Ginny knocks on Ron's door and waits to hear his familiar grunt before pushing it open. He's sprawled on his bed flipping through a Martin Miggs comic.
"Mum wanted me to see if you'd finished making Harry's bed yet."
"Done." He points. "See?"
The little camp bed is made, but more to a troll's standards than their mother's. She knows Harry won't care, but she straightens the blanket and tucks the bottom corners in anyway. She sits down on the edge. It doesn't smell like Harry. Yet.
Four weeks, three days. But who's counting? "Yes, Ron. I'm fine."
"You don't look fine."
"Well, I am," she huffs, brushing her hair out of her face. "You'd better finish sorting through those comics, 'cause Mum'll be up in a minute and she'll be livid if she sees you just lying there."
"I'm doing it, I'm doing it."
Ginny rolls her eyes and stands.
"We're leaving," he says. "Harry, Hermione and me. We won't be here very long."
Her heart hammers loudly in her chest. "When? When are you leaving?"
"Dunno." He shrugs. "After Harry turns seventeen, I guess."
"But that's in four days."
"I think I'll convince him to stay through the wedding, though."
"When will you be back?"
He tosses his comic aside and picks up another. "When it's over."
The word resonates in her ears.
"'arry's birthday is in two days," Fleur says as she arranges tiger lilies in a jug. "I 'ope you got him something."
Ginny stares in amazement. "We broke up."
"It is still 'is birthday." Fleur shrugs. "And you are in the same 'ouse together."
Not for long.
"I don't know what he wants—what he needs." Ginny is thinking of self-defense sprays and flame throwing wands and Sneakoscopes—anything to keep him safe.
Fleur raises an eyebrow. "You do not know what 'e wants?"
"I know what 'e needs," Fleur says. "A reason."
"To come back to you."
It's easy to think of a million reasons.
She makes him laugh, for instance. She understands him. Believes in him. Supports him. Would die for him. But these ethereal reasons aren't the sort of reasons that Fleur meant and she knows it.
Ginny throws her dish cloth down in the sink full of soapy water and looks out the window. Harry and Ron spin and chuck another set of belligerent garden gnomes over the garden wall, and she sighs.
She made a promise.
She watches as Harry shakes his head at something Ron has said while grabbing another gnome by its stubby leg.
He asked her and she let him go. She did. Her resolve is weakening, though. Rapidly. But she isn't so pathetic to throw herself at him, not when he so very clearly dismissed her. What is she to do?
She jumps, startled by her mother's voice and quickly fishes out the dish cloth. "Almost done, Mum."
Her mother makes a fussing sound as she comes up behind her, peering out the window over her shoulder. Ginny doesn't follow her gaze.
"This looks fine," she says finally, taking the pot from Ginny. "Go and fetch Harry, will you? I'd like you both to go and pick some runner beans for dinner. We'll need enough for tonight and tomorrow night, too."
"Mum, I don't—"
She cuts her off with a look, drying her hands. "I have a short list of things to buy from the market before our guests arrive tomorrow. I expect you'll have that finished by the time I return."
"I'll take care of the garden gnomes if you want. Ask Ron and Harry to pick the beans."
Mum glances up at her from her list, her spectacles perched on the end of her nose. Her shrewd inspection is unnerving and Ginny fights the urge to look away.
"No," she finally says. "I think it will do you good."
The runner beans hang so thickly on the vines that they sag under the weight, but not so thick she can't see Harry working on the opposite side of the trellis. She wishes it were a wall, but it isn't. There are breaks, momentary gaps, and each and every one of them offers a brief reminder of who is standing just on the other side.
A fleeting glance of his wrist, here. The swift twisting of his forearm, there. Or in this moment, right now, the sure grasp of his hand on the trellis support. The same hand that held hers just the other night when they were so worried about Ron. His knuckles are so close she could touch them.
She swipes her hair out of her face and returns to her task, plucking a runner bean with more force than necessary. The leaves on the vine shake violently.
Harry peeks through and gives her a quizzical look.
Biting her lip, she glances back at the house. Her mum sent her out here with Harry. On purpose.
But what is she to do?
If they were still together she would reach through the leaves, give his arm a tug, and pull her to him. He would laugh, and she would smile, and the two of them would sneak away to the pond where they could sit with their feet dangling and dragon-flies skimming and forget about the mindless task of picking beans.
Or maybe, even better, a quick dash to the broom shed to nick two brooms and escape to the orchard where the summer air would seem ten times cooler in flight, and they would race… race far away from The Burrow, together.
But they aren't together. And they can't escape. And now they aren't alone.
"Need a hand with this?" Ron asks, joining Harry on his side of the trellis.
"Sure, thanks," Harry says, moving to her side of the vine, giving Ron the space where he was working. There's very little distance between them now and it's easy to notice a smudge of dirt on his nose. She wants to laugh, to clean it off, to snog him senseless, but she doesn't.
She plucks another bean from the vine. It has a worm hole and the end is black. She's about to toss it to the ground when she has another idea. She lobs the bean into the air and spikes it at the top of Ron's head.
There's dead silence on the other side of the trellis. Ginny waits a moment, catches Harry's eye and does it again.
Harry grins at Ron's outburst and hands Ginny another bean. She smiles and takes it willingly.
This time the bean gets spiked back and they both dodge it. She grins at Harry, and as she takes another bean, he does too, and together they each spike their own, both hitting Ron on the head at the same time.
"Oi!" Ron bellows. "I'm trying to help you lot!"
Harry laughs, a free and open laugh. She laughs too. His shoulders relax for the first time in ages and he looks like he did when they were still together—happy forgetfulness and summer sun.
Maybe this is one.
For once the kitchen is quiet. It rarely is anymore, but now it is, and she has another moment alone with Harry. He's concentrating on laying out plates on the table while she sets out the cutlery. He's distracted. He's frustrated. She knows why. She moves to his elbow, speaking softly so no one else can possibly hear.
"I think Mum thinks that if she can stop the three of you getting together and planning, she'll be able to delay you leaving."
"And then what does she think's going to happen?" he grumbles, keeping his voice low. "Someone else might kill off Voldemort while she's holding us here making vol-au-vents?"
Ginny breathes in through her teeth. She hadn't thought—hadn't expected… Harry pales, seeming shocked that he actually said this to her.
Now she has proof.
"So it's true?" She turns to face him with no pretense of continuing her task, or letting him get out of what he's said. "That's what you're trying to do?"
His mouth opens and closes as he rushes to find the right words, but he can't back out of it now, and something else bursts inside of her. Pride, fire and something more. Something much deeper than those things—but she can't admit it to herself. Not now, it would be too painful.
He's going after Voldemort—he, and Ron, and Hermione. Voldemort.Very few people would do so willingly, but he is one of them.
His gaze flickers over her face and lingers on her lips. The air and space between them evaporates in an instant, and Ginny's breath catches on her tongue. She can nearly feel the heat radiating off his skin even though he stands an arm's width away and oh, this… them… how could she have forgotten? She tilts her head a fraction, holding his gaze. If only he would....
The door behind her bangs open, and they both jump apart. Her father's home, so is Bill, and Kingsley must be joining them for dinner tonight.
Ginny breaks away from the table and rushes to retrieve another place setting.
Another place setting… she has to get another…
He almost kissed her. He wanted to kiss her.
Her heart beats rapidly. She understands.
Now she knows what she should do.
"Are you okay?" Hermione asks quietly, sitting beside her on the weathered stone of the back steps. She pulls her knees up and wraps her arms around them.
Harry's birthday party is long over, the garden empty of guests, though Ginny can hear Fred and George still taking the mickey out of Charlie for his haircut through the open window, and her mother in the kitchen washing dishes with Madame Delacour.
"No." Ginny sighs, studying the stars in the night sky. "No, not really."
"I'm sorry about Ron. I tried to stop him, but he was—"
"It's okay," she cuts her off. She doesn't want to hear it. "It's probably for the best anyway."
Ginny avoids her gaze and lets the silence pervade again. A breeze stirs the end of her hair, and the bullfrogs croak by the pond.
"I'm amazed at both of you, really. By all appearances you made it seem as if nothing happened this morning." She sighs. "Ron made him promise that it wouldn't happen again, but well—you should have seen Harry. He's torn up over it."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"I just—well, I don't think it's over between you."
"It is for now," Ginny says, looking away. She's learned her lesson. And it hurts.
"Perhaps—but when Harry gets back—"
Ginny pushes off the step and on to the worn path. "Listen, I really appreciate what you're trying to do, but I can't—I just can't hear this right now. He has something he has to do, and I have to let him. Anything else just complicates things—makes it worse. I just, it hurts too much. Okay?"
She nods, a mixture of sympathy and sadness flitting across her face. "Okay, but Ginny… I think you've given him a reason."
Ginny looks up sharply. She can't have—how would—she never discussed any of this 'reason' stuff with Hermione.
"You know—to keep going—to get through this—to come back."
Ginny nods weakly.
"He needs that right now, I think," Hermione says. "So don't give up on him. Not this time. Not yet."
Give up on him? The memory of their searing kiss flashes through her mind. She couldn't give up on him even if she tried.
"I won't, Hermione. I can't."
"Good, because no matter what he says, he hasn't given up on you yet, either."
Deep down—past the part that doesn't ache so much—Ginny knows that she is right.
There are bigger plans, bigger purposes—bigger reasons—to keep them apart right now, but in the end it will be a simple reason, a simple thing, that draws them back together again.
And that is a big enough reason to hold on to for now.
Author's Notes: This story was written as a gift for Pluschi for the LiveJournal 2010 hg_seasonsfest . She asked for an H/G missing moment with romance and angst, and with the song lyrics she gave me as a prompt ('Me and my Guitar' by Tom Dice) I decided that this had to be the time frame.
Now credits: I must give full credit to St Margarets for section 'five' which comes straight out of her wonderful story Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Flower. It is the inspiration for the theme and reason of this story, and without this inspiration this story simply would not be.
Also, I need to give credit to JKR for the dialog in section two. The few lines of dialog in this scene are lifted directly from the Deathly Hallows, chapter 6, p.89 (US edition).
And finally I give GREAT BIG THANKS to St Margarets and magglenagall for beta help and constant inspiration. I appreciate you both so much. :-)