Harry found himself standing in a fog bank. He couldn't tell where he was. There was nothing here but fog.
The sun shown above him, and the fog rolled out, turning it into a swirling mist around him. As it did, the familiar sight of Hogwarts appeared, and Harry knew he was by the lake again. To his left, the scene at the table with Ron and Hermione played out. To his right, Ginny's blush and double-take looped over and over again in the mist.
The form of Ginny materialized in front of him as a patch of fog parted dramatically. This time, her dress seemed a little more substantial and not so attached to the mist around her.
"I was hoping you would be here, Harry." The same voice again, soft, slow, resonant and distant.
"It's good to see you to, Ginny. You're so lovely."
Ginny didn't hesitate to approach him and take his hands. "This is the second time you've visited my dream field in as many days, Harry. What does this mean?"
Harry concentrated on breathing while he took a moment to think. "I'm not sure, Ginny. Ron and Hermione seem to think I'm hopelessly in love with you."
"Are you, Harry?"
"I don't know, Ginny. I might be. But I'm so afraid to be."
The smile on Ginny's face turned into a somewhat fearful look of concern.
"The last person I cared deeply for ended up dead because of me." Harry said, starting to come to tears.
Ginny's face turned soft and gentle. "You have to stop blaming yourself for Sirius, Harry. He made his decision. He loved you like a son. Given the same circumstances he would have made the same decision in a heartbeat. You are fortunate to have had someone like him who cared for you that much."
Harry sobbed. Ginny leaned into his chest and hugged him firmly. Having her there somehow made Harry relax a little and regain his composure.
"Can you imagine how happy you would make someone if you were to love them the same way?" Ginny asked into his chest.
Harry was taken back. Such thoughts had never crossed his mind. He had accepted the help of his friends and the generosity of others to help him get through his troubles, but now that he thought of it, what had he given back to them? Oh sure, he faced down the dark lord, sent him back into the shadows, that sort of thing. But what had he done for them, specifically? Did they know how much he cared for them? Was he really that selfish?
"Oh Ginny, I'm so sorry."
Ginny pulled back to look at him. "For what, Harry?"
"For being so caught up in myself that I missed what was going on with my friends. For not thinking that there might have been something more to your feelings than just a crush on the ‘Famous Harry Potter'. For being a prat of a selfish git."
Ginny smiled. "I've already forgiven you, Harry."
Harry pulled Ginny into himself and hugged her tightly. He wondered if he would remember this when he woke up. He would have to talk with Ron and Hermione soon, though he didn't know exactly what he was going to say.
"Merlin, I wish this were real. I wish I could hold you in my waking hours, Ginny. Then maybe I could get some work done."
Ginny laughed. "So why can't it be, Harry? Why can't you tell me this when we are awake?"
"Well, for one thing, Gin, you're still seeing Dean Thomas, aren't you?"
Ginny was suddenly tense with panic. "Oh no! Dean!" Ginny broke free of Harry and started running towards Hogwarts.
"Ginny, wait! Don't go!" But it was too late. She had already melted back into the mist.
What had he done? He had upset Ginny. No, wait, that wasn't true. This wasn't Ginny, this was his dream image. Why had his dream image been upset about Dean? This was his dream, after all. Harry tried to will Ginny back into the field, but it didn't work. Harry wondered if there was something subconscious that was keeping him from thinking Ginny could be with him, but decided he didn't want to think about that just now. The fog rolled back in thick patches, and he was soon engulfed, unable to see the school.
He awoke groggy and a bit disoriented. He remembered everything, though. He remembered thinking about how selfish he was. He remembered Ginny running off at the mention of Dean Thomas' name. Well, it seemed he was right. Nothing to it. Ginny was with Dean. Put it aside.
Harry found it much easier to concentrate in class now. Before he knew it, it was time for lunch. He and Ron joined Hermione at the Gryffindor table. Harry's thoughts turned to Ginny again, and he scanned the table looking for her. She wasn't there.
"Where's Ginny?" Harry asked.
Hermione opened her mouth to speak, but quickly reached for her goblet as Dean Thomas sat down a few seats away. She glanced at Dean, looked a Harry, and motioned her head back towards Dean. Harry nodded, and they ate in silence, leaving the hall when they were all finished.
"What's going on, Hermione?"
Hermione looked around the hallway, then back to Harry. "Ginny broke up with Dean this morning."
Harry blinked twice. "What?"
"Yeah, mate, Dean told me earlier. He was upset all morning. His face was redder than my hair."
"But what happened? I thought they were happy together."
Hermione looked as if she was reluctant to say anything, but went on anyway. "She didn't give Dean a straight answer. She told him it was something she just had to do."
Harry had the feeling Hermione wasn't telling him everything. Without thinking, he said, "Did she talk to you? Did she give you any clue why she broke up with him?"
Hermione bit her lip. "The only thing she said was that she realized that he wasn't who she wanted to be with. That's all I could get out of her. She's being really tight-lipped about all this."
Ron nodded. "Yeah, I haven't seen her this quiet for quite some time."
"Oh! We'd better get to class," Hermione interrupted. "We're discussing the history of house elves today and I do NOT want to be late."
That afternoon went by slowly for Harry. He found himself wanting to talk to Ginny to offer her his condolences, but each time he spotted her in the hallway, he couldn't think of what to say. Eventually, dinnertime rolled around, and Harry still hadn't been about to bring himself to approach her. He was late getting to the Great Hall, and by the time he came strolling down the Gryffindor table, Ginny was already there. He took a seat next to Hermione, giving him a good casual-glimpse view of Ginny.
"There you are, Harry, what kept you?" Hermione said as he sat down.
"The stack of books on my desk fell over. It took me forever to clean up the mess."
"Have a better day today, then?" Ron asked through a mouthful of food.
"So far, yes. Only now I know how much homework I missed. I'm really going to need some help tonight to get through it," Harry said, realizing how selfish this was, suddenly.
"No problem, Harry. I'm ahead of my homework, and I know you were really out of sorts yesterday."
Harry noticed Dean walking out of the hall early. As he passed down the table, he didn't even glance over at Ginny. Once he had gotten a bit away from Ginny, he noticed Ginny exhale. He very much wanted to go over to her and say something, but what could he say? Ginny's friends were huddled around her now, hugging her, trying to make her feel better. Suddenly, though, he noticed Ginny getting agitated and she grabbed her books and got up to leave. Her friends where trying to apologize for something, but she wasn't listening, choosing to head out of the hall instead. Harry watched as she passed by, and as luck would have, she glanced a smile at Harry very briefly before walking straight out the door. Harry realized as she left that Ron and Hermione had watched her leave, too.
"That's my cue. I'll catch up with two you later in the common room," Hermione said, as she got up and left.
"I really hope she'd going to be ok. I remember how I felt after Cho and I had our row. She must really be upset."
Ron shrugged. "I dunno, mate, but I think I might have an idea what's on her mind."
Harry turned to Ron. "What?"
Ron looked at Harry. "Oh come on, Harry. Here she is, all upset, storming out of the hall, and what does she do? She beams you a smile. So what do you think?"
Harry shook his head. "Wishful thinking, Ron, and you know it." Harry drained his goblet. "Not to chat and run, but Quidditch calls. We'd better go." Ron nodded as Harry got up, and left for the Quidditch field together.
After an invigorating and refreshing practice Harry and Ron headed back to the common room, hair still wet from their showers. Hermione was already studying, and they waved to her as they went to the dorm room to get their things. They walked in to find Dean Thomas sitting on a chair, looking out onto the field outside. Harry and Dean weren't good friends, particularly, but they were roommates, and not wanting to be selfish he decided to say something. He deliberately took his time gathering his homework and once Ron had his stuff he motioned for Ron to leave. Ron looked over to Dean, nodded to Harry, and left to go downstairs.
"I heard about you and Ginny. I'm very sorry."
Dean nodded, not turning around. "It's just as well, I suppose. She's a great person, and really fun to be around, and incredibly pretty to boot, but I could never win her heart, really."
Harry nodded behind Dean's back and proceeded to gather his things as Dean continued, "As it turned out, her heart has always belonged to someone else. For a while, I guess we thought she could put it past her, but in the end she couldn't let go."
Her heart had always belonged to someone else? Harry quickly finished gathering his things as Dean stood up to leave.
"That's interesting, Dean. I wonder who it is she's got her heart set on," Harry spat out before Dean could exit.
"I dunno, mate, but I have my suspicions," Dean answered as he left, not looking back to Harry.
Harry felt very bad for Dean. He looked at his stack of homework and pushed all the Ginny thoughts out of his head and went down to join Ron and Hermione.
"Quite a stack you got there, Harry," Hermione said as he sat down beside her.
"Um, can I just say something before we begin?" Harry asked, looking at the two of them.
"Sure Harry, what is it?" Ron said, suddenly curious.
Harry paused a moment. "Well, I don't know if I've told you two this but all this time, all these years here, you two have always been there for me, whether it be spewing out homework or foiling Voldemort's latest plot. I just wanted you two to know that you're my very best friends, and I'm really glad I have you both."
Hermione and Ron turned slowly towards each other, a marked expression of disbelief on their faces, which they shook off quickly.
"Why, that's very sweet of you, Harry. What brought that on?"
Harry arranged his homework out on the table. "Oh, nothing, just some thoughts that came to me in a dream last night. Well, lots to get through, and it will be late soon. Shall we get on with it then?"
Harry could tell they wanted to talk more about it, and homework was the perfect excuse not to. Soon they were absorbed in it, and by the time Harry had reached the end of his stack it was well after midnight. They all said their goodbyes and headed up to bed. As Ron and Harry tucked in Harry noticed Dean sleeping soundly. Harry nestled in and closed his eyes, wondering what revelations tonight's dream would bring.