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.
And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that they were practically standing in front of her parents’ bedroom door, Ginny kissed him.
After several long moments – or it might have been half an hour – or possibly several moonlit nights – they broke apart. It was very quiet; no wolf-whistling or nervous giggling, no Dean Thomas with a shattered glass, no murderous Romilda Vane, no Ron, looking as if he had been clubbed over the head. This was entirely between the two of them.
They grinned at each other, knowing that they should go downstairs and talk – again. Their hands clasped immediately the moment they turned towards the stairs.
Ginny led the way this time and made Harry sit down on the couch in the living room. Straddling his legs, she sat down in his lap. Rewarding Harry with kisses had worked before, and if getting some sense back into him meant snogging him breathless first, Ginny was not only ready to do it, but she would enjoy every second of it.
And if she needed to, she would do more than just kiss him.
After they had kissed for the first time, she had found out that her accusation concerning him snogging Cho had not been quite justified. They had done it … once, and the experience had not really been encouraging, because the stupid girl had cried all over Harry. Adding Ron’s silly comment about Harry being a bad kisser, and the boy had seriously doubted his ability to ever kiss satisfyingly at all.
Ginny had thoroughly tested that theory and had come up with the conviction that there was nothing wrong with Harry’s kissing. She had enjoyed being the more experienced partner for once, even while cringing at the thought that Harry might think there was something to Ron’s accusations of her being a scarlet woman. But he had never thought of her that way. His lack of experience had been endearing at first, but the practice they had been able to put in had soon made him an expert in kissing Ginny to her satisfaction. Indeed, he had been good enough to make her hot Weasley blood boil over. She had realised early on that she would soon want him completely.
Now he was looking torn and shook his head. “I don’t know how to start.”
“How about this?” Ginny asked and kissed him softly.
He sighed into her mouth.
“I feel like a total prat. I should apologise to you, I just don’t know what for. For breaking up with you in the first place or for being unable to pull it through and making everything worse.”
She leaned in to kiss him again, longer this time, leaving him breathless. “Maybe you could explain to me why you feel like a prat – not that I’d contradict.”
He chuckled ruefully, but grew serious in an instant. After a few moments of silence, he began to speak.
“When I lived with the Dursleys, I had no friends. A few kids in the neighbourhood were Dudley’s cronies and the others were too afraid of him to be friends with me. I couldn’t bring anybody home with me, because the Dursleys didn’t allow it, and I couldn’t join any clubs, because they wouldn’t pay for it.”
Ginny felt her heart grow cold. She had never thought it through what living with his relatives must have meant for Harry. It had always been a terrible, yet distant truth. And she knew, of course, that what Harry had told her was only the tip of the iceberg.
“When I went to Hogwarts all of that changed. All of a sudden, there were people who liked me.”
He paused. “I admit there were people who liked me because I am Harry Potter, but there were also those who hated me because of it, so I won’t count either of them. However, for the first time in my life, I had real friends. I even had something like a family. Your parents treated me like one of their own; your mum even hugged me.” A rare glow seemed to illuminate his face, and Ginny felt strangled with emotions. “Gin, can you imagine, what it meant to me? I had never been hugged before.”
He seemed lost in memories for a second. “You liked me.”
Her breath hitched, as his eyes locked with hers. “It was nothing new that people didn’t talk to me. I was used to ignoring those who were afraid of Dudley, so that’s probably why I largely ignored you too. But it was a comforting thought that you liked me. Very comforting, indeed. There was never a time I didn’t like you either. I just had no idea how to be nice about it.” His smile grew radiant now, and Ginny simply had to kiss him.
It took a little while until Harry could continue.
“After some time, I began to take it for granted that my life had changed for the better, but I was wrong. I should have known when Cedric was murdered.”
Ginny took his face into her hands and forced him to look at her. “That was not your fault.”
Harry groaned. “Yeah, I know that. But I also know that people have been talking ever since. Why should Cedric be killed and I live, although I was the target all along? And I did propose to tie for victory.”
“Still, it’s not your fault.”
“I know that.” He shook his head. “But it sticks with me all the same, and I can’t forget that I didn’t learn from it. And I lost Sirius.”
She leaned her forehead against his. “That wasn’t your fault either, Harry.”
He closed his eyes. “Yes, but I can’t ignore that I had my part in it. And when Dumbledore was killed I finally knew none of us was safe. It was a terrible shock that he could be killed at all. I didn’t want to be afraid every second and every moment to lose another friend. Most of all, I didn’t want to lose you. I thought that breaking up with you would remove you from the top of Voldemort’s hit-list.”
“Harry, when Snape and Malfoy fled we were still together. Voldemort wouldn’t even know. Did you really think your plan could work?”
He smiled apologetically. “I didn’t think all that much, I’m afraid. I simply did it, because keeping you safe was imperative.”
“It still is. Ginny, if Voldemort threatened you, I’d hand over my heart on a silver platter.”
She drew him closer to her, let his breath caress the soft skin of her throat and below.
“What made you change your mind?” she asked softly.
He heaved another sigh. “It was probably the fact that while I wanted to protect you because you were so important to me, the same fact meant that I can’t do without you. These last weeks were pure hell, Gin. At first I had nightmares with you dying, but those changed. I began to be afraid that I had chased you away for good, that you would never want me again. I know it’s terrible and selfish, but I just c….”
Ginny had placed a slender finger against his lips. “Don’t say that, Harry. It’s not selfish to like someone. It’s not selfish to want to be with that person. It’s what makes you stronger and better than Voldemort could ever be, because nobody wants to be with him.”
They had given up avoiding each other’s gaze for some time. Harry could see the earnestness in Ginny’s clear amber brown eyes; he could see that she had not given up on him. Choosing his words with all possible care, he leaned forward.
“I know I hurt you, Gin, but I never meant to. All I wanted was to return to you safely after the defeat of Voldemort. But I don’t reckon that will happen, if I don’t know that you still want me.”
She smiled breathtakingly. “I do.”
They did not speak after that, they just clung to each other. Ginny did not mind that she had barely had the chance to kiss Harry senseless, because she had got something that was better by far instead.
What a day, she thought, while cradling Harry’s head. And who’d have thought that Fleur would help me getting Harry back?
“Harry?” she said quietly, after a very long time.
“Should we go to bed? I think I could sleep now.”
He shook his face against her skin. “I don’t want to let go of you.”
“You don’t have to,” she said with sudden determination, climbing from his lap without heeding his protests.
“Come on!” She drew him to his feet and led the way back upstairs.
Softly opening the door to her room, Ginny made Harry follow her.
“Ginny?” the voice of a groggy Hermione came from the second bed in the room. “Who’s that?”
“It’s Harry. He’s staying here tonight.” Ginny felt Harry’s hand twitch, but she squeezed back reassuringly.
“Are you mad?” Hermione was clearly awake now.
“No, I’m not. And I’m not going to discuss this.”
“Harry,” Hermione addressed him, “are you certain you want this?”
“I want,” he answered, “a good night’s sleep.”
“And what you want, Hermione,” Ginny joined in, “is upstairs. So you can either stay and listen to us snoring or go get it.”
Whatever Hermione had to say to that was lost to Harry and Ginny, as their friend hurriedly left the room, whispering dark things under her breath.
When the door had closed behind Hermione, Ginny plopped down on her bed, but Harry remained standing.
“You know,” he said, “Hermione had a point there.”
“I know.” Ginny yawned. “But if I don’t have you here, I’ll be thinking about what you said for the rest of the night, looking for hidden meanings and doubting it’s true, even fearing you might leave secretly. If you’re here, though, there’ll be no need for doubts, and I could finally sleep.”
“You’re probably right.” Harry lowered himself onto Ginny’s bed, and they stretched out side by side. “I just hope your mum doesn’t catch us.”
Ginny nestled into his arms. “Right now, I couldn’t care less.”
(A/N: Some of the first sentences were, of course, modelled along the lines of JKR’s HBP. Look at my profile for a disclaimer. – Thank you very much to Wolf’s Scream and harry_ginnyphile. They made this better.)