room briskly. Ginny saw that her fellow dorm mates were still sleeping peacefully with their curtains drawn, and she growled enviously. "Damn Ron," she cursed violently, climbing out of bed as the sun peaked in through her window. She went into the loo to wash up, and gasped.
She had little bruises on her neck that had appeared overnight. A blush suffused her face, and she smoothed her wrinkled night-dress vainly. It was hardly a rough night, sleep-wise. Harry, on the other hand, had got it into his head to sneak into her dorm room before she went to bed under the Invisibility Cloak, and surprise her as she slept. Obviously his Confusion Charm was much stronger than the Founders had anticipated, because she didn't know any other way for him to get past the alarms. He had been particularly playful, and the tiny marks were evidence of that. Thank Merlin she had made him leave when he did, or they might not have been able to stop themselves...
"Looking a bit warm, aren't we dearie?" the mirror asked cheekily.
"Oh, hush up!" Ginny hissed, aiming her wand and muttering some quick charms to cover up the bruises for the moment. She pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail, washed her face, and headed back out to dress as quietly as she could.
The sun was still low on the horizon when she walked out onto the pitch, her Cleansweep Eleven clutched in her hand. Through her blurry gaze she saw the whole team already in the air running drills, and she sped up, dashing across the dew-soaked grass as she heard Ron screaming at her from above.
"It's about time you got here, Ginny!" he exclaimed as she kicked up off the ground and joined them up in the cool late-September air. "Dean and Katie have been waiting for you!"
"Sod off, Ron! I'm only a few minutes late," she snapped, gliding away towards her fellow Chasers. Harry caught her eye, and she felt a blush creep onto her face. He grinned rakishly at her.
"Ok, listen up! I'm going to release the balls now. Dean, Ginny and Katie will practice their moves and shoot with me. I want Harry to deal with the Snitch, and Kirke and Sloper will bash Bludgers at everyone. Got that?" Ron eyed them all after his speech. They nodded quickly, and he grinned. "Ok. Let's do it."
He flew back to the ground, and soon the balls soared up in the air. Ginny grabbed the Quaffle and tossed it to Dean Thomas, who tossed it back. He had made Chaser at tryouts over two weeks ago, as had she. They joined Katie Bell, who was in her last year at Hogwarts. Andrew Kirke and Jack Sloper had stayed on the team as Beaters after replacing Fred and George last year, and Ron was still the Keeper. Everyone had improved greatly over the summer, and had come back refreshed and ready to win again.
Katie sailed past her, smiling lightly as she caught the Quaffle. "You look a bit peaky, Ginny. Did you sleep well?" she asked, tossing the round orange ball towards a hoop, and watched Ron streak to catch it.
Ginny heaved a sigh, ducking her head to hide her blush. "Yes, I'm fine, Katie. I swear it," she called, catching the Quaffle from Ron and throwing it to Dean as they sped around the field.
A Bludger whizzed past her nose, and she turned to glare at Sloper. "You don't need to take my nose off, Jack!"
He grinned. "My apologies," he said gallantly, bowing in her direction before sending the Bludger off towards Harry.
Ron ran the grueling practice for almost two hours, and by the end of it, everyone looked ready to fall off their brooms and keel over. Ginny was sweating and grimy, and after saying a quick farewell to Katie as the older girl headed up to breakfast, she headed for the changing rooms.
After her shower, she took the charm off her neck and examined her skin, standing in front of the mirror only in a towel. The bruises were beginning to fade, to her great relief, but she would have to keep the charm on for a couple more days just to be safe. The water dripped from her curls as she ran her fingers over her neck, skin warming with the memory of what caused the little marks.
Harry always wanted to talk at the oddest times. This same thing had happened just a few days ago, except instead of being thoroughly playful with her, he had been quiet, almost sad as he spoke to her. His energy would shift suddenly like that in a matter of days, even hours. Everyone was starting to notice it, and Professor Lupin had even stopped her after her last class with him yesterday to talk.
"Ginny, is Harry all right?"
She looked up at him in shock. "Why would you think I would know, Professor?" she asked carefully, sitting down at his desk.
He seemed uncomfortable. "Well, I had a letter from your mother, and she was under the impression that you and Harry..."
"Oh! She told you?"
He looked oddly relieved. "Yes, she thought it was prudent for me to know. Is there a reason you haven't told anyone else?"
She blushed lightly, looking down at her hands. "Harry wants to keep it a secret. He seems to think I'd be in danger if it was known I was close to him," she replied softly.
"Ah. Well, it's a good idea in theory. But, has he spoken to you about anything to do with Sirius?" His voice had tightened slightly at Sirius' name.
She shook her head. "He doesn't like to talk about it. He only said something to me once during the summer, but since then he's never alluded to it. I think he wants to put it in the back of his mind, and forget it happened, especially since he's back at school. He doesn't want to look weak in front of all his peers," she commented, looking up at the worried man in front of her.
Lupin sighed. "Well, he should talk to someone. Would you tell him he's always welcome to come and see me? He hasn't really talked to me since the start of school."
Ginny smiled slightly. "I'll tell him, Professor. I'm sure he wants to talk to you. He just can't get past himself yet," she said gently, standing and heading for the door.
"Thank you, Ginny. And," he paused as she was about to head out the door, and she turned back to him. He smiled, eyes misting over as if he was remembering something from long ago. "You can call me Remus in private. Harry does."
Ginny opened her eyes and sighed in memory, meeting her own gaze in the mirror. That conversation with Lupin had added weight to her own growing concerns over Harry's welfare. She didn't want to push Harry, but he was sucking everything he felt into the deepest protections he had inside himself, and if he didn't open up soon, he would explode when least expected. She had been very gentle with him over the summer. Maybe it was time to get a little tougher.
She flipped her hair over her face and scrunched the damp strands briefly, feeling a stone drop into her stomach. Harry might not like the tough side of her. What if he didn't want her? Her insides churned at the thought, and she flipped her hair back, looking in the mirror.
And meeting a pair of dark, vivid green eyes.
She squealed, and spun around, seeing Harry's head floating not five feet from her. "Damn you, Harry! You shouldn't be in here," she hissed as he laughed at the look on her face.
"But, I had to show you my amazing popping head trick," he explained impudently, a quick swish of a fluid silver cloak revealing the rest of his body. He was still in his Quidditch robes, and her heart fluttered at the sight.
She struggled not to swoon, and glared at him. "Couldn't it have waited until I was dressed?"
He smirked, an eye traveling up her toweled form. "It wouldn't have been as fun, love."
"For who? I'm not having any fun," she retorted, crossing her arms over her chest.
His eyes darkened and he stepped towards her, hands reaching out to grasp her waist. "Me, Ginny. I'm having lots of fun."
His breath was very hot on her skin, and she felt heat gather unbidden in her body, shuddering lightly through her. He kept her gaze with his as he pulled her to him, resting his mouth near her ear. "I can make this fun for you, Gin. Very fun," he breathed, kissing her earlobe. She jumped in his arms, letting out a breath she hadn't known she was holding until just then. A low chuckle escaped his throat, and his lips pressed against her neck.
Her breath came sharply, and she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, kissing his cheek as he kept up his attentions to her neck. She had a feeling that once she got out of here she'd have a few more of those bruises on her neck, if not in other places...
She was jolted out of her Harry-induced daze as one of his hands came across her stomach, tugging gently on her towel as he slanted his mouth across hers. The feelings running through him were explosive, and she felt every one of them. There was mostly desire coursing in him, mixed with what seemed like hate, pain, guilt. She struggled to pull her lips from his insistent mouth, feeling her self-control slip away as fast as her towel was. "Harry! Harry, wait! Please," she gasped when his lips left hers momentarily. Her hands untangled from his unruly hair, and cupped his face, making his gaze focus on her. "Wait a minute, Harry," she echoed gently. "We need to talk."
For moment, he didn't seem to understand her, but soon he nodded, breathing heavily. His hands left her body, and she pulled back from him, a hand going to latch onto her towel. They stared heatedly at each other for a minute, regaining their breath. The look in his eyes frightened her and excited her at the same time.
Suddenly, she giggled lightly. "Hormones, Harry. My goodness," she teased, needing to lighten the mood that had dropped over them.
He cracked a grin, eyes still smoldering at her. "It's those towels you've taken to wearing. They drive me nuts," he replied huskily.
She smiled crookedly, remembering the hate and guilt she had felt pouring from him only a few minutes ago. "Harry, Professor Lupin is worried about you."
He blinked, then let out a short, tense laugh. "Well, that was a bit random."
"Why won't you talk to him?"
He stiffened, and she could see the walls close in around him. "Does it matter?"
"Yes. You should talk to someone," she said softly, leaning against the sink behind her. "We're all worried. You go up and down so fast we're afraid to say something wrong, in case you're in the wrong mood!"
"You shouldn't worry, Ginny. I'm fine," he stated coolly, crossing his arms over his chest.
She pursed her lips, and paused momentarily. She had attempted to get him to talk, and he had refused. Wasn't that enough? She had a sinking feeling that if she said anymore, he'd become furious.
But, he had said, "I'm fine." She remembered the fight he and Hermione had had in the summer when he had said that. Soon after that, Ginny had discovered he was far from fine. And the thought of him telling her of all people that he was fine angered her.
"Like hell you're fine, Harry," she blurted out hotly. "You're not fine, and I can't believe you would try to fool me like this! I can feel everything you're going through, and I know you're angry. I know you're hurting."
His eyes were wide with horror. She kept on talking recklessly, feeling the dread rise within her. "You've got to stop this "I'm fine," rubbish, because I know you're not. Why are you keeping things from me? Don't you trust me?"
He looked outraged. "Of course I trust you--"
"Then why don't you tell me anything? I can't be the only one trying to make this work! It doesn't help that you want our relationship to be a secret, but you want your whole mind to be a secret, too!" she exclaimed, tears welling in her eyes.
Harry gazed at her for a moment, anger darkening his eyes to black. Then, he leaned over to pick up his Invisibility Cloak from where he had dropped it during their kiss, and met her eyes for a moment. "I'm sorry you feel that way, Ginny," he said tonelessly, and walked out of the locker room.
Her legs gave out from underneath her, and she fell onto the stone floor, tears running down her face silently as the best thing in her crazy life walked out for good. So much for tough Ginny being wanted the same way as gentle Ginny.
Shrewd eyes watched from his hiding place as he saw a tall, dark-haired boy storm out from the girls' changing room, a furious look on his face. The watcher gaze a little shout of surprise. Potter? Why was Potter in the girls' locker room?
A few minutes later, another shock jolted through him as a slim red-head followed in Potter's footsteps, face pale and stained with tears. The youngest Weasley… And Potter? A smirk crossed the watcher's face. His lord would enjoy this. All he needed was the proof.
He would get it.
A/N: Thank you to my wonderful beta, Joe. I think I forgot to plug him in Chapter One, so all apologies! He's wonderful. Hope it wasn't too bad. Please review or email me, and tell me what you think of this. ^^