The day had not started badly. On the contrary: they had played Quidditch, which was always good. But everything had gone horribly wrong. Cormac McLaggen, that ….
Ginny stopped thinking and started pacing her dormitory, counting slowly to ten.
Okay… Cormac McLaggen. Ginny took a deep breath.
Cormac McLaggen had actually managed to outfool her brother. And that was saying something. During practice he had proved to be a pain in the-wherever-it-hurt most, but during the game he had even managed to top that.
The ultimate result was that they had lost the game; McLaggen had been too occupied with correcting others to pay attention to his goal keeping. And to top it all off, he had hit Harry with a Bludger to the head, and now Harry was in the hospital wing with a cracked skull – and that was far worse than any lost game.
Ginny sat down on her bed.
She felt a sinking sensation in her stomach as she remembered the moment Harry had been hit. They would never know how close he had come to breaking his neck as well, but it had looked terrible. The possibility alone was enough to make Ginny want to run downstairs and stand guard over Harry’s prone body.
However, things were not that simple. In fact, she had been down there earlier, but Harry had still been unconscious. While most of her team mates had gone off to find McLaggen and do something extremely painful to him, Ginny had waited until she was certain to be alone with Harry – and her brother Ron, of course, who occupied the bed next to Harry’s. The fact was that Ginny had not trusted herself to keep her countenance; indeed, she had just barely refrained from venting her frustration on Ron.
After the initial shock had worn off, Ron had been hardly able to conceal his delight at McLaggen’s failure. Ron’s return to the team would be greeted with relief by everybody. Even Demelza had told Ron so in no uncertain terms before setting out with the MacLaggen -hunting party, which consisted of the team and a fair number of enraged Gryffindors.
Ginny had been standing at Harry’s bedside with just one question repeating itself in her mind: Why Harry? Why always Harry?
Ginny’s hands clenched violently, squashing an innocent cushion between them.
Harry’s captaincy of the Gryffindor team was rapidly developing into the most disastrous of years – through no fault of Harry’s. First he had had to find a replacement for Katie Bell, then for Ron; and now he had nearly been killed by one of his own players.
Ginny took another calming breath as her temper threatened to drive her up from her bed. She was not going to search for McLaggen and kill him. Others would do that; she needed to think.
Something was different about Harry. Something was different between Harry and herself.
Ginny jumped up in spite of her best efforts to remain calm.
She just needed to make sense of it. She had a list to keep herself from going mad. Ginny was willing to learn from a professional in keeping sane, and anybody with a vested interest in Ginny’s brother had to be a professional in this field. Hermione had dozens of lists on Ron: one with all the reasons to hurt him (a long list); one with all the reasons not to hurt him right now (slightly shorter); another with all the reasons not to hurt him at all (very short, only one point actually), etc. etc.
Ginny’s list was quite short as well, it only had two points, but it was better to have two points to frantically hold on to than to experience the emotional and intellectual chaos that usually followed her thinking about Harry Potter:
A. Harry has no girlfriend.
B. Harry reacts to Ginny.
Since Harry had convincingly told Ron on the train ride home last summer that he had no interest in Cho Chang anymore, there had been no girl in his life. Not for lack of trying on the female side of Hogwarts’ student body, though. Romilda Vane’s efforts were only the tip of the iceberg.
Ginny ground her teeth. She did not really like Romilda.
There had been one girl, though: Harry had invited Luna to Slughorn’s party, and Ginny had felt a most unpleasant sensation when she heard Peeves howl down the corridors, “Potty luuuuurves Looooooony!”
Ginny had quickly overcome any ill-feeling towards Luna – or Harry – seeing how extraordinarily pleased Luna had been. Nobody had dreamed about the possibility that Hogwarts’ most eligible male would invite Loony Lovegood to Slughorn’s exclusive party. But Harry had only asked her as a friend, of course, and from what he had told them it had been highly amusing.
There was, however, one girl that seemed to be the object of Harry’s attention: Ginny Weasley.
Ginny stopped pacing and looked at herself in the mirror critically.
“Nothing wrong there, dear,” the mirror told her.
As incredible as it sounded to herself, Ginny found Harry paying attention to her quite a lot. She did not really have an explanation for it, though. Under normal circumstances she would have supposed that a boy was simply interested in her. But nothing was normal where Harry was concerned. She had pined after him for years and now that she had moved on, he wanted her? It would be quite ironic, but she wasn’t ready to believe it, really. Her heart had been broken more than just once and apart from that, she had moved on. To Dean.
Now, there was a problem.
Ginny slumped against one of the posts of her bed.
They had had a blazing row earlier. She had been angry at McLaggen and almost frantic with worry for Harry’s sake, but Dean had thought it a good idea to make fun of what had happened to Harry. She knew, of course, that he had partly done so, just because his girlfriend had shown such intense concern for another boy, but his jokes had been in extremely bad taste.
She had passionately taken Harry’s side without consciously deciding to do so. It had come as naturally to her as Harry following her down into the Chamber of Secrets. They had never talked about that, but she had always known instinctively what Ron’s few allusions had confirmed later on: that there had been no doubt or hesitation on Harry’s part that day. As always, Harry had been the true Gryffindor he was, ignoring fear and pain beyond anything others could imagine.
Ginny turned towards the pile of books she kept on her trunk and rifled through them without knowing what she was looking for.
It had been the same that evening she and Dean had been caught snogging by Harry and Ron.
Ginny refrained from banging her head against the wall.
Harry had stayed with them and tried to prevent the worst between her and Ron, while Dean had taken the easy way out. She had never really blamed her boyfriend for it, but she still felt bothered about it, especially because Dean had developed some extremely annoying habits since then.
Most maddening was his ostentatious display of good manners. He was always quick to help her, open doors for her, even help her through the portrait hole, as if she wasn’t able to walk through it herself. She might have found his antics endearing, if Harry’s behaviour had not been so pointedly different on that terrible night. Now, she suspected that Dean was only trying to make up for his failure.
Dean’s continued attachment to football instead of Quidditch was another source of irritation for Ginny. West Ham was his favourite club and he just could not stop explaining the rules of a sport that Ginny had no interest in, whatsoever. In contrast to him, Harry had definitely not shown any interest in football, ever.
She groaned, and this time she did bang her head on the wall. There it was again: chaos. Trying to soothe herself, she enumerated the points on her list.
Why did she always come back to Harry? What made him so special?
Did he really react to her?
Ginny turned her thoughts back to the last summer.
Harry had lost Sirius, but he had overcome his grief all on his own and when he had arrived at the Burrow, he had been so nice, so companionable. Even though Phlegm always treated him with great affection – funny how she really seemed to value him, perhaps there was something good about her after all – he had never berated Ginny for making fun of her, but he had always joined in on it as if on a secret joke. (Harry, in contrast to her stumbling fool of a brother, Ron, seemed immune to Fleur’s Veela charm – another reason to admire him. – Hey, where did the word “admire” come from?)
Harry had asked her to sit with him on the train, and Ginny still felt lousy about the way she had left him standing there. After spending so much time with him, having so much fun, she had brusquely told him that she would sit with Dean. And that was that.
Ginny sat with her head in her hands.
Harry had found others to sit with, and he had defended them against Romilda Vane and her giggling friends. Neville and Luna had told Ginny about it later. Neville had even re-enacted the scene with himself stuck under the bench and his rear sticking up into the air. Most teenagers would have died of embarrassment – not Harry, though.
Harry knew the meaning of loyalty – always. That’s what the new Minister, who had had the nerve to use Percy to intrude on their Christmas and make her mother cry for days, had had to find out too. Ginny’s heart had almost burst with pride for Harry.
Ginny’s hands smoothed out a wrinkle in her bed’s cover.
Christmas. Ginny remembered one thing about Christmas in particular: the moment she had picked the maggot out of Harry’s hair.
He had liked that.
She had thought that Harry had given her a funny look when she had commended him for taking Luna to Slughorn’s party. However, she had only seen it in the corner of her eye and had not been able to place it back then, but when she had picked the maggot, he had given her the same kind of look. Being hit by it full on and after several years of Harry-watching, she recognised it immediately the second time: he was pleased.
She had found the notion exhilarating and bewildering. She had been walking on clouds for the rest of the Christmas break and she had felt rather unenthusiastic about meeting Dean afterwards instead of talking with Hermione and Harry.
That was another thing with Dean. Something was going on with Harry. Ginny had no accurate idea as to what it was, but there was always something going on with Harry, after all he had made it to the game barely in time. It did not take a Hermione to figure out that it had something to do with the war against Voldemort. If Ginny did not have to be with Dean all the time she would know by now. Last year, with the DA, she had been much better informed. This year, things happened without her again, and Ginny simply hated to be back on guessing terms. She wanted to fight; she had a score to settle with Tom. Another thing Dean did not know about.
Needlessly, she smoothed the cover on her bed. Somehow, it all came back to Harry, all the time.
And now Harry was downstairs in the hospital wing after having his skull cracked, but not dead – lucky git. She had that sinking feeling again and for a fleeting moment a scene appeared before her inner eye with herself weeping and confessing her deep attraction to Harry over his lifeless body. The idea was stupidly romantic, but immensely disconcerting all the same.
What if Harry would not be lying there with several feet of gauze around his head, but under a shroud? Had she moved on far enough that she could bear the idea of Harry having died this afternoon on Hogwarts’ Quidditch pitch?
Ginny looked at herself in the mirror and saw a blazing look grow in her eyes.
Now she knew.
Something had changed today. She and Dean had made up after their row, but just so. He had suspected her of liking Harry, and now she knew he was right.
She remembered how she had felt on Christmas, after seeing how Harry had liked to be touched by her, and she could not help it. She still felt terrible somehow, but the memory had definitely lightened her mood.
(A/N: #3 in the mood series. Hope it makes sense to you. – Thanks a lot to Wolf’s Scream and Jenadamson for their help. – Please, look at my profile for a disclaimer.)