She knew he tired of the countless professors and old family friends reminding him of his inheritance: those green eyes. If green was ever that color. Bill had once shown her a picture of Bermuda; he was there on Gringott's business he had said, but she had known better: Phlegm's golden hair shone telltale in the background. The island's ocean shimmered from aquamarine to teal to turquoise, like the color hidden within those peacock feathers Professor Trelawney kept in that sweltering attic. Bored out of her wits, she'd gaze at them while the gin-soaked Seer ranted on and on about some calamity or another. Since her tealeaves kept foretelling her death next Thursday (or was it Wednesday), she'd found it much more pleasant to stare at the feathers. Stare right at that Bermuda green eye, encased within the blues and purples, until the sun's rays, eager to pass through that stifling space, illuminated it, and for one moment it shone. Brilliant. Just for an instant. And then it was gone.
But that metaphor summed up her life with Harry Potter very nicely, didn't it, and Ginny Weasley knew better–the danger of mixing her metaphors. Those eyes only settled on her for an instant–then were gone. And a peacock doesn't change his spots. No wait, that was a leopard, Ginny remembered, then laughed out loud at the silly thought.
Her near cackle, louder than she realized, roused her back to the present: double Charms. It also, unfortunately, startled Professor Flitwick, who teetered precariously on a chintz pouf where he stood demonstrating the basic wand movements of the Substantive Charm. The charm misfired, and he plummeted, arse over teakettle, onto the floor below.
"Miss Weasley," his diminutive, but clearly irked, voice squeaked from under his pointy hat, where he lay prostrate on the floor, "would you mind either sharing with the rest of the class your cause of amusement or please remain quiet; I am not half the man I used to be."
The class snickered in agreement, and moments later were summarily dismissed. Ginny raced to Professor Flitwick's side, stammered her apologies, and after making sure he had not shrunk to one quarter of the man he used to be, trudged out of the classroom, satchel over her shoulder, wished there existed some charm to shrink the memory of Harry Potter's eyes from her mind.
Well, that livened up the day a little, she thought as she slogged off toward the dungeons. All in all her fifth year was turning out to be the least exciting in memory. And that wasn't a bad thing, necessarily. At fifteen, she already had experienced near death, possession, and enough heartache to last multiple lifetimes. And if she added up the sympathy "pain" from being in Harry Potter's universe–she had garnered more longing and sadness to last Merlin knows how long (and if those Buddhists she'd been reading about in her Muggle studies class were right, she'd be rocketing to the upper reaches of nirvana and not stopping for directions). So dull was allowed. It was acceptable. It was also heading straight for her.
"Oi, Ginny, hold up will you?" yelled Dean, waving his hand brightly as she tried to feign ignorance, and flee in the direction of a gargoyle decked out in his Christmas finery. "I've been looking all over for you. I'm heading home in an hour, and I just wanted to know if you, well . . . "
"What?" She turned on him with a toxic combination of irritation and self-loathing, twin emotions which raged within her whenever Dean attempted being male. Why was she still dating this idiot, she chastised herself. Could he be more pig-headed?
"Well, you know, I was thinking we could maybe find a nice quiet corridor with mistletoe and . . . " he began to snake his arm around her waist as he spoke, but this proved as easy as baiting a grindylow, for she kept stepping back, darting his eager outstretched arm. "Aw, Ginny, come on . . . "
"Dean, I'm not in the mood. Now stop, please," she protested, but he seemed intent, backing her against the wall. "Dean, I'm serious. Lay off," her eyes narrowed, the soft brown hardening, suddenly very irked by this charade.
But Dean neither knew nor cared, and like most adolescent boys fueled by the unfortunate blast of hormones and bravado, assumed a helping of the latter and stormed on.
At this point, she reached for her wand, itching to perform a Stunning Hex that would have Dean singing "Oh Come O Ye Faithful," so high that Fang would come running.
"Dean, I mean it. No, means no."
"Know or no?" he asked, arching an eyebrow, and took a step forward.
"What?" Ginny demanded, now clearly annoyed, backing away till she was cornered against a suit of armor.
"Ah!" she cried, and jumped back in surprise, dropping her wand, as the armor began to flail its arms in protest, crying something about encroachment on its personal territory. Regaining her composure, she darted toward the wall, and crouched down, intent on locating her wand then gouging it directly into Dean's puffed up chest.
Oblivious, he leaned over and whispered, "I know your no is really not a no, you know?"
"Are you completely mental?" she said disgustedly, her eyes glued to Dean's while her hands continued to fumble across the floor in search of her wand. Damn, if only I hadn't snogged him in that corridor last week, she thought. Now he thinks he's entitled. Boys--what toadspawn they could be.
"Aw, come here, Ginny," and with that he lunged for her, and dragged her to her feet, trapping his lips with hers.
The suit of armor, shocked by this blatant act of pillaging, clunked toward her, besmirching Dean's name, demanding a joust.
"Gertdahilluf!" she screamed out of the one free corner of her mouth, kicking Dean in the shins madly; but he held her tightly with no intention of letting go.
"What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?" a voice bellowed from across the hall, and for a split second Ginny swore it was coming from her own head. But as the jinx hit Dean and he crumpled at her feet, she could see the owner of the voice standing directly in front of her looking like black-haired murder. Black-haired murder with green eyes.
Ginny staggered backwards, the tone of Harry's voice as she had never heard it. Looking up into his eyes, she thought she glanced the trace of something–something, but then it was gone. Cursing herself, she wobbled slightly, and the suit of armor, apparently sensing her distress, wrapped his metal arms tightly across her chest.
"Aaahhh!" she screamed, terrified momentarily by the feeling of cold steel against her bare neck, then recovering quickly, attempted to wrench free, struggling against the chain mail forearms.
"My lady, do not despair, it is I, Sir Dalyngrygge, to save you from that villainous scum," and he bowed slightly causing Ginny to cringe, his doublet pinching her back.
Harry's eyes met hers; the afternoon light making its way through the casements, causing them to radiate the same damn peacock/ocean/dreamy/gut wrenching green–albeit mixed with a good deal of mirth. In fact, she would swear he was smirking. Yes, it was a damn bloody smirk and a slanted smile flashed across his face as he pocketed his wand confidently. Damn his black soul, who the hell does he think he is, Ginny fumed, jinxing her boyfriend, (true he was being a troll, and she did enjoy him writhing at her feet, but it's the principle of the thing here) and leaving her to be fondled by a bucket of bolts.
"Ginny, uh, sorry, I honestly didn't think . . . " Harry stammered, and stepped over Dean, prying the knight's arm off Ginny's waist.
"Step back, you scoundrel," Sir Dalyngrygge exclaimed, and clutched Ginny even tighter.
"Oh, this is enough," she groaned, "Harry, would you mind helping me here?"
"I'm trying, really, it's just that you're, well, I don't think he's letting go," Harry grunted, trying to bend back the metal carpals that clutched Ginny's shoulders in chivalrous fury.
"Step back you scurvy scarred knave," the knight intoned, "I am protecting this damsel's honor."
"So am I," Harry muttered under his breath, prying back a gauntlet only to have it tighten further about the Griffindor's tiny waist.
Ginny blushed at Harry's admission, forcing the long-labored-over dreams back into the forefrontof her mind. It had been years since she felt the all-consuming crush for the boy who was now inches from her face, straining to free her from this metal prison. She prided herself on the fact that she could look at the angular bones, the straight nose, the full lips (no, look up quickly Ginevra, look up) and feel a deep regard as one would a favorite brother or a family dog. That's right. The family dog, with thick unruly black hair you would stroke by the fire as it laid its head in your lap. STOP. This has got to stop. No, she was through, done, finished, completed with that miserable chapter of her life. The boy whose hand was now locked around her arm, and whose brow was covered in a thin line of sweat, was her Quidditch captain, her brother's best friend, and happily her friend. Nothing more. Nothing.
But then two things happened that Ginny didn't factor into her rationalizations. One, Harry's hand slipped, and two, the knight, taking Harry as spoils of the war, locked him up–tightly and quite closely against her.
Bodies melded to each other, arms wrapped around each other, they did their very best to avoid each other, Harry crunching his nose against the suit of armor while Ginny whipped her head sideways. This awkward position did not, however, stop Ginny from feeling his heart beating like a niffler gone mad against her chest, and she smiled, then chastised herself for her pathetic delusions.
Trying desperately to stop inventorying the host of well-defined muscles currently enwrapped about her (since when did he conjure up a set of biceps? And wasn't his chest just an "l" last year, but now it's a "V"), she blurted out the first thought in her head, "Thank you for rescuing me, Potter," her voice fighting to remain an adequate cloak of cynicism.
She could feel him roll his eyes as he exhaled, perhaps glad she wasn't going to hitch up her wand and hex him into the middle of next week.
"Glad to be of help," he muttered, twisting against the visor poking him in the cheek.
"Any thoughts here?" she voiced, internally cringing at her own, hoping against hope that Harry's secret meetings with Dumbledore didn't include Legilimency study in any way shape or form.
"Well, " Harry shifted nervously, his mouth by her ear, "Do you think you can reach my wand?"
"Yessss," Ginny looked up, and gulped, "Where is it?"
"It's in my back pocket."
"Uh. Really?" Her voice cracked nervously; her face matching her hair.
"Yeah. If you just take your right hand."
Ginny's mind went blank. He wants me to do what?!
"No, your other right hand."
"Here," Harry twisted, his chin pressed down against the curve of her neck, "I'm going to have to crush you, but I think I'll be able to reach it."
Under any other circumstance, Ginny Weasley would have passed out by now from the sheer delight of feeling Harry Potter on nearly every inch of her body, but since the position they were in sprung not from desire but from necessity, she gritted her teeth and tried her best to act put upon.
"There, I think I've got it," he said, then exhaled, crunching his hips against hers as he straightened up; Ginny's eyes remained glued to the ceiling, "O.K. on the count of three then."
The true meaning behind his words dawned on her, and she snapped down her head, "Wait! You've got to be kidding!" The thought of jinxing an accumulation of pointy, sharp metal seemed not only foolish but potentially lethal, "Harry we can't attack him; we'll be filleted!"
Unfortunately, her lowered head was now lodged against Harry's Adam's apple, which seemed to be raising and lowering rather quickly. Several moments passed in cramped silence.
"I was wondering, while we're here…"
"Yes?" her beating heart matching his in its insane tattoo.
"I was just thinking that if you…."
They twisted their faces at the exact moment, their noses bashed together making a horrible smacking sound like an overly ripe pumpkin being tossed from the Astronomy Tower. Cringing in pain, they flailed, Ginny yelped, and Harry cursed while Dean moaned at their feet, something gray and fuzzy erupting from his mouth. Sir Dalyngrygge tightened his hold.
A minute later, seemingly recovered, Harry's body shifted as his arms now took up comfortable residence in near the same location Dean's hands had wished to go.
"Ginny?" She felt Harry's breath on her neck, warm and too near. She turned and closed her eyes, her nose nuzzled into his shoulder; his robes smelled like outdoors, like he'd just come from the Quidditch pitch. Oh, Weasley, get a grip; you're going barmy. This is Harry. Harry.
"Maybe we should ask our trusted liege here if he has any brilliant ideas?" Ginny suggested, convinced that no matter what the images in her head told her, snogging another boy in front of your current boyfriend while being groped by a errant knight errant probably wasn't in the best of taste.
If Ginny wasn't mistaken, she could have sworn she felt him sigh, but cast aside that thought as ludicrous. Harry Potter didn't sigh over the likes of the skinny, freckled pain of a best friend's sister. It was Harry after all. Harry sighed over Tom, and Quidditch and Snape and Cho…. Yes, he had sighed after Cho. And with that–Ginny sighed, even harder.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked, turning his head so that she could feel his lips brush her hair which was fast coming loose from its bun, draping his shoulders in crimson wisps.
Wrong? Wrong? He wanted her to tell him what's wrong?! She's practically wearing "the boy who forced her to view butter and Valentine's Day with untold dread," whose hands now clutched places that would make her mother hex him to Azkaban, not because he wanted to, but because he was being held captive by an animated can opener. Wrong? Asking her too late to the Yule Ball, how's that? Asking her too late to sit with him on the train, there's another. Asking her too late "what's wrong," – worst of all. For years he never noticed her. And years it's taken her to forget. Forget him. As she should. How dare he change now. How dare he do this to her heart. How dare he have the audacity to ask what's wrong. Everything Harry. That's what's wrong. Everything.
She closed her eyes. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong."
"Nothing?" his lips spoke the words to her forehead, his breath warm, and she looked up. Up into those horrible, wonderful, torturous, magnificent green eyes. And they killed her again.
A tear, long held trapped, slipped traitorously down her cheek, landing with a ping onto the knight's metal breastplate. Harry inhaled, twisting in concern.
Suddenly, as if the tear was payment, the steel arms released them. Harry staggered backward, tripping over Dean, and landed sprawled out onto the cold stone floor, robes askew.
"Thank you for saving me, Harry," Ginny spluttered, then flew down the corridor, unable to face the green eyes riveted upon her, instead shielding her hands over her own red and tearful ones.
Everything contained herein belongs to J.K. Rowling. I just wish she'd stop by my house for dinner, and bring her notes. Now that would be something. Special thanks to my brilliant beta, Kelley, for her guidance and insight.