Those words ruined everything. Those words caused so
much trouble. So much pain. So much strife. Whoever thought that just
uttering a few simple words could upset so many lives?
grinned at Ginny as they walked with entwined hands alongside the lake.
The day was as bright and sunny as Ginny's hair and as warm as her
smile. Everything was so calm and peaceful in a way Harry had always
Gryffindor had just won the Quidditch Cup
yesterday and Harry and Ginny were enjoying the last days of school
before the holiday began. Though they would have to be apart for a
while, Professor Dumbledore hastily assured them it wouldn't be long
after Ginny threatened to hex him. She'd gotten an earful from Hermione
for her cheek. After the lengths Ginny had gone to for Harry to have
his shortest stay at the Dursleys' and the trouble she had gained as a
result, Harry was just as determined as Ginny not to let anything
interrupt their time together.
Harry had come to realize
that his relationship with Ginny was very different from the one he
shared with Hermione and Ron. He wasn't quite sure how to label it. He
knew they were closer than best friends. Many students thought they
were a couple; no one had asked either him or her out during the past
eight months. Though neither had confirmed the rumors, they hadn't
disputed them either. They were just content to be in each other's
Harry turned to Ginny and took her into his arms.
She had a tranquil, wistful smile on her face. He kissed her gently to
show how happy he felt at this moment. This wasn't anything new for
them. They had shared many chaste kisses; after all, they were
extremely close friends. But with this one kiss, he wanted to show her
all he was feeling and how happy he was to be in her company. She never
pressured him on anything and for that he was grateful. They were the
best of friends and he wanted her to know how special she was to him.
at her freckle-dappled face, Harry was conscious of her gaze wandering
over his face as he held her. "Harry, these last few months have meant
more to me than you could ever know."
"They've meant a lot to
me too, Ginny." He pulled her into a tight embrace. "I'm going to miss
you." He was surprised to find how much he really meant it; at least he
supposed that was what the lump in his throat and the ache he felt at
the thought of not having her close by him meant.
"I'm going to miss you too, Harry." Then without thinking, she whispered those words.
moment they slipped through her lips, she knew what she had done. She
froze, knowing she had scared him. Ginny knew without a shadow of a
doubt that he was going to tense up, run away, and try to avoid her to
push her out of his life. This understanding was what had kept her from
pushing their relationship further all these months. Voldemort was
something Harry could handle; love was not.
Just as predicted, Harry stiffened. He pulled back to look at her. The fear Ginny saw in his eyes gutted her.
A hot flash of panic burst in Harry's belly. He had never heard those words
spoken to him, nor had he spoken them himself. His brain seemed to fog
over as though he were fading into the distance. Not knowing what to
say or do, Harry dropped his hands from Ginny's waist and backed away
slowly. With sensations of shock, confusion, and fear battling in his
mind and heart, he turned on his heel and fled to find somewhere to
sort out what had just happened. He had to think and he couldn't do
that here... with her.
He didn't look back. He missed Ginny's stricken expression and her collapse into uncontrollable sobs.
found sanctuary in his room. Everyone was out enjoying the weather,
celebrating the end of exams and another school year. Harry flopped
onto his bed and drew the curtains to give him a dark retreat in which
to think. When he was younger he had always done his best 'puzzling
out' in the darkness, locked in his cupboard under the stairs, and this
was the closest he was going to get.
Harry's mind reeled from
Ginny's revelation all night and most of the next day. Love was a
complicated emotion. They were too young for that, weren't they? How
could she feel such an emotion and be sure that it was real? His
parents had found love at a young age but many others, such as Remus
and Charlie, hadn't.
That's it! He was too young to understand
and know what love was and he wasn't foolish enough to think otherwise.
Not that he thought Ginny was foolish. She was the most sensible person
he knew, even more so than Hermione. Yet he couldn't escape the nagging
feeling that she believed those words she had spoken.
tried distracting himself with other things but the memory of those
softly spoken words wouldn't leave him alone, and he frequently came
back to wondering why Ginny would have said something like that to him,
of all people. She was a good friend, a cherished, precious friend, but
surely she was that close with others. Wasn't she? Harry's confused
recollection only showed him times when she was with him, so he
couldn't be positive.
Harry knew he couldn't stay behind the
curtains of his four-poster all day, or he would have Ron on his case.
That meant Hermione would get involved. Much as she was his great
friend and ally, the last thing Harry wanted to hear right now was
Hermione Granger pointing out what he had done wrong. Again. He sighed
and walked aimlessly through the school, deliberately choosing the
longer and less convenient routes. He had no idea what he would do or
say to her if he came face to face with Ginny, so he made a point to
evade any of their normal meeting places and their normal times to get
* * * * *
When Ginny had
spent the rest of the day waiting for Harry at their usual evening
meeting place and wasted even more time looking for him, she took
Harry's absence as a sign that she made a fool of herself all over
again. She went to the place that she and Harry had jokingly dubbed
'their spot' only to find a pot of honey with a note attached that
simply said in a flowing scarlet red script:
To Harry and Ginny,
Enjoy all the sweetness we think you deserve.
Your two favourite Ravenclaws,
Michael and Cho
opened the jar and began to eat the sweet honey, hoping it would lift
her melancholy. It didn't help. The more she ate, the more depressed
she became. What had possessed her to say that to him? She had only
spoken those words to one other person besides family and that
had caused her heartache as well. Tom had lured her into trusting him.
He'd showed her attention when Harry didn't. She'd believed him and
look where it had got her: he had crushed her spirit and almost killed
her. He would have succeeded if it hadn't been for Harry. Now she was
letting the same thing happen all over again, only this time with Harry.
shook her head to clear it. Harry was not like Tom; he wouldn't hurt
her purposefully. This was all her stupid, childish, silly girl's
mistake. She knew Harry had a lot on his shoulders. Judging by the fear
on his face, she had only added more... He just needed a distraction...
That's what she was for him: some fun to keep his mind from dwelling on
all his burdens. She swore crudely; it was her own fault. She had
always made it look as if she was happy with the situation even though
he'd never attempted to make it official.
Now she had to
face the reality that her fantasies of being with Harry as more than a
passing fancy were just that: fantasies. He would never truly care for
her, just as Tom had told her in her first year. She was not good
enough for him. She was simply a pathetic, silly, little girl and he
was the great, famous Harry Potter. He would always be untouchable and
would never commit to anyone as low as her.
All the memories
were too much but they were advancing so fast and she was helpless to
stop them.... The first time he'd held her hand.... The first time he
had put his arm around her.... The first time he had confided in her,
things even Ron and Hermione didn't know.... The first time his mouth
tenderly touched hers.... The beautiful way he said her name... The way
his face lit up when she entered a room.... The way it had looked when
she uttered those horrible, wretched words....
It was all
over now and it was more than she could bear. Tears welled up in her
eyes. She had to get away. She had to try to hide from the memories,
from him, from her family, from everything and everyone. Ginny got to
her feet and ran. She ran so hard she wasn't aware of bumping into Ron
and Hermione on her way to her dorm. She threw herself on her bed and
closed herself off from all the pain and from the rest of the world,
too dispirited to face anyone ever again.
* * * * *
days had passed since the incident. Today, Harry had sought isolation
in the Room of Requirement. He still didn't know what to say to Ginny
because he had still hadn't worked out why she'd said those words
to him. When he reached the Room, he wasn't sure what he needed as he
walked past the blank wall three times. Apparently the Room knew, and
he opened the door that appeared. Upon closing, the door sealed itself
behind him, somehow aware that he needed to be alone. Harry looked
around at the scenery the Room provided. He was surprised to see the
exact spot by the lake that Ginny had told him those words. Why would the Room think he needed this?
sat on the ground ripping at the soft green grass and throwing it away,
reliving the memory over and over. He then thought of all the different
directions things could have gone had he responded differently. The
Room obliged by showing them to him. Like a Muggle picture show, it
showed him laughing in her face as Ginny got extremely angry and
hurt.... The downcast, vulnerable look she wore when he acted as if
nothing had been said.... Her shout of glee and overjoyed smile as he
picked her up and spun her around.... The last one sparked a warm,
gooey feeling that spread quickly throughout his body.
the scene changed again. Harry was disturbed to see Ginny laugh and
then say that she was only joking. He had never considered that
possibility and knew if that had occurred he would have been cut to the
He could feel the crushing weight in his chest as
something shriveled inside him. He didn't understand why the hurt would
have been so great. They were just friends. Well, they were more than
that, but was it merely desire, devotion, and gratitude for all the
help she had unstintingly given him, or maybe... love? He knew that
desire and devotion were a large part of what he felt but it ran much
deeper. Could it be love? Was it real? How could he be sure? He needed
to be as certain as possible before he faced Ginny again. She was going
to be livid with him.
Ron and Hermione were his friends but
his feelings for Ginny were different. Ron always wanted to play,
whether it was Quidditch or chess, and Hermione just wanted him to
study. But Ginny was special. She just let him be. He could be and do
whatever he wanted, including just being himself. She didn't expect him
to tell her every little detail of his life, but he wanted to. He wanted to know all her many wonderful facets no matter how small and insignificant they seemed.
Yes, it was definitely real. This was love with all the good and the bad, with all the happiness and the pain.
this, he leaped to his feet. He had been feeling this way about Ginny
for a while but credited it to the warm weather, the end of term, the
end of revising, and some good news from the Order, but it had been
Ginny all along. He loved her. He knew that now, but how could he tell
* * * * *
At first, Ron and
Hermione had tried to sit back and let Harry and Ginny work out their
differences. They didn't know what the problem was or what to do about
it. They thought Harry and Ginny had just had a simple row or that
Harry was brooding, as he tended to do before he and Ginny had become
so close. However, after a week, they decided enough was enough.
days later, after sitting up all night when the others had gone to
sleep, Harry sat in his dorm room still reeling from his recent
realizations and trying to come up with an idea to show Ginny how he
felt about her. He had been avoiding her for over a week now and felt a
sickness that had been gradually building as well as guilty about his
stalling. If he was going to do something, he knew that it needed to be
soon. Ron and Hermione had tried to get him to talk to her, to see her,
but they didn't understand that he wasn't ready yet. He didn't have a
plan to sweep her off her feet. He owed her an apology, though, and he
wasn't about to back down from that.
Right at that moment the
dormitory door crashed open and Ron burst into the room, closely
followed by Hermione as she held on to him in an effort to slow him
down. Ron towered above Harry and adopted the hands-on-hips Weasley
stance they all unwittingly copied from their mother. "So?" he demanded pointedly.
"So what?" Harry shot back.
Hermione heard Ron snort and recognized the danger signal for what it was; Ron was about to blow up.
"Talk!" Ron ordered while Hermione watched anxiously from her place at his side.
Harry replied warily. "What do you want to talk about? Quidditch, the
Cannons, Potions, Malfoy. Was there something specific you want me to
talk about?" Harry didn't know what had happened with Ron but he could
tell that he was in a foul mood about something.
that's enough! I told you not to hurt her! I warned you, but you had to
go ahead and be the brooding git that you are." Ron's face was almost
purple with rage.
Hermione tried to calm him down by pulling
at his sleeve with all her might. "Ron, please wait and let him
explain. Can't you see what this means to him?" she said in that
infuriatingly calm way of hers.
Ron rounded on his girlfriend. She almost fell over before he caught her. "I'm not letting him explain! I warned
him, Hermione. He should have just stayed away from her if he was going
to hurt her like this. It's only because he's my best mate that I
haven't hexed him in his sleep!"
Hermione could see thatHarry
was suddenly paying great attention to each word Ron said. "What are
you talking about? I never laid a finger on Ginny," he said. "I didn't
hurt her. Who did?" Now he too was angry, Hermione noticed.
kill them. Is she all right? I'll kill them," Harry re-affirmed
savagely, scrambling to his feet and pacing furiously across the floor.
"Tell me who hurt her." If someone had hurt his Ginny, they would
regret it.... He had to find out who had hurt Ginny and make them pay.
He stopped pacing and caught Ron's elbow, meeting the livid gaze with a
stare just as wild. "Tell me!"
Ron snorted angrily and shook
him off. "Who do you think hurt her? You did. You're the only one
capable of hurting her this badly. You just couldn't leave it alone,
could you? Or did you think I was all hot air when I begged you to not
start something you couldn't see through? Now she's in the hospital
wing - because - of - you." Ron emphasized these last three words by
jabbing his finger into Harry's chest.
Now Harry was
thoroughly befuddled. "What are you talking about? I haven't touched
Ginny. I would never hurt her." Harry let out a sharp sigh of
Hermione, realizing that they were not going to
get anywhere like this, maneuvered Ron to a bed across the room. "Let
me try to get through to him." She then turned to Harry. "There are
other ways of hurting someone besides physical pain. You of all people
should know that. Voldemort's been hurting you mentally for a long
time. I'd say he's made a bloody good job of it myself!"
"How could I have hurt Ginny like that? I haven't even seen her at all this week." Flustered, he threw his arms up.
regarded him compassionately and spoke to him as she would to a small
child. "That's the point, Harry. Did you notice that Ginny hasn't been
around this week?"
"No." He had just told them that he
hadn't seen her in a week, hadn't he? Harry's restless confusion was
growing. He wished they would just tell him what was happening.
sat beside Ron and folded her hands in her lap. She was still watching
Harry closely. "Ginny hasn't left her bed all week. She told her
roommates that she felt sick. Everyone thought she had some kind of
virus. She even fooled Professor McGonagall. Her roommates have been
bringing her Pepperup Potion and Ron and I have been bringing food back
to her. Why did you think I smuggled out a plateful of the most
tempting things on the table each meal time?"
"Or didn't you notice?" Ron demanded harshly.
I didn't. I had my mind on other things. My world doesn't always
revolve around Ginny, you know." Harry said hotly. They were acting as
if he was a bad boyfriend when he wasn't her boyfriend. He wasn't even
sure what he was to Ginny.
With a guttural snarl, Ron leaped across the room and reached for Harry's throat.
"Ron, no! Wait! Let me handle this," Hermione yelled, trying to stop him. "Let me explain!"
had grabbed Harry by the collar and shoved him against the wall
brutally before he stopped. Harry thought Ron resembled a towering
inferno at that moment. Hearing Hermione's pleas, Ron's expression
closed off to one of barely controlled fury before he twisted to look
her in the eye. "Isn't it bloody obvious that he doesn't care?"
couldn't believe what he was hearing. Taking advantage of Ron's
distraction, Harry shoved him aside just as Ron was drawing his fist
back to strike. "What do you mean? You said that everyone had been
bringing her food and potions. Wouldn't someone have noticed them
untouched?" Ginny couldn't be sick, Harry thought, although he was
starting to feel that way himself. He had to get to her, but first he
had to know what was going on.
"Harry," Hermione said in a
placating tone again. "Ginny was disposing of it all so no one would
know. When I took her food to her yesterday, I opened her curtains to
talk to her and found her in very bad shape. I immediately got one of
her roommates to help me take her to the hospital wing. She fought us
as hard as she could in her weakened state. She doesn't want help. She
doesn't want anything except to be left alone. She won't speak to
anyone. At least, she wouldn't," she muttered darkly.
Harry's legs gave out from under him and he dropped to the floor. "What's wrong with her?" he whispered.
of Ron's anger appeared to deflate as he sat on the bed on the far side
of the room. He spoke in a small voice that seemed to take all his
energy to force out. "No one knows. She's like an empty shell. I
haven't seen her like this since before our trip to Egypt after second
year. We only went there for her. You know Mum and Dad could have done
a lot with that money but they chose that trip for her, so she could
see Bill. He's always had a special connection with her. We knew if
anyone could help her deal with the Chamber incident, it would be him.
Did you know that Bill's been here for two days trying to get through
to her, you self-centered git?" Ron's irritation looked like it was
Harry didn't care about anything now except
Ginny. "Did she talk to him? What does she need? Tell me. She'll get it
no matter what it costs or what I have to do to get it!"
was the wrong thing to say to that particular Weasley. Ron swelled up
the way Aunt Marge had three years ago, only this wasn't accidental
magic, this was fury.
Ron was scary. Instead of lashing out
and yelling as he usually did, he spoke in a detached quiet cold voice
that would unnerve Voldemort himself. "I'm afraid money won't fix what
you've done this time, Potter. You're just lucky that Bill, Charlie and
the twins don't know the password into the tower or you would have got
everything that's coming to you. You're also bloody lucky that my
girlfriend Silenced me and put me in a Body Bind or I would have given
it to them."
"Why? What did I do?" Harry jumped up with
renewed strength. He didn't understand why Ron was speaking this way
towards him but it was making him increasingly irate.
you just quit acting so bloody innocent, like you don't know what
happened?" Ron's hands were clenching, as though he had them around
"But I don't know," Harry yelled. "Remember, I
haven't spoken to her in a week." Harry felt as though they were
talking in circles again. Hermione had given up and was watching them
both, her head swinging from one to the other as they spoke.
you find it a bit strange that you haven't spoken to your girlfriend
for that long when you're in the same House and are in the same
building twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week?" Ron asked with as
much sarcasm as he could muster.
Harry lowered his head as he mumbled, "I've sort of been trying to stay away."
made to leap at Harry again but Hermione, expecting it, pointed her
wand at him. "Sit down now or I'll put you in another Body Bind!"
huffed and crossed his arms across his chest. "Oh yeah, take his side.
It doesn't matter that my sister is in the hospital wing barely in this
world as long as Harry Potter doesn't get hurt."
The words hit Harry like a slap in the face and he winced. Hermione, however, thought that Ron had overstepped the boundary. "That's enough!" she bellowed. "You sit down right now. This is not going to get to the problem. Harry has to understand what's wrong so that we can help Ginny."
"But he's what's wrong," Ron exclaimed as he did as he was told. "We know that. Why can't you see that?"
"Listen," Hermione said. "I'm just as worried about Ginny as you are. Just let me try to figure out what happened, and then if we're not happy, I'll let you hurt him."
appeared to appease Ron and he leaned back against the headboard.
"Okay," he conceded grudgingly. "But you better make it quick. The
twins were trying to persuade McGonagall to give them the password. If
that didn't work, they were going to Snape. You know he'd love to see
them focus their talents on Harry."
and spoke quickly. "Harry, Bill has been trying for two days to get
Ginny to talk to him. She never would. She would just stare into space
blankly like someone who had been given a Dementor's kiss. Bill checked
her for curses and discovered that she was suffering from an induced
melancholia. Never mind," she added quickly with a slight wave of her
hand when Harry opened his mouth to speak, "Madam Pomfrey tried to give
her the correct antidote but --" She sighed heavily. "-- she has to
chew it and she won't. Last night she just broke down, crying really
hard and repeating the same thing over and over. Madam Pomfrey finally
had to give her a Draught of Peace to calm her down."
"What was she saying?" Harry sounded as if he were grasping at his last bit of sanity.
cast Ron a warning glance when he made a skeptical noise. She then
turned to Harry. "She said, 'I'm sorry, Harry.' They're the only words
she's spoken all week."
Harry felt his heart tear apart. What did she have to be sorry for? Was she sorry she had said those words
to him? His stomach turned so furiously he thought he was going to be
sick. He slowly sank to his bed and let his head drop into his hands.
mind homed in sharply on his memory of running away from her. He
understood now how she must have felt: rejected, unwanted and stupid.
He had felt the same way in the Room of Requirement after the last
scenario. "What have I done? I didn't mean for this to happen. I just
"You just needed what?" Ron's wrath had returned. He was now on his feet with his fists clenched tightly at his sides.
better tell us what happened, Harry, or we won't know how to help her."
Hermione's waning sense of diplomacy showed in her sharp tone.
haltingly explained how they had been enjoying their walk and were
talking freely when Ginny had uttered those three words. He told them
of his mind going blank, of his body stiffening, and of his abrupt
departure. When he was finished, they all sat in complete silence, each
wondering what to do next.
As usual, Hermione knew it was up
to her to help the boys understand female emotions. She sighed as she
wondered if they would ever understand how deeply emotions could affect
"Harry," she started gently, "do you know what it
takes for a girl to say those words? It was a huge risk on Ginny's
part. She may not have even realized what she'd said until after you
left. She probably thought her worst fears had come true. You left her
and took her heart with you."
"That's not what happened,"
Harry retorted defensively. "I just needed time. I've never had anyone
say that to me before that I can remember and I have certainly never
said it myself."
"Oh, Harry," Hermione muttered despairingly. "When will you learn there is a difference between what you intend and how other people interpret your actions? I mean,"
she went on hastily as Harry roused up with an angry retort ready, "I
mean that Ginny interpreted your reaction in a very different way than
what you intended, but honestly, how else was she supposed to see it?
You spend practically every waking minute with her, you confide in her
more than you do in us, and --" She added firmly, over-riding Harry's forming protests. "-- and, Ginny told me that you kissed her first months ago, so for all intents and purposes, you started it.
now, whether she meant to say it or not, and whether or not you meant
to hurt her by running away, is less important than helping Ginny,"
Hermione said in her no-nonsense fashion. "What is important is
convincing Ginny that you weren't rejecting her. Do you know now what
you want? You are sure about this, Harry?"
straightened at the question and put all his energy into a definite
indisputable answer. "I know I've been so focused on my own thoughts
that I didn't think to tell her that I needed time to understand. I
know if I don't go to her that I'll lose her and that is unacceptable.
I can't and won't let that happen. I need her and she needs to know
Hermione gave him an encouraging smile, but Ron still looked skeptical.
gathered all the confidence he could muster and looked Ron directly in
the eye. "Don't worry. I'll bring her back. I'll make it better, I
Ron firmed his jaw. "Let's hope so mate, because if you don't, I will."
With an understanding nod between both boys, Harry ran out of the dorm towards the hospital wing.
he heard behind him. Hermione was running towards him with his
Invisibility Cloak. "You may need this. The Weasley boys are still out
looking for you, so be careful."
He took the silvery cloak
gratefully and draped it over himself. "I will. I'm not going to let
anything stand between me and Ginny again." He turned and proceeded
unwaveringly to reach Ginny.
Harry wondered how he was going
to get Ginny to talk to him. He was afraid she might try to keep him
out of the hospital wing. He had to get in so he could try to repair
all the damage he'd caused.
The trip to the hospital wing was
uneventful. Harry held his breath as he opened the door. He knew there
would be a Weasley or two at Ginny's bedside and that he would have to
get around them somehow to see her. He was not prepared, however, to
see Bill, Charlie, and the twins plus Mr. and Mrs. Weasley there. How
was he going to get past all of them?
Suddenly, someone jerked
the cloak from Harry's body, revealing him to everyone. Harry spun
around to see who had exposed him and was surprised to find Professor
Snape sneering behind him.
"So, Potter, is there some reason you feel the need to hide?" His glee was evident in his oily smirk.
watched the insufferable Potions Master sweep over to the Weasleys, his
black robes billowing behind him. "Give this to Madam Pomfrey when she
returns from her consultation at St. Mungo's. It's the Draught of
Peace." He turned his hooked nose and mocking sneer in Harry's
direction and continued, "I'm positive that Miss Weasley will need it
in a few moments considering some present company."
Harry glared at Snape's back as he strode out.
well, well. What do we have here? I believe we have a rat," snarled
George. Harry turned to see the twins heading toward him.
"Pettigrew was a rat, George," Fred reprimanded his brother. "Do you think it fair to associate them together?"
George sneered. "You're right, Fred. A rat is too good for him."
noticed Bill and Charlie standing back and letting the twins at him
first. But it was very clear that they were merely waiting their turn.
thought quickly. If he had to, he'd die trying to reason with them.
This was for Ginny. "I just found out. I've come to see Ginny, to help
her if I can," he said loudly enough that the other Weasleys turned to
"Did you hear that, George? Now he wants to
help Ginny," Fred laughed. It wasn't a jovial sound. The twins were
going to be Harry's greatest obstacle after Ron. They had been the
least forgiving and most hostile towards Percy. He expected them to
give him an even worse treatment.
"Where were you when Ginny
was brought to the hospital wing? When Madam Pomfrey said that she
might not make it because she's willing herself to die? When all she
has said to anyone is your name, you bastard! Oh I forgot; Ron and
Hermione said you've been ignoring her," added George cynically.
each accusation cut like the sting of a lash, Harry couldn't let them
deter him. This was for Ginny. He couldn't let them stop him from
reaching her. "Well I'm here now, and I'm not going anywhere until I
see her and try to make things right." He flicked his gaze between the
twins, weighing his chances. "You won't stop me," he added quietly.
see about that. Won't we?" As each twin grabbed an arm to drag him out
of the room, they emptied their pockets of various strange and
experimental products. "We would gladly show you what our benefactor --"
Fred spat like the word left a bad taste in his mouth. "-- made
possible. Let's see if you're as capable as we once thought you were."
Harry could see Charlie and Bill having a quiet conversation at Ginny's
bedside, heads close together.
Harry struggled with Fred and
George and yelled an appeal to the remaining Weasleys. "Wait! I can
help her! I know I can! I can bring her back! You have to let me try!"
That's enough!" Bill yelled as he and Charlie came to stand in front of
the twins. Harry held his breath, his lungs and muscles burning with
effort. He knew they were going to kill him now. He calculated the
distance to Ginny's bed for a mad dash when he felt the twins' grip
slacken slightly. "I hate to say it," Bill said, "but he has a point."
twins howled in unison, but Charlie now spoke. "Let him go, boys. We
have to try everything we can to help Ginny." Harry let out a relieved
sigh that caught in his throat when Charlie turned, his expression
making him look as though he was capable of tossing Harry to one of his
beloved dragons. "We have to let him at least try, whether we like it or not."
Harry nodded to the two oldest Weasley boys to show that he understood. However, the twins were more reluctant. "But Char-lie!"
buts," was heard from across the room from Mrs. Weasley. "He brought my
baby girl back to me once before. He can do it again. He must." She
gave Harry an almost pleading look that strengthened his resolve to
make Ginny better.
Everyone cleared a path as Harry approached Ginny's bed, then gathered around, watching him closely.
bothered Harry. He knew that Ginny was a private person and only
confided in a few people, especially about their relationship. He
turned to Bill. "Would everyone please leave us --"
Harry learned much later that the loud uproar that ensued could be heard throughout the castle.
alone with Bill," Harry continued loudly, to make himself heard. "Ginny
is very reserved but she's told me that she doesn't hide anything from
him. You know Bill won't let me hurt her. You can trust me with him
Bill looked back and forth from Harry to Ginny
then turned to his family. "Yeah, he's right. Ginny wouldn't want
anyone to hear what they say to each other. She doesn't even give me
all the details, but I know they're close."
With many long
hard stares in Harry's direction, and very begrudgingly, everyone but
Bill filed out to wait anxiously in the hall for any news of success or
After the door closed, Bill turned to Harry. "She
always had faith in you, whatever you did. It's her faith in you that
I'm relying on now." Having said his piece, Bill propped Ginny up with
pillows and backed a couple of steps away before turning and resting
his bum on the metal frame of her bed. It was far enough away to give
Harry and Ginny the illusion of privacy and yet still close enough for
him to hear the tones of what they said to each other.
Harry turned to Ginny and sat on the edge of her bed. "Ginny, open your eyes for me, please."
was no response, not even so much as the flicker of an eyelash. Harry
steadied his breathing and took her hand. It was so small and cold,
reminding him of the time in the Chamber. "Ginny, I don't know if you
can hear me but I'm hoping you can. I'm sorry I ran away from you and
left you like that. I, I just --" Ginny's eyes opened and Harry froze.
head turned in his direction and some recognition showed in her eyes.
"Harry?" Her voice was the thinnest thread of sound.
Harry exhaled in pure relief. "Yes, Ginny. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."
glorious eyes, now dulled, refused to meet him squarely. "Harry, I'm
sorry. I'm so sorry." Harry placed his fingers on her lips to stop her
"Shh, Ginny. You have nothing to feel sorry
for. I'm the one who should be apologizing." He took a careful breath
and began to explain what he had felt. "When I ran away, I wasn't
running away from you. I'm sorry you thought that. It's just --" He
fell silent, unable to continue without some sign from her.
"Go on," Ginny whispered, squinting her eyes so that she could see him more clearly.
put one arm over her, bringing her into an embrace that he hoped made
her feel secure enough to trust what he was going to say.
"I ran that day because it scared me how easily you could say those words.
I had no idea what they really meant and couldn't understand how you
could say them to me of all people. I think somebody would have to be
special to hear them from you, and I'm not special, I'm 'just Harry'."
sorry you feel that way, Harry. Maybe it's better if we just forget
everything and go our separate ways. I know you'd be better off without
me. I seem to muddle up your life a lot." Ginny suddenly sat up
straighter and firmed her jaw, her misty eyes conveying her true
feelings. "Please leave, Harry. Go on without me. Be happy for once in
Harry stared in disbelief. "Ginny, I don't know
if I can go on without you," he pleaded. He had come too far and been
through too much to get to this point. He wasn't going to let her stop
him that easily by using one of his own strategies against him. To get
through to her he would have to be firm, supportive, and, most of all,
loving. "You are everything good that's in my life right now. I need
and want you to love me. Before you showed me what it meant to have
someone's unconditional support and love, I had never known or seen
that side of love. The more time I spent with you, the more that
feeling grew inside me. Now I know that what I'm feeling for you is
Ginny pulled back and looked at him with hope in her
eyes. Yet he could also see a touch of apprehension that he wasn't
telling her the truth, that he was only doing this because her mother
had begged him to bring back her baby girl.
Harry brought his
hands up to cup her face. He stroked her cheeks with his thumbs. He
hoped she hadn't lost complete faith in him. He was gambling on her
trust in him.
"I know you don't believe me right now but I'm
going to do everything I can to prove to you how I feel. I love you and
I don't want to let you go. If you let me, I'll spend my every waking
moment making up for all the hurt you felt." With that, he leaned in
and brushed his lips softly across hers.
Tears trailed down
Ginny's cheeks onto Harry's hands. "Harry, it's not your fault. I
shouldn't have said anything, but I thought we were so close and I
wanted you to know how special you are to me. It just slipped out," she
murmured. "I knew you weren't ready. I don't want to push you or trap
you in anything you don't want."
Harry gasped. She didn't want
to trap him? How could she think that? "Don't you understand? I'm
trying to tell you that I am ready. I just needed that motivation to
realize my own feelings. You are what I want and you didn't push or
trap me into anything. I'm jumping into this with no illusions."
knew what he had to do now, for Ginny, but even more so for himself. He
was selfish when it came to her and he never wanted to chance losing
her completely. Where was his Gryffindor courage? His knees were
shaking and he felt queasy again, but he refused to back down.
tightened his grip on her, looked her in the eyes, and began, "I love
you. I know in my heart and in my soul that we were meant to be. I'll
always love and need you here with me. We have the rest of our lives
for me to show you that. I want you to know, I'm in this for the long
run. As soon as we are out of school and everything is over, I am
going to marry you. I mean, if you want to. Marry me, I mean." Aware
now that he was babbling, Harry shut up and watched her hopefully. Now
that the shoe was on the other foot, he knew what Hermione meant about
taking risks, but it felt right to be putting his heart on the line.
you've just taken a big step emotionally. Do you think we're ready for
marriage? We still have other issues to work out, like your need to
hide things from me and my determination to discover what you're
Harry swallowed hard, shocked to see Ginny drawing
away from him again. "I'm not going to hide anything from you anymore,
Ginny. Ask me anything you like and I'll tell you the open and honest
"Why did you really come to see me now?" Ginny dropped her gaze to her clasped hands now lying in her lap.
ran his hand over her tousled hair, drawing courage from the contact.
He reached one hand up and gently lifted her face to look at him.
"Because I hoped you'd say those words -- the most beautiful words I've ever heard."
"And what's that?" Ginny whispered.
"I love you," Harry said softly, hoping that she would see the truth of what he was saying in his eyes.
"Oh, Harry." Ginny enfolded him tightly in her arms. "I love you too," she whispered happily.
Harry grinned and closed his eyes. "Ginny, please say those words again."
Ginny's face glowed with emotion as she pronounced them loudly and clearly. "I. Love. You. Harry. Potter."
kissed her lightly, then captured her eyes with a burning gaze just for
her. "That was the most amazing thing I've ever heard. And coming from
you, it was even sweeter. I never want to go without hearing you saying
those words again." Harry then wrapped them both in the most staggering kiss either had experienced.
the end of the bed, Bill leaned forward until his weight was back on
his feet and not on his now-numb backside. With all the stealth he had
learned as a curse breaker he moved away, fairly confident that his
sister and future brother-in-law would be safe left on their own for
the few minutes it would take him to let the rest of the family know
Ginny was on the mend.
Maybe now that Ginny was alert again,
Madam Pomfrey could finally get her to chew the Alihotsy leaves she
needed to destroy the effects of the Glumbumble honey she'd eaten.
would keep that bit of news for when his little sister was feeling more
herself. He was pretty sure she would want to curse the individuals who
had sent it to her until they begged for mercy.
thoughts had taken him to the tall doors of the hospital wing. Just as
his hand rested on the doorknob, the doors flew open and Marietta
Edgecombe and Anthony Goldstein entered, Levitating two people. They
looked somewhat familiar. When he looked into the hallway and found his
mum yelling and threatening the twins, he realized that the people were
Harry and Ginny's exes, Cho Chang and Michael Corner. The ones who had
given Ginny the Glumbumble-affected honey. It looked as though the
twins had fed them their famous Fainting Fancies, Nosebleed Nougats,
and their award-winning Ton-Tongue Toffees.
Bill shook his
head and chuckled. He looked back over his shoulder at Ginny and Harry,
who were watching the others. Bill caught Harry's eye. With a nod,
Harry conveyed that he knew the twins were responsible and wouldn't
act, yet. He would wait for a more appropriate time.
though he knew he had been replaced as Ginny's main confidant, Bill
happily grinned at the fact that Harry had taken his place.
* * * * *
Author's note – I just wanted to say thanks to Allie Kiwi,
Tante, and Ima_Quidditch_Fan for the encouragement on my first story.
Also to Baffy for the prebeta and to my beta, Magnolia Mama.