Harry opened his eyes, disoriented and uncomfortable from lying on a floor. He felt for his glasses, which were still on his face, and as he sat up, he realized that they had cut an imprint into the side of his head from where he had lain on them. He groaned, pulled off his glasses, and rubbed at the spot. His neck felt strained and, looking down, he realized he was still in his vest and pyjama bottoms.
Then he realized what had pulled him awake. Moonlight was peeking through the thin white curtains behind Ginny, who was leaning over the side of her bed, gazing at him with a bemused look on her face. She met his eyes with a look of confusion he was sure had come from finding him fast asleep at the foot of her bed.
“What in Godric’s good name are you doing sleeping in my room?” she whispered.
Harry sat up quickly, rubbing sleep from his eyes before replacing his glasses. As he did so, a small piece of parchment fluttered to the floor and he wondered why it was there.
What was he doing sleeping in her room? Damn it to bloody hell. He had fuzzy visions of leaving the camp bed in Ron’s room and running downstairs to talk to Ginny, and pausing at her bedside, realizing that she was fast asleep and he couldn’t wake her because she had looked so… incredibly sweet and comfortable. Not wanting to disturb her, he wrote down the most important part of what he meant to say to her on a sheet of parchment, which he was going to leave on her pillow. Except that obviously hadn’t happened. He was just watching her sleep and thinking of whether or not he had the guts to wake her, and then he must have fallen asleep worrying about leaving the parchment and… Harry quickly grabbed the parchment off the floor.
“Err — I’m— I’m… sorry.”
“Catching up on your sleep, are you? What are you doing here?” She was sitting up in bed, her arms crossed over her night dress. She didn’t seem angry, but she was waiting for an answer. The problem was, he was rendered speechless by the situation he had landed himself in. His heart raced and his mouth felt dry. He swallowed as he nervously scratched the back of his head. How was he supposed to explain why he had come in here, when she was tired and waiting for an explanation?
“Are you all right? You look like you’re about to pass out. Don’t. Stop panicking, Harry. Just tell me why you’re here.”
Harry took a deep breath, but for some reason he was unable to speak.
“Not surprising,” she muttered and then grinned. “Well, if your mouth isn’t working at this early hour, then I’m going to go back to sleep until it does.” She lay back in her bed, turned toward the wall, and curled herself up into a ball.
He gathered himself and stood. “I’m sorry. I’ll leave.”
She turned toward him, still lying on her side, and took a deep breath. Harry could hardly look at her, as he stood over her. She was as beautiful to him as ever, and he felt so embarrassed. He never should have come in here. He had probably just ruined all the progress he had made in the last two days with Ginny.
“I’m not upset at you.” Her voice was soft and warmer than he expected, and Harry looked at her hopefully. “Not really.” She smiled. “I hate to puff up your ego, but if I had to find a boy asleep in my room, I would rather it be you then anyone else in the entire world. So you know, I’m just… I’m tired, okay? You should go, if there’s nothing else to say. Because I like you so much, in the morning, I’ll pretend you weren’t even here. Why you were here or what it means is too much for me to comprehend right now, so I understand why it’s that way for you.”
“Are you angry?” he managed.
“Not at all. I’m fine.”
“Err… you’re sure you’re fine?”
“I am, I swear.”
He thought momentarily. “Dr. B. told me something interesting.” He rubbed the stubble that had gathered on his cheek since he had shaved Saturday morning. “That when someone answers that they’re fine, it means they’re not. It means something is bothering them and they’re bottling it up inside. You know me. I tend to tell people I’m fine, even when I’m not. Remember,” he paused, “a long time ago we promised to tell each other when something was bothering us. It’s one of our rules that… have pretty much long since been forgotten since we weren’t… well, since we weren’t we anymore…”
Ginny looked slightly guilty and she studied her hands. “Our rules? I remember those. You’re right, except… do those rules still apply when it’s precisely half four in the morning, and you show up in my bedroom — of all places — to tell me about said rules, and we’ve been broken up for four months?”
“To me, they do. Or they should apply, at least.”
Ginny looked at him sadly, “Harry, please. I think I know why you’re here, and — can I be honest? I think it’s wonderful. I want to be with you, too. But, as much as I want to just jump into your arms and go back to the way things were, and pretend like nothing ever happened with you and me, I’m having… reservations.”
“Err… what type of reservations?”
She took a deep breath and sat up against her bed board, gathering the duvet against her chest. “Only the type that made me behave like a prat towards you until tonight. I’ve been horrible. I’m sorry. I don’t want to behave that way anymore. And I’ve decided something. Something I resolved to tell you this week at some point.”
“Okay.” Harry waited patiently until she spoke again.
“I’ve decided that if you want to be with me as much as you seem to want to, I want to try and put the pieces of our relationship back together, too. Except, understand that I can only open my heart to you a little bit at a time. I hope you’ll wait and be patient, and understand why I can’t do it all at once.”
“There’s a start. You want to be with me.” He grinned.
“I’ve… always wanted to be with you. Despite what happened between us, that feeling never went away. In fact, I’m still devastated about what happened to us. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way…”
Harry hung his head. “You’re right. It wasn’t. And I’m sorry I was so… lost in my mind, Ginny. I’ve realized in these past four months how important you are to me, and how I feel.” He looked into her expectant face. “And I know that we can make our story happen… the way it’s supposed to happen, if we can move on from this mess together.”
Ginny looked up at him and sighed. “I’m not sure it will be that easy, but I’m going to try my hardest to… try.”
He dropped down on his knees next to the bed so he could see her at eye level. “I’m not asking you for easy. If you’re not ready, or you need time, I’m planning on being as patient as you need me to be. For now… I just… I know why you’ve been trying to act distant. You’re afraid of being hurt again and I know that. I know you want me to focus on myself and my life, too, and I know it seems like a short period of time, but I’ve done what you asked of me. I’m improving myself and my life. My mind is much clearer than perhaps it’s ever been, even if I have a long way to go to become normal or what normal is for me. But I also know how you feel for me is the same as how I feel for you… you told me last December, and then again in a letter you wrote to me when I was stuck wasting time in Spain: that you loved me and always would. And that letter made me think of losing you completely for the very first time.” He paused, and searched Ginny’s face. Her expression was still uncertain. “When I was there, I met a bloke…”
”A bloke?” She raised an eyebrow at him.
“Yes, I met a bloke in Spain who was a sailor in the British Navy back in the eighties. Ginny, he was a university professor, a Muggle, and he told me about his own struggles with post-war stress. He had a girl he loved too… Noreen. But they could never reconcile. I came home for you because I knew I could never live with myself watching you go on and marry some bloody tosser or… Dean or Neville or someone else. I came back to try and fix myself, to make sure that what happened to Louis and Noreen didn’t happen to us because I don’t want to lose you ever again.” He said this all in one breath.
Ginny reached for his hand, and the first touch they had shared in four months sent warmth through his entire body. “You’ll never lose me.” She squeezed his hand and let go.
“I came close,” he said quickly, instantly missing her touch.
Ginny fell back on her bed, her head hitting her pillow with a thump and her fiery hair fanning out in all directions. “Perhaps,” she said as she stared at the ceiling. “I think we did come close, and I also think it could have gone either way. In many ways, it was all up to you, and what you wanted from life. I’m thrilled that you… feel this way, Harry. It’s getting back to what we had together that will be the challenge. I wonder if you and I need more time to work on our separate lives and figure out what we want out of life, now that living it freely is an option. An option you made possible. We’re very young, you know. We have our whole lives ahead of us. You used to tell me that and now, well, now I believe it!”
“Err… I know I used to feel that way, but I haven’t felt that way in a while. In fact, I think more about all the time I wasted with you while I was too messed up to realize how I feel.”
“Well, then, the tables really have turned,” she sighed, looking away from him and out the window. She reached out and moved the wispy curtain just enough that moonlight spilled into the room, making her skin glow beautifully. Harry’s heart raced because he knew that this morning’s talk could mean the difference between a happy reunion with the girl he loved or another endless string of lonely months without her.
“You know, Ginny, they have. There’s this piece… missing from inside of me, there’s this happy spot that’s just gone all black, and I’ve realized since you’ve been gone that… it’s you. You’re what’s missing from my life because you… make everything better for me. You make me happy, happier than I could ever be without you. I’m not… I can’t see myself as happy, without you in my life.”
He couldn’t read the expression on her face, and he couldn’t understand why. Wasn’t all this supposed to make her happy? Instead, she looked sad as she turned on her side to face him. “Do you really feel that way?” she asked quietly.
“Yes. I do.”
She stared at her quilt for a few moments, “You’ll think I’m mad, but I knew for ages. Since before we even began goin