A/N: This is a story for ginny88, who had the winning bid in this summer's supportstacie auction. ginny88 asked for a one-shot centering around jealous!Harry. I tried to be angsty, I really did, but the H/G fluff won out. I had already started A Time to Remember when I got this request, so I decided to set this story as a prequel to that longer story. (Which will be coming soon to PhoenixSong!)
ginny88 asked that I post this fic wherever H/G fans gather and PhoenixSong is the perfect place for it.
Thanks to tdu000 for the Brit-pick and my writing group for all of your feedback and to Sherry for the beta.
"Chatting for Charity, sponsored by the Wizarding Wireless Network and the Comet Broom Company, continues after the break with our very special guest, Harry Potter," said celebrity interviewer, Barbara Waters. "In the next segment, we'll open up the questioning to the public, so send us your Owls and Tweeter Scrolls and donation pledges."
Harry shifted uncomfortably on the chair next to this famous interviewer and watched several owls zoom through the studio windows. The cool morning air felt good on his overheated face. So far, Barbara Waters' questions had been about his career as an Auror and his charity work for the VOV (Victims of Voldemort). She hadn't asked him her famous 'tree question,' and he hoped she wouldn't since, so far, the interview was going well. He hadn't said 'um' too much and he had managed to say what he meant before the interviewer put words in his mouth. Clive, the Ministry spokesperson who had been coaching him for weeks, would be proud.
Harry wasn't out of the interviewing woods yet, though. Tweeter Twigs were spitting slips of paper into a large basket at an alarming rate and the owls kept coming. It wasn't going to be too long before the 'tree question' or something equally uncomfortable was asked.
The Comet Broom Company jingle You'll streak past the stars on a Comet Brooooom finished. Barbara Waters smiled her fake maternal smile at Harry and then watched the last of the sand stream to the bottom of the hourglass.
"And we're back." She turned the hourglass over. "Tweets and Owls have been pouring in from around the country." Barbara Waters glanced at her mousey assistant, who was frantically riffling through the pile of scrolls and letters. "Since there are so many questions for my assistant, Marcia, to sort through, I thought I'd indulge my own curiosity and ask Mr. Potter a question that has been on my mind for quite some time." Marcia, with a curled up Tweeter Scroll lodged in her frizzy brown hair, looked up and smiled at this reprieve.
Harry did not smile. Instead, he straightened his shoulders and tried to ignore the squirming in his stomach. This could only mean the dreaded 'tree question.'
"So, Mr. Potter," Barbara Waters grinned, showing her oddly pointed teeth, "if you could be a tree, what kind would you be?"
Take a deep breath, Clive had said. Don't be afraid of the silence. Let the interviewer fill it in. Or, if you can't stand the silence, repeat the question back. Whatever you do, don't say 'um.'
Harry was silent for what felt like a hundred years. "Um."
"Er If I could be a tree, what kind would I be?" he asked quickly.
"Yes, Mr. Potter, if you could be a tree, what kind would you be?" Barbara Waters echoed impatiently. "It's my signature question, you know. Hundreds of celebrities from the Minister For Magic to " She stopped and regarded him with a knowing smirk. "Just last week, one of the best Quidditch players in the world, Carlos Batanya, answered it. I think it points to what a person is really like."
Harry had heard Carlos Batanya's interview. The Captain of Spain's team, and the Seeker for the Euro United exhibition team that Ginny was playing on, wanted to be a tree that was turned into broom handles for an all-female Quidditch team.
"Sorry," Harry said, looking over at Marcia, who had divided the huge mound of correspondence into three neat piles on the long trestle table. "I was thinking."
"Um." He cringed and then wished he could say what he really wanted to say without sounding too soppy. "An oak tree, I suppose."
"An oak tree? How fascinating." Barbara Waters blinked. "Why ever an oak tree? Do tell."
Harry licked his lips. "An oak tree is tall, for one thing."
"So you want to be king of the forest."
"No," he said quickly. "I would want to be an oak in a forest of oak trees. Just fit in."
"I see." Barbara Waters frowned. "Any other reason? Oak is a strong, straight wood. Used in furniture and wands and " She smirked. "Brooms."
Harry didn't take the bait. "An oak is allowed to grow for a long time before it's chopped down."
"Ah." She tilted her head. "So you want to live a long life."
It sounded like an accusation. "I think a lot of people do."
"Especially someone who has escaped death as many times as you have, Mr. Potter." Barbara Waters impatiently held out her hand for the list of questions Marcia had prepared. "So very interesting. An oak tree in a forest."
Harry's face flamed. How stupid had he sounded?
Barbara Waters read the list in front of her. "I see our listeners find your actual life as opposed to your speculative life as a tree very interesting as well. Marcia has sorted the questions and most of them concern your personal life specifically a little announcement that was in the Daily Prophet."
Harry mentally clapped his forehead. 'Er' was just as bad as 'um.'
"I'm talking about your engagement announcement a week ago."
"To Ginevra Weasley, age 21, of Dorset."
"Is she, perhaps, the Quidditch player?"
Harry stared at Barbara Waters how many Ginevra Weasleys were there in England? "Er yeah. Ginny plays Chaser for the Harpies."
"But the Harpies don't allow married players."
"So Miss Weasley is going to continue this season with the Harpies?"
"That's the plan yeah."
Barbara Waters' smile was brittle. "When is the wedding date, Mr. Potter?"
"We haven't set one yet," Harry said truthfully. "It's September now. The regular season starts in October and ends in May. Then, if there are playoffs ." He was talking too much. "We're going to work around Ginny's schedule."
"I see." Barbara Waters consulted the list of questions. "Cassandra in Perthshire wants to know why Miss Weasley doesn't have an engagement ring."
"She does," Harry said, wondering how people were so quick to notice these things. "It was too big for her finger so we have to have it sized."
Barbara Waters smiled. "What kind of ring is it?"
"What kind? Er gold."
"Oh, lucky girl. Rubies are expensive."
Harry shrugged. He wasn't even going to honor that comment with an 'um.'
Barbara Waters must have sensed he was insulted because she lobbed an easy question at him. "Sarah in Bristol wants to know how you met your fiancιe."
"I've known her since I started at Hogwarts."
"But in Rita Skeeter's unauthorized biography, she said that the greatest female presence in your life at Hogwarts maybe in your whole life was Hermione Granger."
"I haven't read that biography," Harry said flatly. "So I can't comment."
"So you're saying what Rita Skeeter wrote about your love life is rubbish."
"I believe you just said her writing is rubbish, not me," Harry pointed out.
Marcia stifled a giggle and Barbara Waters looked daggers at him. "Very amusing, Mr. Potter. But then, I'm not surprised. Aurors are quick on their feet."
She glanced at the hourglass and so did Harry. To his immense relief, the sand had almost trickled out. "That's all the time we have for today. Thank you, Mr. Potter you've raised a lot of money for your favorite charity in this hour." She looked at her assistant. "How did we do, Marcia?"
"Two thousand Galleons," Marcia squeaked, blushing at the attention.
"Two thousand Galleons for the VOV, well done, Mr. Potter. I hope you'll return soon and answer more questions for charity."
Not bloody likely.
"Thank you," Harry said. He leaned toward the microphone. "And thanks to everyone who contributed. The VOV is worth it."
The Comet Broom Company song started playing again.
Barbara Waters stood up abruptly and waved her wand to shut off the microphone. "Make sure my fan mail is in my dressing room, Marcia."
Harry stood up to be polite, but Barbara Waters never looked back at him.
"Yes, Miss," Marcia said meekly. Then she peeked over her clipboard at Harry. When the sound of Barbara Waters' footsteps faded, she took a deep breath and walked purposefully toward him. "I liked your interview."
Harry was probably as flushed as Marcia. "Thanks. I don't like doing them."
"I could tell." Marcia bit her lip and thrust the clipboard at him. "These are the questions from the public I held back."
"Held back?" He reluctantly took the clipboard. There were over seventy questions, neatly inscribed by some sort of Amalgamation Quill.
"Most of them are about Carlos Batanya and Miss Weasley."
"Carlos Batanya and Ginny?" A vein in his temple started pounding.
"Mostly they're just warnings to you about Carlos Batanya and what a womanizer he is. Couched in the form of a question, of course."
"But Ginny would never "
"I was here during his interview with Miss Waters last week." Marcia interrupted with some urgency. "If you thought he was crude on the air, you should have heard him talking to Miss Waters during the breaks."
"Miss Waters loves that." Marcia laughed darkly. "She thinks it's macho for a bloke to talk about his conquests and which witch he's going to seduce next."
Harry's mind was racing. Seduce next? "You mean?"
"Carlos Batanya said he was going to use his time on the exhibition team to find out if Miss Weasley is a natural redhead."
His face must have reflected the mounting anger he was feeling at the indignity of this interview at arrogant Quidditch players at having Ginny's name dragged into the muck with Carlo Batanya.
"Sorry," Marcia whispered.
It was ridiculous to feel jealous, Harry thought later that day as he Vanished the pile of acorns his fellow Aurors had left on his desk. Carlos Batanya was a mouthy perv who couldn't think past his broomstick. Just because Carlos Batanya bragged didn't mean he would do anything. He was 'all spell and no wand', as the saying went.
Harry moodily picked up the current copy of the Daily Prophet and turned to the sports section. Euro United Exhibition Team wins first match against Asia, said the headline. He re-read the article for the tenth time, hoping to find a different meaning in it.
An uncanny connection between Head Chaser Weasley and Seeker Batanya is credited for this first win for the young Euro United team. Weasley's Chasers were in firm possession of the Quaffle for most of the match, only giving up that advantage when the Seeker signaled for a distraction. When Batanya finally stopped dallying after a one hundred-point lead and swooped down on the Snitch, Weasley took a sacrifice Bludger meant for Batanya. "Only some amazing flying kept Weasley from being personally injured," said Boyd Boyle, Euro's Chasing Coach. "Her broom is in sad shape, though. Warms me heart, it does, to see teamwork like that."
An uncanny connection, Harry thought grimly. He could imagine Barbara Waters' penciled eyebrows arching ever higher at the insinuation.
The Exhibition Games continue tomorrow night in Scotland. Asia versus Oceana and Euro United versus North America.
The Exhibition Games were only for a week. Harry latched on to this comforting thought. Then Carlos Batanya would go back to Madrid and Ginny would return to her beloved Harpies and that would be that.
His eyes strayed to the accompanying photo of Carlos Batanya with his arm around Ginny's shoulders and his other hand pumping his fist in the air as a swarming crowd surrounded them.
That should be me, he thought. I should have gone on to play professional Quidditch. I should be in that photo. I should be the bloke who celebrates with Ginny after a Quidditch match. Me, and not Carlos Batanya.
Harry stared at the photo, resentment burning in his chest.
An uncanny connection.
Ginny always knew what he was thinking. What they had was special. But now, within days of meeting Ginny, Carlos Batanya had some sort of special connection with her, too?
Harry wanted to wipe that white smile off that handsome face in the photo.
With his fist.
The contact would feel good, Harry thought. A Muggle fight was primal feeling your knuckles making first contact with soft flesh and then the hard bone or wet teeth underneath. And then there was that satisfying sound the dull thud of flesh on flesh the whoosh of breath exhaled in shock .
Harry looked at his clenched fist in horror the skin was drawn so tightly, his knuckles were white.
What was wrong with him? He wanted to beat up someone he had never met based on hearsay and one innocent photo of a victory celebration after a Quidditch match. He wasn't acting like an Auror who should never rush to judgment. That had been drilled into his head, along with 'constant vigilance', during training.
He deliberately unclenched his fist and then looked back at the photo of the smiling, smug Quidditch Player who was touching Ginny. He would be calm, he thought. He would be rational. He would see the situation for what it was and
Ginny was his!
The thought came loudly and unbidden, from somewhere deep in the darkest part of his psyche. Ginny was his. His. And he didn't want her near that foul git.
Oh, God. He ran his hand through his hair and then Vanished the newspaper with one jerky motion of his wand.
Ginny would scorn that protective attitude. Hermione would accuse him of being a chauvinistic pig. Luna would say something vague about letting go and things returning on their own.
Startled, Harry looked over at the small, message-only Floo connection built high into the wall. He could only see green flames, but that had sounded like Ginny's voice.
"Ginny?" he asked, hurrying to the portrait-sized opening. "Is everything all right?"
It was a terrible connection and he couldn't see her face clearly.
"I just wondered how your interview went."
"It was okay."
The flames sputtered, and Ginny's voice was inaudible for a few seconds. " my broom. So we won."
"I heard. Congratulations." Harry licked his lips, wondering how he could casually bring Carlos Batanya into the conversation. "Did you tell everyone on your team that you're engaged to me?"
Ginny may have laughed; it was hard to tell over the crackling of the Floo flames. "Not all of them speak English very well, so it's been hard to communicate."
"Has that been a problem on the Pitch?" he asked, hoping that 'uncanny connection' was just journalistic hyperbole.
"Harry, I can hardly hear you."
"HAS THAT BEEN A PROBLEM ON THE PITCH?"
"No, we haven't had any problems with the Pitch, except the ground isn't frozen yet and it's hard to get a solid takeoff in the mud."
"That's not what I asked," he snapped.
"I wish " The flames popped and crackled.
He put his face as close to the flames as he could but he still couldn't hear her.
"Harry, this connection is terrible."
It was. "I'll see you next week," he answered dully.
Ginny might have said good-bye, but if she did, he didn't hear it. He only knew the Floo call was over when the flames died down.
He stared at the small, cold hearth and wondered why Ginny had contacted him. Something wasn't right. Was she comparing him to Carlos Batanya? He cringed at the thought. He had barely said a word except to snap at her.
Guilt now warred with anger as he rubbed his scar, more out of habit than anything. It would be so much easier to blame these emotions on Voldemort, but he knew he couldn't. Jealousy was his own character flaw, not anything Voldemort had left behind. He had been jealous of Cedric when he was Hogwarts' choice to be their Triwizard Champion. He had been jealous of Ron when he was given the prefect's position. He had been jealous of Dean when he dated Ginny.
Harry smirked at his sixth-year self. At least he was consistent when it came to Ginny.
He sat down at his desk and picked up the framed photo he kept in the corner. It was a snap of the two of them, taken in profile. He was leaning in to kiss her and she was laughing with her hand gripping his shoulder. He watched his portrait self get that kiss from Ginny and was promptly jealous of his portrait self.
"You going home?" Ron asked.
Harry looked up in surprise. He hadn't heard footsteps approaching his desk. So much for constant vigilance. "Dunno. I've been out of the office all day," he said, indicating the usual mess on his desk. "I have paperwork to do."
"What's up with you?" Ron asked, with a concerned frown. "The interview wasn't that bad. And I thought you put her in her place about the Rita Skeeter biography."
Harry ran his hand through his hair. "It's not that it's "
Harry sighed and looked around. The office was empty. "I hate international Quidditch players, okay?"
A slow smile spread across Ron's face. "So do I."
"What? Oh, right." Harry had forgotten about Viktor Krum. But at least Viktor Krum was funny looking and far away in Bulgaria.
"I saw that photo in the paper today," Ron continued, a knowing smirk on his face. "Ginny doesn't like to be man-handled, so I'm guessing Batanya ended up with wings on his face."
"Yeah?" He hoped so, but Ginny knew how important it was to get along with her teammates. She probably just shrugged his arm off and didn't say anything. The thought was depressing.
Ron shook his head. "You've got it bad."
"What?" Harry asked, annoyed.
"The green-eyed monster."
"I've always had green eyes."
Ron laughed. "Why don't you go up there? Stake your claim and all of that. Batanya will back right off."
"I can't do that. Ginny wants to do well during this series and doesn't need the distractions. Besides, we planned to be apart this week."
"Do you want to see Ginny?"
Ron shrugged. "Break your plans then."
Harry slumped back in his chair. "I dunno."
"Make a decision, mate," Ron said, sticking out his wand for his cloak. "I'm going to Hermione's. She's determined to make steak and kidney pie better than Mum's." He slung the cloak across his shoulders and grimaced. "I've had it four nights running."
"Good luck," Harry said absently before he heard a soft Apparition pop. Maybe he could go and see Ginny tonight. She didn't have a match until late tomorrow, so he wouldn't be that big of a distraction for her.
His mouth tightened as the image of Ginny laughing and talking across a table suddenly flashed through his mind. Carlos Batanya probably had all sorts of interesting stories about Quidditch. Ginny loved to talk about Quidditch almost as much as she loved to play it. They would have so much in common. And Carlos Batanya was a good-looking bastard. It would be easy for a bloke like him to buy Ginny a drink and just start talking. She would never be tempted to do anything but what if she started to have second thoughts about their wedding? What if Carlos Batanya made her realize that he, Harry, was deep down a boring wizard without a trace of glamour or charisma?
With that, he stood up and strode to the broom locker. He was done with the self-analysis and he didn't care how warped he was. He knew where he wanted to go. He would Apparate north in stages and then fly the last few miles.
The Mug and Cauldron Pub was housed in an ancient stone building that hugged a giant outcropping of rock on the edge of the moor where the Quidditch matches were being played. The squares of light that shone cheerfully from its paned windows beckoned Harry, who was now cold and tired after his long broom ride. If this were an ordinary evening, he would be happily stowing his broom in the racks provided and confidently striding into the pub, ready for a hearty meal. But now that he was here, he half-dreaded going in. He didn't want his fears confirmed. He didn't want to be right about Carlos Batanya.
But even if he was wrong about Carlos Batanya, he was going to look foolish in front of Ginny and her teammates for coming all this way for nothing. These conflicting thoughts were interrupted by the almost-painful growl of his stomach. He had forgotten to eat both lunch and dinner.
He shook his head. Merlin, he was losing it.
At least he could get a good meal here, he thought, as he entered the noisy dining area. The warm air was fragrant with the scent of spices and meat and yeasty bread. His shoulders dropped a fraction. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.
Then he caught a glimpse of red at the back of the room. Ginny was sitting at the end of a long table filled with Quidditch players still in their dark blue Euro United uniforms. Maybe it was the light, but she looked pale and unsmiling. The remains of their dinner must have been cleared away, because there was nothing in front of her but a full wineglass. He watched her with narrowed eyes. She wasn't drinking the wine she was just toying with the glass and listening to the general conversation. Someone made a joke and the table burst into laughter, but Ginny merely gave a wan smile. Something was wrong.
Then a blond wizard not Carlos Batanya tapped Ginny on the shoulder and smiled down at her. Ginny frowned, shook her head and indicated the full glass of wine.
That was enough for Harry. Blokes had obviously been harassing her all evening, which is why she wasn't enjoying herself. He wove around tables and scurrying house-elves with his eyes on Ginny and the blond wizard who was still trying to chat her up. Harry had just enough self-control not to pull his wand but he couldn't seem to school his mouth into anything but a scowl.
"Harry!" Ginny's eyes lit up and she smiled with pleasure.
Now that he was closer, he saw that there were smudges under her eyes and that she was indeed looking peaky. "She's with me," he growled at the blond wizard.
The smile slipped off of the wizard's face when he glanced at the scar on Harry's forehead. "Right. Didn't know."
Ginny raised her eyebrows at Harry when the wizard left, but she didn't say anything. Instead, she took out her wand and conjured him a chair. "Sit down. I'll introduce you to everyone."
Harry sat down and tried to readjust his emotions to fit a social scenario. He didn't want to make small talk with a group of international Quidditch players, but he didn't see how he could get out of it. Ginny started to introduce her teammates. She had been sitting nearest the Chasers all witches. He managed to say hello to the witches, but couldn't seem to help telling the two burly Beaters that he was Ginny's fiancι. Their smiles were so vague that he thought maybe they didn't understand English very well. "We're getting married," he added loudly. "Soon."
He could feel Ginny stiffen next to him.
"I just thought you ought to know that," he said, digging himself in deeper. "She isn't wearing her engagement ring because it needs to be sized. But we're still getting married soon." He felt Ginny's hand tugging his sleeve.
"Harry, this is Carlos Batanya. Carlos, this is my fiancι, Harry Potter."
Harry shot to his feet. There was no way he was going to meet his rival sitting down. "Batanya," he said, nodding.
Carlos Batanya was, surprisingly, an inch or so shorter than Harry. But he was still too attractive and arrogant for his own good. Carlos Batanya smiled, showing all of his impossibly white teeth. "Ah. Bueno. The novio has arrived. She is too attractive to be alone, no?"
Harry glared at him and tried to think of retort that didn't involve a hex.
Ginny stood up and took Harry's hand. "Now that you've met everyone, Harry, we'll be going."
Carlos frowned. "But you have not finished your wine, Ginevra." He rolled the 'r' in the most annoying way.
"That's okay. We have a match tomorrow, remember?" Ginny turned to the table and waved her free hand. "See you tomorrow on the Pitch."
They left to a chorus of good-byes and innocent-sounding wishes for a good night's sleep. Harry hoped Ginny wasn't as embarrassed as he was.
"My room is on the third floor," Ginny said as she dropped his hand and started up a narrow, winding stairway. Harry couldn't do anything but follow her and brace himself for the inevitable scolding. She was not going to be happy that he played the heavy with that blond wizard and that he babbled like an idiot in front of her teammates.
"Here we are," Ginny said, unlocking the thick door with a huge iron key.
It was small room; a double bed, Ginny's trunk and her three racing brooms took up the floor space. But it was warm and cozy in the lamplight and it smelled pleasantly of flowers like Ginny.
"This is nice," he said awkwardly. He wasn't sure if he was welcome to stay or not.
Ginny sat on the edge of the bed and started to tug off one of her long Quidditch boots.
Harry stood by the door and watched her.
"I'm not angry with you, Harry," she said as she pulled off the other boot.
"You should be," he said with a sigh.
She stood to line up the boots neatly against her trunk and then she went to him and put her arms around his waist. "I'm just glad you're here." She laid her head against his chest. "I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all of them."
"You were?" He hugged her, thinking again that she had looked peaky. "You feeling all right?"
"No." Ginny sighed. "It's nothing, though. Just what Mother Nature likes to dish out once a month."
"Oh." He stroked her hair. "Do you want me to rub your back?"
"And tell you I love you?"
"And bring you a hot water bottle?"
He kissed the top of her head. "Okay. Have a hot bath first."
She pulled away. "You haven't eaten," she accused. "I can hear your stomach growling."
"Harry." She shook her head. "Call for one of the house-elves to bring you something while I'm in the bath."
They were fussing over each other and it felt nice. He smiled for the first time since that ridiculous interview. "Right."
An hour later they were both tucked up in the wide bed with Ginny on her side a hot water bottle on her stomach and Harry rubbing her shoulders. It was quiet and peaceful and he was content such an unexpected outcome to a day that had started out so awfully.
"So I feel like an idiot," he confessed, rubbing small circles on Ginny's back.
"Because you want to be an oak tree when you grow up?"
His hand stopped in mid-circle. "How did you know that?" he demanded. "You were at practice when I did that interview."
"Mum." Ginny giggled. "I talked to her on the Floo after I talked to you. I had a much better connection."
"I never would have guessed an oak tree." Ginny rolled onto her back so she could see him. "What made you say that?"
"I dunno." He shrugged. "I didn't want to say what I really thought."
She put her hand on his face. "What did you really want to say?"
Harry smiled. "You'll laugh."
"No, I won't." Then she giggled. "Okay, maybe I will. But I'll still love you."
"If I had to be a tree," he said deliberately, leaning over her and looking into her eyes, "I would want to be the tree that grows outside of your window at The Burrow."
Ginny's eyes widened. "You want to be a stalker tree?"
He laughed. Ginny always got to the heart of things. "Yes, that's been my problem all day." He pulled at the thin gold chain around her neck until he found the engagement ring dangling on it. "I was so jealous of Carlos Batanya in that newspaper photo." He turned the ring so the light caught the brilliant red of the ruby. "I wanted to be him celebrating your win with you."
Her eyes darkened. "But Carlos Batanya doesn't get to marry me or bring me hot water bottles."
Harry smiled. "No, he doesn't. And if he tries either, I'm going to put my fist in his face."
"Oh, Harry." Ginny sighed. "I knew that photo would upset you. That's why I called you on the Floo. It upset me, too."
"Yes, because it didn't tell the whole story it didn't show how much I missed you at that moment."
"You did?" His heart turned over. She had missed him. It had never occurred to him that she would miss him when she was busy and things were going so well for her.
She put her hand over his as he held her ring. "I don't think I realized how being engaged would change everything."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's because we finally decided to make it official."
He frowned in confusion.
"I just feel like we should be together now," she explained. "Before, it was okay to be apart. We each had things to do big important things. But now "
"The important thing is us."
She smiled. "Right." She pushed the water bottle away and then pulled on his shoulders so he would lie on top of her.
"I'm too heavy."
"Don't care." She wound her arms around his neck.
He kissed her tenderly on the lips. She was his and this was where he belonged.
"You're going to stay tonight?" Ginny asked after several rather chaste kisses.
"Of course." He smiled. It didn't matter that they were only going to sleep at least they were together. "I'll Apparate back in the morning," he said, kissing her forehead. "Now, we should sleep." He started to move away.
"Harry?" She stopped him with her hand on his shoulder. "Can you come to my match tomorrow night?"
"You want me to?" He was surprised. Normally Ginny didn't ask him to go to her matches during the workweek.
"Okay." He was pleased and relieved. At least Ginny was feeling the same way. "Why didn't you say something earlier?"
"I didn't want to seem needy."
So that's why she had called him on the Floo. He looked at her pale face and her huge eyes, ringed with fatigue. Ginny would never admit feeling that way to anyone but him. "Do you really have an uncanny connection with Carlos Batanya?" he blurted. "Like it said in the newspaper?"
"No." She frowned. "Is that what the article said?"
"Yeah. Because of that Bludger hit you took for Batanya."
She sighed. "Why can't reporters be more accurate? I have an uncanny connection to Bludgers thank Merlin. Not some Seeker I just met."
"So that's what set you off," Ginny murmured, closing her eyes.
"I suppose it did," Harry answered in surprise. "I wanted to be the only one to have an uncanny connection to you."
"You do." She turned on her side toward him and put her hand on his chest. "And you showed up right when I needed you. Like you've always done."
Her eyes were still closed and she burrowed closer until her head was tucked under his chin.
He held her hand against his heart and thought about the strong feelings that had been plaguing him all day. At first he had been afraid of them but now, as he listened to Ginny's even breathing, he realized that their power was gone.
He relaxed, closed his eyes and let his thoughts drift. What remained was something better and more powerful. It was what he had with Ginny and Carlos Batanya didn't. That thought made him smile.