A/N: Dedicated to Tosca and Calixa, my first "lj" friends and the two best H/G angsters I've ever met. Thank you, and I'm sorry for the unmitigated fluff. ;)
* * *
What is wrong with me? she wondered. What was so truly and completely repulsive about her that she warranted such...
He was just so callous. Utterly and simply that. He was just so thoughtlessly careless and brooding and just- it was as if he didn't heed the outcome of his words. And not to give Harry Potter any undue credit, but Ginny Weasley would have him know that his words hurt.
"Oh, yes," she muttered sarcastically, slinging her bag over her shoulder. "Do grace me with your Highness's opinion of the type of boy I have dated. Please, Harry, I'm simply dying to know what about me suggests that I didn't deserve even Michael Corner!"
She stopped, and it was as if an epiphany had hit her. Her eyes lit up and then darkened stormily. "Or maybe it wasn't me. Maybe it's just that Cho deserves Michael. That if Cho Chang could ensnare Michael, then how could Ginny Weasley be good enough for him? Tuh!" Ginny viciously kicked at the wall, biting her lip against the pain and scowling.
She was charging down the corridor leading to Gryffindor Tower, her broom in hand and hair still messy from Quidditch practice. It had started out as a nice day, with great flying conditions and a couple really awesome plays on Ginny's part. But then Harry Potter had to go and ruin it, and of course he hadn't the decency to come after her and apologise!
"His Highness is above that," she muttered. "Can't bring himself on level with the peasants," she spat. "He doesn't care if he upsets anyone because he thinks he has a right!" Ginny screwed her face together in an expression of great distaste. "Well, Potter," she said to herself, leaning on her broom for a second as she waited for the stairs to rearrange, "Guess what? Facing Voldemort doesn't make you special- ."
She sighed in disgust, and shook her head. "I mean, I've done it, too. Granted, you've done it too many times than you should have...but it's not as if that automatically guarantees you a sympathy note- we see how hurt you are...just want to help but you won't let me...ruddy twit..."
"Is that what you think?" A quiet voice suddenly cut into her mutterings.
Ginny whirled around and her heart pounded. A fierce blush heated her cheeks and her fingers tingled as she prepared to stutter an excuse. Then the casual dismissal the Team Captain had just paid her came flooding back, and Ginny lifted her chin defiantly.
"Yes," she said stubbornly. "Why? Do you believe it's not true?" Ginny rose an eyebrow in challenge.
Harry was staring down at Ginny with an unfathomable expression in his eyes. His hair was endearingly messy and speckled with dust from the Pitch outside. His glasses lay askew upon his nose, his mouth a thin line and cheeks blotched with red. He had grown inches last summer, but this summer had seen only one change in him: he was even thinner than before. The crimson practice robes he wore hung in unnatural angles around his body, and his gloved hands shook. Ginny felt a guilty pang shoot through her as she contemplated that her anger was probably petty and misplaced in the face of the pain he was in.
* * *
"Is that Michael Corner spying on us?" Ron was asking, squinting in the distance at the small crowd that was watching the team practice. "Glad Gin broke up with the dolt, right Harry? He's certainly not good enough for her 'specially if he's off to report team activities to his girlfriend." Ron flew a bit higher, nudging his friend with his knee.
"I dunno," Harry said absently, flying lazily in a circle, looking down at the Pitch. "Cho Chang is still going out with him, is she?"
"I dunno. I figured Micheal was a bit- below her. You know, she's only ever dated older boys."
"What about you?" Ron asked pointedly.
"That's different- she went out with me because I was- well-"
"You." Ron laughed and gave a hearty slap on Harry's back. "Well, if he's good enough for Ginny, then he's good enough for Chang."
"Somehow, I think Ginny and Cho are in two different leagues." Harry said mildly.
There was silence in the air as Ron digested this. Suddenly, a Quaffle went zipping past Harry's head. He turned round to tell off whoever sent it his way, and instantly froze. Hovering in the air, a very angry look in her brown eyes, was Ginny Weasley.
"Nice to know how I rate, Harry." And then she aimed her broom down to the ground, her hair flying down her shoulders. Harry was left in the air with his mouth hanging open in shock.
* * *
Anger flared up in Ginny again. "So what if I believe it's true?" she asked loudly. "You can't deny that you look down your nose at me!"
Harry's eyes clouded over. "What? I don't!" he protested, looking confused.
"Oh, sod off, Harry. We all see those condescending looks...when you bother to even look at me!" Ginny squinted. "I really thought that after last year, you and I could possibly be friends. After all, with Ron scared silly of you and Hermione barely speaking to you, I'd thought I was of value to you...the only person who would never get hacked off at you! S'ppose you showed me how wrong I was, hmm?"
Ginny's eyes flashed and Harry's cheeks turned red. He seemed to be at a loss of words; Ginny had never yelled at Harry before, and she had a feeling he had no idea how to deal with her temper when it was directed towards him. Suddenly she felt drained.
"You know what, Harry? Just forget it. I'm surprised you even followed me- it's not as if I matter at all in the cozy little world you have there inside that messy little head of yours, now do I?"
Harry's eyebrows drew closer together, his glasses glinting. "Is that what you think?" he asked again, except this time his voice had a dangerous quality to it.
"Prove me wrong," Ginny said defiantly. "I dare you."
"I DON'T HAVE TO!!!" Harry suddenly thundered. "I HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE TO YOU, GINNY WEASLEY! IF YOU WENT THROUGH A FRACTION-"
"I HAVE!!!!" Ginny screamed back, singularly unimpressed. "I HAVE GONE THROUGH A FRACTION OF WHAT YOU HAVE, HE POSSESSED ME! HE ALMOST KILLED MY FATHER, AND MY BROTHER AND YOU AND-" Ginny lowered her voice, her face red. "And he possessed me."
"You said that already," Harry said flatly.
Ginny moved closer, her face thrust up so she was almost nose-to-nose with Harry. "You listen to me, Harry Potter. Don't ever devalue the fact that I had that- that dirt in me for a year of my life. I may not be you, noble and heroic, doing my duty by facing that evil, but let me tell you: I did face him. And that's enough for me, thank you!" There were tears in Ginny's eyes and a hitch in her voice. "You've been lucky to escape Voldemort all those times you battled him," she said softly. "Because all he's done is destroy the things around you...that one meeting with Tom Riddle destroyed things in me. Faith." Ginny sighed. "Hope?" She looked up into Harry's eyes. "Love." Her voice was quiet.
The moment dissipated and she stepped back, confusion painted on her expression. Her hands let go of her broom. The noise resonated against the stone walls, and Harry quickly looked down, his mouth working soundlessly.
"What- what were we...what were we talking about before that horrid...what do Muggles call it? Train wreck?" Ginny sniffled and batted her hand at Harry, shaking her head and laughing weakly.
"Ginny." Harry instantly moved forward, holding out his hand unconsciously. His eyes looked terribly concerned, his anger gone in a flash. His fingers hovered in the air tentatively, before falling onto Ginny's shoulder. "Ginny?"
"Harry- I know my name." Ginny cracked a brave grin. "You- you started the argument. Don't back down now, I do so love a good row."
"I didn't want to row with you," Harry said earnestly. "I never meant anything by that comment, Ginny- I guess I wasn't thinking properly. I-I'm sorry."
Ginny straightened. "Are you sorry because you know what you're sorry for or because we mentioned Voldemort and I fell apart?" she asked accusingly.
"Er..." Harry furrowed his brow.
"Harry!" Ginny threw her arms up. "Look, I wasn't cross at you because you brought up Voldemort. Merlin knows he's on everyone's lips nowadays...I was cross because- because the way you did it just made me so...so frustrated. Harry, you just keep shutting me out! How can we be friends if I don't know a damn thing about you?"
Harry took a step back. "Is that what you think?" he asked in surprise.
Ginny rolled her eyes and gave a wry smile. "I shall call you Broken Record Potter soon, if you're not careful."
"No- Ginny, do you really think that I'm shutting you out by saying that you can't know what-"
"Well, aren't you? Whenever I try and broach the subject, you just shake your head and get that look in your eyes! I used to think it was all right, because even if it wasn't me you were speaking to, you talked to someone like Ron or Hermione. But now, I wonder if you're just being stupid-"
"No! Look, you can't know, all right? I'm not saying that makes me better or more knowledgeable or what, but I'm only saying that you don't know what I'm thinking! And I don't want you to! Ginny, the thoughts in my head sometimes..." Harry's eyes darkened. "I don't want anyone to know them. They're...they're not something I'm proud of."
Ginny ducked her head. The emotion in his eyes looked genuine. He looked properly abashed, but also desperate to explain. Ginny decided to take pity on the poor boy.
"I just- I want so badly to just be your friend, Harry," Ginny said softly. "And this year, with the others just- just not being able to give you what you need, I thought it was my chance. To give you something...I felt I finally was a part of that world Ron built for me when I was a child, only ten, at home as he had adventures at Hogwarts. I felt like I was finally a friend of yours. Like I was...special enough. Not just Ginny, that girl who hangs around Harry Potter." She looked away. "And then I realize I've never really been your friend the way others have."
"Ginny-" Harry moved forward, pushing his glasses up. "You've helped me loads. If you weren't around this year, if you weren't my friend, I think I would've gone barmy. No one else understands even in the slightest...they can't. But you do. You've seen it, you've lived it and you're still the same sweet girl you were when you were untouched. That's amazing." Harry said seriously.
"I'm just- I'm not forthcoming at all anyway. I can't...it's not my nature. But it doesn't mean I don't respect you. You have- you have all of those things you said you lost, Ginny. You still have all of them, and the reason I'm glad you're my friend is because you help me see how wonderful it is to keep them. Faith. Hope." Harry's voice lowered. "Love." His nose was an inch away from Ginny's as she looked up into his eyes, both of their eyes masks.
"Yeah," Ginny said quietly after a moment, looking down. "I suppose. But that's not what we fought about in the first place, remember?"
Harry shook himself out of the stupor he had been in, his eyes still unfathomable. "Right. Well, you were extremely hacked off about something, and I-"
"I had a right," Ginny said hotly. "Don't you dare say you were an innocent party!"
Harry grinned. "Wouldn't dream of it. I deserved every insult on the face of this Earth for the, er, horrid thing I said...or did."
Ginny felt the anger drain out of her once again at the sight of his smile. Harry, for all his faults, really was sorry. He really was trying. And what he had said, Ginny thought sadly, was pretty true. At least he was honest. There was no chance in this lifetime for Harry to want to move from Cho's "league" to Ginny's. It wasn't his fault...
"You know," Ginny said fondly, her throat tight, "You are incorrigible."
"I am that," Harry said, grinning even more widely when he saw Ginny relenting. Unconsciously he moved closer. "Listen, Ginny- there's something I wanted to say, about what I said out there- if that was what made you angry."
"No," Ginny said dismissively. "Forget it. I understand, Harry. You and I are friends, that's all that's important, you wouldn't mean to hurt me, I know that-"
"That's just it." Harry moved even closer, his hand brushing hers. Ginny's heart jumped. Just a coincidence, just a coincidence, he's going to apologize, he's not going to...
Harry tucked a finger under Ginny's chin, forcing her eyes to meet his. Those eyes that had enchanted Ginny sparkled with something akin to mischief. "I said what I did because I meant it whole-heartedly. You and Cho...you are two different leagues. But...why did you assume I meant that Cho's was a better one?"
He said this lightly, his finger shaking. Ginny just stared mutely, her brain having ceased functioning. "I- I think you're wonderful. And Cho- she needs to grow up, but you- you have. You've been there, you know what it's like. And you're still- you're pretty and popular and good and kind. I think I'd like to kiss you, actually."
Ginny just looked at him, her eyes wide.
"You asked me," Harry started, before leaning his head down tentatively, "To prove you otherwise, when you said I didn't have room for you in my own private world." His lips captured Ginny's then in the most surprising, warm kiss she'd ever received. The cool rim of his spectacles slid against her cheek and Ginny almost slid to her knees with happiness.
"I have a lot of room for you, Ginny." Harry said slowly. "And if you'll let me, I'll make up every row we have like this from now on."
Somehow, Ginny had a feeling that she and Harry would make Ron and Hermione pale in comparison...