Homework was not the only thing on Harry Potter's mind as he sat in the common room rather late one night, every so often glancing at the portrait hole. It was a cold winter night in late January, and a large fire was burning warmly in the fireplace. Ron and Hermione had been working on their homework with him earlier, but they had gone up to bed, along with most of the other Gryffindors. Harry had made the excuse that he wanted to get caught up on a large project for Transfiguration, but he was really waiting for a certain someone.
Finally, the portrait hole opened and an exhausted Ginny Weasley walked through. She brightened as she saw Harry sitting by the fire and plopped herself down next to him.
"The OWL exams are going to kill me this year, I know it," she said tiredly.
Harry grinned at her. "Down in the library?"
"Yeah. Snape is really cracking the whip. He says he was 'disappointed' in the results last year, and is trying to make up for it this year. So, really, it's all your fault!" she said accusingly.
"Not my fault," he said haughtily. "I got an 'O' on my Potions exam." Harry snickered. "You should have seen Snape, though, on the first day of Advanced Potions. He kept looking over at me like he couldn't believe I was there and didn't want to believe it."
Ginny laughed and then sighed. "Well, I don't know if he'll be making faces at me next year," she said glumly.
"You'll do fantastic. Are you hungry? I noticed that you didn't come to dinner," he said.
"Starving. I haven't eaten since lunch. Are you thinking…?" she said, raising her eyebrows.
Harry patted his robes. "Got them right here," he said, grinning.
Ginny eyed him mischievously. "Well then, Mr. Potter, I would say that a little excursion is in order."
They slipped quietly out the portrait hole, the Fat Lady giving them a suspicious look. "Now, you two come back soon… it's almost curfew!" she said warningly.
"Um, we'll be right back," Harry said, a bit guiltily, as Ginny giggled at his fib.
Moving to a dark corner of the corridor out of site, Harry pulled out his invisibility cloak and put over their heads. He then activated the Marauder's Map.
"The coast looks clear," he whispered to Ginny, who grinned back at him. Harry cleared the map and they began walking toward the kitchens.
Although he felt sorry for Ginny that she had to miss dinner, he was also secretly happy that it gave him an excuse to sneak down and get something to eat with her. They had been spending a lot of time together since Ron and Hermione had started going out. At first Harry had felt very left out, but Ginny would seem to show up whenever he was feeling particularly depressed and cheer him up.
They crept along the corridor, with Harry in the lead and Ginny following closely. She was lightly touching his shoulders so as to maintain the same distance. The motion of their walking caused her fingers to slide across his back, sending shivers down his spine. It was agonizing and wonderful at the same time.
The agony had been slowly building over the course of his sixth year, as he spent more and more time with her. It seemed so strange to him that there was ever a time that he didn't notice her, yet he couldn't deny that for a long, long time he had completely overlooked her. Was it too late? She never acted like she had done in her first few years. As far as Harry could tell, Hermione was right. She had given up on him. The thought sent a twisting feeling through his stomach.
The one thing he thought he had going for him was that he didn't think she was seeing anyone else seriously. She seemed to be friendly with a lot of boys, which secretly irked Harry no end. But he hadn't seen any outward signs of affection with anyone special.
Harry had come to appreciate her strength in the past year. He had been an emotional wreck over the summer and earlier in the school year. Ron and Hermione were very helpful, but he found it difficult to talk to them about certain things. They had a tendency to worry and pity him. The looks they gave him after he admitted the prophecy had been particularly dreadful.
Ginny was different. She just listened to him and admitted some of her own pain in dealing with Tom Riddle. What amazed Harry was that she had moved past it so successfully. She had said that it was years since her last nightmare, yet Harry still had them several times a week. He had come to depend on her to help him through his own internal battles. It was very helpful to know that someone his own age had gone through similar battles and come out of it still strong.
Harry heard a noise and abruptly stopped, listening for anyone coming. He was very distracted by Ginny, who was standing closely behind him. He could feel her breath on his neck, and it was driving him mad. It was all he could do not to turn around and kiss her right there in the corridor.
The truth was that he simply didn't know what to do. He wanted to admit his feelings, but wasn't sure if they would be returned. He was fairly certain that Ginny didn't suspect anything, and that was the way he wanted to keep it for now until he figured out the best way to tell her. He didn't want to ruin what they already had. She had become very important to him, and he would do anything not to spoil that.
They heard the noise again, and then suddenly Harry spotted Filch and Mrs. Norris heading their way.
"Come on!" Harry whispered. "We'd better hide somewhere, or Mrs. Norris will give us away."
Harry started leading them back the other way just as the cat gave a loud, "Meow!"
"What is it?" said Filch. "Do you hear something? Students out of bed, perhaps?" His eyes narrowed, looking down the dim corridor.
Harry and Ginny walked quickly but silently down the corridor. The turned a corner, and Harry spotted a broom cupboard. He opened it up, and they slipped inside. It was quite small, but they managed to squeeze in and close the door just as Filch and Mrs. Norris came around the corner.
Ginny was pressed up against Harry, and he was desperately trying to keep his hands away from anywhere unsafe and embarrassing. They waited silently, as they heard Filch and Mrs. Norris walk slowly past. Having Ginny so close was killing him. He surreptitiously took a deep breath; her hair smelled good.
Finally the corridor seemed to be clear. With a mixture of relief and disappointment, Harry opened the door of the cupboard, and they made their way to the kitchens. Opening up the entrance, they walked in, seeing several house-elves milling about.
Suddenly an elf streaked toward Harry at full speed, almost launching himself in the air.
"Oomph!" Harry shouted, staggering backward as Dobby gave him a bone-crushing embrace.
"Good evening, Harry Potter, sir!" said Dobby joyously.
"Hello, Dobby," Harry said, a painful smile on his face.
"Hi, Dobby," Ginny greeted as well, her hand over her mouth to suppress her giggles.
Dobby finally released him. "Dobby will fix Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley a snack right away! You both wait over at a table," he said, gesturing toward a table that several house elves were busily scrubbing down.
"Thanks…" Harry called after him, but Dobby had already disappeared.
Not long after, Dobby brought them quite a spread of food. Ginny dug into her plate ravenously, while Harry nibbled at a custard cream. He watched her eat, feeling contemplative. Ginny looked over and smiled at him, and Harry felt a warm feeling come over him.
Something about the night seemed to push Harry to a decision. Perhaps it was that he was feeling reflective in reviewing his relationship with her, or maybe it was sharing a late night adventure. But he had to admit to himself that he had strong feelings for her – and it was time to let her know.
* * *
Harry flew about the snow-covered Quidditch Pitch, just practicing dives and feints by himself. Flying always calmed his thoughts, and his thoughts had been quite busy lately. Impulsively, he took off toward the castle at a high rate of speed, enjoying the cool morning air on his face. The sky was overcast, and it appeared a storm was heading in.
It had been a week since his decision to tell Ginny his feelings, but he was no closer to actually doing the deed. Either there were too many people around, or the time just didn't feel right. Feeling frustrated, he decided to fly to clear his head.
He pointed the broom straight up and flew high above the castle, where he could see the entire grounds. Not too many students were out this morning, since it was Saturday and many people were sleeping in. He started circling the castle, weaving among the turrets.
Flying past one of the highest turrets, Harry saw a flash of something odd about it. Puzzled, he turned around and flew back. There was an odd seam on the side, so he brought his broom alongside for a closer inspection. It was a door with a small handle. He looked around cautiously, as if someone might be lurking about, but then chuckled to himself. He yanked on the door, expecting it to be locked, but it opened easily, revealing a bright light from the interior.
He peered into the strange room, and to his shock, he could see right through the other side. Pulling his head out, the turret seemed solid, but inside, the walls were transparent.
He tucked his head and arms and flew into the room. He looked about in astonishment, knocking on the walls to make sure they were actually solid. Standing on the inside, it seemed like he was standing on an open platform, but the air was still, so he knew he was still in a room. Wow, this is a great place, he thought. I wonder if anyone else knows about this.
He sat down on the floor and looked out over the view. He could see snow covered hills behind Hogwarts Lake, and the forbidden forest seemed to stretch forever. He idly wondered if Grawp was still in there making mayhem.
His thoughts returned to Ginny. This would be a perfect place, he thought. No one could possibly interrupt them up here. Somehow being as far away from everyone as possible gave Harry a little more confidence.
But how could he get her up here? Then it came to him – Valentine's Day was coming up in a week. That would be a perfect time. Ugh, I need to get her a gift, he thought anxiously. Somehow he needed to get to Hogsmeade and buy something. Something special; something that will help show her how I feel, he thought.
Feeling emboldened, he mounted his Firebolt and headed back to the Quidditch pitch.
* * *
Harry entered his dormitory to fetch his invisibility cloak and the Marauder's Map. If he was going to do something next Saturday, then he needed to get to Hogsmeade as soon as possible. His only option was to sneak through the tunnel.
He was just pulling out the map and cloak when Ron walked into the room.
"Hi, Harry. Where've you been? You missed breakfast," he said, patting his stomach.
"Erm, I was just doing some flying," Harry said.
"You've been a bit distracted lately, mate. Anything going on?" Ron said, looking suspiciously at the cloak and map in Harry's hand.
"No, no, everything is fine," Harry said nervously. He would rather keep the whole thing quiet for now.
"Where're you off to with those?" Ron said.
"All right, I should probably tell you so you don't think I've disappeared or something," Harry said with a sigh. "I'm just going to run to Hogsmeade for a while. No big deal; just felt like a little – excursion."
Ron's eyes lit up. "Brilliant! I'll go with you!"
Harry's face fell. That's not what he intended. "Um, Ron, don't you have something to do with Hermione today?"
"Well, she did want to study, but I'm sure I can skive off that," he said.
"What about that Charms essay! You don't want to end up with a poor mark!" Harry said. The excuse sounded lame even to his own ears.
Ron looked at him as though he had lost his mind. "Since when do you worry about my essays? That's Hermione's job. She worries enough for six people." Suddenly Ron got a shocked look, and he looked again at Harry like he was seeing him a new light.
"Wait a minute…" he said slowly. "You want to go by yourself, don't you? What's this about?"
"Nothing!" said Harry, heading toward the door. The conversation was heading into dangerous waters.
"No! It couldn't be…" Ron said, his eyes widening. "Valentine's Day is next week! Are you buying something for Valentine's Day?"
Harry flinched, still walking toward the door. He tried to think of a brilliant response, but nothing came to him. The silence seemed to confirm everything to Ron.
"You're going to Hogsmeade to pick up something! You have to tell me now!" But Harry was already almost running out the door.
Harry groaned to himself. Ron was obviously on to him, and even he wouldn't be thick enough not to guess who Harry had in mind. And even if he didn't, he would tell Hermione, and she would certainly figure it out. Well, there's nothing to be done about it now, he thought miserably.
He made his way to the secret tunnel to Hogsmeade. Looking around to make sure the corridors were clear, Harry whispered, "Dissendium!" and tapped the stone witch. He entered the tunnel, muttering "Lumos!" to give him light.
He made his way down the tunnel and finally came up into the secret entrance into Honeydukes. It was rather quiet; Harry was used to more action, since he normally came to Hogsmeade on school weekends. He slipped past the proprietor, who was slumped in his chair. Harry noticed that he seemed to be taking a nap.
He walked down the snow-covered street, looking for a shop that might have something. There were a few shoppers out and about, but mostly the streets were empty of people. Harry looked in a few windows, but nothing seemed to catch his interest. He really had no idea what to get her. He was hoping the perfect item would somehow reach out and grab him.
Getting impatient, he decided to head into a shop called 'Trinkle's Curios' that seemed filled to the rafters with strange items. A little bell tinkled above the door as he walked in, which seemed to be hovering in mid-air. All around him were unusual bits of antique furniture, jewelry, boxes with odd runes on them, and various other items impossible to classify.
Suddenly a very old man walked out of the back of the shop and shuffled over to him. He was rather tall and thin, with an unkempt shock of white hair. His blue eyes were kindly, and Harry seemed to feel trusting in his presence, like being with a grandfather.
"Hello, my young sir. May I help you?" he said politely.
"Well, um, I'm looking for a gift," Harry said, embarrassed.
"Bless my soul. Are you Harry Potter?" he asked, peering at Harry's forehead.
"Yes," Harry said, sighing. He hated being recognized, but for some reason he didn't mind as much with the old man.
"It is a great pleasure, Mr. Potter. My name is Mr. Trinkle," he said, smiling, as he reached out and formally shook Harry's hand.
"Now then, a gift, you say? Am I correct to assume that this is for Valentine's Day?"
"Er, yes, sir," said Harry, glancing away nervously.
"Do you have anything in particular in mind?" asked Mr. Trinkle.
"No," said Harry glumly. "I was hoping I would see something."
"Perhaps I can help you find the right item. Have you been seeing her seriously for very long?"
"No, in fact, she doesn't even really know how I feel." Suddenly the truth seemed to blurt out of Harry, and he couldn't stop the flow. Something about Mr. Trinkle made Harry trust him. "She's become so important to me. I've know her for years, and she used to have a crush on me, and now I don't think she does anymore, but I need her to know that I love her so much. I don't think I could ever love anyone else like her… she's supported me through so much. She's brilliant," Harry finished, burning with embarrassment at his outburst. He wasn't sure what had got into him – it was as if someone had slipped him some Veritaserum on the sly.
Mr. Trinkle smiled fondly at him. "Ah, I see now, Mr. Potter. If I may say so, she must be a very special young lady to win your love, as well as brave to support you through your – well, eventful life."
"She is," Harry said earnestly. "I wish there was something that would just tell her how I feel. This is all so hard."
Mr. Trinkle looked thoughtful as he gazed at Harry. "I do have something very special that does something like that, although I should warn you, it's very expensive."
"What?" Harry said, intrigued.
"Pardon me for a moment. It's kept in my back vault," he said. Mr. Trinkle walked into the back room. Harry poked around through the various knick-knacks, wondering what could possibly tell her how he felt.
Some time later, Mr. Trinkle returned holding a gold object on a chain. He dangled it from the chain, and Harry could see it was a hollow, heart-shaped pendant, with red, green, blue and yellow stones set into the gold. It was very pretty, but Harry didn't see anything particularly special about it.
Mr. Trinkle handed him the pendant. "This is a Sentiment Pendant. It's very old – close to eight hundred years, I would say. They are very rare, Mr. Potter. This pendant has passed down through some very noble hands. They were generally owned by royalty. Do you know what it does?"
Harry shook his head, looking down at the pendant.
"It's a very powerful magical object. It tells the true feelings of one person for another. When you look through the center, you will see light coming from a person to yourself. The color and intensity of the light indicates the feelings. You can imagine how something like this would be useful for royalty," he said, chuckling.
Mr. Trinkle handed him a very old pamphlet. "Here is the color key. As you can see, it's quite detailed, although the basic colors are on the first page. With practice, one can tell very subtle things."
Harry glanced at the pamphlet, and read down the list:
White – Neutral Black – Hatred, Anger, Animus Purple – Distrust Green – Jealousy, Envy Aquamarine – Contempt, Scorn, Disdain Blue – Respect, Admiration Yellow – Friendship Orange – Family Love Red – Romantic Love
"May I try it?" Harry asked. It seemed polite to ask before using something like the pendant.
"Yes, please do," said Mr. Trinkle.
Harry looked through the center, and saw beams of blue light streaming from Mr. Trinkle to Harry. He pulled it away quickly, feeling embarrassed. He didn't think he deserved 'respect and admiration,' which was apparently what Mr. Trinkle felt toward him.
His thoughts turned to Ginny. The gift was perfect – she could look through it, and she could see for herself how he felt about her. He didn't have to risk saying the wrong thing, as he inevitably would.
"This is fantastic! Er, how much is it?" Harry asked, dreading the answer.
Mr. Trinkle pursed his lips. "To be honest, Mr. Potter, that pendant has been with me for fifty years, waiting for the right customer. One that deserved to own such an item. It is expensive, yes, but I would like you to have it for what it cost me originally."
Mr. Trinkle reached over for a piece of paper, and wrote a figure on it. He gave the paper to Harry, whose eyes widened at the amount. It was a considerable sum. He could certainly afford it; he had barely scratched what he had in his vault at Gringotts.
A part of him wondered if he should just admit his feelings to her in words. He imagined himself standing in front of her, boldly proclaiming his love. "I love you, Ginny Weasley!" He cringed.
"I'll take the pendant. It's a wonderful gift; thank you, Mr. Trinkle."
"Honestly, Mr. Potter, it's an honor to sell it to you. If you would like to access your vault, I have an express floo to Gringotts."
Harry nodded and followed Mr. Trinkle to the back of the shop. Mr. Trinkle handed him a box of floo powder, and Harry threw some into the fire, saying "Gringotts!" He entered the fire, which deposited him in the front lobby. He went to a desk and realized he didn't have the key to his vault. The Goblin behind the counter looked over his half-moon glasses with a surly expression as Harry explained that he needed to access his vault without a key. The Goblin narrowed his eyes at him, and gruffly went to get a manager. The Goblins spoke to each other in a strange language, occasionally casting a suspicious glance at Harry and Harry's forehead.
Finally they seemed to reach a decision, and the manager Goblin spoke up. "Very well, Mr. Potter. We will use our master key to allow you access."
"Thank you, sir," said Harry politely.
Harry quickly did his business, then returned to the Curio shop using Gringott's fireplace. Mr. Trinkle was waiting for him, as Harry handed over a rather large sack of Galleons.
"Thank you, Mr. Potter. I have put the pendant into a box for you," he said, handing Harry a very nice wooden box, as well as a silk sack to hold the box.
"If there is anything more I can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask," said Mr. Trinkle, shaking Harry's hand. "And Mr. Potter?"
"Yes?" said Harry.
"Good luck in the future," he said solemnly. "Not just with your girl, but with – everything."
Harry nodded, sharing a meaningful look with Mr. Trinkle, and then left the shop.
* * *
Harry walked back through the portrait hole, feeling happy with his purchase. His happiness was quickly tempered when, not far through the door, Ron and Hermione spotted him,
"Oi! Harry, how are you?" Ron called out to him. They both had huge grins on their faces.
Harry wanted to run away and hide, but he figured he might as well get it over with. He couldn't avoid them forever. Fortunately, he had his purchase inside his robes where it couldn't be seen.
"Hello, Harry. Have fun?" said Hermione innocently.
"Yes, thank you," said Harry, rather stiffly.
"Hermione, have we been neglecting poor Harry lately?" said Ron.
"Have we, Ron? Do you think so?" Hermione said, raising her eyebrows. Harry felt a sinking feeling come over him. If Hermione was teasing him, then there would be no mercy shown here. At least the Twins were gone from Hogwarts.
"Yes, I think we may have been. He's been having a lot of free time on his hands," said Ron, nodding sagely.
"It's a good thing that others have been spending time with him as well," said Hermione.
Harry face started burning. If he could have crawled underneath one of the stones in the floor, he would have done it.
"Indeed, Hermione. Now who has Harry been spending a lot of time with lately?" Ron said.
"Well, Ron, he has been spending a lot of time with a certain red-haired girl," said Hermione.
"Ah yes! I think you're right. Say, don't I have a sister with red hair, too?" asked Ron.
"Why, yes, Ron, I believe you do," said Hermione, nodding.
"Plays Quidditch, throws a mean Bat Bogey Hex, used to have a crush on a certain bloke that I can't recall?" said Ron.
"That's the one, Ron," said Hermione.
"Is that the smell of irony in the air?" said Ron, making exaggerated sniffing sounds.
Harry couldn't take any more. "All right, all right, I think I'll head upstairs and get my homework, if you two are done," he said, annoyed.
"Oh, Harry, it's all right. Why not tell us?" Hermione said, grinning at him. Harry glared at her, and her grin faltered. "All right, Harry, we'll let you be," she said, giving a warning glance at Ron.
Harry stalked away. He was fairly certain they wouldn't tell her, but he still felt exposed. He would much rather have had the whole thing kept secret.
The week seemed to pass quickly, far too quickly for Harry's taste. He was feeling very nervous about the whole thing, and still wasn't quite sure how he was going to get Ginny up to the turret room.
He woke up early on Saturday morning, Valentine's Day. He decided to put the gift up in the turret so that he wouldn't have to worry about it later. Peeking out of the curtains of his bed, he saw that everyone was still asleep. He crept around silently and dressed himself. Opening his trunk, he pulled out the pendant, which he had wrapped during the week.
He was just heading toward the door with his Firebolt and a coat when Ron poked his head out of his bed curtains.
"Ah ha!" he said, rather loudly. "Where are you sneaking off to?"
"Quiet!" Harry hissed.
"Have some big plans for today, Harry?" said Ron, grinning, but speaking a bit more quietly.
"Nothing special," Harry said, but his face started to heat up. Ron's grin got even wider.
"All right, Harry. Yup. Nothing special going on today, of all days. What day is it, anyway? Just another Saturday, isn't it? Oh wait! Isn't there something I'm forgetting – a certain holiday." He snapped his fingers. "Got it! Valentine's Day. I knew there was something up. Good thing I have a gift ready for Hermione," he said.
"Don't you have somewhere to take Hermione, Ron?" asked Harry, annoyed.
"Yes, but not until later. I think we'll be sitting in the common room for a while. You know, just watching what's up. Who's going where. With whom. Know what I mean?" he said, with an even wider grin.
Harry felt like he'd better go or there would be a murder soon in the dormitory. He walked out the door, letting out a groan as soon as the door was closed. Now how was he going to talk to Ginny? He didn't think he could manage asking her up to the turret room with Ron and Hermione watching him.
He went outside and flew to the turret room. The flying seemed to clear his mind a bit, but he still had no solid plan how to get Ginny up there. He put the gift in the room, and went back to the castle.
He returned his Firebolt and coat to his room and went down to breakfast, hoping that perhaps he could get Ginny alone and ask her to meet him. Looking about the room, he saw that she was already with a group of her friends. Harry sighed, then went over and sat next to Ron and Hermione, who were already sending him smirks. He ignored them while he ate his breakfast, trying not to glance at Ginny to give them any more ammunition. Unfortunately, that also had the side effect that he missed her leaving the hall. Frustrated, he got up from the table.
"Well, guess I'll head back to the Tower for a bit," he said, trying to be nonchalant.
"Okay, Harry, see you later," said Ron, giving him a shrewd look.
"Bye, Harry," said Hermione, also looking entirely too pleased.
Harry had just made it to the door when he noticed them getting up from the table, also apparently intending to head back to the common room. He sighed.
This is ridiculous, he thought. I'll just do this the easy way. Running up to his room, he pulled out a piece of parchment. Harry glanced at the clock and saw that it was a quarter to ten. He wrote, "Ginny, Please meet me by the main doors of Hogwarts at 11:00am. Harry." He folded the note, and went down to the common room to find someone to deliver the note to Ginny. He spotted Mary, Ginny's roommate. Finally some luck, he thought.
"Mary?" said Harry. He didn't know her too well, but had spoken to her a couple of times.
"Hi, Harry," she said.
"Would you do me a favor and give Ginny this note?" Harry said, hoping she wouldn't ask for any details.
"All right, Harry. I was just heading up there anyway. I think Ginny's up in our room," she said brightly.
"Thanks," he said gratefully. There, it's done, he thought. He spotted Ron and Hermione sitting at a nearby table, occasionally glancing over to him. He chortled to himself, hopeful that he'd managed to avoid being watched. Things were hard enough without them smirking at him.
He ran up to his room, fetching his Firebolt and coat, and then walked with what he hoped was composure toward the portrait hole door. He could feel Ron and Hermione's eyes on him as he moved through the common room.
He walked out the door and wandered around the halls trying to build his confidence. Every so often he would glance at a clock, the time seeming to move agonizingly slowly, yet far too quickly. As the time grew closer to eleven, he started to work his way toward the great front doors of the castle. Reaching the entrance, he looked at a grandfather clock in the huge main hall. Ten minutes to go, he thought nervously.
Dreadful thoughts seemed to fill his head. What if she doesn't come? He groaned to himself. He had no idea what he would do. She might have not have received the note, or maybe she just wouldn't want to meet him, or… I'm going mad, he thought. I need to get a grip on myself.
He paced nervously in front of the doors, and then idly started looking at the portraits on the walls. So desperate was he that he actually considered asking the portraits for some advice.
"Hello, Harry. What's up?" said Ginny cheerfully.
Harry flinched and turned around. Ginny was wearing a pretty yellow dress, and there was something a bit different about her hair. She looked very pretty, which only made the whole thing more difficult.
"Erm, Hi, Ginny. Uh, thanks for coming," he stammered out. Very smooth, Potter, he thought.
Suddenly a horrible thought came to him. Why is she dressed up? It's Valentine's Day! What if she has something else planned this afternoon? Panic started to fill him.
"You sent a note…?" she said, a bit puzzled.
"Yes, I sent a note," he said anxiously. This is going to kill me, he thought. Maybe it's not too late to call the whole thing off.
"No! No, nothing's wrong!" Good lord, Potter, get hold of yourself! He ran his fingers through his hair, as if he could massage some calm into his brain.
Ginny seemed to look at him as though he was losing his mind. He needed to pull himself together.
"Er, I have my broomstick, as you can probably see," he said, gesturing at his Firebolt. Wow, that was brilliant, he thought sarcastically.
"Yes, I saw that. Doing some flying?" she said.
"Not yet. Actually, I was sort of hoping you'd fly somewhere with me," he said. And I was sort of hoping that I wouldn't sound like a complete prat, but clearly that's not going to happen.
"Now? Where?" Ginny said.
"Well, it's kind of a surprise," Harry said. He felt himself growing very hot. His legs felt rubbery, and he was starting to shake with nervousness.
"All right. Shall we go?" she said.
That's a great idea, he thought. The less talking, the better.
Putting on his coat, he opened the doors, and they walked out into bright sunshine. There was a chill in the air from the frost, but it felt invigorating to Harry after the stuffy atmosphere of the castle. He tried not to think about why it felt so stifling.
Harry got on his broom, and waited for Ginny to get on behind him. Since she was wearing a dress, she mounted the broom side-saddle, but seemed to be stable enough as she wrapped her arms around him. Her touch started to make him nervous again, but he quickly took off.
High into the air they flew, the wind and speed distracting Harry from his earlier nervousness. He loved to fly, and idly wondered if he could just confess right there on the broom.
He made some turns and dives, mostly to postpone the inevitable admission that he knew was only minutes away. Finally he couldn't put it off any longer, and brought the broom alongside the turret. After opening the door, he flew the two of them into the room. Ginny looked about in wonderment.
"Amazing, isn't it? I found this place a few weeks ago," Harry said, starting to feel nervous again. Keep talking, don't clam up, he thought.
"Amazing is an understatement," she said, touching the invisible walls. "Thank you for inviting me up here."
"Let me warm it up a bit," Harry said. So far, so good. I haven't said anything stupid, he thought. He pulled his wand, gave a warming charm, and both took off their coats.
A little voice piped up in Harry's head. Do you really want to do this, Potter? She gave up on you, and is probably glad she did. She doesn't have any feelings for you. Why would she? What is it about you that's so attractive to someone like Ginny Weasley? Doesn't she deserve better?
Harry's self-doubt was starting to undermine him. He knew he needed to do it quickly, or he never would. "Erm, Ginny, I have something for you," he said. No going back now.
He walked over and picked up the gift. "Happy Valentine's Day," he said, and handed it to her.
"This is – for me?" she said, looking shocked.
Oh no, this was a bad idea. She doesn't look happy about it at all, he thought with a sinking feeling.
"Yes," Harry said. "I – I don't know to say this, but… Ginny… this year, last summer, you've done so much for me. I'm not sure how I would have made it without being able to talk to you. And – and – I wanted to give you – something." I sound like an utter fool, he thought, wanting to throw himself out of the turret.
As Ginny began to unwrap the gift, Harry started to have a horrible feeling that the whole thing was a huge mistake. He didn't know what her reaction would be, but she almost seemed wary of the whole thing. She probably does have a boyfriend she's meeting this afternoon, he thought miserably.
She pulled out the pendant and looked at it, her jaw dropping. "Oh, Harry – it's wonderful."
Well, she seems to like it – that's something, he thought. But she still seemed very guarded.
"It's – a Sentiment Pendant," he said. He wondered if she knew what one was. He didn't think he was capable at that moment of explaining it.
Her eyes grew wide. "I – I've heard of those. They tell you how someone feels about you, right? Harry, these are very rare and valuable."
Harry wasn't sure how much more he could take. "It was worth it," he said in a low voice, thinking that any price was worth not having to talk about his feelings.
Ginny had an odd look on her face, something Harry couldn't identify. "Harry, are you sure you want to give – me – this? Why?"
Harry groaned to himself. That's pretty much an impossible question to answer. "A – Are you going to – try it?" he asked in a stuttering voice.
Ginny looked stunned for a second, and then looked fearful. What is she afraid of? he thought anxiously. His little voice of doubt started getting louder. She doesn't want to know what you feel, Potter. She's over you. You're messing up your friendship with her.
She finally raised the pendant up to her eye and looked through it. She appeared completely astonished by what she saw, and Harry's voice of doubt started speaking for him.
"Ginny, it's all right if you don't feel the same way. I know that you – gave up on me a long time ago. But I just wanted you to know how I feel," he said. That's it. It's over. I've blown everything.
"Harry, I did give up on you," Ginny said. Harry's heart dropped to his knees, and he revisited his earlier thoughts of throwing himself out the turret door.
"But I never stopped loving you," she continued. She walked over and handed him the pendant.
Harry felt lightheaded as he looked down at the gold heart, the stones gleaming in the bright sunlight of the room. Hold it, I couldn't have heard that right, he thought. She gave up on me – but never stopped loving me?
As he brought the pendant up to his face, Ginny closed her eyes, waiting for him. He looked through the pendant, and strong, vibrant beams of red light streamed from her heart into his chest, and into his heart.
He slowly lowered the pendant, and emotion welled up in him. She loves me, he thought, barely able to believe it. And even his voice of doubt was quiet for once; the pendant proved her feelings. Ginny started walking over to him with her arms out to embrace him, and he met her joyfully. He hugged her tightly, enjoying the feeling of finally holding her in his arms.
After several minutes, they leaned apart slightly. He could see tears in her eyes, as he leaned in and kissed her. He had waited so long for this moment. Her tears reminded him briefly of Cho's tears, but somehow this was different. Cho's tears were of sadness, and Ginny's tears were of happiness. They moved him rather than confused him.
Any thoughts left him as he got swept up in the passion of the kiss. He moved his hands up her back, and touched her hair. It was very soft to the touch, and it seemed to create even more longing in him.
They finally broke away to catch their breaths. Harry thought he was going to collapse again, but for different reasons this time.
Ginny looked into his eyes, and he gazed into hers. Ever since he had first met her, he had noticed her bright, lively eyes, so full of life. It was one of his favorite things about her.
His eyes wandered around her face, memorizing her features. He brought his hand up and stroked her face and forehead, playfully moving her hair around. She smiled up at him, and he smiled back, a feeling a love and contentment filling him. She is so beautiful, he thought.
Suddenly the scene he had imagined back in Mr. Trinkle's shop came back to his memory. At the time, that scene had seemed impossibly difficult to him, but the entire world seemed to have changed today.
"I love you, Ginny Weasley," he whispered, and they were the easiest words he had ever said in his life.