A/N:Hey all! Some notes about this chapter. The bond has changed the relationships from canon. I know this is a year early for Ginny and Dean but I need it to happen now so the rest of the story will work time wise. As I go forward I am going to try and tie in elements of canon, but they might be slightly different or happen at a different time. I hope you enjoy.
Harry Potter wearily landed his broom on a desolate street somewhere in London. He didn't know where he was, and to be honest it didn't really matter. He had followed the real Mad-Eye and his other guards across the countryside. Harry tried to rally some interest in what was going on around him, but like it had been since the graveyard, he couldn't bring himself to actually care.
"Here, look at this and memorize it," Moody said as he thrust a small slip of paper into Harry's hand.
"Why?" Harry asked in an almost monotone voice.
Moody growled and pushed the paper back into his hand, as Harry had been trying to give it back.
"It's important, Potter. We need to get you off the street. It's too dangerous here."
"Again, why? Danger, safety, does it matter? Does it matter if Death Eaters kill me tomorrow?" Harry asked as he dropped the paper and sat down heavily in the street, eyes fixed on something in the distance, unseeing, uncaring.
"Harry," the strange girl who had told him her name was Tonks dropped down so her face was level with his.
"Of course it matters. Many people care, we care. You're important," she said as she rested her hand on his shoulder.
Harry gave a short, bitter bark of a laugh and shrugged his arm, forcing her hand to drop off to her side.
Lupin turned to Mad-Eye with anger.
"I knew we should have pulled him out of that damned house sooner. We left him there too long. He's suffered so much and then the Dementor attack. I told you!"
"Dumbledore wanted him there and he knows best. Besides he's fifteen years old, he's strong, he'll recover," Mad-Eye said.
"Bloody right he's fifteen. Don't tell me about strong..." Lupin started.
"Besides, right now we have to get him inside. This is getting very dangerous," Moody overrode the irate werewolf.
Harry had enough. He still didn't care, he just didn't want to hear them bicker anymore.
"Give me the paper," he said as he stood up.
As he looked at it, a house seemed to appear and squeeze between numbers eleven and thirteen. Harry didn't even stop to wonder about the appearance of the house, he still didn't care. He shouldered his belongings and walked through the door leaving everyone else outside standing around in shock.
He walked through the entrance way and immediately saw Mrs. Weasley walking through to what he assumed was the kitchen.
"Harry, dear, so nice to see you," Mrs. Weasley beamed at him and pulled him into a motherly hug. She didn't comment when his arms stayed limply at his side.
"You look peckish, I'm sure you need a good meal. Unfortunately, we have a meeting about to start; I'll get you some food afterwards. Be a dear and run upstairs, Ron and Hermione are waiting for you."
Mrs. Weasley frowned at his lack of response. She continued staring after him worriedly as he turned and trudged up the stairs. He reached the top and heard voices coming from a side room. He opened the door and stepped through.
"Harry!" Hermione shouted as she bounded across the room and pulled him into an embrace.
Harry grimaced and pulled away slowly.
"Hey, mate," Ron grinned at him. "Glad you finally made it."
Harry looked at the two of them with an oddly blank stare.
"Is this where I'm sleeping, Ron?" Harry asked as he ran his hand across the back of his neck.
Ron frowned and glanced at Hermione.
"Um, yeah Harry, I think this is the room," Ron said. "You thinking of going to sleep already?"
"Actually, I was. It's been a long day," Harry said, moving to one of the beds and plopping down.
"Don't you want to know what's been going on, or why we haven't written to you all summer?" Ron asked, his voice incredulous.
"Not really." Harry's eyes were already closed and he turned his back to his two friends.
"Do you want to talk about what happened?" Hermione asked, walking over and sitting on the bed next to him.
The one word response from Harry was gruff and low. Hermione pulled back as if slapped.
"Alright then, Harry," Ron finally said, "We'll leave you alone."
Ron again frowned deeply as he and Hermione left the bedroom and shut the door.
"I told you he wouldn't want to talk," Ron snapped.
"Ronald, he needs to talk; he just doesn't understand that yet," Hermione fired back.
"Will you two please just go snog some more?" Ginny said tartly from the top of the stair where she had just appeared.
Her face and voice softened.
"How is he?" she asked.
"Not good, Gin, not good," Ron glanced back to the door. "I reckon I've never seen him quite like this before."
Ginny sighed as Hermione nodded in agreement.
"I wouldn't go in there, Ginny," Hermione said as Ginny reached for the door handle. "He seemed pretty adamant about being alone."
Ginny, her eyes still on the door nodded. "I know."
Ignoring the puzzled looks on her brother and her friend's faces, she pushed open the door and walked inside.
"Harry?" she called out with some trepidation.
It was dark inside the room and she had difficulty seeing. When he didn't respond she slowly walked forward. She noticed shadows moving across the light spilling from the hallway. She glanced over her shoulder to see Ron and Hermione peering in the room. Sighing, she flicked her wand and shut the door in their startled faces.
Great, now it's pitch black in here.
She remembered about where the bed was in the room. She started toward it slowly calling out again as she went.
"Harry? Are you awake?"
She adjusted her trajectory when she heard a low grunt come from off to her left.
"Ow!" Ginny hissed as her shin smacked the bedside table. Wincing, she turned and sat on the edge of the bed, her hands reaching for and finding Harry's shoulder.
"Will you please talk to me, Harry?" she pleaded.
She felt him shift, as he turned toward her.
"What difference does it make?" he asked, his voice flat.
Ginny was extremely worried. The feelings she was picking up through the bond were unlike anything she had ever felt from Harry. It felt flat and empty, yet it had an ugly twist that made her slightly nauseous.
"Harry," she reached out and gently brushed his hair. "It makes a difference to those who care about you," she said softly.
He grabbed her wrist, stopping her motion.
"Who's that? You?"
His voice was bitter, totally unlike the Harry she remembered.
"Yes, Harry, like me," Ginny lay next to him and wrapped her arms around him. He stiffened and rocked back slightly, but he didn't push her away.
After a several minutes, she started rocking him gently.
"I didn't entirely realize what you were going through this year, and I know the... events... at the end of the year have got to be hard."
Ginny began gently brushing his hair with her hand again.
"You have to know, Harry, people love you," she hesitated for a second as she felt his emotional barriers waver. "I love you."
His walls crumbled and for the second time in her life, Ginny found herself holding a sobbing Harry Potter. She realized how much the past year and Cedric's death had cost him.
He almost broke. Dear Merlin, I contributed to that.
Her tears joined his and soon they were holding on to each other. Even through her own emotional distress, Ginny felt that Harry hadn't understood her full implications when she said that she loved him.
That's alright though. He's not ready for that now, but I'll be here. I will be here.
Sometime later, Harry lay quiet, still wrapped in her arms. He sighed and turned his head slightly toward her.
"Where did you go this year? What did I do to push you away?" he asked, his voice still trembling with emotion.
"It wasn't your fault, Harry, you must believe that," Ginny said with some force. "It was me, I... just needed to figure out who I was. After the Chamber and all the events..." She trailed off, not sure if he could understand.
"You couldn't have done that with me?"
The question tore at her heart.
I don't think I could have, but what if I was wrong?
"I don't know, Harry. I swear to you, it won't happen again."
He laughed a small bitter laugh. "I think I've heard that line before."
She pulled back from him and sat up.
"You're right. I deserved that. I'll make an Unbreakable Vow right now; I'll never leave you again. Where's my wand?" she began fishing over the side of the bed trying to find her wand.
Harry grabbed her arm and pulled her back to the bed.
"No, Gin, it's ok. I believe you."
He hesitated, and Ginny felt, much more than she saw, a saucy smile break out on his face. "I've got to be the world's biggest big push over, but what I can I say? It's hard to say no to a beautiful redhead."
Ginny froze, uncertain of how to respond. He leaned forward and brushed a gentle kiss across her check. He then turned away and closed his eyes, exhausted from the recent emotional outburst.
Ginny was still for a long time, her heart beating wildly. The feelings in the bond were different than when he looked at Cho, but there was something there.
Was there? Am I imagining it? Damn it, Potter!
She got up quietly and left the room, closing the door behind her.
The next morning Ginny woke early as her mother had made it clear that they would be continuing to clean headquarters until the term began. When she arrived in the kitchen she found most everyone already eating, minus Harry.
"Ron, where is Harry?" she asked.
"I couldn't get him out of bed. He seems as bad as yesterday," Ron slumped in his chair.
Ginny reached out through the bond and found Harry in a state similar to yesterday.
"Hmph," Ginny grunted as she stood and started back toward the stairs.
"I told you yesterday that he just wants to be left alone, both of you," Ron said as his look took in both Ginny and Hermione.
"Ron, listen to me. Harry needs to talk. We have to get him to open up about his feelings or he will never work through this," Hermione said matter-of-factly.
"Harry will talk when and to whom he feels like it," Ginny said, exasperated. "I'll go check on him."
"Don't say I didn't warn you," Ron said ominously.
Ginny simply rolled her eyes and continued up the stairs without hesitation.
As Ginny walked up the stairs she heard Sirius' sarcastic comment, "If he won't get up for a beautiful redhead, then I know we've got problems."
Ginny reached the door to Harry and Ron's room and slipped inside. Silently she made her way over to Harry's bed and sat on the edge. He was awake, staring at the wall. He made no indication that he was even aware of her presence. Ginny sighed internally.
Why did I think that last night would solve all our problems?
She didn't know what to say, so she said nothing. Instead she took his hand in hers and held it. She didn't know how long she sat there, but eventually she felt Harry squeeze her hand. She had been deep in thought about something. She turned when she felt him squeeze and found him peering intently at her.
"Hi, Harry," she said, feeling somewhat stupid for having nothing else to say.
"Hey, Gin," Harry said quietly. "Are you going to stay here all day?"
She squeezed his hand back. "If that's what it takes."
A ghost of a smile crossed his face and was then was gone like a mist in the morning breeze. Ginny saw more than that. She felt the difference in Harry, and unlike his smile, what she felt seemed more permanent.
"You feel like eating some breakfast?" she asked him.
Harry grunted as he sat up. Taking that for a yes, Ginny pushed off the bed. She stopped in surprise when she felt Harry pull her back down. He pulled her into a tight embrace. He didn't speak. That was alright with Ginny, she really didn't need him to.
Several weeks into their stay at Number 12, Ginny stopped to reflect on Harry's "progress" as Hermione insisted on calling it. Harry still didn't get out of bed each morning until Ginny came and sat with him, and his interactions with Ron and Hermione were strained. Harry wasn't upset with his friends; instead, it seemed like he couldn't rally the emotional energy to engage them. That was slowly starting to change, and Hermione had even got Harry to yell at her when she kept trying to get him to talk about his feelings. Hermione had said that even though his anger was obviously misplaced, it was a good sign that he was starting to feel something again. Ginny agreed whole-heartedly.
Now Ginny found herself waiting in the kitchen for Harry and her father to return from the farce of an investigation Fudge had set up around Harry's use of magic around his cousin. Ginny thanked Merlin that Dumbledore had been able to push the hearing back to right before the beginning of term. She shuddered to think how Harry would have responded to the pressure of a hearing given his emotional state when he first arrived at the beginning of summer. Ginny felt reasonably certain that he couldn't be held accountable, but the feelings she was getting from Harry were anything but positive.
She nervously chewed on her hair and tried to keep busy.
As she paced, the strange house-elf, Kreacher, suddenly appeared right in front of her. Startled, Ginny jumped back, hitting the table with a loud crack.
"Startled the blood-traitor, did I?" the elf mumbled. "Disgrace on the House of Black she is, my poor Mistress, shame she didn't break her back."
"Uh, hello. Can I help you?" Ginny asked.
"The blood-traitor is talking to Kreacher, the shame, the shame," he mumbled.
Wordlessly he reached out and presented Ginny with what appeared to be a letter of some sort. Ginny took it from him and the elf shuffled off to Merlin knew where.
Ginny looked at the letter which was obviously intended for her, not recognizing the handwriting.
Her mind still mostly on Harry, she thumbed it open and began to read. Halfway through she shook her head and started over from the beginning, this time with her full attention on what was in front of her.
I know that we haven't talked near as much as I would have liked. However, I did enjoy getting to know you better this year, especially once you got out from Harry's shadow. Nothing against Harry, he's a good bloke, but you need to be your own person. I see that and I'm glad you did as well. I tried to send you several letters this summer by owl but they all kept coming back. It was almost like the owl couldn't find you. I decided instead to have one of the house-elves from Hogwarts deliver it (don't ask!!). I hope you don't mind that I took the liberty of writing to you without your permission, but I really felt that we connected at the end of the year, and I think that you feel about me the same way I do about you. I just wanted to tell you that I think you're a wonderful, beautiful witch and that I would like to spend more time with you. I look forward to seeing you on the train tomorrow.
Ginny sat in shock for several seconds.
Her initial reaction was to burst out in giggles at the absurdity of the thought. She was so caught up in the letter and her laughter that she managed to miss the relief from Harry, and so was quite surprised when Harry and her father came through the Floo.
"Harry!" she cried when she saw him, rushing up to engulf him in a hug, the letter forgotten on the table.
"Harry?" Hermione had heard Ginny's shout and come to the kitchen, followed closely by Ron and the twins.
"It's alright, they found me not guilty," Harry managed with a smile.
"He got off! He got off!" Ginny and the twins danced around the table in a strange Weasley war dance.
"Ginny! Boys! Stop that!" Mrs. Weasley shouted at her children as she too came into the kitchen.
"I'm so happy for you, dear. Now you children all go and get ready. Tomorrow we are heading back to Kings Cross."
Harry grabbed Ron and Hermione as they made their way the stairs. "I need to talk with you two," he said in a low whisper.
Ginny was slightly peeved at not being included, but this was the first time Harry had talked to his friends on his own and she felt like she shouldn't intrude. Instead, she walked toward her room to begin to pack. As she passed the boys' room she couldn't help but strain to hear the conversation.
"Remember how he wouldn't talk to me much during the year, and kept avoiding me? Well, now it's the exact opposite. He kept wanting to talk and hinting that he had things he needed to tell me. The weirdest thing was he asked about Ginny several times..."
Despite straining harder, Ginny was unable to catch the rest of the conversation.
Where are those damned Extendable Ears when I need them? she fumed as she quickly went through her pockets.
Deciding there was nothing else she could do, she continued on to her room.
Who was asking about me? Why would he talk to Harry? What in Merlin's name is going on around here?
Later that evening, after everyone was packed, the family and Sirius sat around the table enjoying a wonderful Molly Weasley dinner. Even outside of the Burrow, her cooking was legendary. Ginny, still mulling over what she had heard, missed all the mischievous looks the twins kept shooting in her direction.
"So, Ginny, do you have anything you would like to tell the family?" George asked. Ginny noticed the dangerous glint in his eyes and knew it meant trouble.
"Not really. Should I?" she asked, her real confusion coming through in her voice.
"I think you should," Fred picked up the questioning. "Tell us about your dear little boyfriend."
The entire table went silent. Ron began choking on his bread and Harry literally spit pumpkin juice all over his plate.
"My boyfriend? What in Merlin's name are you two on about?" she asked.
"You know…" said George.
"The one you bonded with…" continued Fred.
"At the end of the year," George finished.
They glanced at each other and then said in unison: "Dean Thomas!"
Ginny sat, flabbergasted. "Really, where do you get your information? You two are slipping in your old age," she said laughing.
"Oh are we?" George said as Fred held up Dean's letter from earlier.
"Don't leave letters on the table you don't want us to read little Gin-Gin," Fred teased.
"You give that back right now!" Ginny yelled. "That is my personal correspondence. How dare you!"
Ginny stopped short, her anger left her as she felt a blow come through the bond. It was such an impact that it felt like she had physically been hit. Ignoring all the other increasing chatter and Ron's incoherent shouting, she fixed her eyes on Harry. Finally, something clear was coming through. Extreme anger, jealousy, longing and regret came pouring into her.
Harry! her mind called out.
She took a step toward him, but stopped at the expression on his face.
"You had to find yourself! What a load of bull. You went off with your boyfriend and abandoned me. I'm such an idiot for believing you!" Harry turned and made his way up the stairs.
"Harry, wait! It wasn't like that! Wait!" she called. She made to run after him but was blocked by Ron, Fred, George and Hermione.
"You aren't going anywhere until we have a chat about Mr. Thomas, Gin-Gin," Fred said seriously.
"Besides, Hermione and I aren't letting you up there with him in his state. He's just now coming out of his funk. You couldn't wait until we get to school to tell him?" Ron said scathingly.
"I what?" Ginny shrieked. "Blame these two geniuses. Not that it's any of your business, but I am not and I have no intention of seeing Dean Thomas. Now get out of my way, you load of prats, before I bloody curse you into tomorrow," Ginny raged.
"Ginevra Weasley! You do not talk to your brothers that way. Come here right now so we can discuss this," Mrs. Weasley stood with her hands on her hips.
Ginny, desperate to get to Harry, had no choice but to comply. As she turned, she winced at the grief coming though the bond.
Just a little while longer, Harry. After I deal with these gits, I'll explain everything.
She smiled to herself.
Everything is going to be alright.
After spending much of the evening helping her mother clean the kitchen from top to bottom, while getting a lecture the entire time about how a proper young witch should act, Ginny was finally allowed to leave. She immediately went looking for Harry. She found the door to his and Ron's room shut. No matter how hard she pulled or how loud she banged, the door remained closed.
"It's no good, Ginny," Hermione said as she walked up to her from across the hall. "Harry's done something to the door, nothing seems to affect it. I think Ron's going to have to sleep on the couch."
Ginny hit the door hard enough to hurt her hand, shrieking in frustration.
Hermione hesitated and looked at Ginny. "So, you're not seeing Dean Thomas?"
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, Hermione, of course not! I've never wanted anyone but Harry!" Ginny said quite exasperated.
Hermione smiled. "I'm so glad. You two are very good for each other. After tonight I don't think he can deny that he fancies you now, can he?"
Ginny smiled back, her happiness damped only by the feelings from Harry.
The next morning Ginny jumped out of bed and raced to Harry's room. She found the door open and dashed inside.
"Harry!" she called, stopping when she realized that he wasn't there. Turning she sprinted down the stairs and found her mother in the kitchen reading the morning Prophet.
"Mum, mum! Have you seen Harry?" she asked winded from hurrying down the stairs.
Mrs. Weasley looked at her daughter with some sadness.
"He was up early this morning and insisted on going on ahead by himself. He was quite insistent and so your father finally gave in and took him on. We'll meet up with your father at the station later."
Ginny stood in shock, numbed.
This is getting ridiculous. Could this be any more difficult? I can't take this much longer. I will find Harry on the train and make that stupid, bloody wanker understand that we belong together.
Mrs. Weasley patted her only daughter on the shoulder and turned back to her paper.
Harry sat by himself in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. He had arrived very early on purpose and had found a spot at the back of the train. He sealed the door and turned to the window, in no mood for any company. After a while, he heard the sounds of students boarding the train. For some reason this annoyed him, and made his mood even darker.
He glanced up as he heard pounding on the door. Ron and Hermione were standing outside the compartment looking extremely frustrated that they couldn't get in. Harry looked at them for a moment and then shook his head. He turned back to the window. When he heard their shocked and outraged response, he turned and cast a Silencio on the compartment door. Immediately, the sounds from outside faded away.
For the third day in a row, Ginny Weasley was frustrated beyond imagination. She had been walking the train for the better part of ten minutes trying to find Harry without any luck. Finally she saw Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Luna sitting in a compartment. Ron looked angry and he waved his arms as he talked to the others. Ginny opened the door and stuck her head inside.
"Hey, have you guys seen Harry?" she asked.
At the mention of Harry's name Ron turned even redder and Hermione brought her lips together in a thin line.
"Harry! That prat is in the back. He sealed himself in a compartment and won't come out. This is all your fault!' Ron bellowed.
Ginny shook her head. "I'm not fighting with you right now, Ron, come yell at me later."
Ginny turned and walked purposely toward the back of the train. Her fellow students who saw the look on her face quickly got out her way.
As she passed a compartment, she didn't notice Dean slip out and follow her. She reached the compartment and saw Harry sitting by himself staring out the window. She tried to open door with little luck. She also quickly noticed that he couldn't hear her as she called his name.
She jumped as she heard someone call her name. Turning, she groaned internally as she saw Dean walking toward her.
Great, this is just what I need!
"Hey, Ginny, can I talk with you?" Dean asked as he approached her.
"Really, Dean, now is not the best time, can we just talk later…" as she talked the Hogwarts Express took a particularly sharp turn and bounced. Both she and Dean lost their balance and slammed into the door of the compartment opposite Harry's. As Ginny recovered and got her bearings she realized that she had ended up pinned against the door by Dean, who had fallen into her. His arms had gone to either side and their faces were inches apart. As her vision cleared she panicked. Harry was standing in his compartment, staring through the door at her and Dean in horror.