A/N: Hi all! Well the story is drawing to a close. Just a few chapters left to go. I am aiming to get this all posted before the release of DH and there will be a sequel (and possible a thrid story). Please do keep in mind that relationships have their ups and downs, hence the title of the story, and things cannot be all rosy and perfect at all times. Even our favorite couple has their our set of problems.
With that, please read and enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: Not mine.
Adventures in Courtship
Chapter Seventeen – Pictures Say a Thousand Words
“All right everyone, great practice! Ravenclaw has no chance against us tomorrow! Hit the showers and see you in Hogsmeade!” Ginny cried to her team. She watched as they hurried off to the changing rooms talking excitedly to each other.
Her team was ready for tomorrow’s match; there was no doubt about that. Tomorrow’s win would put them in first place for the Quidditch Cup. They just needed to keep their focus from now until the end of the match and that cup was theirs’ for the taking.
Ginny slowly made her way to the changing rooms. Unlike the rest of the team, she was not too thrilled for the Hogsmeade visit that day. She had received a letter from Harry the day before informing her that he would not be able to meet up with her in Hogsmeade as something had come up and he had business to take care of in London. Ginny had been disappointed that he would not be there with her but it at least gave her a chance to pick out something for the Ball without him around.
Grinning, Ginny glanced around before reaching into the pocket of her jeans and pulling out a folded piece of parchment. She quickly unfolded it and began to read the message yet again.
Hi. I hope you’re doing well. Glad to hear you’re keeping the team in tip top shape. Just be careful with that shoulder of yours, yeah? The last thing the team needs is for you to strain it just before the big match. But you know you can count on some . . . therapy if you do happen to strain it during the match. I’m sure that broom cupboard on the seventh floor would be an excellent place for that.
I’m still busy with my projects and no I will not tell you what they are just yet. You’re just going to have to wait until I’m ready to let them be known. There are a few things that I do want to tell you about, however.
First, I’ve got a job! It’s just something for right now and not a major career. I’m working in the local grocers in the village. Yes, I’m working with the Muggles. I figured I wouldn’t be recognized very easily that way. It’s only part time though and temporary. The owner just needs me until the end of June when her son returns from school. Your mum’s happy that it’s getting me out of my room and your dad’s ecstatic that I’m working so closely with them.
Second, well . . . I’m not sure how you’ll take this one, but I bought a car. Your dad is teaching me how to drive and I should be getting my license in a few weeks. Maybe we could go driving around in the summer, maybe a day trip to the beach or something would be nice? I could even teach you how to drive this summer if you’re up to it! Your mum wasn’t very happy when I bought the car, but she’s been taking her anger out on your dad for influencing me.
Now for the unpleasant part of this letter; unfortunately something’s come up and I won’t be able to make it to Hogsmeade tomorrow. I’ve got to be in London. It was last minute. I’m really sorry about it and I wish I could be there, but there’s nothing I can do about it. But I promise I’ll be there for the match and for the dance. I’m looking forward to that!
I suppose that’s all for now. I miss you my little minx and I’m counting the days until we’ll be together again. I love you.
Ginny sighed and folded the letter again, slipping it back into her pocket, glad that Harry had kept his word and had been sending more letters. She was happy that Harry had found a job and was keeping himself busy. She also thought that he buying a car was exciting and she hoped he would teach her how to drive over summer, but it made her wonder just how much money Harry had. She knew he had a fair amount and it must be a lot for him to be able to buy a car. Still, she thought it would be fun to drive around and act like a Muggle during the summer. She had heard the Muggleborns around school mentioning something about the back seat of a car being fun and it always puzzled her. Maybe she’d be able to figure out what the fuss was all about this summer?
Carrying Harry’s latest letter around was a new habit she had picked up on since Valentine’s Day. Ginny would pull it out and read it over again whenever she had a chance. It was sort of comforting to read one of his letters again. It was as if she were reminding herself that he was still around, waiting for her.
Sighing, she continued on to the changing room allowing memories of the last Hogsmeade visit in March to float through her mind. It had been fun strolling along the village with Harry and visiting the shops. She had always wanted to go to Hogsmeade with Harry ever since her third year when she was first allowed to go and had found it slightly surreal that she now had that chance. Ron and Hermione had joined them for lunch that day and Ginny had been happy to see that the two of them had made up since their row before Valentine’s Day.
Ginny suppressed a grin as she quickly changed out of her Quidditch robes. Shortly after Valentine’s Day, Ginny had questioned Hermione about the nicknames she and Ron used for each other causing her to have blushed a brilliant crimson color.
“Ginny, hurry up will you or all the good dress robes will have gone!”
Ginny rolled her eyes at Mikayla’s shouting.
Ever since Valentine’s Day, Mikayla had talked of nothing but the Ball. It had turned out that Ginny was right about what they were discussing outside Gryffindor Tower. Colin had finally plucked up the courage to tell Mikayla how he felt about her and asked her to the Ball. The anonymous card Mikayla had received on Valentine’s Day was from Dennis Creevey, who Ginny found out had been fed up his brother’s inability to admit his feelings to her and decided to do something about it. Since then, the two of them had been inseparable and Ginny was glad to see them finally together.
“Don’t get your wand in a knot,” Ginny muttered when she emerged from the changing rooms to find a very impatient Mikayla. “You’ll find something gorgeous to tempt Colin with for the Ball.”
“You better hope I do,” Mikayla growled and pulled Ginny by her arm and towards the gates. “I don’t understand why you had to call an early morning practice. We could have been in Hogsmeade looking for dresses for nearly half an hour by now!”
“Tomorrow is an important game,” Ginny replied calmly, pulling her arm out of Mikayla’s grasp. “The points determines whether or not we get the Quidditch Cup and you know how important that is to get the House Cup.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Mikayla mumbled. “Hurry up.”
Ginny smiled at her friend’s eagerness. She knew how excited Mikayla was for this Ball and in all honestly, so was she. She couldn’t wait to dance around the Great Hall with Harry. She clasped her hand around her necklace, taking comfort in the constant warmth it emitted.
She listened as Mikayla chatted about what sort of dress robes she was hoping to find for the Ball while taking in the sights around her.
Trees were once again filling with green leaves and flowers were blooming in all sorts of colors. The sky was cloudless and blue and the sun was shining down on them. There was a pleasant light breeze that whipped around them that was cool and refreshing. It was all in all a nice day outside.
As soon as they entered the village, Mikayla swore loudly.
Nearly every shop that catered to clothing was packed with students, notably female students. It was going to take them more than a lifetime to even get inside a shop, let alone find anything if anything was left. Ginny silently berated herself for waiting until now to find anything for the dance.
“It’s a bloody madhouse,” Mikayla said as they walked by the window of Gladrags which was packed with girls.
Ginny peeked inside and was surprised to see two seventh year Hufflepuffs fighting over a pink colored dress.
“You did bring your wand didn’t you?” Mikayla asked with her hand on the door to the shop. She looked frightened of even being near the shop.
Ginny nodded hoping that she wouldn’t have to use it. Ever since the fiasco at the Ministry, Ginny was sure to take it with her no matter where she went. She had had a strong feeling that morning she was going to need it just for their trip.
Bracing themselves they entered the shop.
The shop was in chaos and packed from wall to wall. It appeared that the owners had tried to enlarge the place to accommodate the increase in traffic but it hardly did anything to help. Girls were everywhere, pulling items off of racks and eyeing each one with scrutiny. Arguments were breaking out everywhere and Ginny spotted fairly long lines that wrapped around the shop for the changing rooms. There were saleswitches and saleswizards running back and forth from the dressing rooms to racks to the tills.
Ginny gasped as she was shoved unceremoniously into Mikayla. She caught a blonde ponytail whipping in front of her face before whoever it was took off.
“Mika, I don’t think we’ll be able to find anything in here,” Ginny said avoiding a fifth year Ravenclaw who nearly collided into her carrying something pink and puffy. “And I really don’t think it’s safe right now. We’ll be lucky to get out of here with all our limbs attached.”
“It’s the best place to find something,” Mikayla replied distractedly as she made her way to the racks with her sizes. Ginny grabbed onto her friend’s arm for fear of being lost in the pandemonium that was now Gladrags.
As Mikayla went through the remaining dress robes on the racks, Ginny took a look around taking care to stay out of anyone’s way the best way she could. She found several things she liked and knew would probably look very nice on her, but as soon as she looked at the price tags, she promptly put it back on the rack and went on to the next one.
She felt discouraged by the prices of the dress robes. She knew she didn’t have enough gold for something very nice not to mention she did need to pick up some parchment and quills for the remainder of the term. Harry had offered to pay for it again like he had for the Ministry ceremony but Ginny flat out refused. She said he couldn’t pay for everything she needed or wanted even if he had the money for it. She was sure, however, that the extra gold from Fred and George who had somehow heard about the dance had Harry’s idea written all over it. Still, with those extra Galleons, it wouldn’t be enough to afford anything in Gladrags.
“They let you in here?”
Ginny cringed at the sound of Druella’s voice. She rolled her eyes and turned to face her nemesis, who it appeared was surrounded by the female versions of Crabbe and Goyle. Mikayla was immediately at Ginny’s side clutching several dress robes in a rainbow of colors.
“I’m sorry, only humans are allowed in here,” Ginny said sweetly. “Now there’s a lovely pet shop down the street that have adorable clothing for dogs. I think I saw a gorgeous pink leash that would look lovely on you, Druella.”
“Clever,” Druella sneered. “You can’t even afford a sleeve on anything in here so why even bother coming in?”
“I, unlike you, have a date to the Ball,” Ginny replied haughtily.
“Oh that’s right,” Druella said clasping her hands together. “You tricked Harry into taking you, didn’t you?”
“Sod off you harlot,” Mikayla sneered. “At least Ginny doesn’t have to pay anyone off to take her to the Ball. How much did you pay Seth to take you again?”
“How much did you pay him to even look at you?” Druella shot back, flipping her hair behind her shoulder. “Besides, I wouldn’t talk if I were you. Aren’t you going with that poof Creevey?”
Mikayla was seething silently next to Ginny and knew if she wasn’t laden down with dress robes she would have her wand out and already hexed Druella to the ends of the Earth.
“I’d watch that mouth of yours if I were you,” Ginny hissed barely aware of having grabbed her wand. “You might loose it again and this time I’ll make sure you don’t get it back.”
“Touchy aren’t you?” Druella commented. “Where’s your so-called boyfriend anyway? Too ashamed to be seen with you? I’m sure all those pictures in the papers were much too embarrassing for him.”
“Why don’t you stop talking? You’re poisoning the air and quite frankly, we don’t need to keep smelling that foul stench and lose our appetite,” Ginny growled. She gripped tightly onto her wand.
Druella merely narrowed her eyes at Ginny and Mikayla.
“It’s just a matter of time before he leaves you,” Druella whispered viciously, “he’ll come to his senses and realize what a mistake it was to be with you.”
Without giving Ginny a chance to reply, she turned on her heel, flipping her hair into Ginny’s face. “Come on Adel, Lainey,” Druella said loftily, “we need sizes for much smaller women. This is the section for cows.”
Mikayla and Ginny watched as the trio of girls took off. Mikayla growled in frustration.
“She is not going to ruin this for us,” Mikayla seethed quickly stomping her way through the throng of girls and towards the fitting rooms. Ginny was hot on her heels, not wanting to lose her friend.
“I mean did you hear what she said about Colin,” Mikayla cried as they waited in the shortest queue they could find.
“That wench said a lot of unkind things,” Ginny reminded her. “Manners are not part of her personality. Find anything you like?”
Mikayla nodded. “Several, but you never know until you try them on.”
“Well you try them on, then. I’ll wait out here,” Ginny said as they reached the front of the queue.
“You didn’t find anything?” Mikayla asked, turning around to look at Ginny just before occupying a fitting room.
“I did,” Ginny sighed and blushed slightly in embarrassment. She, like Ron, wasn’t comfortable talking about her lack of wealth in front of her friends. While her parents had always provided for her and her brothers and loved them, she had always felt some sort of shame that she couldn’t afford to buy anything new or splurge on things. Mikayla never brought it up and as far as she was concerned, it didn’t matter. “This isn’t exactly a place where I can stock up on fashionable clothes.”
“Oh,” Mikayla gasped. She poked her head out and looked apologetic. “I’m sorry. I was just too excited to find something.”
“It’s okay,” Ginny reassured her. “I suppose I could just owl Mum and ask for her to send me the dress robes I wore to that ceremony.”
“Ginny, you can’t do that. You’ve got to wear something different,” Mikayla said. “How many school dances are you going to be able to take Harry to?”
Ginny sighed and gave in. “I guess I’ll just take another look around. Maybe on the sale racks?”
“Good. I won’t be long,” Mikayla promised and disappeared into the fitting room.
Ginny sighed and decided to try another side of the shop. She noticed that a small section of the place appeared to have nearly no one in it and she wondered why. Upon closer inspection she found that this part of the shop contained Muggle dresses. It seemed like the majority of the students were going to wear strictly wizard dress robes. Deciding it couldn’t hurt to take a look, Ginny began to wander the racks of Muggle dresses.
Ginny was surprised to find that most of the dresses were quite affordable though she couldn’t find many in her size. She was just about to give up and already thinking of how to word her letter home when something on the very end of a rack caught her eye.
She had avoided the rack because all the dresses has seemed to be much too small for her, but the dress she pulled off was just her size and rather lovely.
It had thin spaghetti straps and made of a light material. The design was done in a simple large swirling floral pattern with greens, purples and hints of yellows and whites. It had a high waistline and a white ribbon that tied in the back. Holding it up to her, it looked like the skirt of it came down to just about her knees and she found it had a matching shawl.
The dress was simply put beautiful and perfect for her. The moment of truth, however, was the price on the tag. Squeezing her eyes shut, she lifted the tag up and peeked at it.
Not only was it more than affordable, but she would have more that enough for any other school supplies she needed.
Grinning, she hurried over to the fitting room Mikayla was occupying and waited impatiently for her to finish. She was happy to see that the queue had nearly disappeared by now.
“Did you suffocate in there? I’ve got to show you this!” Ginny called through the door just short of busting inside.
Mikayla opened the door carrying all the dress robes she had brought in with a disgruntled look on her face.
“None of these will do. What did you find?” Mikayla said.
Beaming, Ginny held up the dress for her to see. Her smile widened at the delighted look on Mikayla’s face.
“Muggle dress, eh? Maybe that is the way to go,” Mikayla commented. “Well, what are you waiting for, go on in and try it on before someone grabs that room!”
Giggling, Ginny hurried into the room and quickly changed into the dress.
The dress looked wonderful on her. It was simple and she knew Harry was going to go crazy when he saw her in it.
But then her eyes caught the scar on her shoulder. Even though it had become fainter over time, it was still visible and shiny and the straps of the dress did nothing to hide it.
She hated looking at that scar. It was evidence to how stupid she had been and the danger she had put herself into. Shutting her eyes, she quickly threw the light shawl over her shoulders. Opening her eyes again, Ginny found that the shawl hid the scar quite well and she felt slightly better.
“Come on out and let’s have a look!” Mikayla called excitedly.
Unsure, Ginny stepped out and showed the dress off to Mikayla.
“Ginny!” her friend gasped. “It’s perfect and I’ve got just the shoes for it, too! And your hair . . . oh I know the perfect look to do on you. Harry’s going to die!”
“Well, then I think my mind is made up,” Ginny announced figuring that she would just keep the shawl on during the entire dance. “Did you find anything?”
“No,” Mikayla sighed. “I think I’ll try again. Good thing I told Colin to meet us at two in the Three Broomsticks.”
“Well, let me change out of this and I’ll help you out.”
* * * * * *
It had taken the girls a few hours, but eventually they found Mikayla’s perfect dress robes for the Spring Ball. Mikayla had asked the saleswitch to wrap up her dress robes in double the amount of usual packaging. She was determined not to let Colin see them before the ball.
Afterwards, they gathered whatever necessities they needed for school and spent a little time in Zonko’s (so Ginny could scout out the competition for Fred and George) and Honeyduke’s before making their way to meet Colin in the Three Broomsticks.
Full of food and nursing their second round of Butterbeers, Ginny, Mikayla and Colin were relaxing and talking cheerfully with each other about the day and recent on-goings in school.
“So, Captain, how’s our team going to do tomorrow?” Colin asked taking a drink from his bottle. He had his arm draped casually and comfortably around Mikayla’s shoulders. Ginny smiled at them, happy to see them together finally.
“I think we’re going to do a splendid job tomorrow. That cup is ours,” Ginny replied happily. “I think you ought to start planning that celebration already.”
Colin laughed while Mikayla smiled. He glanced at Mikayla’s package and smiled.
“Are you sure you can’t show me what you got?” Colin asked hopefully. Mikayla shook her head firmly for what seemed like the twelfth time since they had met up with him.
“Not a chance,” Mikayla replied. “I already told you that you’ve got to wait until the Ball.”
Colin sighed in defeat and looked over at Ginny. “What about you? Can’t I see what you got?”
“Nope,” Ginny declined. “You’re going to have to wait to see mine as well.”
“You know, you girls are completely unfair. I’d show you my dress robes with no questions asked,” Colin grumbled causing the girls to laugh.
The three continued to talk among each other and several of their friends had passed by and stopped to chat. They were just about to leave and head back to the Castle when someone unexpected and quite unwelcome slid into the seat next to Ginny.
“Fancy meeting you here!” Miriam Nosebury said brightly with a fake smile. “I had no idea this was a Hogsmeade visit today.”
“Leave,” Ginny hissed. She was not in the mood to have dealt with Druella and then Miriam in one day.
“What’s the matter, Miss Weasley?” Miriam asked sweetly. “You don’t look so happy to see me.”
“I’m not,” Ginny replied bitterly.
She turned to leave the other way and had managed to get around the table with Colin and Mikayla just behind her but Miriam was too quick. She had appeared right in front of Ginny and was doing her best to keep her from leaving.
“Where’s dear Mr. Potter? I would have thought he would have been with you on a Hogsmeade visit?” Miriam questioned brightly. “After all you two are quite an item.”
Ginny noticed the notebook and Quick Quotes Quill floating next to the journalist and felt her anger flare.
“None of your business,” Ginny snapped and pushed her way past the blonde.
“Busy in London today, is he?” Miriam called effectively stopping Ginny in her tracks.
Ginny whipped around and narrowed her eyes at Miriam who was smiling in mirth. How could she possibly know that?
“Are you stalking him?” Ginny demanded, stomping her way across the room again and stood in front of Miriam.
“I’m a reporter, Virginia,” Miriam cooed patronizingly. “I’m doing my job. The public wants the hottest news and I intend to deliver that.”
“First of all, reporters are supposed to get their facts right. My name is not Virginia, it is Ginevra. If you were any sort of a decent reporter, you would have done your homework and known that before publishing it in that rag! Second, Harry is not hot news. He is a normal human being just like anyone else and deserves his privacy,” Ginny replied vehemently.
“And Mr. Potter is also a celebrity whether he likes it or not. The public likes to know about celebrities,” Miriam replied haughtily. “Besides, you ought to be glad I was doing my job today. I’ve discovered something very interesting about your little boyfriend. It appears that your little tricks are no longer working on him.”
Ginny was seething in anger and torn between annoyance and curiosity. What could she possible have found Harry to be doing in London? He had told her he had business to attend to but didn’t say what it was.
Miriam’s smile was vindictive and it was clear that whatever she had up her sleeve was giving her great joy. Ginny refused to let her be happy about whatever this was. She was not going to let her get under her skin like this.
“I have no tricks,” Ginny whispered harshly. “You have nothing on him.”
“Oh but do I,” Miriam trilled. “The public is going to love this little article tomorrow. I can guarantee that!”
Ginny tried her best to keep herself in control and not reach for her wand. The last thing she needed was to be all over the front page; as if that was something new.
Yet, it was nagging her slightly not knowing what it was that made the annoying and cold hearted journalist so happy. Whatever it was could not be good for Harry or for Ginny.
She cocked her head to the side slightly, narrowing her eyes at the blonde. She folded her arms defensively across her chest and tapped her foot in agitation.
“I don’t believe you,” Ginny replied quietly.
“Curious to know, aren’t you, Miss Weasley?” Miriam whispered with a delighted smile. “Well I was going to let you find out tomorrow morning when the public found out, but I think this was just too good to pass up. Much more delicious and satisfying for me to deliver it to you personally.
She pulled out a large envelope from inside her robes and handed it to Ginny. Ginny merely glared at the offending object.
“Well, go on and take it. It won’t bite,” Miriam taunted with that smile still on her face. Ginny snatched it out of her hand.
“Do enjoy them, won’t you?” Miriam said sweetly. She gave a light laugh and turned to leave the building. She stopped just short of the doors and turned to face Ginny. She smiled evilly at her.
“Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.”
And with that she left the Three Broomsticks, leaving one very angry witch with two annoyed friends behind her.
“That horrible wench!” Ginny hissed as she stormed out of the pub. “Who does she think she is?”
“Don’t let her get to you, Ginny,” Mikayla said kindly. “She’s just trying to wind you up.”
“And she succeeded,” Ginny huffed. She let out a long-suffering sigh with the envelope clutched in one hand and her packages tucked under her other arm.
“I wonder what she’s figured out,” Colin mused aloud. “It must be something big to make her that happy.”
“You’re not helping, Colin,” Ginny snapped.
“Sorry,” he muttered and remained silent as the three trudged up the trail toward the Castle. Mikayla cuffed him over his head with her hand for Ginny and muttered something angrily under her breath.
“Whatever it is, it can’t be real, Ginny,” Mikayla said after her admonishment of Colin. “She’s just trying to stir trouble.”
“I know,” Ginny grumbled.
She knew what Mikayla was saying was true. Miriam was just trying to start something between her and Harry so she could get her next big story. Still, she was curious as to what was in the envelope and what could have possibly happened for Miriam to personally come to Hogsmeade and give it to her.
Maybe it was empty and she was just trying to rile her up. Still. . . .
And how did she know Harry was in London today? Was she really following him around? Ginny was still very curious to know what he had to do that made him unable to come visit her and wondered if that was what had Miriam so high in spirits.
None of the three friends spoke again the rest of the time it took for them to make it to the Castle. They had been climbing the stairs when Ginny spotted Hermione coming the opposite way obviously leaving the library.
“I’ll catch you both up later,” Ginny said to Mikayla and Colin. “I want to speak with Hermione for a bit.”
Her friends nodded and continued on their way to Gryffindor Tower.
“Hermione!” Ginny called, hurrying up the stairs to meet her friend.
“Hi, Ginny,” Hermione greeted her adjusting her bag on her shoulder. “Did you find something for the Ball?”
“Yes,” Ginny replied hastily. “Listen, do you know what Harry was doing today? He didn’t meet up with me.”
“Well I saw him in the Leaky Cauldron this morning when I went to meet Ron. I invited him to join us for lunch but he said he had something to do in Muggle London,” Hermione explained.
“Did he say what?” Ginny asked hopefully.
Hermione frowned and shook her head. “No. He was in a hurry though. Said he was late for something.”
It was Ginny’s turn to frown. She suddenly felt a knot in her stomach as a horrible thought crossed her mind.
“Are you okay?” Hermione asked in concern. “You look a little pale.”
Ginny shrugged her shoulders. “Yes. No. I don’t know. I ran into Miriam Nosebury in the Three Broomsticks.”
“Oh what did that hag want now?” Hermione groaned and rolled her eyes. “Honestly, that woman is worse than Rita Skeeter.”
“She gave me this,” Ginny explained and held up the envelope. “She said she found something about Harry while he was in London today.”
“Did you open it?” Hermione said examining the envelope.
Ginny shook her head. “I don’t know if I want to. She said everyone would know tomorrow in the paper and thought I should know beforehand.”
“Why that evil little snake!” Hermione cried. “It’s just like her to cause trouble. I don’t know why she thinks she has a right to make your life miserable. As if Harry would have gone for her type in school. Don’t believe anything she said, Ginny. She’s just jealous.”
“I know,” Ginny said. “Mikayla said the same thing. I just want to know what it was that’s got her so happy about.”
“I’m sure it’s just a little trick she’s trying to play on you,” Hermione assured her. She glanced at her watch and frowned. “I’m sorry, Ginny, but I have to go. I’ve promised I’d eat with my parents tonight and I’ve got to pick up my dress robes for the Ball.”
“You’re going?” Ginny asked, momentarily distracted from her encounter with Miriam. Hermione nodded with a pleased smile on her face.
“Professor McGonagall told me I’m allowed to come since I’m still considered a student. Ron’s welcome as well,” Hermione explained with a smile. “We’re finally going to a ball together!”
“That’s wonderful,” Ginny smiled.
“I’ve got to go now. I’ll see you at the match tomorrow. Ron and Harry are coming to cheer Gryffindor on.”
With a few quick goodbyes, the two witches parted and went their separate ways.
As the day went on, Ginny tried to keep herself distracted from the envelope Miriam Nosebury had given her. She had done homework and chatted with different friends and even went to bed early so she was up bright and early for the match tomorrow, but it was to no avail. Sometime after one in the morning, Ginny gave in and picked up the envelope.
As quietly as she could, Ginny snuck out of her room without waking her roommates up. She made her way down the stairs and into the Common Room. It was slightly chilly so Ginny took it upon herself to light a fire in the hearth. She sat in one of the armchairs, the one she and Harry used to occupy back in her fifth year, and held the envelope in her hands.
She bit her bottom lip, staring at the envelope. On one hand, she wanted to see what it was, but on the other she wanted to just get rid of it and never look in the paper tomorrow.
But then again, after breakfast, the whole school would know whatever it was and she would be subjected to questions and whispers again. As if that really mattered to her; she’d be talked about whether she knew about it beforehand or not.
Making up her mind, she ripped it opened and slowly removed the contents.
She wished she hadn’t.
In her hands were a small stack of pictures featuring Harry and to her horror and disbelief, Olivia, the Muggle girl they had ran into on their first date who had gone to primary school with Harry.
The first one seemed innocent enough, but to Ginny it was deceitful. They were sitting at an outdoor patio at some restaurant eating and talking. Olivia in the picture laughed and put her hand on top of Harry’s and the scene started all over again.
Ginny flipped it to the next one and felt her eyes burn with tears. Harry was hugging her closely to him and she had her head buried into his neck.
Ginny closed her eyes and quickly flipped to the next one. When she opened her eyes again the tears spilled over.
Harry was kissing Olivia. They pulled apart and it quickly started again.
Ginny dropped the pictures, shaking and in tears, ignoring the fact that there was something unnatural about the pictures.
How could he do this to her? She was the one he was supposed to be kissing and hugging! He was supposed to have lunches with her! She was the one allowed to put her hand on his! These were intimate things that they shared together; things that made her heart flutter and put a smile on her face and made her feel special because he was doing them with her and only her.
And now . . . now it meant nothing. It was thrown into her face as if it were some joke.
So this was Harry’s important business in London then. He was meeting other girls behind her back and all this time she thought he loved her. She was stupid enough to believe him!
She buried her face in her hands crying hard at her stupidity and Harry’s betrayal.
She should have known something was going on with him and yet she went on blissfully unaware of what Harry was doing. He insisted it was nothing to worry about, that he was working on “projects” that he couldn’t tell her quite yet. She was such a fool! He was cheating on her all this time!
Angry and upset, she picked up the pictures, tore them up and threw them into the fire before flinging herself on the seat of a nearby armchair and letting herself cry until she fell asleep.
* * * * * *
“And that’s the fifth foul on Weasley today! She’s off her game today yet Gryffindor still has the lead, 150-100.”
I wonder why I’m off my game, Ginny thought viciously as she watched the Ravenclaw Chaser she fouled take her shot. She missed and Ginny took off, shouting a formation code to the other Chasers.
Ginny’s stomach growled but she ignored it. She had skipped breakfast that morning in her efforts of avoiding everyone. She had woken up early with a crick in her neck from falling asleep on the armchair cushion. She had quickly changed and gathered her Quidditch things and taken off for the pitch.
She had spent the morning flying and didn’t talk to anyone, even Mikayla and Colin. She knew everyone had seen the article and pictures in the paper and quite frankly she did not want to discuss it with anyone quite yet.
Ginny couldn’t figure out whom she was angrier with; herself for being stupid or Harry for cheating like that. Right now, it seemed like an even amount at both.
Her anger was affecting her game tremendously and it was obvious. She was trying to release her anger and unfortunately that meant she was fouling more often, throwing harder and being downright nasty to her teammates.
Her pep talk earlier was nowhere near encouraging. She had snapped at her teammates basically telling them they had better play hard or they would be in for it and stomped off to wait to be let onto the pitch for the game. She knew they all heard about the pictures and were wise enough not to say anything.
Her teammates had been avoiding her like she was the Black Plague and were cautious in speaking to her. They seemed to have all understood that unless they wanted to have their head bit off and experience a vicious Bat Bogey Hex, they would listen to what she said and do it quickly.
Noting the score, Ginny knew they were where they needed to stay in the running for the cup. All she wanted to do was end the game now and crawl into her bed and pretend she didn’t exist.
Spotting their Seeker, Paul Martin, a small wiry third year, she flew closer to him while keeping an eye on the Quaffle.
“Martin!” she bellowed over the wind. “Catch that bloody Snitch and end this damn game!”
She caught his scared look but didn’t wait for his reply. She took off, shouting instructions to her fellow Chasers for a new formation to get the Quaffle out of Ravenclaw’s possession.
Paul heeded her order and within twenty minutes he had caught the Snitch, making the score 320-110 and thrusting Gryffindor into first place for the Cup.
While the rest of the team jumped off their brooms to celebrate, Ginny took off for the changing rooms at a tense pace. She ignored anyone who tried to talk to her, feeling her eyes burn when she spotted Harry walking towards her with Ron and Hermione. She picked up her speed and shut herself in the changing rooms allowing herself to cry once alone.
Ginny remained in the showers for as long as possible until she was sure everyone had left and weren’t coming back for any forgotten items. Her skin was red and slightly raw from the hot spray of water she had kept constantly cascading on her but she didn’t care. It gave her something else to concentrate on. Physical pain was much preferred than the emotional type for her at the moment.
Slowly, Ginny changed back into her clothes hoping that it was deserted outside and Harry had grown tired of waiting; if he was out there waiting for her. She was going to go up to Gryffindor Tower, skip the party she knew was taking place and crawl under her bed sheets for a very long time.
But her plans of self isolation were quickly thwarted by the smiling faces of Ron, Hermione and Harry standing just outside the entrance to the Changing Room.
“What was wrong with you?” Ron asked immediately after hugging her. He did not notice Ginny hadn’t bothered returning it. “I mean you won and all, but Ginny you’ve never played like that.”
“Are you okay, love?” Harry asked with concern.
Ginny merely stared at him in astonishment. Was he seriously talking to her like nothing was wrong, like he didn’t cheat on her with Olivia the day before?
“I can’t believe you have the audacity to ask me that,” Ginny said shakily feeling the tears return. “Why are you even here?”
Harry frowned and tried to touch her shoulder but she stepped away from him.
“I came to see you play. What’s wrong with you?” he asked, his frown persisting.
“What’s wrong with me?” she asked shrilly. “You don’t know what’s wrong with me?”
“No, I don’t,” Harry growled and clenched his fists. He was getting angry now and it only fueled Ginny’s fury. He did not have the right to be angry with her!
Ron and Hermione seemed to be very uncomfortable to be there but neither one moved. Instead, Ginny saw them place their hands where they kept their wands.
Wands will not save him once I’m done with him, Ginny thought viciously as she squared her shoulders and faced off with Harry.
“Oh I’ll tell you what’s wrong with me,” Ginny hissed and narrowed her eyes at him. “Your important business in London! Does the name Olivia ring a bell you two timing, doubling crossing, incorrigible git!”
Harry’s jaw fell open and he stared at her for a good half a minute before laughing in disbelief.
She was hurt and felt betrayed and he was laughing at her? The prat!
“Don’t tell me you seriously believe that rubbish?” he said with his arms crossed.
“What am I supposed to believe, Harry?” she cried. “There were pictures of you with her! You were kissing her! Pictures say a thousand words!”
“That doesn’t mean they’re all the right words!” Harry shouted back. He ran his hands through his hair in frustration. “I can’t believe you’re going to believe that rag over me!”
“There’s evidence! You were cheating on me! You skived off spending the day with me to go out with that hussy and I want to know why!” Ginny shouted. “Are you sleeping with her? Is it because I wouldn’t shag you on Valentine’s Day?”
“No!” Harry cried. “You are taking this way out of proportion, Ginny.”
“Oh, so it was an innocent little lunch, was that it?” Ginny hissed. “And then just some innocent little kissing? And then you expect me to believe that you weren’t shagging her after that in some cheap broken down inn?”
“No, it wasn’t like that! If you would let me explain –”
“There’s nothing to explain! The pictures say everything!” Ginny yelled.
Harry walked away from her then quickly turned and made his way back to her.
“I am not talking to you while you’re being stupid. When you calm down about this, then we will talk,” Harry grinded out obviously at his wit’s end with her.
“I know I’m stupid,” Ginny cried unable to hold back the tears any longer. “I was so stupid to believe that you would actually love me, that you cared for me. I was dumb enough to think we could be happy together!”
She screamed out in frustration and scrubbed harshly at her face. She looked up at Harry with her tear stricken and red face. The tears blurred her vision, obscuring her view of him. “You could have any girl in the world and I was so stupid to think you’d actually want me. You knew how I felt about you and yet you played around with me and now – now –”
She had run out of steam and didn’t know what else to do or say. She felt her necklace suddenly flare with warmth. Without a second thought, she pulled on it, breaking the chain in the process and threw it at his feet before taking off in a run towards the Castle in tears and heartbroken.
She heard her name being called but she ignored it. She wanted to put as much space between her and Harry as possible.
Her lungs were burning as she hurried up the stairs and she was exhausted after the game. Her body protested moving so fast and was begging her to slow down but she wouldn’t. She needed to get to the safety of her room.
A familiar hand grabbed her arm and pulled her to a stop. Ginny fought, struggling to get away but before she could do anything, she found herself being shoved into an empty room. There was no light in the room whatsoever, but the strong smell of cleaning products alerted to Ginny to where they were exactly. A dim light suddenly flared on and it confirmed her suspicions
“Let me go!” she screamed, beating Harry on his chest and still trying to get away from him.
“No,” he refused softly yet firmly and tightened his grip on her arm. “Calm down.”
“I’m not going to calm down!” she yelled and tried to go for the door. Harry was too quick for her and blocked it.
“Then you and I are going to stay in here until you get your common sense back and we talk about this,” he said and crossed his arms.
Ginny glared at him as a million different hexes and curses flew through her mind. She reached for her wand but to her utter dismay it wasn’t there.
“Missing something?” Harry asked, waving her wand in his hand.
“Give that back!” she demanded and lunged forward wondering how he managed to get it from her. Harry stopped her with one hand and held onto her wand with the other. She jumped up trying desperately to reach it but her short height was at a disadvantage.
“You get this back once we’ve talked and you no longer want to hex me for something I didn’t do,” he said.
“Well according to the papers, you did plenty!” she shouted.
“Since when did you believe what the papers say? I thought you didn’t care about all that stuff!”
“That was before pictures of you shacking it up with other women were plastered all over the place!”
“And why would you even think I would be with another woman?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Harry, maybe because you’re been keeping secrets from everyone and spending time doing who knows what and won’t tell anyone anything!”
“I’m trying to get my life together after being the center of a bloody war! I thought you understood that!”
“Then why don’t you understand that I would never do anything like that to hurt you!”
Both of them were breathing hard and Ginny was sure they were both red in the face. She didn’t know what to do or say anymore. She had to take a moment to calm down and think rationally. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to take a couple deep, calming breaths. It seemed to help slightly.
She heard Harry sigh and suddenly he was cupping her face gently in his hands. She let out a shaky breath and tensed slightly. She wasn’t sure how to react now to his touch and felt a lump develop in her throat.
“Ginny, I love you. You know I wouldn’t just say that and go off with any girl,” he whispered shakily. “You’ve got to believe me. Please, let me explain what happened.”
Unable to use her voice, Ginny nodded in his hands.
“I ran into Olivia when I was in London. She looked upset so I asked her what was wrong and she told me she broke up with her boyfriend. I didn’t know what to do or say so I offered to buy her lunch and let her talk about it if she wanted to. Merlin, I felt so uncomfortable. I can’t deal with that sort of stuff, you know, I don’t know what to say or how to deal with a crying girl.
“Anyway, after that she thanked me for letting her get things off her chest and hugged me. I didn’t want to be rude, so I hugged her back, and then she took me by complete surprise and kissed me. I pushed her back and told her it was uncalled for and that I was with you and can’t do anything like that to you. She apologized and we said our goodbyes. That was all,” Harry explained. “I’m sure those pictures didn’t tell the full story and I know they were altered. I’m sure Miriam and her photographer conveniently forgot to take a picture of me pushing Olivia away and telling her off.”
Ginny took a moment to let his explanation roll over in her mind. Finally, she came to her senses and threw her arms around his neck, burrowing her head into his chest.
“I am the biggest git in the world and such a bleeding idiot,” she muttered. She looked up at him and noticed the look of relief on his face in the dim light. “It was so stupid of me to believe that rag.”
Slowly, he wrapped his arms around her and held her close. She felt relieved that he wasn’t angry with her for judging him so quickly. Yet, his embrace didn’t feel the same and it frightened her. What had she done?
“I can’t believe you didn’t trust me, Ginny,” he said quietly. “I thought you knew me better than that.”
Ginny pulled away and wiped away the tears that were starting to leak from her eyes.
“I do, Harry,” she replied shakily. “I do trust you and I know you wouldn’t do anything like that to me. It’s just. . . .”
She took a deep breath, trying to find the words to explain it to him.
“You don’t hear the things I do everyday. You’re surrounded by people who don’t second-guess our relationship and who aren’t out to break us up. Almost everyday I have to hear people whispering about our relationship and how I’m tricking you and how you could ever go for a poor girl like me. People tell me directly that I don’t deserve you and that it’s all going to backfire one day.”
“Ginny,” he said quietly and gently grasped her arms. “You shouldn’t listen to those people.”
“I know,” Ginny replied. “Merlin, Harry, I know that and I don’t listen to them but it starts to get to you after a while and then when something like this shows up in the papers . . . it’s like they were right all along.”
“So you start to believe them instead of putting your faith in me,” Harry said tensely. “You can’t trust me, is that it?”
“No,” she shook her head and looked up at him with tears in her eyes. “No, Harry, that’s not it.”
He let her go and ran his hands through his hair. He sighed and looked up at her, disappointment filling his eyes.
“You of all people know I don’t say things to people and not mean it. When I told you I love you, I meant it. I thought it meant something to you,” he said softly.
“Damn it, Harry, it does mean something to me!” she cried. Her frustration returned full blast and it was like they were back to square one. Did he not understand the sort of pressure she went through? Did he not understand that even though she seemed strong on the outside, she could only take so much? She was only human after all.
He sighed again and sat down on an upside down bucket. His hands were clasped together and his elbows rested on the tops of his knees. “I don’t get it. You trust me yet the moment something in the paper says I’m sneaking around with someone else you automatically believe that and don’t even bother trying to hear my side of the story.”
“You aren’t listening to me!” Ginny snapped and glared at him. “You don’t get it! I told you I’m sorry. I believe you but you aren’t listening to what I am trying to tell you. It is so bloody hard being your girlfriend sometimes I don’t even know why I bother!”
He looked up sharply at her and Ginny immediately regretted her words at the hurt she saw in his face.
“No,” she groaned and fell to her knees. “That’s not what I meant – bloody hell I don’t know what I’m saying anymore!”
She sighed and closed her eyes. They were fighting over what? Those stupid pictures? Some article that had no truth to it? This is exactly what Miriam Nosebury wanted.
“Why are we fighting?” she asked softly. “What are we doing? There’s no reason for us to be here screaming at each other.”
Harry didn’t reply. He looked down at the floor and seemed like he was refusing to look at her.
“I’m sorry. I was being stupid to believe that you could ever do anything like that to me. I don’t know what got into me,” she apologized hoping that this ridiculous argument that she started would end.
Slowly, he raised his gaze to hers. Without a word, he stood and reached inside his robes. He pulled out her wand and handed it back to her.
“I’ve got to go,” he said quietly and made for the door.
“You aren’t staying for the party?” she asked following him. She squinted when he opened the door as the bright light hit her eyes.
“No,” he replied quietly. “I’ve got things to do.”
He began taking off towards the stairs at a brisk pace and Ginny followed him. She grabbed his arm and forced him to stop. He turned and looked at her.
“You know I love you, right?” she asked softly feeling slightly fearful that she just might have ruined things between them. He smiled softly though it didn’t quite meet his eyes.
“I know,” he replied. He kissed her gently on the side of her mouth and without another word, he took off.
Ginny watched his descending back, her eyes filling with tears once more. Things were not okay between them. She had messed things up and she was afraid it would never be the same again.
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