The summer after fifth year was a constant one. Day in and day out,
Harry slept. Nothing had truly woken him all summer. He sat, or he lay
down, and sometimes he was awake, but those moments of being awake were
more like being in a dream than when he was actually dreaming. He would
have gladly sat there alone all day, as he'd done for the past few
It had been a few hours since they'd got back to the
Burrow, and like usual, he'd been sitting by himself in Ron's room.
Everything was quiet for a while.
Then Harry heard the
crash on the stair landing through the crack of the door, but even if
it had been shut he would have heard it, and he most definitely felt
the shaking of the ground. Momentarily, he was irritated at having been
disturbed, until he heard the shriek of pain and the string of mild
curses that followed. Despite his foul mood, he recognized the voice as
belonging to Ginny Weasley and got up to investigate.
He saw her from where he stood, outside Ron's bedroom door from the top landing.
"Those idiots... leaving these things everywhere!" she was muttering,
as she got off her knees and rubbed them. Packets lay sprawled all over
the floor around her, and one of her books had rolled down a flight of
stairs, looking quite worse for wear.
Harry approached, picking up some parchment that had rolled to rest by his foot. "Here, Ginny, I'll help."
Ginny looked up. "Oh, hi, Harry. I didn't see you there."
"I was just in Ron's room," he replied, handing her the parchment. "Are you all right?"
She looked at him, the corners of her mouth twisting up wryly.
"Fine, just a little bruised up." she said, pulling from under her
robes a long, rubbery pair of Extendable Ears. "Fred and George came
for a visit last week. That's why we have more of these, Mum had
confiscated all the ones we had before."
She rolled her
eyes rather comically and Harry had to smile a bit. He knelt down and
helped her gather some more of the scattered school things. Mrs.
Weasley had taken him, Ron, Hermione and Ginny to Diagon Alley earlier
that day to pick up the items on their Hogwarts lists.
"Thanks," said Ginny brightly, tucking a strand of her red hair behind
her ear. "I would have brought everything up to my room earlier but Ron
wanted to practise Quidditch."
So that was what everyone
was doing, thought Harry. He hadn't really noticed that he'd spent the
entire afternoon alone until now.
"He's getting better, is he?"
"Yeah, loads. After winning the cup last year he's been pretty confident."
"Reckon he'll let any more goals go past this year?"
"Not a chance. Angelina was right not to let him go, he's got some skill."
Harry nodded, forgetting about his previously sulky mood. Quidditch was
one of the few topics that made him feel better these days. "You're
going to try out for Chaser this year, right?"
lit up. "Yes - I hope I make it. We'll win that cup for sure, with you
as Seeker and Ron as Keeper. I just hope I - oh drat!"
broke off her cheerful sentence, a look of utter dismay on her face.
Harry didn't understand what was wrong until she held up her
second-hand Charms spellbook, half its pages dripping in scarlet ink.
Ginny gave an exasperated groan.
"I can't read these pages
now! Mum's going to have a fit, we can't go back for another copy, we
don't have the-" she bit her lip. A slight tint of pink touched her
cheeks and she set the soaked book aside, away from the other books.
Harry looked down at the shabby Transfiguration
book in his hands, and not for the first time he felt a twinge of
guilt. It wasn't his fault that the Weasleys' were poor, but he always
felt terrible when he thought about the amount of gold that lay in his
vault, left behind by his parents.
"We'd better clean this
up before Mum sees," said Ginny, frowning at the broken bits of the ink
bottle and the spreading puddle of red.
"Erm, I've got some
old robes you can use to wipe this mess," said Harry, motioning with
his hand towards Ron's room. "It's in my trunk, I'll go get them."
"Would you?" Ginny flashed him a grateful smile. "Thanks!"
"Sure, no problem."
He got up and quickly went into the room, shutting the door behind him.
Harry pushed his sliding glasses up the bridge of his nose and crossed
over to where his trunk lay by the foot of his bed. Above him, in her
cage, Hedwig gave a small hoot of greeting, as though welcoming him
"Hullo, Hedwig," he said softly, and returned his
attention to the contents of the trunk. A bunch of faded,
torn-at-the-hem black robes lay on top of the newer, recently-bought
robes neatly folded and tucked away. Harry lifted the old ones out,
setting them on the floor beside him. He'd placed them on top to throw
out later; he might as well give them to Ginny and let them be useful
for the last time.
Harry then carefully lifted his other
possessions aside, including the slithery smooth folds of the
Invisibility Cloak. He felt a stab of something similar to grief as he
did so. He hadn't thought of Sirius for a few minutes, and the Cloak
that his father, James, and Sirius had once shared was a painful
reminder to Harry that both of them were now gone. Harry swallowed the
lump that had risen in his throat and rummaged around more. He set the
Sneakoscope that Ron had given him years ago onto his bed and found a
stack of books.
Harry rifted through them and pulled one
out. His old Charms spellbook. He wouldn't be needing it anymore, and
it was in fairly good condition, having been purchased new at the
beginning of last September. It was in better shape than the one Ginny
had, even without half the contents of an ink bottle spilled on it.
Harry put the other things away, back into the trunk and shut the lid.
He covered the book in the fabric of the robes and went back into the
hall, where Ginny seemed to be desperately backed against the far wall,
a trickle of ink creeping dangerously towards her foot.
was too preoccupied with keeping her other things safe from the ink
that she did not notice Harry dropping his Charms book into the pile of
books already at his feet.
"Watch your shoe," he warned
her, tossing the robes onto the puddle. It stopped spreading and
instead soaked itself into the fabric.
"Thanks," Ginny said
fervently, gathering a bunch of quills. Then, getting up, she gave him
a pleading look. "Er, Harry, do you mind taking some of this up to my
room for me? I'm going to get rid of this soddy thing." She nudged the
old robes with her toe.
"Um, yeah, sure." He replied
awkwardly. Well, if Ginny didn't mind him in her room then he didn't
mind much either... at least he didn't think he minded.
bent down, picked up the wet robes, and bounded away, leaving him alone
with a stack of parchment, quills, ink bottles, and books. He was
thankful she hadn't been in need of a cauldron.
loaded as much as he could carry into his arms and clumsily turned into
the tiny corridor that led to Ginny's room. He wasn't quite sure if he
was going the right way (he'd never had reason to be in Ginny's room
before) but there was only one door in the corridor, so Harry shrugged
and entered the room.
It was semi-bright, lit by a dusty
beam of afternoon sun. The ceiling was low, even though it didn't slope
like Ron's room, and it was, if that was possible, even smaller and
more cramped in here. The walls were painted a faintish yellow, and
blue curtains dotted with small flowers hung drawn back over the only
window in the corner. Ginny's bed lined the wall next to the window,
with plain, worn, but neatly made up white covers. A small shelf ran
along the wall above the bed at about Harry's shoulder-level.
Harry didn't know where to put down the things in his arms. Every
surface seemed to be occupied. She had a desk, but it was already full
of papers and quills and little shells. Finally Harry decided to just
lay them down on the bed in a pile. He tried not to muss up the covers,
and made sure that no ink would smear them.
He brushed off his hands and stood up, hitting his head on the shelf.
"Ouch," Harry muttered, as a picture frame fell off the ledge and
crashed to the ground, narrowly missing his foot. Quickly, he
retrieved, it, hoping that he hadn't broken the glass. Fortunately, it
was still intact, though there was a tiny crack in it that Harry was
slightly worried about. He didn't know if it had been there before.
His eyes wandered over the picture itself; being a wizard portrait, it
featured moving figures. There was Ginny, sitting with boys and girls
her age in the long black robes of Hogwarts students. Her friends, he
thought, realising that she had more friends than he did, if this
picture meant anything. There were at least ten people in the picture,
all of them huddled close together and laughing. It had been taken in
the Three Broomsticks, probably on one of the weekends after
Valentine's Day since he could glimpse the blue sky outside the window
behind Ginny's red hair when she moved slightly to the left, giggling
at something her friend had apparently just said.
Lovegood was in the picture. She was sitting next to the happy group,
looking just as cheerful and dreamy herself, still wearing the strange
hat she'd been wearing the day Gryffindor had beaten Ravenclaw in their
Quidditch match and humming some tune under her breath.
Then he peered closer, and noticed a sulky boy standing nearby, glaring
at Ginny's back. It took a moment for Harry to recognize him as Michael
Corner, because he'd never seen Michael so sulky.
Michael wasn't the only sulky one in the picture. Cho was in there too, way in the back, sitting gloomily by herself.
The door suddenly yanked open, and Ginny trundled in, carrying the last of the books.
"That's everything!" she said cheerfully, tossing them directly on the floor where she stood.
Harry jumped a bit. He felt his face heat up a tiny bit - after all, he
was in Ginny's room, looking at her private possessions, and she had
just walked in on him doing so. Even worse, she must have seen him
staring at the photo, because it was still in his hands.
"Colin took that picture," she said, looking at it and smiling. "I
remember we were all so happy that day, Gryffindor had just won a
Harry was relieved that she wasn't annoyed. "It's a
nice picture," he offered lamely, knowing she was expecting him to say
Ginny laughed. "Taken right after I ditched
Michael. He seemed more sulky than upset about it, you know. But he
really was nice. When we were dating and all, he was really nice."
Harry didn't know what to say to that. He simply nodded, and Ginny continued on.
"Though you wouldn't have thought that today," she said, rolling her
eyes. "I would have said hello, but Michael obviously didn't want to."
Harry remembered how he had seen Michael Corner walk past him, Ron and
Ginny in Flourish and Blotts, throwing furtive, dirty looks at Harry
and Ron (but mainly Harry) and completely ignoring Ginny's presence.
"How rude can you get?" muttered Ron angrily after Michael had stalked
past. "Not even a hello, and you spent all that time last year teaching
Harry shrugged. He didn't particularly care if
Michael Corner was rude to him, but he'd thought that Ron had forgotten
something else. He had stolen a look out of the corner of his eye at
Ginny, curiously, but she had seemed oblivious to what had happened.
"How can you still like him after all that?" he muttered under his
breath, as the Michael in the picture siddled up to a miserable-looking
Cho in the back. Ginny must still like him, because she wouldn't keep a
reminder like this in her room if she didn't.
thing, Harry," said Ginny casually, "I don't like him. But he was my
first boyfriend. It's something kind of hard to forget."
Harry instantly flushed. He hadn't meant to say that out loud, and he
hadn't meant for Ginny to hear it. He hadn't expected her to reply the
way she had, either. A part of him was pleasantly surprised to have
Ginny confide in him (which she was, he realized) something personal as
this, another part was feeling extremely awkward about it.
"I don't care about him anymore..." sighed Ginny, "and I do care. It's complicated. D'you know what I mean?"
Harry had no clue what she meant, but felt inclined to nod. From the
casual, but keenly observative look she was giving him, Harry suspected
Ginny expected him to understand.
"Is it... is it the same
with you and Cho?" she asked hesitantly, almost cautiously, as though
she were treading a tightrope and was afraid of falling.
Harry hadn't expected this question either. He looked down at the photo
in his hand, and at Cho, who was now looking much happier that Michael
was there, talking earnestly into her ear, and probed his own feelings.
Did he care that she was dating Michael? Harry searched
himself, but he couldn't find any jealousy, or anger, or even a slight
bit of loss. His stomach no longer did those funny somersaults like it
used to whenever he saw her face. In fact, it had been a long time
since he'd felt that feeling.
All the strong emotions he'd
felt in the past seemed to have been swallowed up by a gaping hole of
nothingness deep in the pit of his stomach, placed there to reside
permanently when Sirius had died. The thought of Sirius intensified his
feeling of hollowness, swallowing him into a fit of fresh misery.
Harry turned abruptly to put the photo back on Ginny's shelf. He didn't
know what he felt anymore, he didn't seem to feel anything but grief
for Sirius and he didn't need reminding of that, he was doing a
wonderful job of it himself.
"I'm sorry, Harry. I didn't
mean to pry," said Ginny from behind him. There was a note of concern
in her voice. She tried to hide it under a layer of nonchalance. "I was
Harry set the picture down and stared at
it for a moment. The tone of anxiety in Ginny's voice reminded him of
how everyone treated him like a glass doll these days, as though he
would shatter if touched too hard, or spoken too loudly to. At first he
hadn't cared, he'd liked the solitude this provided. But now, for a few
minutes there, he'd forgotten about all that. Ginny seemed to be the
only person who didn't talk to him in that way, but now - now she was
taking on that infuriatingly gentle tone of voice.
felt a flash of anger towards her. "Don't be sorry," he said, rather
curtly, turning around. "I was just thinking about it."
Ginny raised her eyebrow, sensing the stiffness that had enveloped him. "Oh?"
"I don't really think about these things anymore," he said, truthfully but harshly.
Harry watched as she picked up a bunch of loose parchment from the
floor and shoved them into an empty drawer in her scratched-up dresser
table, rather stiffly as well. Harry inwardly sighed. He must have
offended her with his cool tone.
A part of him was angry
with her, and the voice that went with it said angrily in his head,
'why does she care what I think anyway? It's not my fault Michael ran
to Cho.' But as soon as he thought these words Harry knew that this was
not what it was all about. He knew, on a deeper level, that Ginny was
concerned about him, like she had always been.
A twinge of
guilt picked at his insides, surprising him. He hadn't felt guilt for
being sharp with anyone since term ended... He straightened up
slightly, taking in a breath.
"I'm just glad she's happier
now," said Harry finally. He was glad to see Cho smiling again, and not
sobbing all the time like a leaky faucet.
"You don't mind at all that she's with Michael?" asked Ginny, looking over her shoulder at him. She sounded unconvinced.
"No." His answer was almost automatic. He didn't care who Cho was with anymore.
Possibly mollified by his reconciliatory tone, she turned fully around.
The beam of afternoon sunlight from the window fell squarely on her
face and hair, making it difficult for Harry to see her expression. He
thought that he saw a small, pleased smile on her lips for a brief
second, but a moment later it was gone. Harry wasn't sure what to make
Her demeanor was friendly again, relaxed and back to normal. Curiously, Harry inquired, "Don't you care?"
"Not in the least. I'm glad Michael's happier, I'm especially glad it's
not with me." She grinned. "He was always so sulky when things didn't
go his way."
"Right," said Harry, feeling better now that
Ginny was smiling again. He was unused to seeing her upset - at him,
that is. Ginny was rarely anything but cheerful when he was around, it
was one of the things he liked best about her, without realizing it
They stood for a moment in silence, until Harry
was suddenly aware of the fact that he and Ginny were alone, in her
bedroom, staring at each other.
"Er..." he said slowly, awkwardly, to break the silence, "Have you got all your things?"
"Yeah, thanks loads."
They stood staring at each other again for a split second, until Harry
had to divert his eyes from her gaze. He thought he saw that brief,
flashing smile again on the corner of Ginny's mouth, but he wasn't sure.
"I guess... I guess I'll go now, then..." Harry mumbled, stuffing his
hands into his pockets for lack of anything better to do with them.
"Yeah," said Ginny, nodding. "Ok."
you later - I mean, at dinner," he replied, moving towards the door.
She watched him as he grazed her in the small confines of the room.
He turned the knob of the door, hovering there as he heard Ginny moved
about the room behind him, riffling through the pile of things he'd
tossed on her bed. He glanced back at the photo on the shelf, and left.
He pushed the door open again, sticking his head through.