He had not been since leaving Ginny at Dumbledore’s funeral. Back then he had been able to fool himself for a short time into believing that there would be a period of grace for him until after Bill’s wedding.
No such luck.
Ginny had not tried to dissuade him, she had not made a scene; she had even said that she understood him, that she liked him. That was more generous by far than what Harry could say for himself.
Of course, he did like her. Even more than that, but that was the point, was it not? If she was not so precious to him, she would not be in danger because of him.
He had not foreseen, however, how much he would hurt himself by giving her up. How was it that she had become so important to him in such a short time? If his feelings of loss and distress were any indication of what he had done to her, he could not blame her if she never spoke to him again. If only he had made himself clearer, if only he had told her without the possibility of a doubt how much she meant to him! That protecting her was more important than being with her … or not?
But he had not told her. And now there was one question constantly revolving in his mind: Was there still a chance for a reconciliation? Secretly, she had been waiting for him all those years. Had he finally blown it? What would Voldemort’s defeat be worth to him, if Ginny did not want him back then? He dreaded the answer to that question more than anything and he asked himself for the thousandth time: was he noble or stupid? Or both, as Ginny had put it?
And that was where his second mistake came in: he had not stopped Ron and Hermione from joining him. He had not really thought it through, it just had felt so natural and comforting, but how must Ginny have felt? Unworthy? Unwanted?
It would be a miracle, if Ginny could forgive him for that. It was much more likely that she would decide to rid herself of Harry Potter once and for all.
If she did like him at all! She had accepted his decision quite easily; she had even said that she had expected something like that. So, maybe, she did not quite like him the way he liked her. Maybe, she had dumped him without his even noticing! Maybe she had found out that waiting for him had not been worth while. Maybe she had only been waiting for an opportunity to find a replacement for him?
And who said that she had not already done so?
Harry was certain that Dean would only be too happy to help her out. And what about Fleur’s relatives? Harry felt deeply ashamed for his selfishness, but his worst nightmare had gradually changed. It had come every night – inevitably:
Voldemort towered over Harry, while he was trying to protect something, to hide something from his view. But there was no way he could disguise his worst fears from those red eyes and the darkness that swirled behind them. A searing pain split Harry’s forehead, and the Dark Lord reached out and grabbed something … somebody. While Harry was helplessly rolling on the floor in his agony, Voldemort dragged Ginny towards him and the last thing Harry heard was his high-pitched cruel laughter.
Harry had woken up every night, drenched in cold sweat, panting, his scar stinging with the intensity of his fear, and his heart bleeding with a loss that he had only imagined … but the pain was real.
But then the doubts had come. Doubts if she had really liked him; that parting from him had been easy for her; that he had not been good enough for her. Or, that she was too disappointed with him to ever forgive him, one way or another. He often worried that somebody else would have her, and instead of Ginny’s dead body at the feet of a laughing Voldemort, he increasingly often envisaged a Ginny who was very much alive in the arms of some laughing, posh, French wizard. This new pain had been even more lively than the old one, and it had by no means helped Harry to get more sleep.
Harry pounded his cushion into a new shape. He had been very eager for news from the Burrow. Had Fleur’s relatives arrived? Any male cousins? What was Ginny doing? He had tried not to be too obvious, but knowing Hermione, it probably had not worked too well.
Their return to the Burrow had not been what Harry had been hoping for either. The way things had gone at Privet Drive, he had known that they were not in for a last golden day of peace. Things had been strained and it had been obvious to everybody as soon as they had entered the Weasleys' home: they had drifted apart at once.
The fact that Ginny had avoided him like the devil avoided holy water had not made things easier. Lupin had made an attempt at convincing him that he should include the Order in his plans, while Mrs Weasley had bluntly tried to make him see that he was too young etc. etc. The only reason Harry had been able to retain a polite façade was that he was deeply ashamed for having treated Ginny the same way. He cringed at the thought of behaving like Mrs Weasley, but in order to protect Ginny, he had, indeed, treated her like a little child.
To make things worse, they had arrived just before the Delacours, who had made it their business to welcome Harry into their family. Ironically enough, it had not been Ginny who was beleaguered by French wizards, but himself under fire from French witches; one in particular. Gabrielle was still very young, but even Harry, with his meagre experience, had been able to tell that she was out hunting. Dinner had seemed an eternity of futility, fending off more or less subtle hints that Gabrielle would need an escort for the wedding, while desperately and ineffectually trying to catch Ginny’s eyes for a helpless smile.
When most of the Delacours had left to turn in for the night, it had been a relief. It had not lasted, though. The only thing he had really wanted was a chance to speak with Ginny, but Ron had stayed too close to her. He had not been impressed with Harry’s decision to break things off with her. Also, Hermione had kept Harry company, because she and Ron were not really on speaking terms.
At Dumbledore’s funeral Harry had believed that things with Ron and Hermione had fallen into place at last. Apparently they had not. While Ron had tried to tame his disappointment at Harry failing Ginny, he had been unusually defensive with Hermione, who in her turn had rather leaned towards Harry, even as she kept provoking Ron with surprising aggressiveness. That’s all wrong, he had thought on more than one occasion.
Harry turned around, and cast a look over to the other bed in the room. Ron was asleep, but not too deeply. He was not sprawled on his back, nor was he snoring the way he usually did. None of them were relaxed enough these days. Ron was cramped together in his bed like a Bludger. Silently, Harry got up.
He knew that the issues between Ron and Hermione needed resolving. A team of three did not work if two of the three were not talking to each other. In case of doubt, he had to go alone. He could do it, if … if he just knew what Ginny thought, if he knew it was worth it.
He crept downstairs, resisting the urge to put his ear to Ginny’s door or even risk a peek through the key hole. On the first floor he decided that he might as well use the bathroom before making some tea in the kitchen – or maybe there was a cold drink somewhere, after all the night was rather warm. Rather hot, actually.
Harry took his time in the bathroom, washing his hands carefully, and enjoying the cool water on his slightly sweaty skin. When he opened the door and walked out on the landing, somebody bumped into him, losing their balance. Instinctively, he reached out for them, trying to help. A scent hit his nostrils with the force of a sledgehammer. It was warm, sweet and flowery. He knew it was her,even before he saw her face – or rather part of her face.
They stood next to a window through which the bright moon, still low in the sky, cast its light.
“What are you doing here?” she hissed.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Harry answered. “You?”
“Neither,” she said softly.
Something in the change of her voice made him realise that she knew exactly why he could not sleep. She knew him so well, and the realisation was terrible. There was no doubt for him that she was made for him. He knew he was staring at her, but he could not help it. Nothing had prepared him for the simple and enchanting beauty of Ginny Weasley, standing bed tousled in bright moon light.
And all of a sudden he knew; he knew how to find out. He might just ruin everything with it, he might even have bat bogeys flapping his face, but he would know! Before he could lose his determination, he moved closer to her and threw his arms around her.
(A/N: The analytic approach has been received friendly, but cautiously so far. Hope you bear with me. Please, look at my profile for a disclaimer. Thank you very much to Wolf’s Scream and harry_ginnyphile for their help.)