Harry had been enjoying his solitude, but it was interrupted as he left the Great Hall and headed towards the Hospital Wing. On his way, he ran into Professor McGonagall. She stopped for a moment, and surveyed him with a thoughtful look. The face he had become so accustomed to seeing stern broke into genuine smile, and she held out her hand for him. As he shook it, she book.
"Harry Potter," she stated, taking in all the changes that had been brought about since he was still at school. "It's been four long years since I've seen you. Haven't heard anything about you in two years. Not since…my you have grown, haven't you?" she asked, changing the subject abruptly. Harry was glad to avoid the topic.
"Thank you, Professor. It's wonderful to be back here. I had forgotten how much this feels like home," Harry replied, still lost in nostalgic bliss, as he and his old Professor continued towards the Hospital Wing.
"Yes, Hogwarts does seem to have that effect. I'm afraid that I have some business to attend to, but if you feel like stopping by Gryffindor Tower, the password is ‘Pillow Fights'. Do enjoy yourself, Potter, and don't let it be four more years before you stop by again. I'd like to know how you have been getting along since the horrible ordeal," she said as she smiled sweetly. Harry was almost bewildered by her actions…this was certainly not the woman who had taught him Transfiguration for seven years. Her kindness was almost unnerving, but then, the War had changed everyone. Some people were barely recognizable from their former selves.
"Thank you, Professor. I think I will stop by the Tower for one last look around. And I do think I'll try to stop by more often," Harry assured her as she walked away. He had reached the Hospital Wing, and stood at the door as he peered inside. He decided against going in and running into Madam Pomfrey.
He stood for a long time, eyes transfixed on the bed in the farthest corner. He had occupied that bed many a time. So many times, in fact, that Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and the twins had pitched in a bought a plaque to commemorate ‘his' bed. Yes, he had been there many times, but none quite as…special…as the fall from his broom in seventh year.
Harry paced the locker room in a fashion that resembled Oliver Wood's maniacal character. He surveyed his team, taking a mental note of all of their strengths and weaknesses. Ron, who had joined the team as Keeper in their fifth year, was really a brilliant player, and was honing his skills quite nicely. Harry was sure he could give Wood a run for his money, after his improvement since a rather nasty Ravenclaw match the previous year.
His view then moved on to his Chasers, Seamus Finnigan, Colin Creevey, and Mira Jones. They worked very well together, despite their somewhat amateur performances. They had all been the reserve Chasers for Alicia, Angelina, and Katie the previous year, and had learned teamwork and precision from their predecessors.
Finding replacement Beaters had been the toughest challenge. Harry had managed to find them in fifth years Kent Smith and Scott Anthony. They were bigger than most seventh years, and just about as clever. They had wonderful diversionary tactics, and their…unique playing style had amused Fred and George to no end while they trained under the twins. They were best friends, and worked wonders together. Harry stopped pacing, and spun to face his team.
"All right, team. We've beaten Ravenclaw, flattened Hufflepuff, and now it's time to show Slytherin what we're made of. Mind you, they are going to play dirty. They played dirty when they had a decent team, and the team is far from decent this year. So, let's get out there and fly like we mean it!" he finished with a shout. The team agreed with a shout of their own, and they left the locker room to take the field.
"…and here come the Gryffindor House team led by Seeker, Harry Potter. After the team lost five players two years ago, we weren't sure if they'd be able to recover or not, and Potter has shown us that they have not only recovered, but come back just as strong. Their performance last year was impressive considering the fact that it was their first year as a real team. They really have been showing Hogwarts what Gryffindors are made of. And here come the Slytherins, led as well by their Seeker, Draco Malfoy," Dean Thomas was interrupted by a loud round of boos from all of the houses save Slytherin. "The Captains are now trying to break each others' hands, and as Madam Hooch blows the whistle, they take to the air."
Harry shot up as high as he could as soon as he heard the whistle, and reveled in the feeling of the wind whipping through his hair. This was peace.
"And Gryffindor take the lead, 70-60, after a wonderful shot by Finnigan. The Quaffle is back in play, and it's going back and forth between Zabini and North. Interception by Creevey! This game is intense, ladies and gentlemen, thanks to the rather interesting methods of the Slytherin team. Malfoy has definitely been scraping the bottom of the barrel this year, that's-"
"THOMAS!" screeched Professor McGonagall. Harry, for one, quite agreed with Dean. The hastily thrown together Slytherin team would be no match for the far superior, if newly assembled Gryffindors, were it not for their under-handed style. Malfoy had obviously told them to use any means necessary (and a few that weren't) to achieve their ends.
"Sorry, Professor. Colin Creevey is flying towards Slytherin's goals, and-oh, narrow miss there. He drops the Quaffle as a Bludger comes at him, sent by Vincent Crabbe. Kevin North catches it, and takes back at the Gryffindor's goal posts. He takes careful aim, and-NICE SAVE by Ron Weasley, the fourth Weasley to play for Gryffindor. He's really improved since the awful Ravenclaw incident last year...and the Quaffle is once again being passed from Finnigan to Jones, a nice little fourth year with a nice little re-"
"THOMAS, THAT IS IT! GIVE ME THE MEGAPHONE!" demanded McGonagall as she tried to wrestle is away from Dean. As the two were fighting, Harry spotted a glimpse of gold to his left, down quite away. He spun to go after it, and noticed Malfoy on his tail immediately. He pulled himself into a sharp dive, as Malfoy did the same. Before he knew what was happening, both Bludgers came out of nowhere. One clipped his shoulder, while the other pounded into his stomach. Spun by the force, he faced Malfoy just in time to see the other, poorly aimed Bludger catch Malfoy in the leg, and knock him off track. As he tried to remember how to breathe, the Snitch was once again gone.
Harry swore under his breath, and rose once far above the pitch once again. Scanning the game as the Chasers resumed play, he noticed Malfoy having a few words with Goyle off to the side. He deduced that it had been Goyle that had sent the rogue Bludger that missed Harry, hampering Malfoy's attempts at the Snitch. Harry sincerely hoped it had done some damage.
"Chaser Zabini has the Quaffle, and is heading toward the Gryffindor goalposts. Weasley takes his position, and…HE'S CAUGHT IT! The man just keeps on amazing us," exclaimed Dean.
All of a sudden, Harry saw Crabbe chuck his Beater's club at Colin. Absolute chaos ensued. All of the Gryffindors, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs in the stand began screaming wildly, while the Gryffindor House team displayed their extensive, colorful vocabulary. Crabbe simple shrugged, and shot Malfoy an awful grin.
True to form, the Snitch chose this moment to reappear. Harry noticed it floating dangerously close to the boundaries directly to the left of the Hufflepuff stands. He turned quickly, and dove straight for it. He could hear Malfoy behind him, and he urged his broom on faster. He stretched his arm as far as he could, and willed himself to catch the Snitch. As his fingers closed around it, he felt a sharp jerk from behind, followed closely by another, harder one. He whipped around entirely too quickly, losing the little balance he had left. As he fell from his broom, he saw Malfoy smirking at him with an evil and vindictive grin in his eye, and his wand in his hand. Just before the blackness consumed him, he heard Malfoy whisper something, but he couldn't make it out. He closed his eyes and, upon impact, blacked out.
The first thing his noticed was the stiff feeling in his left leg. The second was the pounding in his head. The third was that his eyelids were far too heavy to bother opening. Harry recognized the starchy feel of the Hospital Wing bed sheets, and realized what had happened. Had he not been so tired, he would've sworn that Malfoy would pay. It was only as he relaxed that he heard a soft voice speaking at his right.
"…couldn't believe the bloody, cheating git would pull such a foul. I thought my heart was going to explode when you fell. It was almost in slow motion, it was so painful to watch. You should be punished for scaring me like that. You've been out for two and a half weeks, and Madam Pomfrey said that you still haven't shown any sign of waking. Harry, you can't leave me…you promised me you would never leave me," she choked bad a sob at these words, and took a few breaths to steady herself. She continued, her voice barely above a whisper.
"I love you too much for you to ever do that to me. Gods, I wish it was me in that bed. I wish it was me Malfoy was so murderous towards. Mind you, if he actually knew who was behind his sock fiasco, he might be. But there you were again, being my hero. If you didn't have to be so noble, or so brave, or so self-less, or so…Harry, I might not have to love you as much as I do. Hell, Harry, I'm starting to wonder if there is anything more important than you. When I was younger, every time I heard your story, or your name, I thought I was in love. When I first saw you, and first saw those eyes…I knew you were going to be important to me. When you started including me in your fifth year, I thought I would die from happiness… But now I realize that most of that was hero worship…I didn't know you, so I couldn't love you. I only knew of you. But now, I know you, and I love you, and I don't think I can live without you. I realize that I'm ‘only' 15, but I've never felt like this, and I don't think I ever will again. It's just…indescribable. Please wake up, Harry, for me."
With that, he felt a warm breath on his cheek, and a soft kiss on his forehead. He finally found the strength to open his eyes, and a blurry red something swam into view. He coughed a little, and then replied.
"Only for you." Ginny looked more than a little startled. She stared at him with wide eyes for a moment, before grinning like mad, and kissing him hard on the lips. It was almost too much for his head, but as it was Ginny, he didn't mind. As they broke apart, he gazed into the eyes he had come to love so much. Her eyes smiled, and spoke volumes of her emotions. He hoped his eyes were telling her just as much as hers told him. He could gaze into those eyes forever, and never get tired of it.
"I'm glad you decided to rejoin me," she whispered gently, her hand running through his untamable hair. She sniffed again with happiness, and wiped the remnants of her tears away. "You know, your eyes are so much prettier when they're not hidden by your glasses."
"Yours are pretty all the time," he replied truthfully. He could see them fill to the brim with tears as a giant grin spread across her blurry face. She laid her head on his chest, and squeezed him a little bit tighter. Still not having much strength, he returned the embrace as best he could. "Ginny, what happened? I've fallen off of my broom before, and never been out for two weeks."
"Well, you didn't just fall. As far as we can tell, as soon as Malfoy knocked you off balance, he cursed you. They haven't been able to tell what yet, but many people suspect he Stunned you, and that's why you've been out so long," she faltered a moment before continuing. "Oh, Harry, don't ever do that again. Please."
"Never Ginny. Never."
Harry felt his eyes begin to prickle, and quickly ducked his head away from the bed. He took his glasses off, and pinched the bridge of his nose trying to shake his headache. He looked around, and decided it was time to head to Gryffindor Tower.
To Be Continued…
A/N: Well, sorry that took so long. I'm so lazy, and have been really busy with school, and lots of stuff. I promise it won't be as long ‘til next chapter. This is dedicated to my other sister Kristen. Love you! And Meggie, Pillow Fights is for you! Many thanks to Imogen for betaing this chapter, and for the inspiration for Malfoy's sock fiasco last chapter! A Happy Christmas to all!!! Read, review, and enjoy!!!
Disclaimer: It wasn't mine three chapters ago, it's not mine now!