You pause hesitantly at his door, balancing the lunch tray in one hand as you fumble at the doorknob with the other. Letting out an exasperated noise, you put it down and open it before getting the tray and entering, nudging the door shut as you do so.
Your breath hitches as you see him; it always does. His eyes are still the same vibrant green they’ve ever been, but they’re jaded…old. Not the eyes one sees in the face of a sixteen-year-old.
I brought you food, you say, trying to fill the silence. You set down the tray next to him and remove the breakfast one, dismayed to see it is untouched. Clucking your tongue, you scold him. You’re skin and bones, Harry, why don’t you eat? I cooked these myself, you know, you joke, so I can understand you not wanting to, but the fruitcake is all Mum – why not try some? You are surprised when he answers – he never has until now.
You get the impression he is not talking about the food at all, and try to smile although he cannot see it; he is still staring at the Black family tapestry. Why not?
Ron and Hermione gave up eventually, he says. You will, too.
Your eyes burn fiercely. Never.
His eyes finally meet yours, and you inhale sharply at the anger in them, almost missing what he says next. You cannot help one destined to die.
Annoyance wells up within. You act as if you know it will happen that way.
I’ve accepted that.
How do you know? You’re not going to die. There is a sharp sensation across the bridge of your nose; you blink away tears. You’re not going to die, you repeat angrily.
He simply turns and resumes staring at the little burnt hole that was once Sirius’ name before he was blasted off by his awful mother. Don’t.
Once again, you are completely thrown off. Bewildered, you repeat, Don’t?
Don’t, he clarified, with a sardonic smile, closing his eyes.
What do you –?
I’M GOING TO DIE! He is on his feet, glaring at you. You wonder absentmindedly when he grew so tall; you can still remember the scrawny, scruffy boy in baggy clothes asking timidly for directions to Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
STOP SAYING THAT! You yell, even as you think that this is the most spirit anyone’s seen in him for weeks. YOU KEEP SAYING IT – YOU CAN’T MEAN IT!
OH YEAH? He shouts. He looks as if he is going to say more, but then he slumps back onto the floor, the fight going out of him. Just…please, Ginny. Leave.
You wrap your arms around him, wincing inwardly as he stiffens in them before shying away.
Trying not to show hurt on your face, you say you aren’t alone, Harry.
His expression is bittersweet and wondering. I know – but I feel like I will be, forever. The way he bites his lip and flushes informs you that he didn’t mean to sound so melodramatic.
Perhaps you feel like it. Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong?
It will put you in danger, Ginny! Voldemort – You cut him off.
We’re all in danger, Harry. The Weasleys are known as blood traitors; Hermione is Muggle-born. The Order of the Phoenix…well, can you imagine Voldemort allowing any remnants of opposition if he does win?
I can’t…. He seems to have difficulty speaking; his eyes are bright with unshed tears. You turn away politely as he controls himself but respond to his half-hearted plea all the same.
You can’t what? Tell me? Harry, everyone misses you – the real you. You’ve been gone for some time. And if you’re so convinced – why die before you have ever lived? He seems to turn that over in his mind, and you allow yourself a smile of relief that you hide by turning your head.
A hand is suddenly resting on your shoulder, tentative and timid. You throw yourself at him and hug him tightly. I’m here, you know.
He seems to need reassurance, so you add always.
That’s…you can’t promise me that.
Yes, I can – you fumble at a leather thong around your neck, untying it and offering the necklace to him. There are three crudely carved wooden beads strung on each side of an equally crude lion rampant – at least, you were told it was a lion. It looks more like a…well, a shapeless blob with a mane. Feeling suddenly foolish, you explain. Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George and Ron made it for me when I was little…or littler, depending on your point of view, you say, trying to make him laugh. Darting a glance at him, you see him smile slightly.
Continuing, you say Bill added a lot of protection charms on it after the Chamber. The entire thing is saturated with protective magic. Before you lose the nerve to give away the most reassuring thing that had ever happened to you, and somewhat unnerved by what Harry’s reaction might be, you tie it deftly around his neck. I want you to have it.
You feel even more foolish than you did before, and probably look ridiculous, blushing furiously to the roots of your hair and shifting around, staring at the tips of your worn shoes. What did you do that for? you ask yourself. He can buy more expensive necklaces, prettier beads, better protection charms…he doesn’t need your help.
A callused hand tilts your chin upwards, and you are looking into Harry’s face, which is unreadable.
Thank you, he says finally. You feel something warming you from inside out, but begin to babble nonetheless.
It’s not as good as other stuff you can have made, you say, trying not to concentrate too hard on the hand tilting your chin up, lest you betray your true feelings by blushing. I mean, it’s ugly and dumb and…oh, you can have better! You wring your hands, and to your surprise, a true smile lights up Harry’s face.
It may be ugly, crude and insufficient against Voldemort’s wrath, he agreed, and you feel somewhat stung. But, it’s the thought that counts, and this is way better than…
You understand and turn your face into his palm, brushing it in a light, chaste kiss. He looks torn between longing and being embarrassed. Thank you for understanding, he mutters.