Harry sat at a study table in the Gryffindor common room, his Potions Manual open in front of him but forgotten as he stared across to where she was sitting. Her head bent over her roll of parchment, she concentrating hard on her essay as her quill flew across the page. She paused occasionally to check her textbook.
"Earth to Harry, Earth to Harry..." Harry blinked as Ron waved a hand in front of his face. "Harry, what are you thinking about? I've asked you the same question three times now."
"We're supposed to be studying for Snape's test tomorrow, remember? Do you, or do you not, know why Asphodel is called for in the Truth Potion? I thought it was only used in the Draught of Living Death?"
"Erm... I think that's discussed on page 477..." Harry flipped through Ron’s Manual to that page, ran a finger down the paragraphs until he found what he was looking for, and pointed it out to Ron. "Right there..." As Ron took the book and began reading, Harry's gaze returned to where she had been sitting moments before.
She was gone. Harry scanned the common room for her but she was nowhere in sight. He sighed as he reluctantly returned to his Potions Manual, but could hardly concentrate. Veritaserum is a Truth Potion so powerful that three drops would have you spilling out your innermost secrets. He had known her since her first year. Use of the potion is controlled by strict Ministry guidelines. She had been in front of him the whole time but he did not really notice her. Ingredients include Jobberknoll feathers, Asphodel, powdered Moonstone…She was no longer the young girl who idolized him, but had matured into a lovely young woman, loyal and true. “When did all this happen?”
“Pardon?” Ron looked up from his Potions Manual.
“What?” Ron’s question had interrupted Harry’s daydream.
“You asked me ‘When did all this happen?’—when did all what happen, Harry? Are you all right? Did you have a vision or something? You are looking a bit peaky there.” Ron looked at his best friend anxiously.
Harry cursed inwardly as he realized that he had voiced his last thought out loud. “Erm… No, I’m all right. Just—just tired… I think I will go and have a lie in.” With that, Harry closed his Potions Manual, tucked it into his book bag, and walked across the common room to climb the stairs to the boys’ dormitory.
Ron watched his friend disappear in amazement. It had been public knowledge ever since first year that Harry and Snape had no lost love for each other, but Harry skipping his Potions revision when he very well knew that Snape would set the toughest questions available… There had to be something that was occupying his attention.
“Hermione, have you noticed something a bit odd with Harry?”
“Other than his being preoccupied?” replied the bushy-haired Gryffindor sitting next to him. “Ron, there’s a war going on out there, there have been Death Eater attacks all over Britain, and Voldemort wants to kill him. Of course there’s something wrong.” Hermione shook her head. “I imagine he feels the weight of the world on his shoulders.”
Ron frowned. “I know there’s a war on. That is why we are in here, revising, instead of going to Hogsmeade for a Sunday afternoon. However, I do not think that is what has Harry’s attention. He looks more like a love-struck puppy than thinking about You-know-who.”
Hermione looked up from her Manual, her interest aroused. “You don’t think that Harry is pining over someone again, do you?”
“I’m not sure--but Harry just now looked very much like when we were back in Fourth Year. You know, like when just before he asked Cho Chang to the ball? He used to stare at her from a distance. And just a moment ago, I caught him staring at Ginny when he should be revising for Snape’s test.”
Hermione looked back at her boyfriend, eyes wide as Galleons. “Since when have you been so perceptive, Ron?
“Humph. Looks can be deceiving, Hermione. Just because you said that I had the emotional range of a teaspoon does not mean I am that dumb. I know I look as if I don’t know what is happening around me, but in reality I do. ”
Inside the dormitory, Harry was sitting on his bed. He wanted to tell Ginny his feelings for her, but was afraid at the same time. He still remembered what Hermione said during their Fourth Year. “She gave up on you ages ago, Harry.”
How could he be so blind? She had practically been in front of him all this while, and he had ignored her. Now that she had given up on him, it was his turn to have feelings for her. Harry slapped his forehead in frustration. “It’s bloody all my own fault.”
With that comment, he flopped backward onto the bed and tried to force the vision that was Ginny Weasley from his mind so he could sleep.
“Hey Harry, how did the test go?” Ginny greeted him as he walked into the Great Hall.
Harry’s heart beat twice its normal rate, and he could feel his cheeks start to grow warm. “I –Erm—well, you know Snape. Never let any chance to torture Gryffindors slip by. Listen Ginny, I…I was thinking…You know, you’ve been – that is – I – you…”
“Just say it, Harry,” The red-haired girl smiled.
“I-I was wondering if you – if you would be -- would be my friend.”
Ginny’s heart sank. Hermione had told her of her conversation with Ron after Harry left the Common Room. When Hermione left, Ginny had tried not to get her hopes up. True, she had given up on Harry when she realized that Harry would never return her love, but she never ceased to love him. Her love for him grew stronger everyday and she had became quite good at hiding her feelings. “Friends, Harry? We are friends.” Ginny tried to keep the bitterness from her voice.
Harry did not notice. “Erm, I know Ginny. What I meant was something more like – like me, Ron and Hermione – You know; close friends.”
“Of course. I’d love to.” Ginny’s hopes crumbled. A friend. All he wanted her as was a friend! Hermione had been wrong after all… “I – I’ll talk to you later. Maybe tonight, in the common room?”
Harry nodded, unsure of his voice if he answered.
Ginny gave him a wan smile, and then turned and walked out of the Great Hall, her appetite totally vanished.
“A friend… a bloody, palsy friend! Damn it all, why can’t he see me as more than that?” Ginny threw her pillow at the wall, and then kicked the bedpost for good measure. “It isn’t as if I’m ugly as sin…I know I’m at least presentable.” She glanced at herself in the mirror on the wall, pausing to push a strand of her red mane of hair over one ear. “Maybe… maybe if I tried another hair style? Or got rid of some of these freckles?”
“My dear Miss Weasley, you are quite attractive just the way you are, “ replied the mirror. “Although a touch of make-up would enhance your eyes…”
Twenty minutes later, Ginny looked at her reflection and smiled. “That is an improvement,” she murmured. Brown eyes, now made larger by the application of mascara and eye shadow, sparkled back at her. A plan started to form in her mind…
You are so bloody clever, Potter. A friend…of all things you have to ask, you ask her to be your friend. And that lame excuse using Ron and Hermione. Harry berated himself once Ginny left the table. He knew that he had royally screwed up his chances with Ginny.
“Hey mate, why so glum? Thinking of Ginny?” Ron sat down next to Harry
“Huh—how did you know I--?” Harry stopped himself before he gave himself away. He can feel his checks started to grow warm again.
“Know what Harry?
“Nothing.” Harry answered, though a bit too quickly. “Listen, I don’t feel like eating. Meet you in Transfiguration.” With that, Harry swung his bag over his shoulder and left the Gryffindor table.
Harry did not feel like returning to Gryffindor Tower after classes that evening. He dreaded to think what verbal slips he might make when he next met Ginny face to face. Instead, he informed Ron and Hermione that he needed to take some fresh air and went off to walk along the lake.
He had almost gotten to a secluded cove along the lakefront when he stopped in his tracks. Ginny was sitting by the lake, dangling her bare feet in the water as she tossed toast points to the giant squid. The last ray of sunlight shone off her copper red hair, making her as lovely as an angel with a halo on her head.
Steeling his nerve, he cleared his throat and spoke. “Hi, fancy meeting you here. May I?” Harry gestured to the empty place next to Ginny.
“Yes, of course.” Ginny returned her gaze to the setting sun. Her mind was in a whirlwind. Should she execute her plan now? Trust Harry to find her at the most inappropriate time.
Harry risked a glance toward Ginny. She looked -- different. Her warm chocolate-brown eyes somehow looked larger and more inviting. And those plump, inviting lips…He reverted his gaze back to her eyes before Ginny noticed. Damn it Potter, control your thoughts.
Ginny looked up suddenly. “Harry, did you mean what you said to me during lunch?”
“Huh?” Harry was caught off guard by her question. “I—Er—That is—“
Ginny sighed. “Dennis Creevey asked me out.” She said in a voice that was almost a whisper.
Harry was stunned silent at the news. Dennis had beaten him to it. It was all his own bloody fault.
She risked a glance at Harry. He was expressionless. “I said no.”
Harry’s heart soared when he realized that Ginny had rejected Dennis.
Ginny continued. “I’ve waited so long for my love to be reciprocated by –someone who hasn’t noticed me. But I realize now that it’s useless. Whatever his decisions are, I will still love him. My heart is for him and him alone. I’ve known him since before I started first year. Heck, I was practically throwing myself in front of him the whole time, embarrassing myself with my antics--but he never seem to realise that I existed.”
Harry’s heart was beating painfully fast now. Was she referring to him? He turned to look at her. “Ginny, I—“ It proved to be a mistake to look at her. Those captivating brown eyes. Harry felt himself leaning forward. Stop it, Harry before you make a fool of yourself. Instead, he continued to draw closer. Her lips are so inviting. Before he knew it, he was kissing Ginny.
Ginny’s heart was beating twice its normal rate when Harry started to lean forward. Without thinking, she leaned forward too. This very well may be her last and only chance to kiss Harry. Then their lips met… The kiss was gentle. Ginny wondered how someone could kiss so gently. Then the kiss deepened.
They broke apart when breathing was necessary. Both were blushing and a little out of breath.
“Ginny, I—“ Panic seized Harry. What if Ginny did not like him? What if she felt he had forced himself on her? Had he severed their relationship forever?
Ginny could sense Harry distress. “I love you,” she said simply.
“I—What? You –you do?” Harry searched Ginny’s face for answer.
That was all Harry needed. “I love you too, Ginny.”
Ginny smiled warmly, and placed her hand on Harry’s. “I couldn’t stand the thought of never being with you.”
Harry nodded, his heart racing wildly. “Me too…”
“The sun is setting,” Ginny said as she leaned onto Harry’s shoulder.
Stars began to twinkle overhead as they both stared into the deepening night, but none could match the shared star of love that now burned in both Harry’s and Ginny’s hearts.
A/N: Many thanks to my pre-beta Robert. You gave me inspirations when I’m out of idea. Without you, this will not be what it is. It’s a pleasure and mind-opening experience working with you. Thanks Arnel, for betaing this.