Harry Potter sat on the sofa in the Gryffindor common room, stared at the fire, and let his mind drift. He should be revising or doing homework, he knew. He had a particularly nasty Potions essay due in two days, and, as Hermione was constantly reminding him, NEWTs were approaching quickly. He just couldn't bring himself to care about his schoolwork at the moment. Instead, his thoughts were occupied by a certain young lady. One with vibrant red hair and soulful brown eyes, who just happened to be the little sister of his best friend.
He couldn't pinpoint when, exactly, Ginny Weasley had started to dominate his thoughts. She'd always just been there. Ron's "baby" sister. And then, suddenly, she was there.
When he really thought about it, though, he realised that Ginny had started her invasion on his peace of mind sometime during his fifth year. That year had been...hell. That was really the only word for it. Over the summer, he'd been isolated from his friends and ignored by his mentor. He'd been trying to get over that whole Tri-Wizard Tournament, Cedric's death and Voldemort's resurrection. The newspaper (if you could call the Daily Prophet that) had labelled him insane and a liar. He'd had to endure that horrible woman that masqueraded as a Defence teacher and banned him from playing Quidditch. And then there was that fiasco at the Department of Mysteries, where he lost his godfather because of Harry's own stupidity. Sirius. Harry still missed him, almost two years after the fact.
Ginny had been one of the few highlights of that year. He'd been a prat then; he could freely admit that now. She'd been the only one brave enough to call him on his behaviour. He smiled as he remembered. She really let him have it on more than one occasion--and he'd deserved it. She'd brought him that chocolate egg in the library, helped him distract Umbridge so he could talk to Sirius. She'd flown on a Thestral to London and fought alongside him in the Department of Mysteries.
Then, in his sixth year, she helped him with his grief. It, along with a tonne of guilt, had threatened to consume him. He'd tried to withdraw from everyone again, but Ginny wouldn't let him. She'd been the one to convince him that it was okay to laugh-that Sirius would want him to laugh. She'd cheered with him when he flew for the first time since Umbridge had confiscated his broom, then cried with him when the memories of Sirius had overwhelmed him. In fact, Ginny had been the one to convince him to keep the Firebolt and fly again in the first place-he'd almost got rid of it because of the memories it evoked.
Yes, Ginny had been there for him. And he'd also been there for her. Harry was the one she'd talk to when she was annoyed at her overprotective brothers, or when her course-work was getting her down. She came and cried on his shoulder when relationships ended. Together, they'd plotted and schemed to get Ron and Hermione to finally admit their feelings for each other after Ginny had confessed that Ron was driving her barmy with his whining; then they celebrated together when their plans had come to fruition.
And so as time passed, Ginny became more than "Ron's little sister" to Harry. Much more, if he admitted it to himself. Harry now counted her as one of his true friends and knew he was lucky to be able to do so. That's not to say that he'd mind if there was something more between them. No, he was pretty certain that if the opportunity presented itself for a "more-than-friends" relationship with one Ginny Weasley, he'd jump at the chance.
And that thought led him back to the fact that he was sitting, staring at the common room fire, thinking about her.
Harry started from his reverie when he realised that the object of his thoughts had just crawled through the portrait hole and into the common room, and was presently walking gracefully over to the chair beside his sofa. She dropped wearily into the chair and sighed.
Harry couldn't help himself. He had to know what was causing her to sigh like that. Boy trouble, most likely, he thought. She always sighs like that when she has boy trouble.
"What's wrong, Ginny?" he asked out loud. His eyebrows rose when she jumped at the sound of his voice. One would think she didn't know he was there, judging by her reaction.
"I.... It's nothing, Harry," she answered quickly, a faint blush covering her cheeks.
"Ginny," he replied, "don't try to tell me it's nothing. I know you better than that."
Well, he told himself, it's true. I know her at least as well as her brothers, maybe better. I know that her favourite colour is yellow, and her favourite flower is the daisy. She loves the crisp mornings of spring and autumn, but hates the rain that comes along with them. She hates pumpkin pie and loves apple, but her hatred of pumpkin doesn't extend to pumpkin juice. She drinks that like it was water.
Ginny sighed again without replying.
"Ginny?" Harry persisted. She looked absolutely miserable.
"Oh...all right, Harry. It's just...well...." She trailed off and Harry was left to wonder what she was thinking.
"C'mon, it's just me-Harry. You can tell me."
"Um...well, there's this...boy," she said finally. I knew it was boy trouble, Harry thought. He sighed inwardly. Wonder who the lucky bloke is this time. Not me, that's for certain.
He carefully schooled his features into those of a caring...friend and said in what he hoped was an encouraging manner, "Go on."
"Well..." she answered slowly, "I think I might love him."
Great. Bloody brilliant, Potter. She loves him, whoever "he" is.Now what do I say?
"He must be someone special, then." Harry struggled to keep his voice noncommittal. "Go on, then. Tell me about him."
Ginny groaned. "Harry, this is embarrassing."
"Look, we're friends, right?" Harry's lips tightened a bit at the thought that that was all they would ever be-friends. "You need someone to talk to. So talk."
She rolled her eyes at him, and he grinned at her reaction. "All right then," she said. "What do you want to know?"
He started to ask his name, but she beat him to it, saying, "No, wait.... Don't answer that. I'm not telling you who he is. I'll...I'll just describe him, shall I?"
Harry nodded stiffly.
"Oh, Harry. He's just wonderful!" she gushed. Harry looked at her and motioned for her to continue. Merlin, she's beautiful when her eyes light up like that.
"He's handsome, or at least I think he is." His eyes strayed to her hands and watched while she flexed her fingers. "I just want to run my fingers through his hair. And his eyes...." She sighed, and he looked back at her face. "Sometimes I feel like he can see right through me," she finished, blushing.
"But," she said quickly, "it's not just that he's handsome. There so much more. He's funny, and smart, even though he doesn't think so, and strong, and brave, and loyal...." She trailed off, and Harry was struck again by how beautiful she was.
"He's lucky, Ginny, to have someone care so much about him," Harry said softly, leaning closer to her as he spoke.
"Yes, he is lucky. More people care about him than he realises. He's...." Her voice caught, and Harry was amazed at the compassion he could hear when she spoke. He drew nearer to her, unable to help himself.
"He's been hurt deeply in the past, and things have happened in his life. Horrible things. Things he blames himself for but aren't his fault at all."
She looked directly at him as she finished, and Harry thought he heard her gasp. It didn't matter. He was lost. He couldn't help himself-he leaned over and brushed his lips against hers, before withdrawing in horror.
Oh my God. What have I done?I've just kissed Ginny, that's what. Harry felt his face heat up in embarrassment and started to get up to leave. He had to get out of there, and now. "Ginny...I'm sorry," he said haltingly. "I...I shouldn't have...I mean, I had no right. I'll...um...I'll just go now."
Ginny grabbed his hand before he could get away. Damn! Too slow, he thought.
"Harry. Harry, look at me. Harry, please," Ginny said.
Harry had never been one to obey orders, especially when he was embarrassed, so he looked over her shoulder toward the wall as he said, "It's okay, Ginny. I understand. You love someone else. I'll stay away fr-"
"Harry, wait," she interrupted. "Let me finish."
Let her finish adding to my misery, she means. Why, oh why, couldn't I have moved faster?
"Harry...." Now she was the one who sounded embarrassed. He refused to look at her, but she still held his arm, so he couldn't escape.
"I told you how I loved his hair. Did I tell you that it's as dark as a blackboard?" He saw her smile out of the corner of his eye. "Or that his eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad? Did I tell you that...."
Harry turned to look directly at her, hope bursting in his heart.
"But that's what you said about...."
"You. Harry, it's always been you." She touched his cheek gently. "I had just decided that I would rather be your friend than not be around you at all, and then you started asking me all these questions and.... Well, now you know."
Harry looked deeply in her eyes and gave a sheepish smile. "Now I know. And...I guess now you know, too."
Ginny sighed again before leaning forward to lightly brush her lips against his once more. "Now I know, too."
After a few moments, Harry scooted over on the sofa to make room, and asked hesitantly, "Ginny, would you sit with me? Only if you want to. I mean, I just want to sit.... I don't want to snog or anything." Bloody hell. That's a lie if I've ever heard one. "I mean, I do want to, you know, snog, but we don't have to...."
"Harry," Ginny said, laughing. "I'd love to sit with you. Budge over a bit more, will you?" Harry gulped as she stood and moved over to the sofa. "There. That's better, don't you think?"
"I...um...y-yes, of course." Brilliant repertoire, Potter. So suave. "So do you think we should, you know?"
"Snog? Ginny asked.
"Well, I was thinking more of talking, but I'm willing to snog if you are," Harry replied, sounding much more confident than he felt.
"Right. We should probably talk," Ginny stuck out her tongue at him. "What do you want to talk about?"
"Well, there's always Quidditch," Harry answered.
"Quidditch? Honestly, Harry, you're as bad as Ron if you think I want to talk about Quidditch. You...we just, you know...kissed," she replied, a faint blush covering her cheeks again.
"Honestly, Ginny," he teased back, "you've been around Hermione too much. I was joking."
"Oh, you!" She swatted at his arm. "That's no fair!"
"Maybe not, but it's fun," he said, beginning to feel more at ease.
"Actually, Harry, there is something I need to tell you," Ginny said, seriously.
Harry began to feel nervous again. Oh, great. What is it now?
"I...ergh. This is a bit embarrassing."
In an effort to break the tension, Harry made a show of looking around in confusion.
"Harry," Ginny laughed, "what are you doing?"
"Didn't we just have this conversation a few minutes ago?" he asked. "You were embarrassed, I browbeat you into telling me why, we kissed. Ring any bells?"
"Harry," she said warningly. "Don't start with me. You know I'm an expert with the Bat-Bogey Hex. Don't expect to be kissed much if you've got giant flapping bogies all over your face."
Harry raised his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay," he placated. "Heaven forbid I do anything to keep you from kissing me. What did you want to say?"
Ginny blushed again. She's bloody gorgeous when she does that. If I leaned just so, I might be able to sneak another kiss....
"Harry, I'll make a deal with you. You listen to what I have to say, and then, if you still feel like it, you can have another kiss.Deal?" she said, sticking her hand out to shake on it. "You have to be quiet and let me finish before you say anything, all right?"
"Deal," Harry said, shaking her hand firmly, all the while wondering what it would be like to hold that hand for real. Like while taking a walk around the lake, for example, or going to dinn-
"Harry," Ginny said waving her free hand in front of his face. "You've still got my hand. And you're not paying attention."
"I...ah...right. Sorry about that, Ginny. You need your hand back." He let go. "I need to pay attention. I will, I promise."
She raised her eyebrow sceptically at him "You promise?"
"Promise. You tell your story; I don't do anything but pay attention to what you're saying."
"All right, Harry," she said, grabbing his hand in hers again.
Harry started at the contact. Oh, that's what it's like to do this for real. It's...nice. I like it. I could do this forever.
"Harry, are you paying attention?"
"Of course, Ginny." He turned to look at her, smiled, and said, "I'll always pay attention to you, Ginny Weasley."
She looked suspiciously at him. "All right, then. You remember your second year?"
Harry shuddered. "Yeah." He'd always remember that year; seeing Ginny lifeless on the floor of the Chamber was not something you forgot easily.
Ginny laughed nervously. "Right. Sorry about that. Um...anyway. Do you remember Valentine's Day? And that stupid dwarf and the card?"
He looked curiously at her. "Yeah," he said slowly, wondering where she was going with this line of conversation.
"I didn't send it."
Harry did a double take. "Yes, you did. You were right there when that stupid dwarf cornered me. And you were embarrassed, and...."
"I didn't send it," she said again. "Harry, I couldn't even be in the same room with you without doing something stupid. I couldn't string a complete sentence together when you were around, for goodness sake." She shook her head. "There is no way I would have ever screwed up enough courage to send you a Valentine. Especially in such a public manner. It wasn't me."
"But...but you just said...." Harry was very confused. Did that mean she doesn't like me? No, she kissed me back. And she's still holding my hand. She wouldn't do that if she didn't like me, right?
Ginny gave him a small grin. "Harry, you'd just kissed me-something I've dreamed about for years, by the way. You were panicking and about to run off and then where would I be? I just said the first thing that came to mind to get you to stay." She pulled on the hand she held and placed his arm around her shoulders, snuggling up to him. "It worked, didn't it?"
He grinned back. "Yeah, I reckon it did." He tightened his arm around her shoulders. "Gin?"
"If you didn't send that Valentine, who did?"
"I don't know for certain, but I have my suspicions," she answered.
"You don't think your brothers had something to do with it, do you?"
"Fred and George? They were my first guess," she laughed. "You wouldn't believe how much they teased me that summer before I started school. There's no way they would've let an opportunity like that go by."
"Yes, Harry?" She raised her head to look at him, but her eyes drifted closed as he gently kissed her.
He raised his lips slightly from hers. "Remind me to thank them," he said, before lowering his head and kissing her again.
A/N: When I first wrote "The Realization," I figured that would be it-just an overly sweet little one-shot from Ginny's point of view. But then Harry started pestering me about getting his opinion on the whole situation out there, and Ginny really wanted me to make sure Harry knew she didn't send the Valentine in her first year, so now there's an overly sweet one-shot from Harry's point of view to add to the mix.
Many thanks to Susan for being a terrific beta and an even better friend.