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One Look by PrincessPotter

Format: Novel
Chapters: 24
Word Count: 97,453
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Genres: Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lupin, Tonks, Luna, Draco, Fred/George, Ginny, OC
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Draco/Luna

First Published: 12/09/2005
Last Chapter: 05/01/2006
Last Updated: 05/01/2006

Summary:

This is a story of love. A love that is tested; a love that is threatened; but a love that will not be denied. Can Harry and Ginny find their way back to each other after an old enemy tears them apart and defeat the new enemy who is determined to destroy them? A romance. What is a love story without angst and trouble really? ;) Hope you enjoy. *In the coming months, this story will be reworked and re-edited, but feel free to enjoy as is for now*


Chapter 1: Back to the Burrow
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This story takes place after HBP… I do not own any of the characters, etc. J.K. Rowling is the master of it all. It follows the Canon somewhat, but obviously I added and changed what I needed for this story to make sense… One thing I will point out is that I have aged everyone, making Harry 17 at the end of HBP (the beginning of this story), about to turn 18; Ginny 16 turning 17 etc… Just pretend that you start Hogwarts at 12... I felt like the situations in the story worked better if they were a little older... so.. a little long winded but I hope you get the point. Also, I just feel the need to point out that there are mature situations in this story, so if at any time you feel that you would be grounded if caught reading it, this probably isn't the story for you. That said, happy reading. :)



After Dumbledore’s funeral Harry returned to the Dursley’s for one week. He had promised Dumbledore that he would return and so he did, showing up on their doorstep a few days after the funeral.

“What, you’re not dead yet?” his uncle had grumbled when he opened the door.

They hadn’t bothered to pick him up when he arrived at the train station so he had caught a taxi. He didn’t waste his breath telling them what had happened because he knew they wouldn’t care and headed straight to his room.

He stayed in his room most of the time, counting down the days until he got to return to the Burrow. Hermione had given him instructions for a potion that would fix his vision and he worked on making it so that he wouldn’t need his glasses. He practiced his spells and went for a run each morning. He filled his time preparing for the task ahead of him… finding the remaining Horcruxes and bringing down Voldemort before he was killed.

It was only at night, when he was trying to go to sleep that he allowed his thoughts to move to Ginny. He wanted to see her – to be near her and hear her laugh. He knew he had broken up with her to protect her, but that didn’t stop the empty feeling in his stomach. It had been there since he had walked away from her at the funeral and he couldn’t get it to go away.

He couldn’t get the nightmares to go away either. They didn’t happen every night, but when he had them they were powerful. As he slept he would relive the moments of Dumbledore’s death and the scene often morphed into other deaths and situations that he was afraid of. He would wake up trembling, covered with sweat and dread the moment when he fell back to sleep.


~..~..~..~..~..~


Ron and Mr. Weasley arrived early on the morning Harry was supposed to leave with them. Harry was packed and waiting in the living room, his aunt and uncle sitting stiffly across from him. Dudley refused to come down after hearing that more of “his kind” were going to be there.

Harry didn’t bother saying goodbye; he just nodded and walked out the door, happy to never see them again. A part of him was almost a little disappointed to leave for the sheer fact that he knew they were miserable when he was there.

They arrived at the Burrow around noon and Mrs. Weasley ran out to meet them, pulling Harry into a hug. “Harry dear! I’m so glad you’re here! You know, I just couldn’t feel good about you going back to that horrible place, I don’t care what Dumbledore wanted.”

“It wasn’t too bad,” Harry told her, his eyes drifting behind her, looking for Ginny but not finding her. He couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed that she hadn’t come out to meet him, even though he knew he had no right to feel that way and no reason to expect it.

Mrs. Weasley ushered them all into the house where they found Hermione in the kitchen, putting snacks out on the table.

“Harry! You’re here!” she exclaimed, pulling him into a hug. “How was it? Were they horrible? How about your cousin, was he bigger than ever? And what about the potion…” Harry laughed as she continued to rattle off questions and held her away from him.

“Ok Hermione, take a breath, it was fine… are these for me?” he asked, grabbing a biscuit from the table.

They stood around talking and eating snacks for a few minutes before Ginny came into the room, stopping short when she saw him. She had been planning on being gone when he arrived, but apparently that wasn’t going to work now. How are they already here? Hermione said they weren’t going to get him until noon.

He was laughing at a story Ron was telling about visiting Fred and George but he trailed off when he saw her. It had only been a week but it felt like he hadn’t seen her for months and he took in the sight of her. She looks bloody gorgeous he thought as his gaze traveled over her. She hadn’t straightened her hair, and is fell in soft curls, framing her face, and she had on a denim skirt and a green halter, the color enhancing her hair. He could tell she was uncomfortable as she ran a hand through it and bit her lip. She always does that, he thought.

“Ginny!” Mrs. Weasley said, ushering her into the room, “Look, Harry’s here!” Ginny walked uncertainly forward and Harry ran a hand convulsively through his hair as she approached.

“Hi Harry,” she said giving him a quick hug.

“Hi,” he said, his hands lingering on her sides as she stepped back. His hand went to his hair again as he looked at her.

“You’re not wearing your glasses,” she said after a minute.

“Um, yeah, no Hermione found a potion for me…”

“I like it,” she said and he suddenly felt about ten feet tall.

“Thanks,” he replied with a small smile. Ron was busy eating and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had started talking across the room but Hermione watched the exchange with a smirk and a raised eyebrow. He is such a guy, she thought, giving it about three days before he caved. She glanced at Ron who was happily munching on a biscuit, oblivious to the situation and rolled her eyes.

“Ginny, weren’t you headed to Luna’s?” she said loudly.

“Oh yeah,” Ginny said, breaking her gaze away from Harry. “I was just leaving.”

“Oh, um, what are you guys going to do?” Harry asked, wishing she wasn’t leaving.

“We’re going with Neville and Dean to see a muggle movie.” Harry felt a surge of jealously roar to life in him at Dean’s name but he shoved it down, reminding himself that he didn’t get a say in who she hung out with. Even so, his eyes narrowed as she left the room. “Nice to see you Harry,” she said as she walked out. She had seen the change in him when she had mentioned what she was going to do. She saw his eyes flash and couldn’t help smiling a little as she left.

“Why’s she hanging out with that prat?” Harry mumbled to Ron and Hermione, but more to himself really. Ron just shrugged while Hermione rolled her eyes, deciding to ignore the huge opening he had given her to remind him it was his own fault.


~..~..~..~..~..~


The trio of friends, Harry Ron and Hermione, hadn’t told anyone of their plan not to return to school except for Ginny. With this in mind they made a big show of Hermione forcing them to study for the N.E.W.T. exams to explain why they were outside practicing magic most of the day. Arthur and Molly were busy with auror activities and actually didn’t care what they were doing as long as they never left the yard. Even Hermione was a little surprised that they so easily bought the idea that Ron would spend his summer studying.

They spent almost all of their time researching and learning any sort of spell they thought might give them a better chance of survival once they left. Harry didn’t see much of Ginny during the day and was thankful for it. He couldn’t help wondering what she was doing though, and ignored the itch to go find her.

The worst part of each day was dinner, when Mrs. Weasley insisted that they eat together. “As a family,” she would say. Each night it got harder for Harry not to stare at Ginny across the table. They each talked as if nothing was wrong, but Harry couldn’t seem to draw his eyes away from her mouth as she spoke, and often found himself not paying attention to the rest of the conversations around him as he glanced over at her.

Across the table Ginny was having a similar problem. She had quickly grown to hate dinner time; hated being near him and hearing him talk. She couldn’t seem to focus on her food, her eyes drawn towards him like a magnet. This dance would go on until eventually they would catch each other’s eyes; look away after a minute and stare determinedly into their plates for the rest of the meal.

Overall though, Harry felt like things were going well at the Burrow. All I have to do is make it through Bill’s wedding and then I’m in the clear he thought as he walked up the stairs one evening. He was lost in his thoughts and didn’t notice the bathroom door open until Ginny walked into him. His arm went around her as they stumbled.

“Oh!” Ginny said as they collided.

“Oh, um… sorry,” he said awkwardly at the same time… suddenly the hall felt very small and Ginny seemed way too close to him. He dropped his arm and stepped back as she looked up at him.

“That’s ok,” she said, “umm… so, what are you doing? Going to bed?” Harry stared at her lips as she spoke…

“Um, yeah, I guess so,” he replied, trailing off. They fell into an awkward silence, neither knowing what to say, but also not really wanting to leave.

Finally Ginny said, “So, when are you guys leaving?” Harry reached up and pushed a piece of hair out of her face, tucking it behind her ear as he said, “after the wedding.” He trailed his finger along her jaw, following its movement with his eyes. Heat filled his stomach at her nearness and he groaned inside, wanting it to be his lips touching her and not his finger.

“Do you know what you’re going to do?” she asked, her voice taking on a breathy quality, distracted by his unexpected touch. Harry brought his eyes back up to hers and dropped his hand.

“I’m still deciding.” They stared at each other, knowing they weren’t just talking about his task…

Harry ran a hand through his hair distractedly and cleared his throat. “We have a couple of ideas though,” he said, forcing the conversation out of dangerous territory. Ginny heard the change in his voice and knew that he had shut himself off.

“Well,” she said, biting her lip as she paused. Harry felt his mouth go dry as he watched her, suddenly unable to see anything outside of her lips. “I guess I’m going to go to bed then,” she said after a minute, moving to get around him. He grabbed her arm, stopping her.

“Ginny wait, I… I just wanted to say…” he trailed off as she looked up at him, waiting for him to continue. Her eyes were trusting and soft and he felt himself drowning in them as he stared at her. Ginny felt her heart beat faster as she stared up at him; captivated by his eyes. He was looking at her the way he always did, the way that no one else ever looked at her. Harry couldn’t think of anything to say, he just didn’t want her to leave…

So he dipped his head and kissed her. After days of trying to avoid it, trying to deny it, they sank into each other, filling in what had been missing. For the first time since arriving at the Burrow, Harry felt home. Ginny wrapped her arms around his neck as he pulled her against him, kissing her deeply. This is not good, Harry thought vaguely as he backed her up into the wall. Harry moved his hand up to cup her face as he kissed her. He moaned softly as his tongue mingled with hers, and he pushed her more firmly against the wall.

Things were getting more heated when Mrs. Weasley’s voice yelled up the stairs, “GINNY?” Harry jumped away from her as if burned, backing up until he ran into the other wall. They stared at each other, breathing heavily… “Oh there you are,” Mrs. Weasley said as she appeared at the top of the steps, “I just wanted to remind you that we are fitting your dress tomorrow… Oh, hello Harry dear. What are you two doing in the hall?” she asked, looking back and forth between them. Harry opened his mouth to respond but no sound came out.

“Nothing mum,” Ginny said, pushing off from the wall, “just talking. What time tomorrow?” Harry mumbled something about going to bed as they talked and hurried to the safety of Ron’s room, sinking onto his bed.

He sat there, resting his elbows on his knees and holding his head. He was horrified with himself; not because he had kissed her, but because of his thoughts as he had held her… I don’t just care about her, I… love her. He already knew that he loved her, but it hadn’t seemed so present before. It had been some abstract thing that didn’t matter if he could avoid her. She had felt so good, so right in his arms it had suddenly hit him that he would do anything for her… anything to protect her – making her the perfect weapon against him.

The door opened and she was there. He hadn’t looked up but he knew it was her. “Harry?” she said from the doorway.

“Go away Ginny,” he said, not looking at her. She walked over to him and waited.

When he didn’t look up she reached out, running her fingers through his messy hair. “Harry, maybe we should rethink our arrangement… I could go with you… I could help you…”

“No,” he said, still not looking at her.

“Harry, I know you’re trying to protect me, but there’s no reason that…” Before she could finish he had stood up, his hands cupping her cheeks, and she was startled by the intensity of his eyes.

“I’m not getting you killed,” he hissed… “The people I love die, and I won’t let you be one of them.”

She opened her mouth to respond but he silenced her with a kiss, holding her face in his hands.

Her hands went to his wrists and she rose up on her toes kissing him back, meeting his desire with her own. After a second he pushed her away, breathing heavily and shaking his head. “I… I’m sorry… I love you Ginny and I won’t -”

“I love you too,” she said, cutting him off. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to move away but she moved quickly back to him, running her hands over his face and kissing him. “I love you so much Harry.”

Harry felt like he was being torn in two as he kissed her back. He wanted to be with her so much it hurt, but he was afraid. He couldn’t get her killed. Harry let himself sink into the heat of the kiss, kissing her desperately, exploring her mouth with his tongue as she moaned.

After a minute he broke away. He reached up and pulled her hands away from his face and held her away from him. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” he said softly, he said, keeping his eyes down, unable to look at her.

“I will not add you to the list of people who have been killed because of me… my parents, Sirius, Dumbledore… I won’t do it… I’m sorry but I’m right and I’m not going to change my mind.”

Ginny’s felt her eyes fill with tears and she blinked them back. She pulled her right hand out of his and cupped his cheek, forcing him to look at her. “Harry you are not responsible for their deaths. Why can’t you see that?” Harry took in a shaky breath, seeing her unshed tears. “People make their own choices… and you’re not right. We’re all in danger now, no matter who loves who, or who is with who, or whatever… You can shake your head no all you want Harry Potter, but you are not right about this….”

“If, you really believe,” she said stepping closer to him, “we are not all going to make it, that we are probably going to die, why are we not enjoying the happiness we have while we still can?” He was silent as he looked at her. She stared back at him for a minute, studying his face. She could tell he was fighting it, but the want in his eyes didn’t match his words. “If you stop letting yourself live he’s already won,” she said softly. She took another step closer and he began to panic. “You should just give up now Harry, you know I’m going to change your mind…”

“Gin,” he said weakly as she brought her face closer to his… his heart was pounding as she cupped his cheek in her hand and rose up on her toes. He was saved as the door opened and Ron walked in, stopping in the doorway. Ginny dropped her hand and took a step back…

“Hey, what’s going on in here? I thought you guys weren’t talking?” Ron asked, arching his brow.

“We aren’t,” Harry said, not taking his eyes off of Ginny as she looked at him. He swore he heard Ginny mutter “yet” under her breath as she turned and walked out of the room and when she was gone he fell back onto the bed with a frustrated sigh.


Chapter 2: Resisting Ginny
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Harry sat at the table with Ron and Hermione the next morning, eating breakfast and planning their day. Although they had passed their apparation tests, both Harry and Ron felt they needed more practice… Harry was just suggesting that they train by the lake when he trailed off. Ginny had entered the room, wearing cut-offs and a green tank top. Looking gorgeous of course, Harry thought as he stared at her, his eyes traveling over her.

He cleared his throat and forced his gaze away from her, trying to continue where he had left off. Ron was busy eating and hadn’t noticed his pause but Hermione was smirking at him from across the table and he quickly looked down, focusing on his plate. Ginny said hello as she approached, grabbing a piece of toast from the table as she went. When she got to Harry she leaned down. He felt her beside him and her words from last night popped into his head for the thousandth time… If you stop letting yourself live he’s already won… She turned his head up with her hand and kissed him lightly... “Morning Harry.” Harry froze; his body tensing and he gaped at her in shock as she walked out the door as though nothing had happened.

“Hey,” Ron said from across the table, “What was that?”

“Yeah Harry,” Hermione continued, “I thought you weren’t together…” Harry stared at them.

“We’re not!” he sputtered, looking back towards the door Ginny had just gone through.

“Well, apparently you need to remind Ginny of that then,” Hermione replied and Harry groaned.

“Oh man… I’m in trouble… I think she has decided that my breaking up with her was a bad idea…”

“Well…” Hermione began, but he cut her off as he stood up.

“Don’t even start Hermione, come on let’s go.”

When the trio arrived at the lake they began apparating from one side to the other. They were having a fine time until about 15 minutes in, when Ginny walked to a tree nearby with a book and a blanket. Harry groaned inwardly when he saw her approach, knowing she was up to something. He tried to ignore her, focusing on trying to distract Ron while he apparated, making sure he could do it successfully at any moment. This was probably one of those moments that they would look back on when they were older and wonder how no one got hurt, since none of them would have known what to do if they actually hadn’t apparated successfully.

Holy crap he thought a few seconds later, dropping his arms and totally forgetting to distract Ron… Ginny was undressing by the tree. His mouth went dry as he watched her pull off her shirt and shorts, revealing a red bikini with white flowers. His eyes narrowed and he stalked towards her, muttering under his breath as he went. She was just sitting down when he got to her side. “Ginny,” he said lowly, “what are you doing? This isn’t going to work.”

She looked up at him and reclined back on her elbows, stretching out her legs… Heat erupted in Harry’s stomach as his eyes traveled down her body, and his mind traveled to the gutter. She had always been petite, but quiddich had been good for her and Harry couldn’t help appreciating her flat stomach and lean legs as his eyes moved over her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about Harry, I just came here to read a book. I can’t help it if you’re here too.” He rolled his eyes and leaned down, pulling her up by the arm. “ugh… Harry!”

“What’s going on?” Hermione asked as she and Ron walked up.

“I’ll be right back,” Harry said, before he turned on his heel and he and Ginny disappeared with a pop.

They appeared a second later in Ginny’s room in a heap on her bed. “Oh bloody hell,” Harry said as he moved to untangle himself while Ginny started laughing.

“Well Harry,” she said as she giggled, “at least you didn’t splinch us. But you need to work on your aim.”

She grabbed his shirt as he moved away and pulled him back on top of her. “Unless this is where you were aiming,” she whispered as she pulled his head down. She’s trying to kill me Harry thought as he kissed her, acutely aware of the fact that she was practically naked beneath him. For a second he kissed her back, trailing his hand down her side before he pushed off of her with a groan and rolled quickly off the bed. Ginny sat up and swung her legs off the bed with a huff. “Harry, this is crazy, you’re the one who brought us up here.”

Harry ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, to get you away from the lake so you couldn’t distract me!”

“Distract you? Well that certainly doesn’t seem to be my best plan, since a second ago I was beneath you, practically naked and you didn’t even notice!”

Harry folded his arms over his chest, “trust me Ginny, I noticed.” Ginny started to stand up but he backed away. “Stay away from me Gin. I mean it.” She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow but remained silent. He couldn’t help running his eyes over her once more before spinning on his heel and disappearing.

Ginny was fuming as she jerked the knot free behind her back and pulled her top over her head, throwing it on the floor. On top of everything her book was still by the lake and there was no way she was going to get it now. She walked to her closet to get clothes as she pulled her hair into a knot on top of her head.

“And one last thing,” Harry said reappearing in front of her but he promptly shut his mouth as she screamed, dropping her hair and clamping her arms across her chest. Harry panicked and spun around so that he couldn’t see her, trying to speak but he ended up looking a little like a fish, opening and closing his mouth without making a sound… “um, nothing… never mind,” he finally managed to get out before disappearing.

Ginny sank down onto her bed, completely horrified but oddly fighting not to laugh.

They didn’t see each other for the rest of the day, and Ginny ate in her room at dinner. Mrs. Weasley made Ron help with cleaning up and shooed Harry and Hermione from the kitchen, so they made their way to the den. Harry sank into the big chair by the fire to wait for Ron to play wizards chess and after a few minutes Hermione abandoned him to go read in her room; saying something about Helga Hufflepuff’s hometown.

Ginny met Hermione on the stairs as she headed down to find the book that had been left by the lake. “Have a nice day?” Hermione asked with a small smile. Ginny looked at her.

“I’ve had better.” Hermione laughed at this.

“Well, I can tell you that Harry was in quite a mood when he came back…”

“I’ll bet,” Ginny muttered under her breath as Hermione continued.

“But don’t worry, you’re wearing him down. Where are you going now?”

“My book… it was left by the lake, I was going to get it,” Ginny told her.

“Oh, I brought that in… it’s in the den on the bookshelf,” Hermione replied, continuing up the stairs with a small smile. It’s for his own good she thought. She knew Ginny was good for him, especially with what he was soon going to have to face. Dumbledore always said that love was his greatest weapon and she was helping Ginny give him that.

Harry gazed into the fireplace and his mind wandered back to the scene in Ginny’s room, focusing, to his annoyance on her appearance. He huffed and got up, moving towards the door to go find Ron. The door opened and he gave a sigh of relief, “about time mate.” But it wasn’t Ron who entered the room, it was Ginny. She stopped inside the door when she saw him.

“Oh, hi, I’m sorry I was just…Hermione said…” she trailed off, not sure whether to be mad at Hermione or thank her.

“I thought you were Ron,” he said, shoving his hands into his pockets. She smiled and cocked her head to the side.

“So I gathered, mate.” She studied him for a minute, as though trying to decide what to do. Finally she said, “Harry… I think not being together is a terrible idea…”

Oh God, here we go, Harry thought as he replied, “I know you do Ginny, you have told me… but you can’t always get what you want… it’s not safe.”

Ginny’s eyes widened at his words and she broke into a slow smile, beginning to move towards him… “Actually Harry, I am the only girl in my family… the baby girl in fact… and I usually get exactly what I want.” Oh damn Harry groaned inwardly, beginning to back away from her as she approached. Why can’t I keep my bloody mouth shut? He looked around for an escape route but found nothing…

As Ginny approached, Harry backed up until his legs hit the big cushioned chair behind him and he sank into it… “Ginevra,” he warned her as she came to a stop in front of him. He started to stand back up but she put her hands on his shoulders as she climbed into his lap. “Ginny…” he began again as she settled against him…

“Yes Harry?” she asked innocently…

“What do you think you are doing?” he asked.

Ginny shifted in his lap… not good he thought, trying not to react… He kept his hands clamped on the arm rests, fighting the urge to wrap them around her. “Well Harry, I’m just settling into this chair by the fire for awhile. What are you doing?” she asked innocently… so innocently in fact that he couldn’t help rolling his eyes are her…

“Ginny,” he began once again… trying to sound authoritative… “We have been over this… we can’t be together… this obviously means that you can’t sit with me – certainly not on me… this is totally inappropriate…” Ginny snorted…

“Inappropriate? How old are you Harry? You sound like someone’s grandmother…”

“I mean it Ginny,” he said, a little desperation creeping into his tone… “I don’t want you sitting here… so… so get off!” Ginny looked up at him and ran her hand up his neck until it was cupping his cheek.

“Shhhhh” she murmured softly, pulling him down into a soft, lingering kiss. He didn’t even try to fight as she raised her lips to his… Oh man he thought in dismay, I am totally sunk…

After a minute she pulled away and said, “Harry – You are bigger than me… you are stronger than me… If you didn’t want me near you, if you didn’t want me with you, I wouldn’t be in this chair with you right now.” Harry raked his hand through his hair in frustration.

“It’s not about want Ginny! I’m trying to protect you! Don’t you get it? You are a target if we are together!” How does she not get this?

“You know what I think Harry?” she said, tracing the edge of his collar with her finger…

“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me Gin,” he replied, swatting her hand away, “and stop trying to distract me… I’m trying to be serious here!”

Ginny sighed and sat up until their faces were even… “I think, since you are obviously dying to hear it, that you are looking at this the wrong way love,” she said, cocking her face to the side again… “Anyone who wants to hurt you knows that you are crazy about me.”

He huffed at this, trying to act as if it wasn’t true but failed miserably, and she smiled, kissing him again. “Even if we are not together, they would still know…” She leaned back into him, nestling her head into his shoulder.

“It is written all over your face when you look at me,” she continued, dropping her voice to a whisper. “It’s in your eyes… You are the only person naïve enough to believe that breaking up puts me in any less danger…”

Harry sighed, giving in for the moment. She has a point he thought, not one that makes me feel any better but a point none the less. He nestled his head against her hair, breathing in her scent… roses, he thought… always roses… His arms snaked around her, pulling her closer. He didn’t have the energy to fight her, and he didn’t really want to. He just kept hearing her words, It’s in your eyes… if you stop letting yourself live he’s already won… He shut his eyes and kissed her hair. She will be at Hogwarts. She will be as safe as she can be. “You are a piece of work, you know that Miss Weasley?”

“I know,” she said with a small smile, watching the flames in the fireplace, “But you love me anyway Mr. Potter…” His heart swelled at her words and he lifted her face with his finger, gazing down at her with adoring eyes.

“Yes I certainly do,” he said softly and kissed her gently.

“See?” she said smiling… “crazy about me, just like I said.” Harry chuckled and leaned his head down to capture her lips again.

“Oh good grief! Get a room!” Ron said, coming into the room and plopping down on the sofa. The couple in the chair ignored him, smiling as they continued kissing. “I mean seriously, if this is how you act when you’re broken up I am certainly glad you aren’t together anymore…”


Chapter 3: The Gift of Love
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The rest of Harry’s time at the Burrow passed quickly. He spent the days with Ron and Hermione practicing spells and charms by the lake; learning anything they thought would help them. Ginny began joining them, because Harry wanted her to know what they knew, wanted her to be stronger and more able to protect herself, just in case. Both of them were actually having a lot of success with some elementary wandless magic, making things move without their wands. He spent the evenings with Ginny, almost always ending the day curled up by the fire in the den.

A few days before the wedding Ginny asked Harry to meet her in the den after everyone had gone to bed.

When he arrived he found her sitting on the sofa watching the flames in the fireplace. He watched the light reflecting off of her hair for a minute before he entered. He walked up quietly behind her and she turned, smiling up at him. “Hey,” she said softly, standing up.

He leaned down and kissed her. “What are we doing here?” he whispered when he brought his head back up. She smiled and led him to the loveseat, sitting him down.

“I have something for you,” she said.

“Oh yeah?” he said, pulling her onto him. “Am I going to like it?” he asked huskily and she laughed softly as his lips found he neck and she sighed as he kissed her skin, running his hands over her thighs and pulling her closer. It was his turn to sigh though, when she pushed off of him and went around to the other side of the sofa. He crossed his arms and pretended to pout as he craned his neck and watched her but she just laughed at him.

She came back around and sat on the loveseat, tucking her legs under her so that she was sitting facing him. His eyes lit up when he saw that she was holding a cupcake with a candle and he shifted to face her. “What’s this?”

“It’s your birthday party.”

“But it’s not my birthday yet love.”

“I know that,” she said, dipping her finger into the icing, “but you won’t be here for you birthday so make a wish.”

Harry stared at her for a second. The fire was behind her and it was doing fascinating things to her hair. He took a breath and blew out the candle, keeping his eyes on her face. She smiled and brought her finger to his lips. He opened his mouth and she slipped the tip inside and he closed his lips around it. He saw her eyes sparkle for him as he licked the icing off and she drew her finger out.

“What did you wish for?” she asked, a little breathless.

Harry dipped his own finger into the icing and leaned forward, scooting toward her on the sofa. “I can’t tell you,” he whispered, “or it won’t come true.”

“Oh,” she managed as he slipped his finger into her mouth. His mouth went dry and all coherent thoughts vanished from his brain as she grabbed his hand, keeping her eyes locked on his as she slid his finger all the way into her mouth and swirled her tongue around it before slowly drawing it out again.

She leaned back against the side of the couch as Harry moved to his knees, leaning over her. “Do you want your present?” she asked when his lips were inches from hers.

“Yeah,” he nodded, his eyes flashing as he moved his face closer, his lips grazing hers. They kissed almost teasingly, their tongues and lips barely touching as they danced together. When Harry lifted his head a little to look at her Ginny moved to get off the sofa but he stopped her and she looked back up at him. “I’ll get it later,” he said softly.

He took the cupcake from her and set it on the end table behind her. He dipped his finger into the icing again and brought it to her lips, but when she opened her mouth he put it into his own instead, licking the icing off. Her eyes flashed and he smiled cheekily before kissing her deeply, sharing the sweetness with her.

Ginny moved her hand to his hair; drawing him to her as his hands traveled over her. As the heat built between them Ginny shifted so that he could settle against her. They stayed together, exploring each other with their hands and mouths. When Harry lost all control of where he did and didn’t move his hands he knew they needed to stop. Although he wanted to be with her, this was neither the time nor the place. He reveled in the sounds she was making for him for a few more seconds before he pulled away, looking down at her. Her eyes were dark with passion and her lips were swollen. “I love you so much,” he whispered.

She smiled up at him. “I love you too.”

He pulled her up as he shifted back, moving her until she was cradled in his lap. She moved away from him and grabbed the cupcake before settling back against him. He kissed her temple and rested his chin on the top of her head. “If that was my present I think it should almost be my birthday every day of the year,” he said, and she broke off a piece of cake and handed it to him with a soft laugh. She gave him his real present to open and they finished the cupcake, sitting together, content and whole.

~..~..~..~..~

Bill’s wedding went by without a hitch. Fleur looked beautiful but it was Ginny who took Harry’s breath away when he saw her in her dress. “You look amazing love,” he said when he met her in the hall. He pulled her towards him and kissed her neck.

“Thank you,” she smiled, bending her head to the side to give him more access. “But lilac really doesn’t go with my hair… How Phlegm chose this color when half the wedding party is a Weasley is beyond me…”

“I thought you weren’t calling her that anymore,” he said with a smile against her skin and she huffed.

“Only when she doesn’t do stupid things like this. I mean look at me, it is hideous…”

“Nuh-huh,” Harry replied, trailing kisses down her neck to her shoulder. “You look perfect.” Ginny laughed, pushing him away.

“Ok, now I know you’re lying.”

He raised his head, looking into her eyes. “No,” he said with complete seriousness. “I’m not.”

She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him. “Well then, I guess what they say is true…” she said between kisses.

“And what do they say?” he asked against her lips. She smiled against him as she answered, “that love is blind.” He laughed and picked her up, pulling her more firmly against him and kissing her swiftly before leading her downstairs. He spent most of the day trying to get her alone, but Fred and George seemed determined to thwart him and he finally gave up, vowing revenge on them.

That night sleeping quarters were crazy because Mrs. Weasley had invited so many family members to stay over. Harry and Ron found themselves on pallets in the den, their room given to the older, more important guests. “Now my room is going to smell like Aunt Muriel forever,” Ron grumbled about their treatment and Harry was right there with him, not wanting to spend the night on the floor.

Harry was trying to go to sleep when a piece of paper floated into the room and landed on his chest. He read it quickly and smiled. “Can’t sleep. Meet me outside” it said. He looked over at Ron, who had begun to snore and quietly made his way outside.

“Ginny?!” he whispered when he got outside. He didn’t see her and began moving slowly away from the house. He found her sitting under a tree a few yards away from the back door. She jumped up when she saw him and ran towards him. She jumped into his arms when she reached him, wrapping her legs around his stomach. He caught her and held her up as her lips found his. “Hi,” she said with a smile after a minute.

“Hi yourself,” he said back with a grin.

His eyes were flashing with desire and Ginny kissed him again, meeting his tongue with her own. After a few minutes Ginny dragged her lips away and Harry groaned in protest. She climbed down from him and took his hand, drawing him away from the house. “Come on, we have more important things to do,” she said as they walked.

She’s mental, he thought as he followed her. “What could possibly be more important than what we were just doing?” he asked in mock shock.

“You’ll see” she said with a laugh.

She led him back to the tree and leaned down, scooping up the brooms she had left there and tossing his at him. “Aaahhh, you really know the way to a guy’s heart,” he said as he caught it.

“It’s a gift,” she sighed dramatically, causing him to chuckle. She leaned up and kissed him softly. “Fly with me,” she whispered against his lips before jumping on her broom and zooming off. He was right behind her.

They flew for awhile, racing each other and looping around. Flying was a release for both of them, and they moved together, following the patterns of the other. Eventually they landed on the roof, windblown and glowing. They sat down and Harry wrapped his arm around her waist, drawing her closer to him. They stayed together, talking about nothing and everything. After awhile they laid back, watching the stars. “How are you nightmares?” she asked after a few minutes.

“All right; they haven’t been as frequent since I got here actually,” he replied.

“Are they still about Dumbledore?”

“Mostly,” he said. She looked at him, watching his profile.

“What does that mean?”

He turned his head toward her, seeing the worry in her eyes. He reached over and brushed a stray hair out of her face before answering. “It means it’s not always Dumbledore I see dying… sometimes its Ron and Hermione… sometimes it’s you.”

She reached up and traced her fingers over his face, and he closed his eyes. “I’m so sorry Harry.”

He opened his eyes and smiled at her. He didn’t want to think about his dreams or his fears right now. “It’s ok, they’re just dreams. Let’s talk about something else…”

Eventually they fell into a comfortable silence and just watched the sky. Ginny fell asleep first, and Harry held her for awhile, thinking about what he was about to go do.

The worry that had been niggling at the back of his mind for several days returned as he watched her sleep. I’m asking her to wait for me when most likely I won’t make it through this, he thought. He knew she loved him and that she would wait, but part of him believed that he shouldn’t allow her to do that; shouldn’t allow her to worry and wait for someone who probably wasn’t coming back.

He pushed the thoughts aside, not willing to face the alternative and woke her. “Ginny,” he said, and her eyes fluttered open.

“Hmmm?” she replied, snuggling into him.

“It’s time to go back inside love, unless you want to explain to your entire family what we are doing on the roof tomorrow.” She groaned in protest but got up. She sat on his broom with him as he lowered them both to the ground.

They moved quietly back into the house and Harry kissed her goodnight at the stairs before creeping back into the den and falling into a sound sleep.

Before they knew it, the chaos from the wedding was gone and so was their time. It was time for the trio to head out.


Chapter 4: I'd Wait Forever
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The night before they were supposed to leave Harry stared at the ceiling in bed, unable to sleep. He shifted onto his side, trying to get more comfortable but it was no use. He let out a frustrated sigh and rolled over, trying his other side. He couldn’t sleep. Thoughts of what was going to happen tomorrow and thoughts of Ginny kept whirling around in his brain. He heard Ron snoring, having fallen asleep almost immediately and suddenly hated him with a passion, the bloody git can sleep through anything, he thought. He grabbed his wand from his dresser and threw a silencing charm at him before flipping back over and trying again. The silence was just too unnatural after years of hearing Ron’s snores from across the room and after a few minutes Harry removed the charm and turned onto his back, his frustration mounting.

Finally, he threw his covers off of him and sat up. He got up slowly, listening for any change in Ron’s snores as he moved. He opened the bedroom door slowly and had a mild heart attack when it creaked. His head jerked towards Ron when he heard him shift in his bed at the sound. Harry let out a slow calming breath as it became clear that Ron hadn’t woken, and crept into the hall. When he reached Ginny’s door he stopped, unsure of whether to continue. After a minute he threw caution to the wind and turned the knob slowly. The only light in the room came from the window, as a strip of moonlight fell across the bed at angle, casting the room in a gentle blue light.

God she’s beautiful even when she’s asleep, he thought as he came to a stop next to her bed. Ginny was sleeping peacefully, her red hair framing her face on the pillow and her sheets pushed down to her waist. Harry’s breath caught as he watched her. He could see her breathing in and out slowly, one arm folded behind her head and the other resting on her stomach. As he stood there she shifted in her sleep, as if making room for him on the bed. Slowly Harry leaned down and slipped under the covers and into the bed with her.

“What the!” Ginny mumbled groggily as she woke, moving automatically away from the person beside her.

“Shhhh” Harry said, as he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her back down beside him.

“Harry” she said softly, melting into him… “What are you doing here?” He shifted up on his side and gazed down at her. She just looked at him as he cupped her cheek in his hand. His emerald eyes were bright and shining at her through the darkness around him.

“So beautiful” he murmured as he leaned in and caught her lips in a lingering kiss. Breaking away after a minute, Harry snaked his arm back around her waist and shifted her, pulling her over until her back was settled against his chest. “I couldn’t sleep,” he said into her ear, as if that made it ok for him to be in her bed with her parents down the hall.

Now on her side, Ginny’s eyes went the picture of them that was sitting on her nightstand. It had been taken at Hogwarts and they were sitting under a tree by the lake. Ginny was sitting in between Harry’s legs, her back against his chest and his arms wrapped around her. At they moment they sleeping peacefully and Ginny watched as Harry pulled her closer, resting his head on hers. Ginny looked away, her vision suddenly blurry and snuggled against the Harry behind her.

“I’m leaving tomorrow,” he whispered as she snuggled deeper into him. He had his arm wrapped around her, with his hand on her stomach. She moved her arm over his, taking his hand.

“I know,” she said softly, becoming still.

“I just wanted to be near you,” he whispered as he leaned down and kissed her neck softly. She shivered slightly at his touch and felt the tears she had been fighting all day begin to threaten her again. “I... I don’t know how long we’re going to be gone,” he continued tentatively, talking into her skin. “I know you’ll be at Hogwarts, so you’ll be safe… but… I don’t know what’s going to happen…”

“Harry,” Ginny said, interrupting him.

“No,” he said firmly, pulling her tighter… “I need to say this…. I… I could get killed,” he said, as she tensed. “Who am I kidding; I probably will get killed… I’m not even 18 yet and Voldemort…” he trailed off. “I love you Ginny… I love you with my whole heart, and I want you to be happy. I don’t want you wasting your days wondering where I am… I don’t want you to have wasted your time if I never come back…”

“Harry,” she began again. She tried to shift around but he wouldn’t let her, using his hand to prevent her movement.

“I’m not finished...” he said, and she huffed in frustration. He couldn’t help smiling into her at this.

“What I am trying to say is that I should want those things for you… If I love you I should… I should want you to be safe, and happy, and not waiting around for someone who probably isn’t coming back…” He felt her begin to shake as he spoke. “But I think… I think I am too selfish,” he said, dropping his voice to a whisper. “Because I want you,” he breathed against her, his voice catching in his throat. “I want you to wait for me…” He paused at this, taking in a shuddering breath… “Please wait for me to get back… I know I shouldn’t ask… I probably won’t even come back but… I don’t want to lose you…I don’t know how long it will take but…” he trailed off.

Ginny had begun to cry. She tried again to shift around and this time he let her. She turned over until she was on her side facing him, their heads close together on the pillows. Harry felt his eyes begin to water when he saw her tears. He reached out and pulled her closer until their bodies were touching. “Harry,” She said, kissing him… “You know you don’t have to ask that. I would wait for you forever…” He let out a small sob and leaned his forehead against hers, cupping her cheek with his hand.

“I’m really scared,” he breathed. It was barely audible but she heard him.

“You’re going to come back… I can feel it,” she said, trying not to choke on her words. He began to kiss her, tasting her tears on her lips as he moved against her. At first it was a slow, tender kiss, full of love. Harry felt his longing roar to life inside him and he couldn’t get enough of her. He moved his hand into her hair as he ran his tongue across her lips. Ginny knew what he wanted and opened her mouth, letting him slide his tongue inside.

Ginny moaned softly as he kissed her deeply, rubbing his back with her hand. Maybe it was because it was so late, or maybe it was because she didn’t want him to leave her, but suddenly she felt bold, and moved her hand around to his chest as they kissed. She slid her hand down until she found the hem of his shirt and slipped her hand inside to his skin, slowly running it up his body to his chest. Harry’s stomach jerked at her touch and he groaned into her mouth. Ginny was marveling at how smooth he was when he suddenly rolled with her until she was on her back and he was on top of her.

Harry slid his hands up and down her sides as they kissed, shifting his body more on top of her and pressing into her. He wanted her so badly at this moment that he couldn’t think straight –couldn’t think of the consequences. After a few more kisses Ginny turned her head to the side, breaking the kiss. Harry became still on top of her, “Do you want to stop love? Because we can… that’s fine.” Please don’t say stop, please don’t say stop his hormones chanted, even as he said the words.

Ginny shook her head, looking back at him. “I… I don’t want to stop,” she said, and Harry’s heart soared, “It’s just… It’s just I can’t breathe with you on top of me…” she said, biting her lip, suddenly terribly embarrassed as she felt the heat rise to her cheeks. Harry looked at her for a second and then leaned his head into the crook of her neck and began to laugh…

“Oh... oh Gin, I’m sorry,” he said as he chuckled… Harry hadn’t had much experience with what they were doing, but he had heard older guys talk, and had seen enough to know how to fix the problem… not that he wouldn’t have figured it out easily enough on his own.

“Here,” he said as he rose up on his arms, “This will help…Spread your legs apart love,” he said softly, settling his weight between them as she moved. He placed his forearms on either side of her face to hold his body up a little and leaned down, beginning to kiss her again… “Better?” She nodded, smiling against his lips. As they kissed Ginny moved her hands back inside his shirt, feeling his skin. Harry moved his head down and began kissing her neck deeply. He found the sensitive spot just under her ear, causing Ginny to press her hips up, arching against Harry’s arousal. He clenched his teeth shut at this, trying to control the pleasure that shot through him…

Oh God that feels good, Ginny thought, and raised her hips again, bending her legs a little to make it easier. She gasped out loud at the friction it caused. “Oh God Ginny…” he groaned, trying to keep his body still.

“What? You don’t like it?” she gasped, raising her hips again, curious at his reaction…

“I…” he trailed off as he pushed his hips into her. Oh God, she’s perfect, this is perfect he thought as he pushed against her again. He repeated his actions a few times, kissing her as they began to rock together. Ginny pushed his shirt up and he let her pull it over his head as they moved. He tried to muffle their moans with his mouth as he pushed harder against her, his mind working furiously… Oh God, this is great… no this is terrible… we have to stop… her parents are going to hear us…we have to stop… She moaned his name and he moved his head down to her neck…

He forced his mind to start working. “I… we… we shouldn’t… not here… we’re not ready for this…” he said brokenly… he meant it but he couldn’t help it… he slid his hands down and grasped the back of her thighs. He pulled her legs up as he pushed against her, grinding his hips into hers. He groaned into her neck as she gasped, arching against him and dropping her head back. Their hearts were pounding as the moved together, the intensity of the situation overwhelming them. Oh God, I can’t stop… how am I going to stop… what was I thinking coming in here… I can’t do this and then leave her…

“Ginny,” he groaned into her neck, his mind racing as they rocked together… “We… we have to stop… if we don’t stop, I… I don’t know if… I can’t do this and then leave you…” He felt his control break as she moved beneath him and he slipped his hand into her shirt. Ginny moaned his name as he took her breast in his hand and he didn’t think she had even heard him when suddenly she shoved him up as hard as she could. Harry looked down at her as she held him away, her palms against his chest. Her face was flushed, her eyes filled with fire as she stared up at him, breathing just as hard as he was. She will never look more beautiful than right now,i he thought. His hand was still in her shirt and he rubbed in a circular motion, trying to memorize the way she looked as her eyes darkened and she bit her lower lip, trying to hold back her moan. With a moan of his own he dipped his head, kissing her quickly before rolling off of her. They lay next to each other for a few minutes, both trying to bring their breathing under control. “I… I’m sorry,” he said, “this isn’t why I came in here… I just wanted to be near you before…” As he trailed off Ginny moved her hand towards him and laced her fingers through his.

“You don’t have to leave me,” she said softly…

“Yes I do… you know I do,” he replied, staring at the ceiling…

She looked at him, “you could take me with you.”

Harry closed his eyes, his mouth turning down into a frown. “No… we’ve discussed this Ginny. I’m not taking you… You’re going to Hogwarts where you will be safe.”

“Harry,” Ginny said in frustration, “I will be no safer at Hogwarts than I will be with you… nowhere is really safe with Dumbledore gone… I want to help you… I want to be with you.”

“Gin,” Harry said softly, turning his head to look at her… “You can’t come… I can’t protect you…”

“I don’t need you to protect me Harry,” she said softly, watching his eyes and he gave her a hint of a smile before responding.

“I’m sure you don’t, but I would need to protect you anyway. Don’t you see that if you’re with me, my focus will be you? I’ll be distracted by trying to keep you safe and that will end up getting us both killed… All someone has to do is point a wand at your throat and I would do whatever they wanted to protect you… to save you…”

Ginny stared at him. “Ron and Hermione get to go,” she tried softly… Harry shut his eyes tightly for a minute, trying not to get angry.

“You’re different and you know it Ginny,” he said through clenched teeth.

Ginny knew as she looked at him that he wasn’t going to change his mind. She didn’t want to spend her last moments with him fighting so she brought his hand up and kissed it, causing his eyes to open… “Ok,” she said looking at him, kissing his hand again before dragging it around her, shifting until her back was against his chest, the way they had started. “You win.”

“Well that’s a first,” he said kissing her shoulder as he pulled her more snuggly against him.

“And the last,” she said with a smile, twisting just enough to find his lips for a quick kiss as he chuckled.

They lay together, talking softly about nothing until they drifted off to sleep. “I love you,” Ginny murmured, drawing his hand tighter around her.

“I love you too,” Harry replied softly into her hair, closing his eyes.

~..~..~..~..~

Harry woke as someone shook his shoulder. He opened his eyes and saw Hermione standing over him. She was holding his shirt and she was not smiling. “I’m not going to ask what is going on here,” she hissed, “But you had better get up before Ron wakes or none of us will be leaving today because you will be dead.” He looked down at Ginny, sleeping soundly beside him… No he thought, realizing why Hermione had his shirt, more like on top of me. At some point they had shifted and Ginny was sleeping with her head on his bare chest, her arm and leg draped across him. They were still holding hands. Does she ever not look gorgeous? He thought. With a small smile he slowly pulled his hand from her grasp. He tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and kissed her.

“I’ll see you soon love,” he whispered in her ear before shifting carefully out from under her and getting out of the bed. “Nothing happened,” he whispered to Hermione, seeing the look on her face as they crept from the room.


Chapter 5: Letters
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Ginny didn’t hear anything from Harry for several weeks after he left. No one heard from any of them. Mrs. Weasley was an odd mix of fury and fear, and no matter how many times Ginny tried to tell her she didn’t know that they were leaving, her mother didn’t believe her. As correct as her mother was, there was no way Ginny would ever actually admit it so they finally reached an unspoken truce about the situation; meaning that Ginny stayed in her room until she left for school.

She went back to Hogwarts and began her 6th year classes in a bit of a daze. Her mother had grounded her for the rest of her life but she didn’t care. It was strange being there without Harry… without her brothers… without Dumbledore. She did well in her classes of course. She would sit in the common room at night and do her homework because she didn’t feel like doing much else. She knew that he wouldn’t be able to write a lot, that owls would be too easy to track, but she grew more depressed as the days passed. She couldn’t help it. She missed him and hated not knowing if he was alright.

His first letter arrived at breakfast and Ginny felt like her heart would burst. She skipped her first class to read it. He couldn’t tell her much about what he was doing in case the letter got intercepted, so he filled the letter with questions about her, thoughts on their future and words of love. He told her to stop spending her time by herself, that he had seen her on the marauders map. She wrote him back that night and was in a good mood after that. Somehow getting the first letter had eased her fears. She got three more letters over the next month, each one shorter than the last, but she didn’t mind, getting anything was enough and she wrote him back each time, filling her letters with love. It never occurred to her that he might not have wanted to write back.

It was in November that her world crashed around her. It had been several weeks since his last letter and this one came at breakfast. She waited until after classes to read it. She had been called to Professor McGonagall’s office after the fourth time she had skipped to read his letter and one detention with Filch was enough for her. As she opened the parchment and started reading her eyes widened in shock and she began to have trouble breathing. “Dear Ginny, I don’t know how to say this. I have done a lot of thinking while we have been apart. The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt you, but I just don’t think I can do this any longer. I don’t know how to explain it; I just know in my heart that you aren’t the one. I loved our time together, but this task has made me realize what is and isn’t really important to me. I have watched Ron and Hermione get closer and it occurred to me that I hadn’t really thought about you in weeks. I don’t want to lead you on and think it is best if we stop communicating. I hope you can forgive me one day, I truly believed what I told you before I left, but I don’t know… I guess time apart has made me realize I was wrong. I hope that one day we can be friends again. ~ Harry”

This has to be wrong, she thought as she finished. This is his handwriting, but it must be from someone else… it has to be a trick… She wrote him back with a shaking hand, telling him of the letter and asking if he knew who could have sent it. She told him that she loved him and missed him, unable to believe that he could have written it. As she tried to sleep the words in the letter haunted her…

Harry received a similar letter from Ginny around the same time. He ripped it open, desperate to feel near her, but as he read it his hands started shaking. “Dear Harry, I don’t really know what to say. I took your advice and have been spending more time with my friends. They have been great and really helped to lift my spirits. But I think that’s the problem. It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t really missed you or thought about you in several weeks. This worried me you know? I thought, how can I love you if I never think of you anymore? Never worry about you? Maybe we are just too young and jumped into something too fast. I think that it is better if we stop writing each other. You will be safer that way anyway. I hope one day you can forgive me, I truly believed what I said before you left, but I don’t know… I guess time apart has made me realize I was wrong. Tell Ron hello for me. ~ Ginny

Tell Ron hello? Harry thought in shock… You rip my heart from my body and then ask me to say hello to Ron? This has to be a joke… this has to be a trick… With a shaking hand he wrote her back, telling her about the letter and asking if anything had happened, if she knew who could have sent it. He told her that he loved her and that he couldn’t believe the letter was real.

Neither one received the letter the other had sent. Instead they got letters affirming what the first letter had said. They wrote back frantically several more times, each time more desperate and confused and each time they both received harsher versions of the first letter until they were told not to write back, they there wouldn’t be a response. They were told to grow up, that this was the real world and people change… With each letter, each word that was read, anger at the betrayal by the other built inside of them…

Finally, Harry let Ron read the letters. “How can she do this?” Harry asked as he paced back in front of Ron as he read. “She… she loved me. I loved her.” Ron just kept reading, his eyes widening as he went. Harry just kept talking, tears stinging his eyes and his voice rising with anger… “She promised she would wait! She can’t wait four months? It’s been four months! How can she do this? How can her feelings have changed? And WHAT does she mean in the last one about meeting someone else? Who is she talking about?!?! That is COMPLETE BOLLOCKS!” he raged.

As Ron finished reading he looked up at Harry, a look of pity and confusion in his eyes. “I don’t know Harry… it’s definitely her handwriting,” Ron said, causing Harry to stop walking and look at him as he spoke. “But I don’t understand either, I saw you together, saw the way she looked at you… It was the same way you looked at her… she did love you. But she is right in her letter about one thing, you guys are young; she’s younger than you in fact… maybe it was all just too much for her… And you know feelings can change, you used to like Cho and that didn’t last…”

“That’s totally different and you know it! And we aren’t too young, if anything we are much older than our age! Normal 17, 18 year-olds, whatever, haven’t done what we have – haven’t seen what we’ve seen!” Harry exclaimed beginning to pace around the room again, anger radiating off of him. Suddenly he turned towards Ron. “I want you to write her… I want you to ask her what’s going on. If it’s a trick no one would think to intercept your letter…” Ron looked at him warily,

“Alright Harry, I’ll do it… but lower your voice… and I don’t want you to freak out if you don’t get the response you want… Come on, put the letters away and try to calm down mate, Hermione will be back soon…”

~..~..~..~..~

Back at Hogwarts Ginny was crying on her bed while Luna rubbed her back, reading the letters Ginny had given her. “Oh dear… this is not good,” she murmured as she read, and Ginny’s sobs increased… “Oooh, Harry is not being very nice here,” Luna said softly, running her eyes down the paper. Suddenly Ginny jerked up and Luna gave a startled shriek, dropping the letters….

“Why didn’t I think of it before?” Ginny exclaimed, getting off the bed, wiping the wetness off of her cheeks as she headed to her desk, “I’ll write to Ron. He’ll tell me what’s going on.”

Whoever was writing the letters did in fact think to intercept Ron’s letters. His reply to Ginny assured her that Harry’s letters were real. It told her how sorry he was, that he knew she was hurting but that it would pass. It told her that he trusted Harry’s judgment… that he had talked to him and thought it was best if she stopped writing. As she read it Ginny felt her heart break and a profound sense of emptiness overtook her. She crumpled to the floor and cried until she didn’t have any tears left… she just kept hearing his words… “I want you… I love you with my whole heart… please wait for me… I love you.” Her eyes narrowed as she felt an intense feeling of pain begin to grow within her… He had lied to her, he had betrayed her… and she hated him for it… hated him because she felt stupid for loving him…

Whoever had written the fake letters had been thorough. In reality Harry and Ginny had never received any real letters from each other. Even the earliest ones had been altered, little things added or edited, helping to make everything more believable. As Ginny sat on the floor, her mind remembered things said in the earlier letters that she now took as clues that this would happen. She felt stupid that she hadn’t realized it sooner.

Harry’s response was a little different. Unlike Ginny, who didn’t know where to find him, who had to rely on Ron’s reply for the truth, Harry knew exactly where she was. Even as he read her reply to Ron, affirming the earlier letters and felt his heart begin to crack, he knew she had to tell him to his face… She was his heart, his reason for surviving this and he couldn’t accept the words on the parchment.

So he held his heart together as he made his plan to return to Hogwarts. If she was going to break his heart, she was going to have to look him in the eyes when she did it. “I’m going to Hogwarts,” he announced to Ron.

“Harry,” Ron replied as he watched his friend grab the marauders map and his invisibility cloak out of his bag, “That’s not a good idea… I think you should -” But he was cut off as Harry turned with a pop and disappeared. Brilliant he thought, what am I going to tell Hermione?

~..~..~..~..~

Harry arrived in the Shrieking Shack with a small pop. There wasn’t anyone to hear him since no one ever came near the house, so he didn’t bother to move quietly or put on his cloak. His eyes flashing, he found the secret passageway and began making his way to Hogwarts, watching the map as he went. When he reached the Whomping Willow he slipped the cloak around his shoulders and climbed out. He searched the map again and found her sitting under a tree by herself. Taking a deep breath he turned and stalked towards the lake.

There was some truth in the letters. Maybe that helped to make them more believable. Ginny had been spending more time with her friends, trying to take her mind off of the worry, and the pain that filled her. She had even made a new friend. Logan McKavish was a transfer student she had met a couple of weeks into school. He had been going to Durmstrang but his father decided that with the war, Hogwarts would be safer because it was closer to home. He made her laugh and she found herself spending more and more time with him outside of class. It was easier to be with someone who didn’t know Harry or her brothers. He didn’t ask questions or tell stories that began with “Remember when…”

She was sitting by herself when Logan found her. “There you are Gin,” he said as he approached. “I just heard the best joke and I wanted to tell you…” But he trailed off when he got close enough to see that she was crying. “What’s wrong?” She wiped at her eyes and replied “nothing.” He smiled at her and said, “Well that’s certainly not true… I can’t have my only friend crying – I swear the joke wasn’t going to be that bad…” She smiled in spite of herself at his words and let him pull her up. “Come on,” he said… “I’ll show you something that will cheer you up.”

They didn’t see Harry as they moved but he had seen them. He was just coming over the hill, walking fast when he saw a blonde boy he didn’t know standing over her. He was smiling and talking to her. Harry stopped, his eyes narrowing as he watched the scene. He clenched his teeth and a surge of jealousy shot through him when he saw her raise her head and smile back at the blonde. He was too far from them to notice that her cheeks were still wet with tears and that her smile wobbled.

He watched as if frozen as the boy pulled her up and led her away by the hand. For a minute his body refused to follow orders - his feet felt like they were cemented to the ground. Slowly he began to trail behind the couple as they walked to the edge of the lake. The sun had begun to set, turning the water into a brilliant rainbow of colors. The sun created a similar effect on Ginny’s hair and Harry was mesmerized by it as he followed them. He was behind them as they stood looking at the water and he was jerked back to reality when he saw the blonde slip an arm around her waist, pulling her closer. Harry’s blood began to boil and he suddenly felt an urge to beat the blonde to pulp… How dare he touch her, his mind raged silently as a piece of his heart began to break away… she’s mine.

By the water, Ginny’s head was swimming. “It’s beautiful right?” Logan was saying, but she wasn’t listening. Being by the lake had reminded her of Harry. They had walked here last year, after he had first kissed her. It’s like I can still feel him, she thought… like he’s still here… She felt herself begin to sway and Logan slipped his arm around her waist, steadying her. “Why are you so sad Gin? What’s wrong?” he asked softly as they looked out at the water.

“I don’t want to talk about it right now,” she replied shakily. He looked down at her, trying to decide whether to force her to talk.

He decided she would tell him if she wanted and leaned over, kissing the top of her head. “Ok… you win for now” he said smiling… “But if I see any more tears on your gorgeous face, I get to play hero and kill the person who put them there, deal?” Ginny looked up at his smile and began to smile herself. God she’s hot Logan thought as he looked down at her…

“Deal,” she said, beginning to chuckle, trying to force herself into a good mood. “Are you really going to be my hero Logan?” she said sarcastically. “Somehow you seem like more of a lover than a fighter… what if you mess up your hair? And don’t even try to tell me you don’t spend at least 30 minutes in front of the mirror making it perfect… ” He laughed and pulled her into a hug…

“Why Ginny, are you spying on my in the loo?” Ginny laughed at this…

“Thanks for being a friend Logan… for not making me talk about it…” Ginny said… but her voice cracked and she suddenly began to cry again, nestling her head against his shoulder as he held her. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled through her tears, “I’m not usually a crier… I… I don’t know what’s wrong with me…” This wasn’t like her, she wasn’t weak, and she hated Harry even more for causing it.

Behind them Harry felt like he had just been punched repeatedly. He saw the blonde lean down and kiss her hair… he saw them laughing and talking… he saw the blonde pull her into a hug and Ginny nestle her head against him... He saw all of this, but he couldn’t see her face as they hugged… he couldn’t see her when she started to cry.

Harry couldn’t breathe… his heart had just broken into a thousand pieces. He was shocked as he realized the letters had to be real. This was the someone new she had mentioned. He felt his pain and humiliation begin to morph into anger… into hate… How could she do this he thought? He considered storming over to them and demanding an explanation, but his pride got the better of him. I said everything I could have said in my letters he thought bitterly, I’m not going to let her make me into more of a fool by begging. With one last look he turned on his heal and walked back to the Whomping Willow. He refused to look back.

When Harry returned he refused to talk about what happened, but Ron knew it hadn’t been good. Hermione tried to talk to him, but he brushed her off. She tried asking Ron, but he told her to wait, that Harry would talk about it when he was ready.

As they continued on their search for the Horcruxes Harry became more and more reckless. He refused to let them go first into places, and almost got himself killed on a number of occasions. As they traveled Hermione became increasingly worried about him, frightened by his moods and out of control behavior. Finally she wrote to Ginny, trying to find out what had happened but never received a response. Ginny of course never got the letter at all.

They found one of the Horcruxes in Leceister, Helga Hufflepuff’s home town – just where Hermione had predicted. It was here that Harry came closest to death. He was driven by the rage and pain that filled him, wanting to finish their task and kill Voldemort as quickly as possible.

They had retrieved the cup from the cave they found it in and were making their way out when Harry fell.

Voldemort had protected the cup much like the amulet and someone had to drink the contents before they could remove it from the circle protecting it. Harry had insisted on being the one to do it.

“Harry wait, we should research first. We need to try and figure out what the potion will do,” Hermione said as they stood around it. “What if it kills you?” Harry looked at her and grabbed the cup.

“There will still be two of you left,” he said as he brought it to his lips.

“Harry wait!” Hermione said, reaching for him but it was too late. He fell to his knees as agony shot though him after the first drink. Ron and Hermione dropped to their knees beside him, trying to help him get the rest of it down.

When he finished he could barely stand up. Everything around him was spinning and he was weak from the effects of the magic. He refused help as they climbed back to the entrance and cried out as his foot slipped. Hermione cast a charm that slowed him down as he fell but it was a long drop and he landed in a heap at the bottom.

Using a levitation charm, Hermione and Ron got Harry out of the cave but it was obvious he was in bad shape and beyond their help. “We have to get him to a hospital,” Ron said as it started to rain.

“We can’t Ron. That is too obvious; it will tell everyone where we are and what we are doing because Voldemort will certainly recognize the town.”

Hermione started digging frantically in her bag as Ron replied, “But he’s dying! We can’t fix him ourselves!”

Hermione brought out a book and opened it.

“Hermione, now is not the time to read,” he exclaimed, “you don’t know enough about healing to fix him!” but she only glared at him as she flipped through it quickly.

“Ronald, I put together a book that shows us healers in every part of the country,” she replied curtly as she turned the book to show him an address she was pointing at. “We’re going here.”


Chapter 6: The Healer's Daughter
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They approached the house slowly, moving carefully under the invisibility cloak. It was raining softly, slowly soaking them through the fabric. “We’re really getting too big for this, we need another one” Hermione muttered as they moved, holding Harry up between them. He was dead weight, his head hanging limply and Ron glanced over at him, shifting him so that Hermione had to carry less of his weight and speeding up his steps. When they reached the door they lowered Harry to the ground and pulled the cloak off so that it only covered him. They rang the bell and waited, holding their breath. When no one came they rang the bell again and eventually the door opened slowly. A blonde girl around their age looked out cautiously. “Yes?”

“Is Dr. Ward here? We need his help,” Hermione said. The girl looked at them, taking in their wet and disheveled appearance, trying to decide what to do.

“Is someone hurt?” she asked finally, “because my dad doesn’t see people at home, you will have to go to the hospital.”

Hermione and Ron exchanged a look before Ron said, “Look, is he here or not? We need to see him.” The girl’s eyes narrowed suspiciously at his tone and she began to close the door.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know you so -” She didn’t finish as Ron caught the door with his hand and shoved it back open as he grabbed her. He pushed her back into the house, covering her mouth as she cried out.

Hermione came in behind him, closing the door after she got Harry, still covered, inside. “Look we aren’t going to hurt you,” she said when she saw the panic in the girls eyes; “we just need to see your father.” They didn’t have to wait for a response because Daniel Ward came running down the stairs at that moment, leaping over the last few steps, wand drawn.

“Let go of my daughter now,” he said, pointing the wand at Ron.

“Are you Dr. Ward?” Ron replied, not letting go of the blonde.

“Please,” Hermione said quickly, yanking the cloak off of Harry who was lying on the floor beside her, pale and still, “we just need your help! We can’t go the hospital!” The wizard’s gaze flicked to the boy on the ground and his eyes widened as he took in the scar on his forehead. Ron let go of the girl and she ran to her father as he slowly lowered his wand, catching her and moving her behind him as he looking back at Harry. “Please,” Hermione said, her voice trembling as her resolve faltered. Dr. Ward looked up at her and then Ron before kneeling beside Harry.

“Beth, go get my bag. What happened to him?” Beth, whose eyes had been locked on Harry, dragged her eyes away from him at the sound of her name and quickly ran back upstairs.

“He fell,” Ron answered as she left, shooting a glance at Hermione. Dr. Ward didn’t look up, he just kept examining Harry.

“He fell… That’s the story you’re sticking with? If you want me to save him I need to know what happened.” Ron looked at Hermione again and she started talking.

Dr. Ward didn't look very optimistic as he got Harry into bed and forced Ron and Hermione to wait in another room. He knew that whatever potion and magic Voldemort had used on the cup was probably powerful, and without knowing what it was it would be difficult to help him. He had to basically threaten not to treat Harry at all before Ron finally agreed to leave the bedroom so that he could work.

“Come on Ron,” Hermione said softly, taking his hand in hers. He looked down as he felt her warmth seep into his arm and allowed her to pull him from the room, following her back to the den. As Hermione led him down the stairs her fear for Harry began to overwhelm her.

Hermione could tell that the healer was worried and broke down as they sat on the sofa downstairs. She started crying and Ron pulled her to him in a hug, trying to comfort her, even though he felt as panicked as she looked. “What if he dies? Oh God, what will we do?” she sobbed into his chest.

“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine,” Ron said rubbing her back, trying to soothe her. It didn’t seem to work because she just cried harder, getting lost in her fear and exhaustion.

“You… don’t… know… th, that… Ron,” she managed between sobs.

He tried talking to her but it didn’t help. No matter what he tried it only seemed to make it worse, and he didn’t know what to do. She’s the calm one, the rational one, not the one who panics… Finally he held her away from him and gave her a little shake. “Hermione! You have to calm down, you are worrying me…” He brought a hand to her face, cupping her cheek and she looked at him, trying to contain her sobs but they wouldn’t stop. “You’re going to make yourself sick.”

He saw the fear in her eyes and wthout really thinking about it, he pulled her to him and kissed her. Shocked, Hermione tried to pull away but he held her to him with his hand, keeping his lips pressed to hers as he used his other arm to keep her against him. After a minute her sobs began to lessen and he took that as a good sign, beginning to move his lips over hers tentatively. As her sobs became more of a hiccup she began to kiss him back. When she stopped crying completely he kissed her for a second longer before he dragged his mouth away from hers.

“Why, why did you do that?” she asked, staring at him. Hs shrugged, suddenly very self-conscious.

“I, I wanted to distract you… so you would stop crying,” he said lamely.

She looked down at her hands. “Oh,” she said softly. Ron felt the blood rushing to his face, and suddenly felt an intense need to flee the room. What kind of mental reason is that? His mind railed at him. That’s the dumbest thing you have ever done, and that’s saying something. You want her to stop crying so you kiss her?

“Umm… right, well, maybe I’ll just…” he trailed of as Hermione suddenly leaned back in, catching his lips with hers. He froze for half a second before her kissed her back. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her back to him. After a few minutes of exploring each other they broke apart, smiling shyly. “I was wondering how long it would take you to do that,” she said softly and Ron’s eyes widened, his face beginning to redden again. Am I that transparent?

Dr. Ward came into the room and Hermione started to move away but Ron pulled her back, keeping his arm around her waist. She couldn’t help the rush of joy at this but it was quickly replaced by fear as she waited for the man to speak. “How is he?” Ron asked. They held their breath as he looked at them.

“He’ll live.”

Hermione began to cry softly again, but this time out of relief and Ron kissed her temple, closing his eyes and resting his head on hers as the fear left him.

The fall had broken Harry’s arm and a couple of ribs, one of which had punctured his lung. The real worry however, was the potion he drank before his fall. It had sapped his strength and was going to make his recovery difficult, especially since they didn’t know exactly what it had been. He would have to be watched closely.

~..~..~..~..~

A few days later Harry woke in a bed he didn’t recognize. He tried to sit up but pain shot through him and he groaned, letting his head fall back. He felt a hand on his shoulder and forced his eyes back open to see a pretty blonde girl looking down at him, her face full of concern. “Hi Harry,” she said softly, feeling his forehead. “My name is Beth.” Harry groaned, trying to sit up but she held him down. He had so little strength that it wasn’t hard to do.

“Ron… Hermione,” he rasped, giving up on his fight to rise. His throat was on fire as he tried to speak.

“Shh… just lie back, I’ll get them for you…”

He faded back into darkness but soon woke again, asking for water. Ron and Hermione stayed by his bed for as long as he was awake. Hermione held his hand and they told him about the Wards, about what had happened and about Beth, who had been looking after him. Beth stayed back, and gave him a small smile when he looked at her. He didn’t return it.

Beth continued to look after him, helping him and caring for him. At first he was rude to her, too consumed by his own misery to care about her feelings. But no matter how he acted, she didn’t leave him. She would talk to him and sit with him and eventually she wore him down. He began to feel safe with her, calm. One night he finally broke down and his sadness and pain spilled out of him. She listened quietly and then held him while he cried.

Beth had been fascinated with him the moment she had seen him. He was beautiful. He was Harry Potter, the boy who lived, but he seemed so lost. She couldn’t help but feel drawn to him. She wanted to help him, and she soon found herself falling in love with him. She didn’t like the girl who had hurt him, but also felt a little glad, because it had brought him to her.

Even when he was strong enough to leave his bed he stayed near her. When the trio wasn’t busy planning Harry would sit with her in front of the fire. Beth was quiet and sweet and he couldn’t help but be charmed by her, drawn in by her goodness. She would smile at him as she left the room and his eyes would follow her automatically.

Ron and Hermione saw the effect Beth had on him, the ability to calm him down and were thankful for it. While he recovered they focused on finding the remaining horcruxes. They researched and traveled to different locations while Harry stayed at the Ward’s. They located two of them but waited for Harry to be strong enough before actually trying to get them. Each time they returned from wherever they had been, they found Harry and Beth sitting quietly, reading or talking, or playing chess. They saw them grow closer as the weeks went by and weren’t surprised when one day they walked in on them while they were kissing.

~..~..~..~..~

One day Beth found Harry sitting by himself. Although they hadn’t talked about it, they were obviously together and she was happier than she had ever been. He was in a mood and she approached him slowly. He had been much better the past couple of weeks and she wondered what had caused the change. “Hey,” she said as she got closer. He looked up and she saw him quickly cover the sadness in his face.

“Hey!” he said with a forced cheer as he took her hand and she sat next to him on the sofa. He scooped her up and moved her so that she was sitting across his lap and she settled against him as he wrapped his arm around her, running it up and down her arm lazily. When she looked up at his face he began to kiss her but she could tell something was wrong; his touch was a little more desperate and his kiss a little more intense as his tongue invaded her mouth. It wasn’t that she didn’t like it, she loved it, she just knew something was wrong, so after a few moments she pulled back.

“What’s the matter Harry?”

“Nothing,” he replied, avoiding her eyes.

“Harry, please tell me what’s wrong.” She saw the haunted look that used to be in his eyes all the time begin to return and she squeezed his hand. He looked at her for a minute before looking down at their clasped hands.

“It’s really stupid,” he said softly.

“No it’s not. Whatever it is, you know you can tell me,” she said, leaning in and kissing his neck as she slipped her arms around him, linking her hands on the shoulder opposite her. She rested her chin on his shoulder and waited patiently.

“No, it is stupid. It’s just that I realized today was her birthday…” He didn’t say Ginny’s name anymore, but Beth always knew who he meant on the rare occasions that he talked about her. “I had hoped to be back by now you know? And I had made this stupid plan…” he broke off, shaking his head with a bitter chuckle. Beth pulled him into a hug and was quiet.

“Why are you doing this?” He asked finally. “Why do you put up with me? I mean, here I am…”

“Shh,” she said stroking his hair. “You loved her, and she hurt you deeply. You are going to have moments like this. But you are a wonderful, strong person…” she pulled back and looked into his eyes. “And… and I love you.” He stared at her as she waited for a response. He saw the truth in her eyes and sank into their warmth. Beth loved him, Beth would never hurt him. “Not everyone will hurt you Harry.” She said softly, . He pulled her to him and kissed her slowly, allowing the sadness of before to fade into the background.

They made love for the first time that night. It was gentle and soft and new for both of them. Harry didn’t tell her that he loved her. He wasn’t ready to do that yet, but he knew that he could. He knew that she loved him. he knew that she would never hurt him, and he committed his heart to her that night. As the weeks continued to pass and he spent his time with her, letting her warmth and trust fill him. She didn’t push and eventually he let her in completely, letting her heal him.

Having to go to her house ended up being a great thing because it gave the trio a place to call headquarters. They stayed fed and strong as they worked. They didn’t worry too much about being found because no one would have any reason to link them to the Wards. As the months passed Harry’s pain was forgotten, or at least locked away in a far corner of his heart. When he told Beth that he loved her he meant it and he felt the gentle love they shared flow through him.


Chapter 7: Not Over It
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It was summer when they returned. A year after they had left. Ron led the way up the path to his house, with Harry and Hermione following silently. A mixture of excitement and nerves filled each of them as they approached the familiar front door of the Burrow. I wonder if she’s here Harry thought, but quickly pushed the thoughts from his mind and focused on seeing the rest of the Weasleys… the Weasleys he cared about.

Hermione glanced at Harry, seeing his troubled look, and wondered what he was thinking. She knew something had happened with Ginny, although she had never had the courage to ask for specifics; his anger and pain seemed too intense at the time, and then… well; now she wished she knew what they would be walking into.

“I can’t believe they turned off the fireplace,” Ron grumbled for the hundredth time since realizing they would have to apparate and then actually walk to the front door and knock at his house.

“Well Ronald,” Hermione responded, her previous worries forgotten, “I suppose they could have left it on for you… on the off chance that we chose to floo home at some point over the last year. But I would not be the one consoling you if they had been killed by death-eaters who came through it because they left it on for you.”

Yes Mione” He replied with a sigh, since that had been her response each and every time he had complained. He grabbed her around the waist and pulled her against him, kissing her swiftly. “Please, stop saying that…”

She smiled. “You first,” she said, taking his hand and continuing to walk. Harry smiled at his friends, their familiar banter easing his nerves as they got to the door. He had had a slight urge to throw up since he had seen the house. Damn he thought with a frown.

They were greeted with huge hugs and tears by the Weasley family. Charlie and Bill weren’t there, but Fred and George had come home for supper and provided a nice spur of the moment welcome home party in the living room – complete with fireworks – much to Mrs. Weasley’s dismay.

~..~..~..~..~

“Where’s Ginny?” Ron asked after awhile, pulling himself out of yet another hug from his mother. “Please tell me she still lives here; I couldn’t bare it if she has gotten her own place while I’ll still be stuck here.”

“Of course she still lives here,” his mother retorted. “She still has a year of school left… And what is wrong with here Ronald Weasley? Surrounded by your family, why I can think of no better place to be...”

“She’s out with some boy from school – Logan something,” Mr. Weasley said while his wife continued her mini tirade as she headed back into the kitchen for more snacks. Ron and Hermione both glanced at Harry at this news, but he showed no signs of having heard. He was on the other side of the room listening to Fred and George talk about their newest products and newly opened Paris store.

Although he was outwardly cheerful, Harry hadn’t heard the last few seconds of the conversation. He had heard Mr. Weasley and suddenly felt numb. She’s on a date. He reached up and touched the pendant he had tied around his neck. Touching it soothed the anger that had surged within him and he forced his mind back to the conversation.

As the celebrations continued inside, the petite red head apperated into the yard, followed by a nice-looking blonde with a cocky stride.

“I had a nice time tonight Logan,” she said as they walked up to the door. “Thanks again, I always love muggle movies.”

“Anytime Ginny,” he replied, taking her hand in his as they reached the porch. “You know,” he said in a seductive voice, pulling her towards him slightly, “I really like you Gin. We could stay out here and… talk for awhile if you want.” Most girls would have melted, but not Ginny. She wasn’t naïve about things like this anymore.

“I like you too Logan,” she said as she tilted her head up to see him. “I… I just don’t think I’m interested in a serious relationship – you know this,” she said as she turned and leaned on the railing, looking out at the yard. She felt him come up behind her. Too close she thought vaguely as he started talking softly.

“Ginny,” he said, rubbing his hand up and down her arms as he spoke, “We’ve known each other for a year now; we’ve gone out several times. I want to see more of you… You know what you do to me,” he added huskily into her ear. She tried not to roll her eyes at the oft used line but failed miserably.

“Logan,” she began.

“No,” he said a little more forcefully as he turned her around to face him. “You never even let me kiss you. We aren’t 12 years old Gin...” He’s really quite tall Ginny thought suddenly as she looked up at him, becoming uncomfortable with his nearness. He’s nice, but he’s not… She cut off her train of thought quickly, trying to focus on what Logan was saying. He hadn’t seemed to notice that she had stopped listening.

“Oh Ginny, you are so beautiful… You could be happy with me” he was saying.

“Logan” she began again, but was cut off as he pulled her towards him, catching her stunned lips in a demanding kiss.

~..~..~..~..~

Inside, Harry had moved to stand next to the window, beginning to feel a little confined in the room full of family. A movement outside caught his eye and he stared as a surge of anger and pain shot through him… She was on the porch. Maybe coming here wasn’t a good idea, he thought. He saw the back of a blonde boy standing close to her, talking.

He felt the heat that began to fill him as he watched the porch light play on her hair when she turned away and leaned on the porch rail. Her hair was longer and she looked thinner, her face harder, but maybe it was just the light. He fingered the pendant as he fought to stop his body’s automatic response to seeing her. He studied her profile, his heart sinking as it became pretty clear that he wasn’t as over what had happened as he claimed. He saw the blonde move behind her, rubbing her arms. His eyes narrowed instinctively, recognizing him as the blonde from the lake – Logan something…

“Do you want a drink Harry?” He jerked guiltily at Hermione’s voice and turned away from the window, trying to block the view with his body. “Because I was going to get something…”

“I’m fine, thanks Hermione,” he replied and she walked off, leaving him with his battle. Don’t turn back to the window. You don’t care, just walk away. Even as he thought it his body shifted back around so he could see outside. Ok, it’s fine… you are just curious because you haven’t seen her. It doesn’t… whatever he was thinking died suddenly in his mind as he saw Ginny pulled into a fiery kiss.

Harry suddenly felt hollow, as if his heart had dropped to his stomach. His eyes shut and he leaned his head down, trying to gain control - the pendant that had soothed him earlier forgotten. A part of him wanted to go outside and beat the crap out of the blonde. Another part of him wanted to go outside and scream at her; to hurt her the way she had hurt him. But he didn’t. He reminded himself that he didn’t care about her or what she did before he lifted his head and turned away, leaving the window to go get that drink. I need Beth he thought vaguely as he moved.

~..~..~..~..~

Outside Ginny was too shocked to move. She had opened her mouth to respond, but that turned out to be a bad move as it allowed Logan to deepen the kiss with alarming speed. She wrenched herself out of his arms, pushing him away as she drew her wand. “Get away from me.” As she backed away her eyes caught a movement in the window as the curtains fell back into place. For a second it looked like… she shook her head, focusing on Logan again.

“Gin,” he said, holding his hands out as a shield, “Wait... what’s wrong with you?” he asked as she raised her eyebrow, eyes flashing. “It was good! We’re good together… What’s your problem? I know you want me… ” he said as he took a step towards her.

Raising her wand until it was level with his face, Ginny responded with a calmness she didn’t feel. “Logan, I have told you several times that I am not interested in a relationship with you… I thought we were friends but it has suddenly become clear that this isn’t going to work out. I’m going to go inside, and unless you want your face to sprout wings, I would suggest you take this as a strong hint to leave.”

“Ginny, you can’t be serious!” He took as step towards her, keeping his arms up. Ginny narrowed her eyes and he flew off the porch, landing in a heap several feet from the porch.

“I’ll see you at school Logan.”

As he disappeared with a pop Ginny sank onto the steps, running a hand through her hair with a sigh. I guess it wasn’t love on his side she thought sarcastically. Ginny stayed outside for a few more minutes before heading in. She didn’t want to arrive flushed and upset from her date. She knew Fred and George were visiting and she felt that a horrible death at their hands was probably too severe a punishment for dear Logan. Oh well, she thought with a sigh; at least the movie was good. With a smirk she got up and opened the door.

~..~..~..~..~

Chaos erupted around her when she got inside. “GINNY!” Ron yelled, running towards her and scooping her up into a hug.

“Oh my gosh… RON!” she said in shock as he swung her around. Tears welled up in her eyes as she hugged him back. “You’re back! You’re alive!” She started crying and he set her down, holding her away as he looked at her.

“So you did miss me!” He said with a smile and pulled her back up into a hug. She started laughing through her tears. Hermione came over and they hugged as well, laughing as they cried. They broke apart, smiling as they wiped their eyes, sniffling and continuing to chuckle at their emotional reaction.

Harry watched the scene with dread, knowing she’d eventually see him. He wondered how she would react. Will she act like nothing had happened? Will she feel guilty? His thoughts faded and he felt numb as her gaze fell on him. She stopped smiling and Harry saw her chocolate eyes become icy as she looked at him. The room began to grow silent as the Weasleys tensed, waiting for their daughter’s reaction to Harry’s arrival.

“You didn’t die,” she said after a second.

He shoved his hands into his pockets, “No, I didn’t.”

Ginny looked at Ron and Hermione before turning her gaze back to him. “I see you didn’t get anyone you love killed either.” He narrowed his eyes at her words and they flashed dangerously when she said, “you must be so disappointed.” Hermione’s eyes widened at the cruelty of her words and Ron’s mouth dropped.

Feeling the need to intervene Mrs. Weasley hurried over. “Ginny dear, help me in the kitchen while the rest of you clean up this mess…”

Once in the kitchen Mrs. Weasley turned on her daughter. “Ginny Weasley, I can’t believe you would say something like that.” Ginny looked down at her hands.

“It… it just came out… I don’t know what…” Her mother pulled her into a quick hug but Ginny was determined not to cry. She had wasted enough tears on him and she wasn’t going to let his reappearance get to her, he wasn’t worth it.

“Ginny love, you have to be the bigger person here,” her mother said patting her back a few times before pulling away and picking up a tray of snacks and handing it to her to take back out. Ginny took a deep breath, steadying her insides and walked back into the other room

~..~..~..~..~

Harry and Ginny were careful to avoid each other for the rest of the night, both sitting silently as Ron and Hermione told the family what had happened while they were away; of how they had found the Horcruxes, how they had made friends with a healer who helped them and how they had almost died several times. Well, they kind of skipped and slurred those parts, not wanting to face Mrs. Weasley’s lectures. After they finished talking about the Horcrux hunt Ron told the story of Voldemort’s demise.
When they found the last of the Horcurxes, Harry contacted Remus at headquarters. Obviously this was great news because it meant the aurors could take the fight to him and feel confident that he could be brought down. Someone had been trying to track the trio as they had traveled but they eluded them. When they had contacted headquarters however, Voldemort had been alerted to their whereabouts. After months of searching for Harry in vain, he was determined to not lose the opportunity to kill him.

The battle happened in Leceister, not far from Dr. Ward’s house, since that is where the trio had been when Voldemort arrived. The aurors arrived not far behind the group of death-eaters and there were spells and screams erupting everywhere. Harry found himself furiously throwing spells at Voldemort while dodging the ones thrown at him. He knew that Voldemort was stronger and faster than him and began to panic.

There were people screaming and fighting all around him and he ducked as a spell hit the wall behind him, throwing debris everywhere. He began to run, trying to find Remus or someone to help him, but he tripped over a body and fell. He rolled over when he hit the ground and saw Voldemort smiling down at him, his evil face twisted in an unnatural grin. “Time to die Harry,” he said, pointing his wand at him.

“HARRY!” Hermione screamed as she ran towards them, throwing a curse at Voldemort. He deflected it easily and it shot back at her. She went flying backwards and slammed into Ron, who had been running towards them, knocking him to the ground.

“NO!” Harry screamed. He killed Hermione, his mind screamed as he raised his wand. He threw the killing curse at the same time as Voldemort.

“AVADA KEDAVRA!!”

The twin wands locked as they had before, and both of them hung on, trying to force the energy towards the other.

In the end it was love that saved Harry. The love of his friends. The love for his friends.

Voldemort hadn’t killed Hermione, just knocked her out. “Oh God! Please don’t be dead Hermione… please wake up,” Ron sobbed as he shook her. Hermione opened her eyes dazedly and Ron pulled her against him, relief flooding his body.

“Where’s Harry?” she asked. They looked over and saw Harry on the ground, his wand locked with Voldemort’s. Ron pulled her up and they ran over, coming up from behind.

Hermione grabbed Ron’s hand and raised her wand. Ron looked at her. “On the count of three,” she said. Voldemort could feel them behind him but he couldn’t wrench his wand away from Harry. Harry’s eyes narrowed and he focused all of his energy on his wand.

“You want to know a secret?” he ground out, his arms beginning to shake…

“I found your horcruxes…and I destroyed them.” Voldemort’s eyes widened. Harry cried out as he channeled his rage and power, taking advantage of Voldemort’s surprise and the ball of light that had been hovering between the wands shot towards him. It shattered Voldemort’s wand and hit him in the chest at the same moment Ron and Hermione’ curses hit him in the back.

“AVADA KEDAVRA!”

Voldemort fell to the ground and was still. Harry looked at his friends from his position on the ground and they ran to him. They didn’t have time to rejoice since the battle was still raging around them. The tides had turned however, and the aurors quickly defeated the remaining death-eaters who had panicked when Voldemort died, their dark marks burning horribly in a way they had never felt.

When Ron finished telling the story, with Hermione interjecting now and again, there was silence. Ginny’s eyes had moved to Harry while Ron was talking and she watched his face. She could tell he hadn’t liked reliving the story. After a minute she looked away again. She didn’t like the feeling of concern that had automatically risen in her and she pushed it down. He doesn’t deserve my pity, or caring, and he made it completely clear that he doesn’t want it, she thought.

Mrs. Weasley got up and pulled Ron into a hug. “Mum,” he said sheepishly, even as his arms went around her. “Oh, I’m sorry dear… I mean we had heard the story from Remus, but to hear it from you just makes it that much more horrible.” Ron pulled away from her.

“Horrible?” he asked, “But we won!”

“Oh Ron, you will never understand until you have children. You could have died. You are never to leave the house without my permission for the rest of your life!” Ron looked at her as an expression of horror crossed his face. Hermione tried to hide a smile and Mr. Weasley stood up and put his hand on his wife’s arm.

“All right guys, it has been a long day… A long year I think, so why don’t you head up to bed.”

As they left the room Mrs. Weasley pulled Harry into a hug. “I am so proud of you dear. I just want you to know that whatever happened… whatever happens, I think of you as one of my own boys.” Harry sank into her, hugging her back.

“Thanks,” he said softly before heading upstairs. He felt better but part of him was still wondering what he had been thinking when he agreed to come back to the Burrow.


Chapter 8: A New Enemy
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Two days after they got back, Mrs. Weasley took Ron Hermione and Harry to Diagon Alley, insisting they get new robes. “They are a disgrace! Look at the holes” she exclaimed as she moved towards her son. He tried to shield himself behind Hermione, but that only gave his mother more momentum. “And look at poor Hermione!” she said, gesturing at the girl before her. “Wearing robes that are two seasons old and barely fit! Get your things; we are leaving right now… GINNY!!”

Ginny groaned as she heard her name. She’s mental if she thinks I am going with them she thought as she returned to her book. It is really amazing how naïve a daughter can be, especially when her mother is Molly Weasley.

An hour later Ginny, Harry, Hermione and Ron were making their way down Diagon Alley with Mrs. Weasley and a couple of aurors Ginny didn’t recognize to look for new robes. Although Voldemort had been defeated he still had supporters so the ministry had given Harry extra protection. Ginny stayed near her mother as they walked, unwilling to get drawn into a conversation with the trio.

Everything went relatively well at first. Everyone was civil and when they arrived at the shop Ginny stayed in the front while the others tried on robes in the back. There wasn’t anyone else in the shop and Ginny was enjoying her book when she felt herself jerked roughly out of her chair.

One minute Harry was trying on a new robe, the next minute there were screams, flashes and smoke everywhere. As he made his way out of the dressing room his blood ran cold. Mrs. Weasley was unconscious on the floor, blood seeping out of a cut on her forehead and Ron and Hermione were nowhere to be found. He could see the aurors through the window, waiting outside and apparently oblivious to what was happening. They had to have heard the screams he thought. There must be a charm on the shop.

Harry’s eyes moved from the window to a wizard standing by the door holding a struggling Ginny with a hand over her mouth, muffling her cries. He was scruffy looking, his dull drown hair streaked with grey and he was wearing a tattered black robe that was too short and showed his well worn boots. “Hello Potter,” he said. “I’ve got your girlfriend here. I think she misses you.” Harry said nothing. He just narrowed his eyes as his hand tightened convulsively around his wand.

“What, nothing to say Potter? I see why you would like her,” he continued, running his hand across her stomach and up until is was resting just under her breast, pulling her more firmly against him. “She does seem to have spirit.”

At his words, Ginny began struggling more desperately. “What do you want?” Harry asked, a silent fury glinting behind his eyes.

“I need something from you, so I figured hey, what better way to get it than to take something from you that can be traded. I’m sure you’ll be willing to do just about anything to save her, so I… aaarg!”

His speech was interrupted as Ginny brought her heel down as hard as she could on his foot and spun away from him and out of his grasp. I knew there was a reason I had six brothers she thought as she moved.

Harry waited for Ginny to get out of the way before throwing a curse at the wizard but he blocked it and threw one at Ginny - “crucio!” Ginny screamed as she dropped to the floor. Harry moved towards her but stopped short as the man’s wand swung towards him. “Now now Harry,” He taunted. He flicked his wand quickly at her and she screamed again, curling into a ball on the floor, trying to lessen the agony and stop her body from twitching…

“What do you want?” Harry asked again, his voice low…

“I work for someone who wants to meet you… the great Harry Potter who brought down The Dark Lord,” the man said as he moved behind Ginny. “So, I’m going to take the girl as a little insurance that you show up,” he said.

As the pain subsided Ginny began to laugh slowly. Both men turned towards her as she tried to sit up on the floor. “I… I’m so sorry to tell you” she gasped between her laughter, “that’s you’ve made a bit of a mistake.”

Harry looked at her, but she looked up at the man. “What do you mean girl?” he said roughly.

“I mean,” she replied with a chuckle that sounded like and odd mix of pain and mirth, “that I am not his girlfriend. Apparently you missed it but we broke up last year. We aren’t even speaking… I’m sorry to say that your brilliant plan is not quite so brilliant.” At this she turned her gaze to Harry. “I’m not his, so you can’t really take me from him, and I’m pretty sure he would not do anything to save me.” He gazed back at her, his eyes narrowed as if trying to read her thoughts.

“Is that so?” the man asked, pointing his wand at her. He watched Harry’s face as Ginny dropped back to the floor, screaming as the pain shot through her body again. The man’s smile faltered a bit as Harry’s gaze didn’t waver; as he showed no outside emotion at Ginny’s pain. The wizard kept the curse on her longer, waiting to see what Harry would do while Ginny twitched on the floor, trying to stop her screams, but she couldn’t; the pain was just too much.

Suddenly a stunning spell hit the man from behind and the curse was lifted as he fell to the ground. No one had noticed Mrs. Weasley waking up behind them. “Mrs. Weasley!” Harry exclaimed rushing over to her and dropping to his knees. “Are you ok? I saw the blood and thought…” He broke off as Mrs. Weasley waved her hand.

“I’m fine dear, check on Ginny while I get the door open.” He started to argue but she waved him off, “Harry, get over there, she needs you…” He helped her up and she headed to the door with a look on her face that made Harry thankful he wasn’t one of the aurors she was about to talk to and he turned toward Ginny.

She was still curled on the floor as Harry approached her warily. He knelt beside her and started to put his hand out, but drew it back, not wanting to touch her. He had been furious when the man had touched her, had hurt her, and her screams still seemed to be echoing in his heart softly but he didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that he had cared.

“Ginny,” he said softly, “are you ok?” He hadn’t said her name out loud in so long that it felt strange to him. She didn’t move so he put his hand on her shoulder cautiously. She jerked away as he touched her and glared up at him. Every part of her was hurting and she groaned as she moved.

“No thanks to you,” she spat, wincing as she began sitting up. Harry suddenly felt stupid for having worried and his eyes narrowed.

“What does that mean? This wasn’t my fault,” he shot back as he stood up. “Excuse me for wanting to see if you were hurt!” Ginny hauled herself unsteadily to her feet.

“Oh right, like this wasn’t about you? I thought everything was your fault Harry,” she said, eyes flashing, “isn’t that what you always said?”

“You should remember Ginny, that I only seem to get people I love killed and we both know you aren’t in that category,” he shot back, his voice full of bitterness.

“Oh believe me, you have made that more than clear,” she said, stung by his words and the hate shining in his eyes.

She turned and tried to walk away but her legs crumpled and he caught her as she fell, pulling her up against him to steady her. Their faces were inches apart, his arm wrapped around her and they stared at each other for a second, both of their insides suddenly in knots at the close proximity of the other. This was the first time they had touched and the closest they had been since last year. “I don’t want you… I don’t want you to help me,” Ginny said after a second, not wanting the feelings that had flooded into her. Harry blinked.

“Fine,” he spat, and he let go of her, walking away as she sank back to the floor.

I can’t stand her, Harry thought darkly as he moved to the other side of the shop. Even so, he couldn’t stop his heart from hurting a little at her words and he shook himself, trying to get rid of the feeling in his stomach.

Everything that happened after was a bit of a blur. The aurors took the man away to be questioned and Ron and Hermione, finally able to get out of their dressing rooms, ran in to see what had happened. “I could hear you screaming and I was pounding on the door but I couldn’t get it to open,” Ron said shakily as he pulled Ginny up from the floor and into a hug. Hermione couldn’t help but notice that Harry and Ginny were ignoring each other more than usual – if that was even possible.

~..~..~..~..~

Once they got back home, new robes forgotten, Remus came to talk to Harry. “He said he worked for someone? Did he say who?” Harry ran his hand through his hair, beginning to get frustrated…

“No Moony, he didn’t say – I already told you… If I knew anything else I would tell you… Of course, it must be someone who is getting old information if they thought they could use Ginny against me,” Harry said, leaning back on the couch. Remus asked several more questions, going over again what had happened and what had been said before getting up to leave.

“Ok, well, I’ll let you know what this guy gives us… I’m glad you guys are fine, although I thought things would have been better now that Voldemort is gone.”

Harry looked at him. “Voldemort may be gone, but all of his death eaters aren’t… I’m sure there are plenty of people who aren’t very happy with me.”

“Can you think of anyone specific that would want to hurt you?” Remus asked again and Harry gritted his teeth, tired of talking in circles.

“No Moony. Maybe the Malfoys, but this wizard said someone wanted to meet me so it couldn’t be them…”

Remus nodded then added, “plus they are in Azkaban,” and Harry looked up at him.

“All of them? Even Draco?”

Remus nodded at him before turning to go.

“Hey Moony,” Harry said, standing up suddenly. “I want aurors posted at Beth’s house. Ginny might not be of any use to them, but Beth would be, and it is only a matter of time before they realize they chose the wrong person to try to take.” Remus frowned and nodded once more before heading out of the room.


Chapter 9: What You Made Me
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Harry made his way quietly down the stairs to the den. The encounter at the shop had made him antsy and Ginny's words of scorn kept running through his head; an unwanted reminder of her feelings, or lack there of anyway. Unable to sleep and equally unable to stand Ron’s snoring, he had decided to try and read for awhile. He had been reading a mindless mystery and was actually looking forward to the last couple of chapters, but his mood was ruined as he entered the dark familiar room. He knew she was there before he saw her. Somehow he could just feel her.

Ginny sat curled on the couch watching the fire. She had on striped pajama pants and a white tank top, her freckled shoulders peeking out from under her hair. You almost could have missed her small frame, if it wasn’t for her hair. It glowed in the firelight, the flames dancing through the waves that hung down her back. There was a time when she had been beautiful to him… He could have watched the light play across her face and hair all night, but now the sight of her ignited the familiar ache. It was a feeling he didn’t like, a feeling he hadn’t felt in months and he didn’t want it.

He was angry at her, and seeing her beauty made his anger grow. He started to turn around but he stopped when she turned her head towards him, catching his gaze. “What, afraid to be in a room with me Harry?” she said. She had felt him come into the room before she saw him. She saw his eyes flash at her words and knew she was intentionally baiting him, but somehow making him angry made her feel better.

She watched him as he moved back into the room. The dark room made his dark plaid pajama pants seem almost black but she could still make out the faded lion on his old Gryffindor t-shirt. “No,” he said, “I’m not afraid, I just don’t want to be in a room with you.” Ginny felt a pang of sadness as his words hit home but she pushed it down, raising her chin. They glared at each other for moment before she stood up.

“Well,” she said coldly as she walked towards him, “I can’t think of a reason why I would want to be with you either, so I’ll leave you to it.”

She tried to walk by him but he grabbed her arm, stopping her movement. “Let go of me,” she said in a low voice, looking at his hand on her arm.

“Are you sure?” he taunted her, his eyes flashing as she looked back up. He was angry at her for what she had said to him earlier at the shop and offended that she would act like he had wronged her in someway. She had hurt him, not the other way around.

“If I’m not mistaken you used to like it when I touched you…” Her eyes narrowed and she jerked her arm but he just tightened his grip, keeping her close.

“Well now you make me sick,” she said.

He leaned his face into hers and said, “Well that’s good because you make me sick too.” They stood there, glaring at each other…

It was a weird sensation for both of them as they looked into the eyes of the other, feeling the attraction that was still there mix with the anger they felt. Before either could really think about it they were kissing, and neither was sure who had moved first. Ginny knew she should pull away, this is Harry for God’s sake, she thought, I don’t want to kiss Harry – hex him into next week maybe, but not kiss him… but her body didn’t seem to agree and instead she leaned in, pressing her lips more firmly against his. It was all the invitation he needed.

Ginny opened her mouth to his tongue with a small moan as he pulled her roughly against him, deepening the kiss. It was as if their anger had heightened their attraction and they clung to each other, each giving in to heat that had erupted between them. It was like lightening. Ginny’s arms went around his neck and Harry’s hands moved quickly down her back, grabbing the back of her thighs and lifting her up. She wrapped her legs around him as he backed her forcefully against the wall.

He blocked most of the light with his body as he pushed her small frame into the wall and the darkness that covered them cast an almost unreal, dreamlike spell around them as their bodies molded together, the orange flickering light casting shadows on their faces.

“H-Harry?” she asked uncertainly against his lips…

“Hmmm?” he replied, taking advantage of her open mouth to slip his tongue back inside…

“Wha – What are we doing?” she panted after a minute…

“I don’t know,” he managed between kisses… “But it feels right…” She arched her neck as he moved down her throat, pressing his hips into her.

After a minute Harry pushed off from the wall and carried her to the couch. He sank onto it until he was sitting with her straddling his lap, her back to the fire. Harry tangled his hands in her hair, crushing her face to his as their tongues battled as though seeking to win an unknown prize. It was an intense kiss of passion and desperation… They had kissed each other before, but not like this. Harry felt a sense of power well inside him as he felt her reaction to him and it mingled with his desire and anger…

“Did you miss me?” Harry asked, flicking her lower lip with his tongue as he came up for air before returning to her lips. She moaned into his mouth in response.

“No… I can’t stand you,” she said, breaking away.

“Same here” he said as he moved to her throat. She gasped as his tongue and lips touched her skin. It certainly didn’t seem like he couldn’t stand her from where she was sitting and she raked her fingers over his back trying to pull him closer. Raising his head to look at her, Harry grasped her thighs, pulling her closer as he raised his hips, grinding against her. He watched her as she bit her lower lip and dropped her head back with a moan before returning his head to her neck with a small smile, pulling the strap of her tank off of her shoulder for better access…

What am I doing? she thought vaguely, this is Harry... Harry broke my heart… Oh God, she thought as his hands moved against her skin, he feels so amazing… he didn’t want me, why is he doing this? But her thoughts became jumbled as she lost herself in his touch.

“Here love,” He said huskily after repeating his actions a few times, making her squirm on his lap. He shifted with her and pushed her down onto the couch, “This will help…” He moved quickly over her, pushing her legs open so that he could lie between them. Oh god, Harry thought as he kissed her, she tastes so good… how can I react like this to someone I hate… Remember what she did… remember her letters… But as they kissed, as he felt her, it was like he couldn’t think… he couldn’t even remember why he hated her… All he could think was how great she felt beneath him…

Their frenzied pace slowed to a delicious rhythm as Harry rocked his hips into hers; creating the torturous friction they had learned about the year before. Ginny felt the heat that had been building in her stomach erupted into a fire and she moaned his name. “Do you like this,” he asked softly into her ear as he slid his hand under her shirt…

“Yes” she gasped in reply; pulling his lips down to hers as she arched beneath him…

Ginny didn’t know what to do. They were out of control, but she couldn’t stop. Her head was trying to remind her that this was wrong… that he didn’t love her… that she didn’t even like him, but somehow it seemed so right. For a moment she had her Harry back and she didn’t want to question it, she just wanted to feel it. Her hands had moved under his shirt and he moaned into her mouth, arching his back and pushing instinctively against her as she raked her nails down his back.

He rose off of her and pulled his shirt quickly over his head. “Raise your arms for me love,” he said and she obeyed, unable to take her eyes off of his chest as he pulled her shirt off, leaving only her bra. He was smooth, more defined than he had been a year ago and she thought she might die on the spot as he leaned back down, bringing their bodies back together and recapturing her lips in a hungry kiss. Oh bloody hell, He thought as their skin touched… She’s so soft. He moved his hand up her stomach and inside her bra, reveling in the sounds she was making for him.

It almost didn’t seem real to him. It was like Harry had fallen into one of his old fantasies, like he was dreaming this. He knew that in reality she didn’t want him, and the further they went the more his mind began trying to take over his body, telling him that it wasn’t real, that she was going to hurt him.

Harry began moving down her neck, kissing and nipping as he went and Ginny tangled her shaking hands in his hair. “Tell me you want this,” Harry managed in a strangled voice.

“I want this,” she said with a moan.

“Tell me you want me” he gasped out, trying to ignore the voice that was screaming at him now, trying to remind him that he didn’t want her, didn’t want this anymore… Ginny’s body was shaking as she groaned out “Oh God… H-Harry…I want you…”

Something clicked in his brain when he heard her words. Liar. The fact that she was still as attracted to him as he was to her made his anger erupt inside of him, smothering his lust. So she wants me, she just doesn’t want me he thought. Suddenly what he wanted was to hurt her. He brought his lips to her ear, “tell me,” he breathed as he moved his hands over her and she moaned… “Do you moan like this for Logan?”

Ginny froze and snapped her eyes to his as he moved his face back over hers… “What?” she asked shakily, hoping she had misheard him but knowing she had not….

“Logan,” Harry repeated, “do you make the same noises for Logan as you do for me love?”

Reality crashed down around her and Ginny suddenly felt like she was going to be sick. What am I doing? This is Harry – Am I so stupid I wouldn’t see this coming? Ginny raised her hand and slapped him across the face as hard as she could, a loud crack echoing across the room as her hand connected with his skin. She began to push him off her, but Harry moved away on his own, standing up beside the couch. Oh my God - Don’t cry – don’t cry she thought as she stood up shakily in front of him.

“I hate you,” she said, slapping him again, snapping his head to the side.

He was still for a second, his cheek stinging, before turning his face back to her. “You have a funny was of showing it love…”

“You… bastard,” she sobbed out as she met his eyes.

“I am what you made me love” he shot back, his eyes glittering dangerously…

“Stop calling me that,” she demanded as she raised her hand to slap him again but he caught her wrist. Harry raised his eyebrow,

“Why not love,” he asked, emphasizing the word, “You didn’t mind it a minute ago.” He caught her other hand as it swung at him and yanked them both behind her back, pulling her to him… “Don’t hit me again Ginny,” he warned… Her eyes shot daggers at him as she struggled to move away.

“Why are you doing this?” she demanded softly, tears prickling her eyes as she slowly stopped struggling… Harry shrugged.

“To see if I could I guess… and maybe a part of me wanted to hurt you… to let you see what it was to burn for someone and then have it thrown in your face.” Her eyes widened in shock at his words, trying to process what he had said through her rage…

“Hurt me?” she asked in disbelief… Who is this? She thought in disgust, Is the person I loved?... “You want to hurt me? How could you possibly hurt me more? God Harry, who are you? What happened to you? I loved you…” she said, her voice rising… “I gave you my heart and you threw it away! You killed me when you left me!”

Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing and squeezed her wrists until she winced. “When I left? I had to leave Ginny, you knew that!” he practically screamed back… suddenly touching her made him want to throw up. He shoved her away, furious that she would claim to have loved him, and watched as she stumbled back, catching herself on the arm of the sofa…. She didn’t love me… not the way I loved her… “Why couldn’t you have waited?”

“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” Ginny glared back at him in confusion, and pain and the last bit of lust that was still dying down inside her… “I WOULD HAVE WAITED FOR YOU FOREVER! I LOVED YOU! YOU’RE THE ONE WHO DIDN’T WANT ME!!”

“LOVED ME?” he yelled over her, “YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS!?! YOU BROKE MY HEART INTO A THOUSAND PIECES AND YOU CLAIM TO LOVE ME? I GOT YOUR LETTERS GINNY” he thundered, inches from her face…

Power and anger was radiating off of both of them and the mirror over the fireplace suddenly cracked down the middle but neither noticed.

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT HARRY… WHAT ABOUT YOUR LETTERS? I BEGGED YOU! IT WAS YOU WHO -” but she was cut off as the lights suddenly turned on and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley came rushing down the stairs, followed by a disheveled Ron who was still trying to yank his robe around him. The group stopped short at the sight of Ginny and Harry, both without shirts on and murderous looks in their eyes.

What the devil is going on here?!” Mrs. Weasley demanded.

Ginny bent down and quickly scooped up the shirts at her feet. She threw Harry’s to him and he caught it before it hit him in the face. With one last glare and a swish of her hair Ginny turned and marched towards her parents. “Nothing” she barked at them as she stormed up the stairs, breaking into a run as she neared the top.

The group turned back to Harry. He had his hands on his hips and he was staring at the ground with a frown and an intense look of concentration, as though trying to work out a puzzle. “Harry…” Mr. Weasley began, bringing Harry’s attention back to them as he snapped his head up.

“I’m going to bed,” he said, moving towards the stairs. Mrs. Weasley opened her mouth to say something but Mr. Weasley put his hand on her arm and shook his head, letting Harry pass and go up the stairs.

“We’ll deal with this tomorrow Molly,” he said quietly.

~..~..~..~..~

Ginny flung herself down on her bed, confusion and anger battling for control of her mind. What did he say? What was he talking about… he wanted to hurt me? Ginny stared at the ceiling as the events from downstairs swirled in her brain, trying to make sense of what had happened. Her heart was still pounding and her body was still tingling and she closed her eyes, and took several calming breaths. She knew that he had decided he didn’t love her, but that didn’t explain the hate in his eyes, why would he hate me? Suddenly she moved, leaning over the edge of her bed, reaching underneath it with her hand until she found what she was looking for. She brought the battered shoebox up on the bed in front of her. Her hands shaking slightly, she lifted the lid of the box. She hadn’t opened it since she had packed her pain away inside of it months ago. She pulled the letters out and held them, afraid to open them; afraid to read them even though she practically had them memorized by heart.

She opened the first letter and began to read; noticing where the ink had smudged with her tears and the parchment had warped slightly in tiny circles. She could picture the moment she first got it as thought it had happened yesterday. She remembered how her heart had dropped as she read it, confusion overwhelming her. She read them all, her broken heart breaking all over again and she finally fell into a troubled sleep with them spread around her.

~..~..~..~..~

Down the hall in Ron’s room Harry lay with his hands crossed behind his head, staring at nothing, trying to bring his body under control. This is exactly why I shouldn’t have come here, he thought. Five minutes alone with her and look what she does… This is exactly why Beth is perfect for me. She would never do something like that. At the thought of Beth, Harry cursed aloud, hit by an intense feeling of guilt and nausea, but it only made him angrier at Ginny, blaming her for what had happened.

After a few minutes Ron entered and sat on the bed across from him. He watched Harry for a minute, glaring at the ceiling, anger radiating off of him. A glass of water sitting on the nightstand next to him shattered suddenly, sending water spilling everywhere. Ron started but Harry didn’t seem to care, he just kept staring at the ceiling.

“Blimey Harry,” Ron said as he flicked his wand at the mess, causing the glass to repair itself. “I think you should -”

“I don’t want to talk about it Ron,” Harry said, cutting him off. Ron tried again…

“Right… ok… It’s just… umm… Well, I don’t know what happened downstairs, but, I think you need to get control here.”

Harry looked over at him. “I am in control,” he said shortly, turning his head back to the ceiling.

Ron looked at the glass. “Umm… right…. Ok mate… but, umm… You know, I read her letters too and I know what you must be feeling, seeing her again,” He paused, waiting for Harry’s reaction. When he got no response he continued. “It’s just that, isn’t Beth getting here tomorrow?” Harry tensed at the sound of Beth’s name. He rubbed a hand through his hair, suddenly feeling even more ashamed of his actions downstairs than he already did. What happened? I don’t do things like that… what’s wrong with me? Ron broke into his thoughts as he continued speaking.

“It’s not really going to be pleasant if you and Ginny spend your time trying to kill each other... You have to let it go Harry, you have Beth now.”

“I know I have Beth,” Harry spat. “I just… I just… hate your sister…” he trailed off, as though that explained everything.

“I know you do” Ron replied softly, “It’s just that, it’s been months Harry. I would probably hate her too, but, you have to think of Beth… I don’t want you to get lost in this. She made her choice… you did everything short of begging to make her see she was wrong. I thought you were over it.”

“I was over it,” Harry replied to the ceiling. “I am over it. It’s just, seeing her, made it all come back and… and I don’t know what happened… somehow we were kissing… she was kissing me, like she wanted me… why would she do that... I… I wanted to hurt her like she hurt me.”

Ron was silent for a minute before saying, “Harry, you’re my best mate, but she’s my sister. I know she hurt you, but if I ever walk in on something like that again we are going to have a problem… Ginny is leaving for school soon… just steer clear of her until then and everything will work out…” When Harry didn’t say anything else Ron moved to get into bed, pointing his wand at the lamp and covering them in darkness.

Long after Ron had begun snoring Harry stayed awake, staring up at the ceiling. He kept running over what had happened in his mind; the feeling of shame and nausea churning in his stomach at his actions. It didn’t make any sense he thought… trying to remember what she had said… Something about letters, about her begging… her begging? What did that mean? He didn’t know when he finally drifted off, but when he opened his eyes he found the sun streaming in the window and Ron snoring contently from across the room.



Chapter 10: Timing is Everything
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Harry stood in the shower, letting the water run over him. Beth is coming today he kept telling himself. Everything will be easier when she gets here - better. He got out and dried off. He brushed his teeth and dried his hair with his wand before pulling on his clothes. He didn’t bother trying to bring his hair under control anymore, but it was a little longer than it had been last year and he liked it. He tried not to think about what he was going to say to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley when he saw them later. And if I’m lucky, he thought, I will be able to avoid Ginny completely.

He opened the bathroom door slowly and looked out, thankful that no one was in the hall. He started walking back to Ron’s room when Ginny’s open door caught his eye. He paused and glanced inside. She’s up early he thought as his eyes made their way around her walls, noting the eclectic mixture of Quiddich posters and muggle movie stars. You could see where she had pasted things on her wall to cover the bright pink paint she had loved when she was young, before she realized it clashed with her hair. Harry started to move on when his eyes caught her bed. It was covered with what looked like letters.

He knew it was none of his business, and he certainly knew that the last place he needed to be after last night was her bedroom, but even so he couldn’t help walking over to her bed. He picked up a letter and skimmed it. He froze as he read it and his eyes opened in shock. He picked up the next one, and the next, his mind racing as the words jumped out at him.

“…I’m sorry but I just can’t do this…”

“…I don’t love you…”

“…I wish you would stop writing, I don’t know what else to say…”

“…You need to grow up…”

“…Move on…”

They were all from him. Well no, there’s one from Ron here too he thought… continuing to read them…

Downstairs Ginny was finishing her toast. She had gotten up extra early to shower and get dressed, trying to avoid her parents - she wasn’t ready to face them yet. She took a last drink of juice and headed back upstairs, eager to get her shoes and head out of the house for the day. She climbed the stairs slowly, listening for movement. Not hearing anything she ran quickly to her room but stopped short when she saw him. What is he doing in here? she thought, her eyes narrowing. He was standing next to her bed, holding her letters – his letters. He seemed to be reading them, shuffling through them as though looking for something. “What are you doing?” she asked, her voice dripping with ice, “If you want those back you can have them.”

Harry turned at her voice, staring at her. She looked angrier than he had ever seen her. She dropped her eyes to the letters in his hands as he walked towards her. “What are these?” Harry demanded, thrusting the letters towards her. She didn’t take them, but raised her eyes back to his, the anger in them shifting slightly to confusion…

“What are these Ginny? Where did you get them?” he asked again, his voice shaking with anger.

“You sent them to me,” she replied with a hard voice. What is he playing at?… Harry’s stomach dropped clear out of his body. What?

“I don’t know what you mean Harry, you know where I -” But Harry interrupted her.

“I didn’t write these,” he said in a soft fury.

“What?” she replied, startled…

“I didn’t send you these letters Ginny,” his voice rising – “Where did you get them!?!?” he demanded.

For a second Ginny couldn’t make sound as her body tensed… a feeling of foreboding flooding through her, unable to believe him. “I don’t understand Harry… you sent them… Hedwig brought them…” her chin was beginning to tremble as he stared at her, as though trying to read her thoughts. He thrust the letters into her hands and stormed out of the room. Ginny stood there in shock, looking at the letters in her hands. Ginny felt the room begin to spin a little.

Harry felt something rising in him, but he couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Is she lying? Why would she lie? She didn’t show them to me… but maybe she left them out knowing I would look… but that doesn’t make any sense at all his mind raced as he threw open his trunk and began to dig inside. Something is wrong… something is really wrong. He found what he wanted and ran back down the hall to her room. Ginny was standing where he had left her, looking at the letters. She was white as a sheet as she looked up at him when he got close.

“What’s going on?” she asked as he took the letters from her hands and thrust a different bundle of paper into them. His own hands were shaking and his heart was pounding as he watched her begin to read what she was holding. He saw her eyes widen as she read them.

“Did you write these?” His voice was so soft she could barely hear him. She looked back at him, beginning to shake…

“What are these?” she asked.

“Did you write them?” He barked.

“No!” she shot back, dread beginning to fill her.

She kept reading. “No, I wrote this one,” she said, recognizing one of the first letters she had sent him… “but, not really… I wrote parts of it – someone changed it…” She looked up at him, beginning to feel sick…

“I didn’t send you these letters Ginny,” Harry said, heart pounding.

“Well I didn’t send you these” she replied weekly… “So... so you didn’t…” she trailed off and they looked at each other as what it meant fell into place. Without warning Ginny let out a sob and tears began streaming down her cheeks. “Oh my God,” she kept repeating as her hands went to her mouth. Harry hesitated for a second, watching her before he reached out and pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her. “I don’t understand,” she said against his chest, “I wrote Ron… He told me it was true...” Harry was silent as he stroked her hair, trying to soothe her even though he wasn’t anywhere near calm.

“I think,” he began slowly, “that someone must have spent a lot of time making sure that we read whatever we needed to until we believed it.”

What Ginny had said last night suddenly made sense to him. Oh God, last night, Harry thought; his face paling as he realized what it must have seemed like to her… she thought I left her, and then I… “Oh Ginny, I’m so sorry about last night… I… I was angry… I thought…” he trailed off.

“You thought I didn’t…” she trailed off. She couldn’t say it. “How could we let this happen,” she whispered and they fell silent, holding each other. It was as if their anger melted away as they stood there, leaving a confused sadness in its place. The silence was broken as Mrs. Weasley’s voice rang through the house… “HARRY! RON!” He stiffened automatically at the sound. Ginny looked up as a horrible expression of comprehension filled his face and he cursed under his breath.

“What is it?” she asked as he dropped his arms and stepped back. He looked at her and then looked at the door.

“I… I have to go,” he said simply, but the look in his eyes told Ginny that it meant something else, something deeper; she just didn’t know what.

~..~..~..~..~

This can’t be happening Harry thought as he walked down the stairs… I need time… I have to think. Does this change anything? His mind was racing as he got closer to the bottom. He stopped and took a few deep breaths to calm himself down. I can’t think about this now. He rubbed the pendant around his neck, forcing his mind away from Ginny and went to find Mrs. Weasley.

Beth was standing next to the table with her when he entered the kitchen. He broke into a grin when he saw her, his confusion fading for a second. “Harry!” she exclaimed and ran toward him. He scooped her up and spun her around once before setting her down in front of him…

“Hi,” he said leaning down to kiss her. He almost sighed out loud, amazed as always at how her presence could calm him; could make him feel safe. He slid his arm around her waist as he looked back up at Mrs. Weasley who was smiling tightly at him.

Her eyes flicked behind him and her forced smile faded completely. He glanced over his shoulder to find Ginny standing in the doorway. His smile faltered for a second as he looked at her, before he turned back around, tightening his grip on Beth’s waist. It’s too late he thought, I’m with Beth now, nothing has changed… right? Stop thinking about it. Focus!

Ginny couldn’t move. She stared at their backs for a second before Ron pushed her into the room from behind so that he could get past. “Beth!” he said as he approached the couple. They turned around and the blonde broke away from Harry to give him a hug. “Ron, hi! Is Hermione here?”

“No,” He said, stepping back, “she’s at her parents, but she should be here later.” Harry kept his eyes on Beth, sinking into the comforting feeling she always gave him. He watched her face harden for a fraction of a second as her gaze moved to Ginny before a grin spread across her face. It so quick he doubted anyone had seen it besides him.

“Hi,” she said, moving forward, “we’ve never met, my name is Beth.”

Ginny smiled back and extended her hand, “I’m Ginny, Ron’s sister.”

As the girls continued talking Mrs. Weasley let out the breath she had been holding since seeing her daughter in the doorway. She hadn’t thought to tell her that this Beth girl was coming. She hadn’t realized it would matter until she saw Harry kiss her. Why didn’t Ron warn me that this was more than a friend? As she watched the girls talk, all politeness and smiles, she said a quick prayer of thanks that Ginny hadn’t reacted badly.

Ginny talked as if in a daze, making small talk and smiling until her mother interrupted them. Ron of course had done nothing to help and Harry had stood back, as though afraid to enter the conversation. “Harry, why don’t you show Beth where her room is, I’m sure she will want to get settled in,” Mrs. Weasley said. Harry’s head jerked as though he hadn’t been paying attention.

“Ok,” he said as he took her hand and led her from the room.

“Nice to meet you Ginny, Mrs. Weasley” Beth said as she walked out. Ginny stared at the door for a minute before turning to look at her mother and brother. Her eyes filled with tears but she blinked them back and walked past them and out the back door. As the door shut Mrs. Weasley turned towards her son, murder in her eyes. She threw a silencing charm over the kitchen and what happened next was much worse than any howler…

“RONALD WEASLEY WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT SHE WAS… WAS… WELL HIS… DON’T YOU THINK GINNY NEEDED TO KNOW THIS?”

Ron, who was completely startled by the outburst took an automatic step back and furrowed his brow. “Why would she care?”

“WHY WOULD SHE… HAVE YOU TAKEN LEAVE OF YOUR SENSES RONALD?!? AFTER WHAT HAPPENED OF COURSE SHE… WHY I HAVE HALF A MIND TO - ”

Ron cut her off, knowing it was probably better for her not to finish that sentence and said, “Mum, Ginny doesn’t care, Beth is good for Harry.” What was wrong with her? he thought as he watched her red face become purple… this was not a good sign and he took another step back. Ginny broke it off, she knows this…

“GOOD FOR… IS SHE – IS SHE THE REASON HE GOT OVER GINNY?” she raged as she came toward him. Ron, who didn’t understand why he was suddenly in trouble here, threw his arms out in frustration.

“YES! AND YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY MUM, I DON’T GET IT, DID YOU EXPECT HIM TO JUST BE MISERABLE FOREVER?” His mother bristled at this and pulled herself up to her full height, a full foot shorter than her son but intimidating none the less.

“AND GINNY MADE HIM MISERABLE?” Ron had had enough, his mother had gone mental.

“OF COURSE SHE DID! DID YOU EVEN READ THE LETTERS MUM?”

Mrs. Weasley paused at this. When she spoke again her voice was deadly calm and Ron was suddenly terrified of her. She usually reserved this tone for Fred and George and even they cowered when she moved past hysterics to this.

She came toward him, poking him in the chest with her finger as she spoke “Oh I read the letters, and you better thank merlin everyday that I have handled this whole thing as well as I have. She didn’t want him in the house, but I allowed him to stay… I am shocked and disgusted that you would have such little regard for your sister’s feelings.” Ron tried to interrupt her, to tell her that wasn’t true but she didn’t give him a chance. “I am disappointed in you Ronald, and if I hear another word from you about this subject you and Harry will be out of this house before you can say quiddich, do you here me?”

“Yes mum,” Ron mumbled, turning quickly and walking out of the room, a little confused at what had just happened.

~..~..~..~..~


Ginny climbed into the tree house and sat down, looking out toward the lake as her mind reeled from what had just happened. The letters were fake… the girl… who was the girl? How had he even met anyone?... Ginny felt her eyes begin to tear up and shook herself, blinking them back. She couldn’t believe the letters were fake, how could we be so stupid? This meant that Harry had loved her, and had felt the same pain and hurt that she had… her emotions were all over the place as she sat there, not sure whether to be happy or upset or indifferent…

~..~..~..~..~

Upstairs Harry led Beth into Percy’s old room and shut the door. As soon as it closed Beth pulled him against her, finding his lips. His arms snaked around her and pulled her close as he kissed her back. His hand rubbed her back as he slipped his tongue into her mouth, feeling the familiar feeling of warmth and security spread through him at her touch. It was nothing like his kiss with Ginny the night before, which had been filled with fire and desperation. “Hi,” she said after a minute and he smiled into her lips. “Hi.”

“So… that was Ginny,” she said pulling back. The smile slipped from his face and he dropped his arms, moving to sit on the bed.

“Yeah,” he said, running a hand through his hair distractedly. “That was Ginny.” Beth came and sat beside him and pulled his hand into her lap.

“Are you ok?” she asked. He looked at her and leaned in, kissing her softly.

“Yeah, I’m fine… better now that you’re here.”

“Has it been horrible?”

“Parts of it,” he said, his mind filling with a montage of images from the den to the robe store to just a minute ago in Ginny’s room. “I think we have reached a truce though,” he said after a minute. She leaned her head onto his shoulder and they sat in silence. Beth ran her hand up to his neck, smiling as she fingered the pendant she had given him not long after they had met. She turned her head, kissing his neck.

“I missed you,” she said against his skin.

He stoked her hair, closing his eyes as she kissed him, “I missed you too baby.”

He was content for a few minutes, but soon what had happened in Ginny’s room began to fill his mind. He tried to push his thoughts back but they wouldn’t go away. He needed to be by himself… he had to think. “Are you tired? You can lie down before dinner if you want… Hermione won’t be here until later and I promised Ron I would help him outside…”

Beth pouted playfully at his words, “now? I just got here…” He smiled at her expression and kissed her softly.

“I’ll make up for it later,” he said before leaving the room.

This is like a nightmare he thought as he made his way outside. I love Beth, but what about Ginny?


Chapter 11: A Fragile Friendship
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Harry found Ginny in the tree house. He hadn’t been looking for her; it just seemed like a good place to hide out while he thought. Apparently she had thought the same thing.

He climbed up the rungs and through the trap door quickly, not wanting anyone to see where he was going but he stopped when he was halfway in. She was sitting with her back to him, staring out the window that overlooked the lake. For a second he thought about climbing back down but instead he climbed in and sat down beside her. The sat together, looking out at the lake for a few minutes.

Harry wasn’t sure what to say so he didn’t say anything and she didn’t seem to mind the silence so he just sat next to her, lost in his own thoughts. He felt the need to apologize to her, but he didn’t know what for.

“Who is she?” Ginny finally asked, not bothering to look over at him. He looked over at her for a second, before looking back out the window.

“She is the healer’s daughter. The one Ron talked about who helped us. We stayed at his house for awhile… it kind of became our headquarters I suppose.”

As they talked they didn’t look at each other, they just kept looking out the window. It was almost like they were listening to the conversation and not participating in it. Harry told her about how they met, how Beth had watched over him and stayed with him while he recovered. “I was so angry then… I was cruel to her at first but she didn’t leave. She just kept talking to me, being with me until my anger faded… She saved me…” he paused, thinking back. “She was so different from you,” he said after a minute. “She was quiet and soft… she reached me when I wouldn’t let anyone else in.”

They fell silent again and Ginny ran a hand through her hair distractedly. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Part of her was thankful that someone had helped him, but the other part of her broke at the realization that they had been helping him move on. Helping him get over her.

“Do you love her?” Ginny asked quietly after awhile.

“Yes,” he said. And he meant it.

Ginny didn’t know how to feel. “So, what does this mean?” she asked, “I suppose we don’t hate each other anymore.” Harry looked over at her at this and she turned her head, meeting his eyes. The sadness in hers hit him like a wave, crashing over him and filling him with a profound understanding of what they had lost. What had been taken from them. He studied her for minute before answering.

“I guess we’re friends. We try to be friends again. I mean, if you want that. That's all I can give you... I’m with Beth; we can’t just go back to how things were. We have different lives now.”

Ginny nodded. “I know. I didn’t expect…” Ginny replied trailing off as she watched his eyes. She had always loved his eyes, loved the way he looked at her and she saw his struggle in them. She still couldn’t really believe that this was happening, that they were having to have this discussion. She wasn’t even over the shock of the letters and now this.

She turned her head away, unable to look at him anymore. Harry continued to watch her, and saw a stray tear make its way down her cheek.

“Gin, please don’t…” he began but she shook her head quickly and he fell silent.

“I’m fine…I… I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be feeling,” she said, wiping the tear away. “I’ve been so angry, and hated you… and now I find out that it was all fake… I…”

Harry pulled her to him, resting his head on hers. “I’m so sorry Gin… I don’t know what to feel either.”

She shook her head, “Don’t. Don’t be sorry, it wasn’t your fault.” He smiled into her hair.

“You always say things are not my fault… but whoever did this did it because of me.” They sat together for a few more minutes before Ginny pulled away.

“You don’t know that,” she said and he furrowed his brow.

“What do you mean?” he asked and she smiled ruefully up at him and cocked her head, her eyes still watery.

“Well you assume it is about you, but I mean really Harry, it could have been someone just desperate to have me,” she joked but his eyes clouded over as they narrowed.

“Was there?” he asked, thinking about that Logan guy, and Ginny’s smile faded as she saw the look on his face.

“Harry, I was joking...” she said, “I wasn’t serious; you know it was probably Voldemort, or someone working for him, so it doesn’t matter anymore.”

He watched her for a second before he nodded, knowing she was right. “It matters to me,” he said quietly and she gave him a soft, sad smile.

“I know. It matters to me too. I’m really glad you’re alight… Despite anything I said, I did worry about you… and… and I want to be friends, I don’t want to be angry anymore.” He studied her face and saw the truth of her words mix with the sadness in her eyes.

“I’d like that,” he said softly.

Ginny repeated her words, I want to be friends, in her mind and had the uncomfortable feeling that she was lying. She didn’t think she wanted to be friends. She could handle hating him, being angry at him, but she didn’t know how well it would work to be around him now and not with him. “So, what about Beth?” she asked, pushing her worries away, telling herself that it would be fine.

“What about her?”

“Well, she certainly doesn’t like me. I mean I saw her face when we met.” Harry looked down, smiling a little; he should have known she would notice.

“I thought I was the only one who saw that,” he said as he looked back up and she smiled.

“I doubt anyone else did, she covered pretty well considering.” Harry’s smile faded and he looked at Ginny’s face. “Isn’t she going to wonder why we are all of a sudden trying to be friends?”

“She’ll be fine. I’m going to tell her the truth,” he said staring at Ginny, “about the letters and everything.”

Ginny turned her head away from him and stared out the window. “And we aren’t going to try Ginny, we are going to be friends. I want to be friends,” he added quietly after a minute. Harry felt an uncomfortable feeling move across him as he said friends and he frowned. His emotions were a mess and he took a few breaths, trying to make sense of how they had gone from loathing to friendship again in a matter of minutes.

“I’m going to go inside,” she said, getting up after a minute. “And you probably should too… Beth will be looking for you.”

Harry nodded, watching her as she left. He stayed in the tree house for a few more minutes before following her inside.

~..~..~..~..~

They were all sitting at the table later when the mail came. “Here’s something from Hogwarts Ginny. It must be your book list,” Mrs. Weasley said as she shuffled though the stack.

Ginny took the letter and opened it.

“It’s not my booklist mum, it’s a… oh my gosh,” Ginny said as she read the letter, breaking into a smile.

“What is it?” her mother asked as she moved back to the stove. Ron, Hermione and Harry all looked up from their place at the table, waiting for the answer. Beth followed their gaze and waited too, not really knowing what else to do.

Ginny looked up… “I’m… I’m head girl,” she said in shock. Her mother whipped around, spraying soup all over the floor as the trio shot up from their chairs and crossed the room at a run to see the letter. It was a mass of voices all talking at once… “WHAT?!... LET ME SEE!... OH GIN THAT’S GREAT!... HEAD GIRL!!... WOW!!... I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!... WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T BELIEVE IT RON?!?”

Mrs. Weasley pulled Ginny into a hug and took the letter. “Head Girl! Oh Ginny I am so proud!”

Ginny was still in shock as Ron, Hermione and finally Harry pulled her into a hug of congratulations. “That’s great Gin,” Harry said as he pulled away, strangely exhilarated by her happiness and touch. She looked up at him, her eyes shining. “Thanks…”

“Do you know what this means Gin?” Ron said in awe, pulling her focus from Harry. “You have your own room! Your own bathroom!!” Ginny laughed, and Hermione rolled her eyes.

Beth watched from the table, suddenly feeling like she was intruding on some family moment. Her eyes clouded a tiny bit as she saw Harry embrace Ginny. It seemed to her that Ginny’s hands stayed on his arms a second too long when she pulled back from him. She studied her profile as the group talked excitedly. She wasn’t really what she had expected. This girl was pretty, with an engaging smile and sparkling eyes and Beth had a little trouble picturing her as the callous person she had been described as. But it had been a year, maybe she had grown up, she reasoned, looking for the good in the situation. She smiled up at Harry as he walked back to her. She pushed down her unease as he plopped down beside her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She knew from the letters that Ginny didn’t want Harry and that Harry was in love with her now, not Ginny.

Ginny got a special dinner than night. She also received a condolence letter from Fred and George, along with some gadgets to use in the hallways when she patrolled. They assured her that with hard work she could be busted back to prefect in no time.

~..~..~..~..~

Over the next couple of days Harry and Ginny worked on being friends. They were polite and found themselves quickly falling into the easy relationship they had enjoyed before becoming a couple. Harry focused his energy on Beth and worked on seeing Ginny only as Ron’s little sister.

Ron and Hermione noticed the change between them, but with Beth visiting there wasn’t a lot of time to ask questions and they decided that they would just enjoy the truce that seemed to have been created. They would ask Harry about it later.

Mrs. Weasley also saw the change that had occurred between them. They were being civil to each other, even talking normally at times and she wondered what had happened. She knew her daughter though, and also noticed with each day her mood sank lower, despite her outward cheerfulness. She decided to figure out what was going on and looked for an opportunity to corner her. The moment arrived as the group was headed out to the lake to go swimming one afternoon. Ginny was following the two couples and waved to her mom as they passed the door to the den where she was sitting on the sofa.

“Ginny,” her mom called after her. “Can I speak with you a minute dear?”

Ginny stopped and came back into the room, not too upset at being separated from the group. “What’s up mum?” Her mother patted the sofa next to her, giving her an expression that made her a little uneasy. She could sense what was coming and wasn’t sure if she wanted to deal with it. She sank down onto the couch and steeled herself for the inevitable.

“Ginny, I’m you’re mother and I love you. What’s wrong?”

Ginny shrugged, trying to act casually as her mother reached over and took her hand.

“Nothing.”

Mrs. Weasley squeezed her hand and gave her a look that said she knew she was lying before responding.

“Something has happened Ginny, I know it. You and Harry are certainly being much more civil right now, but I can tell that you are hurting. Please tell me what’s going on so I can help you.”

Ginny looked down at her lap, fighting the tears that had unexpectedly rushed to get out. “You can’t help me with this,” she said softly.

“You may be surprised dear, please tell me.”

Ginny paused. She trusted her mother and knew that she probably needed to talk to someone so she took a deep breath. She didn’t look up as she started talking.

“Harry found his letters to me in my room. But, it turns out that… that they weren’t really his letters... he didn’t write them.” Ginny’s vision blurred and she felt the tears begin to fall down her cheeks as her mother gave a small gasp. “And he never got the ones I sent, he got something else… he showed them to me.” Mrs. Weasley felt the hand she was holding begin to shake and put her other hand over it, giving it another squeeze.

“It was all a trick,” Ginny whispered, as if afraid to say it out loud. “A gross, horrible trick and we both fell for it. We all fell for it… you, dad, Ron… we were so stupid.”

She looked up as her tone became firmer but full of a sarcastic lightness. “And now… now we are trying to be friends.” The sarcasm faded as she continued her tears still rolling quickly down her cheeks. “And I have to watch him everyday with someone else.”

Her voice dropped to a whisper and she choked out, “…someone who should be me.”

She broke down and Mrs. Weasley pulled her into a hug, aching as she heard the pain in her daughter’s voice. “Oh Ginny,” she sighed.

“I didn’t know it would hurt this much,” she sobbed. “I, I love him. I still love him.” She gave a bitter laugh and pulled away. “I never stopped loving him, we all know it,” she said as she wiped her eyes in frustration. “ugh…I hate crying.”

“Have you talked to Harry? About this?”

“About the fact that I am in love with him?” She asked with a laugh and a sniff. “No, that didn’t really come up. He said he wants to try to be friends. What was I supposed to say? ‘Oh, well just being friends doesn’t really work for me so dump your girlfriend?’ He said he is with Beth, that he loves Beth and we can’t just go back…” She looked at the fireplace for a minute, watching the flames and thinking about the last several days.

“But you know mum,” she said softly, “I don’t think he does really.”

“Doesn’t what?”

Ginny looked at her mother. “Love Beth. I don’t think he loves her the way he loves me, or loved me I guess… He… he just doesn’t look at her the way he looked at me.” Ginny said as she turned her eyes back to the fire. Mrs. Weasley studied her daughter, not sure if she liked the way her thoughts were leading her. She had been hurt enough.

“And, does he look at you? The way he used to?” she asked finally.

Ginny’s gaze moved back to her mother. “I don’t know,” she said looking down. “I think he tries not to look at me at all actually.”


Chapter 12: Actions Speak Louder...
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Ginny didn’t go swimming that day, and when the others arrived back from the lake she seemed a little distracted; a little detached. Hermione pulled her aside and asked if anything was wrong but she just shrugged her off, avoiding her eyes. By the next day however, she seemed to be back to normal and a few days after that Beth went home.

While Beth was there Harry had been pretty successful at keeping his thoughts for Ginny platonic. But now that Beth was gone he found himself more and more in Ginny’s company and he began to grow uneasy because there was nothing to distract him from her beauty, and spirit, and everything else that he had loved about her. He got the feeling that she was trying to avoid him, which shouldn’t have mattered to him, but instead he found himself wondering what she was doing and why she wasn’t doing it with them.

The first evening without Beth was spent with the four of them sitting around, playing chess and basically doing nothing. Harry and Ginny had a great time teasing Ron and Hermione about their behavior because they seemed unable to sit beside each other without touching in some way. Eventually they left in a good natured huff and Harry and Ginny were left alone, giggling foolishly on the sofa.

They stayed up a little longer and for awhile they talked normally, laughing and joking as they played chess, just enjoying each other’s company. Eventually they gave up the game and just lounged around; Harry draped over the large armchair and Ginny stretched out on the sofa.

The longer they sat there, the more beautiful Ginny seemed to become to Harry; her eyes sparkling as they joked and talked. These were the first real smiles she had given him since he had returned and he found himself trying to find ways to make her smile, just so that he could see it again.

After awhile they fell into a comfortable silence and sat watching the fire. When Harry began to have trouble keeping his eyes open he glanced over to find Ginny already asleep on the sofa. He watched her for a second before pulling himself out of the chair and walking over to her. He woke her up and they went up to bed, saying goodnight quietly in the hall outside of her room.

~..~..~..~..~


A few days after Beth left Hermione finally talked Ginny into joining them at the lake to go swimming. For the first few days she had refused, feeling like the best plan of action was to avoid him. After the night in the den she felt like she had Harry overload; her ability to stick to the friends routine hanging by a thread.

When she got to the lake the others were already in the water messing around. She pulled her hair up into a knot on top of her head and walked carefully to the edge, watching as Harry and Ron continued splashing each other.

“Come on Gin,” Ron called, “what’s the matter, afraid to get wet?” Ginny put her hands on her hips and walked into the water as Hermione and Harry grinned at each other, taking Ron’s comment as a clue. They began using their arms to throw water at her as she moved. She threw up her arms, twisting away as they splashed.

“Hey, stop! Three on one isn’t fair!”

“Aww, come on Gin, you have arms, splash back if you don’t like it,” Harry called with a laugh. Ron however, didn’t think it was as funny, seeing Ginny’s eyes flash as she raised her eyebrow.

“Hey wait, guys stop,” he said, knowing what was coming. “Gin wait! It wasn’t me! I wasn’t in on it!” he yelled as she threw her arms up, but it was too late.

Water shot towards the trio as a wave formed in front of Ginny. Hermione and Harry’s eyes widened for a second before it crashed over them, pulling them under the water as it moved across the lake. When they finally got back to the surface they were practically on the other shore and Ginny was treading water across from them, smirking.

Harry began swimming back across, but Ron and Hermione were slower to follow as Ron grabbed her around the waist and pulled her to him. “Ron,” Hermione said as he kissed her neck.

“Let’s stay over here for awhile,” he murmured, but Hermione pushed against him and he raised his head to find her looking across the lake.

“I don’t think we should. I don’t think we should leave them by themselves…” Ron looked over and saw Harry swimming back to the other side and shrugged.

“We aren’t their parents Hermione. They are big kids now, I’m sure they can handle themselves… besides,” he said, pulling her legs around him and smiling at her, wagging his eyebrows. “I promise it is much more entertaining over here.” She laughed at him as she slipped his arms around his neck.

Across the lake Ginny smiled sweetly at Harry as he approached. “Don’t make that face at me Miss Weasley,” Harry said as he reached her.

“What?” she asked innocently, “you told me to use my arms, so I did.” He circled her slowly and she turned with him, continuing to watch him as she treaded water.

“True,” he said, breaking into a smile, “but of course I have arms too.”

He narrowed his eyes and reached out as she shot towards him with a startled cry. “Harry! Wait!” she cried as he caught her, but he only smiled.

“I don’t think so,” he said as he dunked her under the water, holding her down to make sure her hair got completely soaked before pulling her back up, sputtering. “Oh I’m sorry Gin, did your hair get wet?” he asked as he dunked her under again before pulling her back up.

Her eyes flashed as she pulled the band out of her hair, the weight of it was now pulling painfully on her scalp. “I just washed my hair Harry!” she said as she launched herself on top of him, pushing him under the water. It was his turn to sputter when he came back up. She tried to swim away but he caught her ankle and pulled her back.

“What, you attack and then run Gin?” he said with a laugh as he started tickling her, “that is not fair at all!”

She cried out, trying to twist away as his hands moved over her stomach and sides. “Stop!” she gasped, laughing as she twisted.

She wrenched herself out of his grasp and swam away, scrambling up on the familiar rocks that she and her brothers had used as children. They had taught her to dive from them, despite their mother’s constant threats and warnings.

Harry swam up behind her and called her name but she stayed frozen where she was crouching, looking at something. She whispered his name but didn’t move. “What is it?” he asked. It was just shallow enough for him to stand and he began to pull himself up on the rocks when he stopped too. There was a large snake right in front of her. Its head was raised and it was hissing at her, ready to strike.

Apparently she had scrambled right up to where it had been sleeping in the sun and it didn’t appreciate being woken and splashed with water. Ginny stayed frozen, her eyes glued on the snake as Harry began speaking parseltongue to it. It swung its head toward him and hissed back. As he continued to speak Harry reached up slowly and wrapped his arm around Ginny’s stomach. He began to pull her off the rock when the snake swung its head back towards her, hissing. Harry spoke to it furiously as he brought her back into the water. Ginny clung to Harry, watching the snake carefully as it seemed to decide whether to back down or not. Finally, after a few more urges from Harry is lowered its head and slithered to another part of the rock.

Ginny breathed a sigh of relief as she watched it go, as did Harry. “Ok?” he asked, turning to look at her.

“Yeah, thanks” she said looking back at him. She was still pulled up against him, their bodies pressed together and they stared at each other as everything faded away, leaving just each other. “Good thing you speak parsletongue,” Ginny said softly, suddenly overwhelmed by how close he was.

“Yeah,” he whispered, bringing his hand up and pushing a piece of hair off her face. He stared at her face, watching a drop of water move down her cheek as heat began to churn in his stomach. He could feel her pressed against him and he knew he should let go but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. His hand lingered on her neck as his eyes dropped to her lips. They were beckoning him, and he felt himself moving closer. “He was pretty mad at you,” he breathed. His eyes flicked back to hers and he saw her desire in them; a desire that was mirrored in his.

Ginny’s eyes fluttered shut as she felt his hand softly massaging her neck. “Well, it wasn’t my fault,” she managed softly. They were so close they could feel their breath mingling and Harry let his eyes shut too, consumed by her.

“That’s what I told him…”

The tension built around them and Ginny felt his skin against her, burning her. “I’m glad he’s not mad anymore,” she managed as their faces moved closer.

“Me too,” came Harry’s strangled reply, too overwhelmed by her to get anything else out and suddenly not sure if they were still talking about the snake.

They hovered together, and just as Harry felt his bottom lip graze hers, Ginny pushed away, staring at him as she swam backwards away from him. She turned and swam back to the shore. She grabbed her towel and wrapped it around her, glancing back at him for a second before running back to the house. Harry stayed where he was, watching her until she disappeared through the back door. With a groan he sank into the water, running his hands over his face and through his hair.

When he saw her later they didn’t say anything about what happened, and sank back into their role as “friends.”


~..~..~..~..~


The following night Harry had one of his nightmares. In this one Voldemort was torturing Beth and Harry could hear her but he couldn’t get to her and the more he tried the more her screams increased. Only as the dream progressed it began to change. The closer he got to her, the more her hair became red, and the more her screams sounded like Ginny’s. He fought desperately to get to her, her face clear now as she screamed his name and terror filled him. As Voldemort finally threw the killing curse at her Harry cried out, not in terror for Beth, but in terror for Ginny as he watched her fall to the ground, the life slipping out of her.

He woke up as his body cried out for her and his eyes shot open to see Ron leaning over him, shaking him and calling his name. He was twisted in his sheets and he was covered in sweat. He sat up at the same time that Hermione and Ginny came running into the room, followed soon after by Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Everyone rushed to the bed except for Ginny, who stayed back, watching from against the wall.

At their words of concern Harry shook them off, assuring them he was fine, that nothing was wrong, and eventually they began to back off. He glanced over Hermione’s shoulder at Ginny, seeing the worry in her face and he held her gaze in his for a second. He couldn’t remember the last time he had dreamed about her, and he couldn’t remember the last time any of his dreams had seemed so real.

He broke his gaze from her and turned his focus back to Mrs. Weasley, who had begun pulling him out of the bed so she could change his sheets and ordering Ron to get him some more pajamas.

“I’m fine, really. You don’t need to do that,” he said, even as the sheets began shooting off of his bed. He gave up, raising his arms helplessly at Ron who shrugged back as his mother bustled around. He decided it was best to let her do what she wanted, but he had to draw the line somewhere and he pulled away from her as she began trying to pull his damp shirt over his head. “I’m fine… wait… I can do that…”

He was saved by Mr. Weasley, who pulled his wife away from him. “Molly. He’s fine. He can change his own shirt.”

“Oh, Right, I know… I mean, oh I’m sorry Harry dear, it’s just you had me worried and this is what I used to do for my boys when they had nightmares growing up so… habits you know…” she trailed off as Harry mumbled that it was fine. He could feel his face flushing, her words reminding him of his weakness. Nightmares were for children, not someone his age.

After a few minutes the bed was changed and everyone filed back out of the room, leaving Ron and Harry sitting on their beds. Ginny was the last one out and she looked over her shoulder at Harry before closing the door.

“You ok?” Ron asked when the door was shut and Harry looked over at him.

“Yeah, I’m fine. You know me, the only 18 year old who can’t sleep through the night.”

Ron didn’t laugh, but reached up to scratch the back of his neck as he watched Harry change his shirt.

“That one was a pretty bad though right? I mean, I don’t remember you having anything like that in a long time,” he said, and Harry moved to get back under the covers.

“It was bad I guess, but you know, just a dream. It’s not real.” Ron nodded and got back under his own covers, pulling them up. “I guess since everyone came running in here I was screaming? Or something?” Harry asked after a minute and Ron frowned.

“Yeah, you were screaming… well you were screaming and yelling for… um, well Ginny or something,” he said uncomfortably and Harry’s head snapped toward him.

“Out loud? I said her name? Do you think… do you think they heard it?”

“Um, no, I’m sure… you know…” Ron trailed off and Harry knew he was lying. Brilliant he thought as he turned to stare up at the ceiling, thinking about Ginny’s face from before and he knew she had heard it.

~..~..~..~..~


When Harry came down for breakfast no one said anything about what had happened and he breathed a sigh of relief. He glanced at Ginny and she seemed normal and he breathed another one. The four of them headed outside later and Ron and Hermione walked ahead holding hands, leaving Harry and Ginny to walk behind them. At first they were silent but after a minute Ginny turned her head to look at him. “I didn’t know you still had nightmares,” she said and he put his hands into his pockets, watching the rock he was kicking in front of him.

“Yeah, not very often though,” he said casually.

“I’m sorry,” she said, turning her head away from him and he shot a glance at her.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “They’re just dreams.” She nodded, looking down to watch the rock he was kicking but he could tell she wasn’t satisfied with his answer. He didn’t really know how he knew, he just did and after a minute he nudged her with his elbow and she looked up at him. “I’m serious, it’s not a big deal Gin. They don’t happen often,” he said.

“Are they the same as before?” she asked and he nodded.

“You know, same old thing, me trying to save someone I love and failing,” he said without thinking. Ginny’s head snapped toward him as Harry realized what he had said. She saw his jaw clench and his face flush and she looked away, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. He cursed inwardly, knowing she knew his dream had been about her.

The dream doesn’t mean I still love her, he told himself. It just means… well it just means I care about her… like a friend… she’s a friend.

“Well, I’m sorry you still have them,” she said finally, unable to think of anything else to say besides ‘I love you too,’ which somehow just didn’t seem appropriate. They were both thankful that at that moment Ron and Hermione turned toward them, having reached the lake.

~..~..~..~..~

Beth came back to the Burrow for Harry’s birthday and the family threw him a very Weasley party. There was tons of food and laughter and the twins came home for a visit, giving Harry several new items they were selling (and a couple they were still testing, which he wisely chose not to try) and filled the room with fireworks again, much to Mrs. Weasley’s increasing dismay. Harry didn’t think she was that mad though, as he saw her trying to stifle a grin at their antics. She was not smiling, however, when the sofa caught fire.

“OUT! OUT!” she cried, shooing her sons to the front door.

“But mom, it was an accident,” Fred said.

“Yeah, look, it’s as good as new,” George added, gesturing to the sofa.

"Better than new really," Fred said, but it was no use.

“I don’t care! Get out of my house this instant! The party is over! And don’t come back here until you can behave like adults!!”

They tried arguing, they tried teasing but it was no use and they finally left, highly affronted and grumbling about their treatment. “Imagine, your own mother caring more about furniture than her own sons!”

“Oh no, I love my other sons just fine, it is only you two who rate lower than the cushions… OUT!”

Harry and the rest watched the scene silently, trying not to laugh.

“Oh, now don’t let them spoil your night Harry dear, you kids stay up as long as you want,” Mrs. Weasley said as she shut the door and headed to the stairs.

~..~..~..~..~

“Oh great thanks Ron, that’s brilliant!” Harry said later as he began to open his presents. Ron had gotten him a quiddich themed chess set, where all of the pieces were mounted on brooms and knocked each other out of the sky during the game.

He got a new quill and parchment from Hermione. “It corrects your spelling when you write!” she said, feeling a little more excited about it than everyone else. “What?” she asked when she noticed Ron’s expression.

“Nothing,” he replied softly, “just, please don’t get me that for my birthday…”

Harry thanked her with a laugh and his eyes caught Ginny’s. She was laughing too but he dropped his eyes, suddenly not liking the gift that much, remembering how well writing letters had gone the last time. He laughed and looked up though, when Hermione huffed and said “Fine. Well there’s a gift certificate to the quiddich store as well Harry, folded in the parchment if you missed it. I suppose I won’t get you that either Ronald, since you don’t like my presents.”

He opened Beth’s present next. It was a leather journal and a new polishing set for his broom. “I thought you could use it, since your broom has been neglected for so long,” she said. “I know how much you love flying.”

“Thanks baby,” he said, giving her a quick kiss. Across the room Ginny watched silently, ignoring the way her heart clenched. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten him anything, she thought suddenly. But it was too late to worry about that as she watched him pick up her present.

Harry was a little surprised she had even given him a present and he looked up at her. She saw his expression but she just smiled and shrugged. He pulled the paper off and opened the box. Inside was a small muggle item called a dream catcher. He read the note that was attached to it and swallowed the lump that began to form in his throat. “This is a dream catcher,” it said. “Hang it above your bed and it will protect you. According to Indian legend it sifts the good dreams from the bad. The good dreams are captured in the web and carried with the person, but the evil in their dreams escapes through the hole in the center and is no longer a part of them.” He looked up, humbled by it. After everything, she had given him a gift that mattered. A gift that meant something. “Thanks,” he said softly and she just smiled at him.

“I thought you could use it.”

Warmth flooded Harry’s body as he saw her eyes sparkling for him and the feeling he had been fighting since the day in the lake rushed into him. It was Beth who broke the quiet spell that only they felt. “That is so nice Ginny,” she said, taking the dream catcher from Harry and looking at it. “Where did you find something like this?”

~..~..~..~..~

They stayed up late playing games and sitting around. Beth was so nice that Ginny couldn’t help liking her and despite the circumstances; despite the fact that Harry’s arm was around someone else, Ginny found herself having a good time. Her relationship with Harry had started as friendship and she found it easy to slip back into the comfortable banter they had. She didn’t let herself dwell on her wants and focused on being the friend he had asked for. She could be sad later she told herself.

As the night went on, as they laughed and talked, Harry felt his gaze drawn more and more towards Ginny. She acted like her old self, her eyes shining as she filled the room with warmth and wit. He could tell that even Beth warmed to her and he felt himself becoming more confused than he had been. He felt the part of him that had loved her roar to life, trying to fight down his feelings for Beth.

Needing space, he left the card game they were all playing and went to sit on the couch. Beth had her back to him, Hermione and Ron were on either side and Ginny was facing him. He went through his presents, trying to distract himself, but that didn’t help, especially when he got to the dream catcher, and eventually he just sat quietly and watched them play. Ginny won a hand and cheered, laughing. Harry couldn’t drag his eyes away as he watched her sparkle with innocent joy.

She looked up as she laughed and her eyes caught Harry’s staring at her. That was when she saw it, the heat in his gaze she hadn’t seen fully since last year. He dropped his eyes after a second but it was too late. Her breathe caught and her laughter faded. She suddenly felt like crying. He used to look at her that way all the time. He had never looked at anyone else like that, not even Beth. She had seen echoes of it over the past week, but not like this, never so complete. Her good mood faded and she didn’t really feel like playing anymore.

“Come on Harry, why aren’t you playing?” Beth called over her shoulder as Ron shuffled the cards, and was quickly echoed by the rest of the group. Running a hand through his hair he rejoined the circle, sitting down next to Beth.

As Ron began dealing the cards Beth looked over at Harry. He didn’t seem to be having a good time anymore. She rested her hand on his thigh and leaned toward him, whispering in his ear. Relief flooded through his body at her touch. He felt her breath against his skin and his feelings for her raced through him. Beth… Beth is who I love, who I want. She will never hurt me.

He put his hand on the back of her neck and pulled her into a deep kiss, feeling the need to show Ginny (and maybe just a little bit himself) that he wanted Beth. Across the circle Hermione glanced at Ginny, whose face had become blank. Beth pushed away from Harry and glanced around the circle, “Harry,” she murmured as her cheeks turned pink.

“What?” he said, leaning in and kissing her quickly on the neck, “it’s my birthday and I should get what I want.”

Ginny watched him as he turned to pick up his cards. He glanced at her, giving her a defiant look. She narrowed her eyes, trying to figure out what he was doing and what the look meant.

The night soon came to an end and they all headed off to bed. Everyone seemed to be giving the birthday boy a hug and Ginny couldn’t see any way to avoid it without it seeming strange so she hugged him too. In reality she didn’t want to avoid it and as he pulled her to him, it didn’t seem to her like he wanted to avoid it either. “Happy Birthday,” she said, pulling back quickly and looking up into his eyes.

It was still there. She could tell he was trying to hide it, to fight it, but it was still there and she cocked her head to the side for a second, looking up at him. Harry looked down at her and saw her eyes sparkling, the way they only sparkled for him. Inside he did two things at once. Part of his heart jumped and the other part panicked.

“Thanks,” he said, quickly turning to find Beth.

He lay in bed that night, feeling overwhelmed by the whole situation. He finally decided that he was just going to have to leave the burrow. At least until Ginny went back to school. Things were just too complicated; too confusing.



Chapter 13: Unable to See
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The day after Harry’s party Ginny went to Diagon Alley to have an early lunch with Luna. Luna always ate early, something about the Smurgen Rollenstags in food that became active between 12 and 5 and caused you to hallucinate, or something like that. Ginny had honestly never really paid much attention to the reasoning; she just nodded and smiled, enjoying Luna’s company despite her quirks.

She got home around noon and didn’t find anyone in the house. She figured they were swimming so she put on her suit and grabbed a towel.

As she approached the lake, the only person she saw was Harry. He was sitting on a towel watching the water. There was a book beside him but he wasn’t reading it. She could tell he hadn’t been out of the water long because his hair was still wet and his shirt was off. Ginny felt her stomach flutter as her eyes moved over him. He was tan and lean, and it was obvious that he worked out, his skin smooth over his toned body. Eventually he noticed her movement and looked over.

Oh no Harry groaned inwardly when he saw her. She was walking towards him with a towel and sun block. She had on a simple, and little, green bikini with tiny yellow flowers. It sets off her hair perfectly he thought grumpily as he turned back towards the water.

“Where is everyone?” Ginny asked as she reached him, looking around.

“They went to Diagon Alley,” he replied. “Where have you been?” Ginny studied him for a second. He sounded annoyed.

“I went to lunch with Luna. Why didn’t you go with them?” Ginny asked as she laid her towel down beside him and sat down.

“Remus owled that he was coming by to see me so I had to wait for him. I didn’t feel like trying to find them in the shops, so I figured I would just stay here.”

They fell into a comfortable silence as he watched the water and she began putting on the sun block she had brought with her from the house.

Harry tried not to watch her, but felt his gaze drawn towards her, watching the gold highlights in her hair beckon him as she moved. He suddenly wished she was closer so that he could touch it. He shook his head, feeling like a prat for thinking that when he had Beth. Even so his eyes followed her hands as they rubbed lotion on her legs, making circles on her thighs. He had the sudden image that they were his hands and heat rushed to his stomach as his imagination became anything but innocent. He swallowed convulsively and dragged his protesting eyes back to the water.

After a few minutes she got up and tossed the lotion to him as she sat down in front of him. She crossed her legs and pulled her hair over her shoulder. It really has gotten long, Harry thought as he watched the multitude of colors erupt as she moved it. It fell almost to her elbows and curled softly in thick waves. Pull yourself together man, its just hair – think of Beth.

This isn’t wrong… she can’t reach her back he reasoned. We’re trying to be friends after all, so I have no reason to feel guilty. Even he wasn’t dense enough to believe that, but he tried to convince himself of it anyway.

“What did Remus say?” she asked as he began rubbing lotion on her back.

“Nothing good. Apparently the aurors were attacked and the guy from the shop got away before they could question him. The only thing they got from him was that he worked for Voldemort, and he didn’t say who he was working for now. Whoever it is must really not want to be found to risk attacking the aurors.”

“Why did they wait so long to tell you he had gotten away?” she asked as he ran his hands across her shoulders and then down the back of her arms. She leaned forward slightly as he moved his hands farther and farther down her back.

“Apparently they were trying to track him, to recapture him. They thought they had him a couple of times but finally lost the trail.” Harry felt his breathing become labored as he felt her skin beneath his hands, as if the air was becoming denser around him. He watched his hands making small circles on her back, and he looked at the sprinkling of freckles on her shoulders. He remembered how he used to count them.

“Well that’s great work. Mundungus must have been in charge of that one,” Ginny said sarcastically and he chuckled. That had been his reaction too when he heard. “Well, nothing has happened since, maybe they gave up,” she said.

“Maybe, or maybe they’re just waiting.”

They fell silent as he continued applying the lotion. He watched as his hands, which had developed a mind of their own, traveled back up the sides of her body. He slipped his fingers under the string of her top, moving his hands from the center knot outward to each of her arms. She’s way to close to me he thought suddenly.

Ginny, whose eyes had drifted closed while they had been talking, was sure that time had slowed. It felt like each motion he made was designed specifically to torture her and she couldn’t get his eyes from last night out of her mind. She felt his hands slide under the string of her top and begin to make small circles as they moved slowly towards the edge of her back. Her breath caught in her throat and her body shivered slightly before Harry’s hands jerked away from her body.

“Um, right, I think that’s good enough,” Harry said, trying to force his voice to be casual; as if he hadn’t felt her reaction.

"Thanks" she said as she turned to face him. "Do you want me to put some on your back?" she asked. "You've been out here longer.” She got up and moved behind him as she asked, effectively cutting off his response. “So when are they going to be back?” she asked.

“They said a couple of hours.”

“Oh.”

They fell silent again as she began rubbing the lotion on his shoulders, both suddenly very aware that they were going to be alone together for the afternoon. Harry’s mind, to his annoyance, seemed fixated on the fact that Ginny was wearing practically nothing.

The dull ache Ginny had felt since finding out that his letters weren’t real grew as she rubbed the lotion on his skin, thinking how whoever wrote them had ruined everything.

“Who do you think sent them?” She asked after a few minutes of silence. She had finished with the lotion but stayed sitting behind him, her hands clasped in her lap…

“I don’t know” he responded softly… he didn’t need to ask what she was talking about.

They sat in silence for several more minutes, each lost in their own thoughts. Harry thought about how different things would have been if they had been left alone a year ago. We probably would never have been left together actually, Harry thought with a smirk. He closed his eyes, suddenly remembering her face, the fire in her eyes as he had gazed down at her in her bed… She tried to make me take her with me, he thought, remembering their conversation… If I had let her come we wouldn’t have needed letters… this wouldn’t have happened…

"I… I miss you so much" Ginny whispered into his back. It was barely audible but she knew he had heard her. His back stiffened and his head dropped. After a few seconds he turned around to face her.

“Ginny…” She couldn’t take it. She didn’t want to hear him tell her it was too late, that he didn’t want her. Leaning her head into his chest Ginny let the tears she had been fighting fall freely. Harry put his hand on the back of her head, holding her until her tears slowed. After a few minutes he put a finger under her chin and raised her face to his. “Ginny… I… I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to make it better.” He said, searching her eyes.

She looked back at him… “Yes you do” she replied softly. She raised her hand and cupped his face. Her touch was so gentle, and Harry felt the emotion roar to life within him and he shut his eyes. Think of Beth, he thought. Beth is safe. I love her… and she will never hurt me. His thoughts dissolved however, as Ginny rubbed her thumb back and forth across his cheek.

Ginny watched his face while his eyes were closed… he’s beautiful she thought as she gazed at him. When he opened his eyes and looked at her his eyes were intense like the night before as they searched hers… They were so close, and Ginny’s eyes dropped to his mouth after a minute… if she leaned in just a bit she could - "We can't do this" Harry said with a strangled voice, interrupting her thoughts. She dropped her hand and met his eyes, waiting.

"I'm with Beth - I love Beth," he said.

He saw the pain flash for a second in her eyes and he looked down, unable to look at her. "Do you love me?" Ginny asked softly.

“It’s complicated Ginny,” he said, still looking down… This is not good he thought… she’s way to close…

“Harry… it’s a yes or no question,” he heard her say. He shook his head. “Harry… look at me,” she whispered, watching his face. She saw him squeeze his eyes shut and noticed a muscle in his jaw twitch. He took a steadying breath, raised his head… and looked at her. “Do you love me?” she whispered after a minute, even though she already saw the answer in his eyes.

He couldn’t breathe as he looked at her… She was so beautiful and vulnerable to him in that moment… he couldn’t help it as his eyes dropped to her lips… "I..."

He trailed off as their lips met. It was a soft kiss full of longing. After a second Ginny pulled back slightly… waiting. I'm in big trouble, Harry thought as he looked at her. She looked like a fiery angel with the sun creating a halo around her hair. Fiery but lost he thought. Harry could feel her shaking breath on his lips and knew he was lost too.

A soft moan escaped her lips as Harry's hand found the back of her neck and pulled her back to him. Ginny's arms snaked around his neck and she opened her mouth as he deepened the kiss. Harry's other hand pulled her against him and slowly lowered himself back, pulling her down on top of him. He hadn't meant for it to happen. But he hadn't stopped it either.

Harry was lying on the ground with Ginny straddling him, her hair spilling over her shoulders, creating a scarlet curtain around their faces.

What started as a slow, tender kiss soon became one of passion as they clung to each other as if afraid to let go. Ginny’s hands moved down his sides as she reveled in the feel of him and Harry’s were on her back, under her string again, drawing her closer. Their lips were demanding and Ginny moaned as their bodies moved together.

Oh God, this feels so right Harry thought. Grasping her thighs and lifting his hips, Harry pulled her more firmly against him. “Harry” she moaned as he moved to kiss her throat. Harry found the sensitive spot below her ear that he knew by heart and flicked it with his tongue. Ginny moaned again and arched against him, curling her nails on his skin, making him shudder beneath her. Maybe it was how quickly things had intensified, or maybe it was the massive guilt rising within him, but suddenly Harry knew they had to stop.

"We can't do this," he gasped, reluctantly dragging his mouth away from her skin. "I can't do this."

Ginny went still on top of him. Her mouth, which had begun nibbling his neck, was next to his ear and he couldn’t help noticing that her hair smelled like roses. "I think you can Harry,” she whispered. “And I think we both want you too." Harry could feel her breath on his ear and he groaned at her words, half in pleasure and half in pain. Almost imperceptibly at first, Ginny began kissing his neck.

"Stop" he gasped as she added her teeth. They both knew that it wasn’t what he really wanted.

Amazingly, she did stop. Oh thank God, Harry thought, knowing he had been a second from losing it. She rose up until she was looking down at him, her hair framing her face. "Harry," she said, "I need you… I miss you.” She’s beautiful when she speaks he thought, only half listening as he stared at her lips as they moved. “Someone tried to tear us apart... It doesn't have to work," she said as she leaned down and kissed him softly. She pulled away and his head lifted up, trying to follow her lips. "We belong together, and I want you," she said against his lips as they began kissing again. She ground her hips into him, causing him to gasp into her mouth and arch his back; reminding them both how much he wanted her.

Their passion began to overwhelm them again when Ginny said the one thing that could have ruined it. "You were mine first," she groaned as Harry kissed her neck, his hands trying to untie the double knot of her top. "Beth will understand."

Harry stopped as though she had slapped him and pushed her up into a sitting position, her statement having brought him crashing back to reality. They stared at each other for a few seconds before Harry took a deep, steadying breath. “We can’t do this.” He ground out. “Someone did tear us apart… it did work… Beth shouldn’t have to understand… She loves me… and I won’t hurt her.”

Ginny’s eyes narrowed, stung by his words. “You didn’t mind hurting her that night in the den,” she said. Harry looked away at the reminder of his actions on the sofa.

“That was different,” he said. “I was angry… and hurt… I wanted to hurt you.”

Tears rose in her eyes but Ginny was determined not to let them fall. “So it’s ok to hurt me… but not her.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Really?” she shot back. “Because that’s what you are doing Harry. You’re hurting me now…” Her voice lowered to a whisper… “Not being with you hurts me. No matter what happens someone gets hurt.”

“Ginny,” Harry sighed in frustration - rubbing his face with his hands. Why doesn’t she see? “Beth has been there for me. She loves me. She saved me when you broke my heart.”

Ginny stiffened. “I didn’t break your heart Harry… I didn’t write those letters.”

“And my heart was broken too,” she added in a small voice.

Harry took her hand, lacing his fingers through hers. “I know. I mean that she has been there… when I needed someone… when my heart was broken. I can’t hurt her. I have to have some honor Ginny” he tried, his voice rising.

She pulled her hand free. "This isn't about honor Harry… It's about what you want."

Harry shook his head at her words.

“What do you want?” she asked again, this time more forcefully – “At the end of the day, if you could have anything, who do you want?”

“That’s not fair” He said, “things change, choices were made…”

It was Ginny’s turn to shake her head. “Harry, who do you want?” … he turned his head to the side, unable to meet her eyes. Why is she doing this? “Why can’t you answer the question? Who do you want?” she repeated, willing her tears not to spill over…

“Ginny, it’s not that simple,” He began desperately but Ginny wasn’t listening.

“Yes it is that simple… why won’t you just answer the question Harry? Who do you -”

Harry sat up suddenly pinning her in his grasp. "Don't do this," he said in a harsh, desperate whisper. Ginny felt a few tears escape and roll down her cheeks.

“Why not?”

“Because, it isn’t fair! We can’t just go back… I made choices, commitments, I…” he sputtered.

“Who do you want,” she choked out.

Harry watched her tears, following them down her face before looking down. I can’t just run from one to the other… I made a commitment… It’s too late for this, he thought desperately. “I want…” Ginny held her breath. “I want Beth… I... I love Beth,” he said. He couldn’t look at her.

He loved Beth he told himself. He had loved Ginny, but it had practically killed him when he lost her. He couldn’t go back. Part of him was afraid to go back. It had hurt too much. And he refused to give that feeling to Beth.

Ginny felt like the air had just been knocked out of her and suddenly the tears she had been fighting began to fall freely. “I don’t believe you,” she said softly as she cried.

“Ginny” he began in exasperation, closing his eyes.

“I don’t believe you” she said again with a shaky but louder voice. Oh God, please make her stop crying he thought. I’m not strong enough for this.

“You don’t love her.” Ginny continued.

“Yes I do.”

“No, you don’t Harry,” anger filling her voice. “Maybe you care about her. Maybe you feel connected, and I’m glad she helped you but you don’t love her.”

Harry shook his head “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I’ve seen you Harry… I’ve seen you together and you don’t look at her,” Ginny continued, her voice catching in her throat as she spoke.

Harry paused at this. “What?” he asked in confusion. “What do you mean I don’t look at her? I look at her!”

Ginny started shaking her head “You don’t look at her… You don’t look at her the… the way you look at me.” Ginny said with a quiet sob as she looked down, unable to look at him anymore.

Harry’s head snapped back towards her at this and he studied her face, watching the tears run down her cheek and along her neck. It seemed like hours before either of them moved.

“You’ll find someone else,” he said softly and her head snapped up. His mind had just begun to process what he had blurted out when she hit him, slapping him hard across the face and snapping his head to the side. He looked back at her as she leaned toward him, his cheek stinging.

“You want me to find someone else?” she said, her voice dangerously low and he didn’t respond, he just looked at her eyes as they flashed. He had seen her angry, but he had never been afraid of her until this moment. She leaned in until their faces were inches apart. She cocked her head to the side and dropped her eyes to his lips for a second before bringing them back up to his eyes. “Is that what you want Harry? For me to get over you? Let it go?”

“Y… yes,” he said, trying to sound like he meant it, even though a resounding no seemed to be echoing softly in his heart. He couldn’t move away from her as she hovered in front of him.

“You don’t think it would bother you? Seeing me with someone else,” she asked as she leaned in farther, trailing her hand up and down his stomach as she moved her lips to his ear, her cheek just barely grazing his. “Knowing that I’m doing what we were just doing with someone else?” Harry swallowed, closing his eyes. “Because seeing you with her just about kills me, and I don’t think you would fare much better.”

“Ginny,” he said softly, shaking his head, a muscle in his jaw twitching. “I hate this. I hate hurting you.”

“Then make it stop,” she said pulling back and looking at him, but he looked down, shaking his head. “I can’t. I’m with Beth…”

Ginny’s eyes narrowed as she looked at him. “I didn’t know you were a coward Harry,” she said and saw his jaw tense.

“I’m not a coward.”

“Then prove it. Stop hiding behind her.”

Harry looked up at her. That’s not what I’m doing, he thought, getting angry at her. I moved on, I’m with Beth. I can’t help that. “I’m not hiding, I love her. You don’t know anything about my relationship with Beth and I won’t let you sit here and insult it just to get your way. I’m with her because I moved on. I’m know that hurts you, and I wish that it didn’t, but that is the way it is. You can’t expect me to just drop the life I’ve made and come running back. She is my choice.” With a strength he didn’t know he had Harry pushed her out of his lap. “I’m sorry,” he said. This is too hard, he thought, feeling a sense of sadness fill him. He knew this was the right thing. Beth was his life now. He wouldn’t hurt her.

All of the fight left her and Ginny sat very still, leaning over on her arms; afraid that if she moved she would break into a million pieces. “Harry.” It was a broken plea – hollow and soft. “I love you.” Harry closed his eyes, willing himself to think of Beth, of what they had; telling his heart that it was too late for this.

"I love you” she repeated softly, still looking at the ground in front of her. “I will love you until the day I die Harry Potter."

With that she rose shakily to her feet and walked towards the house without looking back. Harry didn’t watch her go… afraid he might just follow.

They didn’t notice the wizard standing in the woods, watching the scene. He smiled; suddenly feeling like Christmas had come early. He ran his eyes over Ginny once more as she walked away and turned, disappearing with a pop. Harry was too far away to hear it and he sat by the lake, resting his head on the arms he had draped across his knees. Knowing he had hurt her but convincing his heart that Beth was what he wanted. He sat there, willing the emptiness to go away until the others returned and called him for dinner.

~..~..~..~..~

Up on her bed Ginny curled into a ball and cried until she was out of tears. She stayed there, holding a pillow under her chin until she heard the others return. Hermione found her first – came looking for her to hear about her lunch with Luna. As Hermione approached the bed Ginny’s tears started afresh. “What’s wrong Ginny?” she asked, climbing up on the bed. Ginny just shook her head and rocked softly. Hermione didn’t ask again, knew Ginny wasn’t ready to tell her what had happened, so she sat quietly with her, rubbing her back, until eventually Ginny started talking.

The words poured out of her. She told her everything, from the night before they left, to the letters, to the moment in her room when they learned the truth, to today by the lake. She heard herself talking as though it was someone else. Hermione sat quietly as Ginny spoke, rubbing her back as she sat beside her. Her eyes widened as everything began to make sense… Harry’s temper, his recklessness and their treatment of each other. I can’t believe Ron didn’t tell me, she thought as she listened.

Eventually Ginny fell silent and Hermione continued to sit beside her. “I don’t know what to say Gin,” she offered after a moment.

Ginny gave a short laugh at this… “Well that’s a first,” she said in a wobbly voice and Hermione shoved her playfully before becoming serious again.

“You’re going to be alright… you’re strong Ginny, just give it some time. You have to remember that you hated him for months. Once you get back to school, away from here, you don’t know what you will be feeling.” Ginny listened to her words, trying to believe them but she knew that nothing would change for her.

“He loves me Hermione. I know that he loves me,” she said quietly, feeling Hermione’s gaze on her. “And you know it too.”

Hermione was silent for a second, not sure what to say. “Harry is the only one who knows that. If it is meant to be, he will realize that. And if it isn’t you will find someone else. But for now there isn’t anything you can do. You asked him to choose and he chose… I know it isn’t what you wanted, but that’s real life. He is with Beth now, and unless that changes… well… you are too good of a person to be anything other than a friend.” They fell into silence as Ginny thought about her words, knowing she was right and after a few minutes Hermione got up.

“Look, Gin… I promised your mom I would help with dinner. Do you want to stay up here?” Hermione asked. “I can bring you some food later if you want.”

Ginny sat up and shook her head. “No,” she said, “You’re right of course. And I’m not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself… I can do this… Let’s go down. I’ll help too.”

“Alright, but Gin, I would suggest you freshen up a little,” Hermione said with a slight smile. Ginny saw her expression and began to wipe her face with her hands. “Why, what’s wrong?”

“Well, I don’t think mascara is meant to be used as blush,” Hermione replied as they got up and headed into the hall, “but you know… to each his own. I guess you could try to start a new fashion.”

Ginny chuckled at this. “I’ll meet you downstairs, I’m going to take a quick shower I think,” she said as she went into the bathroom.

She let the warm water run over her, willing it to wash away the pain of the afternoon, but she couldn’t get Harry’s words out of her head… “I love Beth…” Oh God, how am I supposed to face them? She thought as she stood under the water… But Ginny was strong, and she knew that she would put on a smile and make it through today, just like she had every other day. She thought about what Hermione had said. This is what he wanted… I asked him to choose and he chose, she reminded herself. She had lost him before and she could do it again. At least I will be leaving for school in a few days she thought as she turned the water off and grabbed a towel.

With a few flicks of her wand Ginny dried her hair and applied fresh makeup as she pulled on some jeans and a t-shirt. With one last look in the mirror she took a deep breath and headed down to the kitchen.

~..~..~..~..~


When Harry came in for dinner he paused, taking in the scene. Ginny and Beth were at the sink together, laughing about something as they filled the water glasses. They both looked over at him as he came in, “Hey, there you are,” Beth said, smiling at him. He came over and kissed her swiftly on the cheek and stole a glance at Ginny. She looked at him and smiled before filling the rest of her cups and levitating them to the table. She looks fine, like there was nothing wrong; like nothing had happened, he thought. Except for her eyes; they weren’t quite as happy as her face if you really looked into them. He took his cue from her and smiled back.

Dinner was going amazingly well he thought ten minutes later as they sat around, eating and talking. There wasn’t any awkwardness or silence. He was continually amazed by Ginny’s ability to bounce back. Well, maybe not bounce back, but at least put on a good face. It hit him that he was the reason she had perfected it and his mood suddenly dropped. Beside him Beth felt his mood change and she looked over, studying him. She saw him glance at Ginny and she followed his gaze. As she watched the girl on the other side of the table she noticed that Ginny’s gaze went everywhere besides Harry and when she caught her gaze Ginny dropped her eyes to her plate and bit her lip. Something has happened, she thought.

She looked back at Harry, whose expression was unreadable as he sat silently, looking at his plate but not eating and she began to feel sick. Oh God, she thought, I’ve lost him. She pushed her chair back and stood up. Harry looked up at her, startled by her sudden movement. “Hey, where are you going?”

She ignored him as she left the table, mumbling an excuse at Mrs. Weasley as she left. Harry got up and followed her out of the room. “Beth!” he said as he reached her, trying to figure out what was wrong. “What’s…why are you about to cry? What happened?”

She jerked away from him. “I don’t know, you tell me Harry, what did happen?” she asked, gesturing to the kitchen. Harry was in shock. How did she know? “Just go back to her already. It’s what you want,” she said as she turned and ran outside. Harry flinched as the door slammed before he turned and stormed back to the kitchen.

The Weasleys looked up as he entered, but he only looked at Ginny. “What did you say to her?” he demanded.

Ginny looked up at him in confusion. “What?”

“What did you tell her Ginny? I can’t believe you would do something like this!” he yelled at her in fury.

“Don’t yell at me Harry,” she said, her eyes narrowing.

“I’ll yell if I bloody well want to Ginny, now what did you say to her?” he demanded.

Ginny looked down at her plate for a second before she threw her napkin on the table and stood up. “I don’t know what you are talking about Harry, I didn’t tell her anything!” she said as she came towards him.

“Well she knows something happened! You expect me to believe you didn’t say anything?”

Ginny’s hands went to her hips. “YES! Because it’s the truth, you know I wouldn’t tell her anything, especially when there is nothing to tell!”

“Well she knows, and she obviously thinks that I am leaving her for you…” he said as he took a step towards her. “Why would she think that if you didn’t say something?”

Ginny’s eyes narrowed, furious at him. “I don’t know Harry, she is a smart girl… maybe she came up with that all on her own!”

“And why would she do that?” he demanded.

“I don’t know Harry!” Ginny shot back, throwing up her hands. “Maybe because she sees what everyone else in this whole house sees except for you!!”

“And what is that?”

Ginny didn’t respond as his eyes searched hers, she just looked at him as tears of frustration filled her eyes. “Nothing,” she said finally. She raised her arm and he flew out of her way and into the wall as she passed him and headed to her room. He was surprised by her power and watched her go before pushing off the wall and going the other way to find Beth.

The Weasleys just sat in silence at the table, not sure what to do.

Harry found Beth outside. She was sitting on the swing on the front porch and he sat down beside her. He took her hand and she tried to pull away but he held it firmly as he watched her profile. “I’m going to tell you what happened, Beth,” he said. He saw her chin tremble at his words and continued. “But it’s not what you think.”

He told her everything that had happened from the beginning. He told her about the letters; about how he had found out they were fake the day she had arrived. And he told her about earlier by the lake, about Ginny wanting to be together and him saying no. He told her that he had kissed her, but didn’t go into detail. Her eyes widened as she listened and tears began streaming down her face. “Why didn’t you tell me about the letters?” she said softly.

“I didn’t know how. I was going to Beth, I really was, I just hadn’t found the right time yet. What was I supposed to say? I didn’t want you to worry about it.”

She looked at him. “Is it something to worry about? I mean, you just found out that the person you loved never stopped loving you. Wants to be with you…”

He looked down, deciding what to say before looking up at her. He could see the fear in her eyes. “I did love Ginny, but she is my past. You are my future Beth, and I love you,” he said, running his hand through her hair and cupping her neck. “I chose you. Ginny knows that… you don’t have to worry about it.” She smiled as he leaned in to kiss her. This is the right thing, he thought as they kissed. And he pretty much believed it, if he didn’t think about Ginny. He was determined to get past it. He had made his choice and he was going to make it work. He knew what it felt like to lose the person you loved and he wouldn’t do that to her. He sank into the comfort of Beth and let his feelings for her wash away the confusion of earlier.

~..~..~..~..~

The following day Beth was on her way outside to meet Harry, Ron and Hermione when she decided to take a detour. She found Ginny sitting on the swing on the front porch. She was rocking slowly and tossing an old quaffle back and forth absently in her hands as she looked out at the yard. Beth straightened her shirt and walked over and sat down next to her. Ginny didn’t look over at her and they swung in silence for a few minutes before Beth spoke softly.

“I’m sorry the letters weren’t real,” she said, glancing over at her before looking back out at the yard, watching a hummingbird hover around a bush, moving from blossom to blossom. When Ginny didn’t answer Beth continued. “Do you… do you love him?”

“Yes,” Ginny said in a steady voice. She didn’t see the point in lying about it.

“Do you want him back?”

“Yes.”

Beth looked over at her again, surprised that she would actually admit it. Ginny had stopped tossing the quaffle and was resting it on her leg but she continued looking straight ahead. “Well,” Beth said quietly. “I’m going to fight for him.” It wasn’t a threat, it was just a statement of fact and Ginny finally looked over at the girl beside her.

“I’m not going to fight you for him Beth. He says that he wants to be with you, and I respect that.” Beth watched her eyes as she spoke and didn’t see anything but a resigned sadness in them and after a minute she nodded.

Ginny watched her as she got up and walked back inside, blinking back the tears that began to sting her eyes. She had stayed up late, thinking about what had happened and she had made a decision. Harry wasn’t some sort of prize to be won. She didn’t want to be with someone who she had to force into it; someone she had to convince that they wanted her. If Harry wanted someone else, then she would force herself to get over it – over him. She deserved someone who couldn’t live without her and Harry apparently wasn’t that person. She stood up and threw the quaffle down, not caring when it bounced off the porch and into the bushes, and walked back into the house.

~..~..~..~..~

Beth went home a couple of days later, and a couple of days after that Ginny headed to Hogwarts for her final year. Harry approached her warily before she left. “Hey,” he said as he came up behind her. She turned around at his voice and watched him. They hadn’t really talked much since the fight and she wasn’t sure what to say. Harry cleared his throat. “I… I just wanted to say that I was sorry. I wanted you to know that I know you didn’t… and wouldn’t do what I accused you of.”

She looked at him for a minute and finally smiled at him. He breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s ok Harry. Friends?” she said cocking her head to the side. He smiled back.

“Yeah.”

He watched her as she left the room. “Have fun at Hogwarts,” he called after her.

“I always do,” she said over her shoulder with a wave of her hand. Ginny’s smile slipped from her face as she walked away and Harry pushed down the empty feeling that rose in him as he watched her go. What was wrong with him? Beth was wonderful, Beth loved him and he knew he loved her back, so why did he feel terrible?



Chapter 14: Only A Game
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About two weeks into the semester Ginny was walking down the hall with some of her friends when she heard someone call her name. “Oi! Ginny!” She turned and saw Harry coming towards her with a smile. What is he doing here? She thought as she forced a smile. “Harry?”

An image of him throwing himself to his knees and expressing his undying love and then begging her forgiveness flooded her mind and her heart began to pound as he got closer.

“McGonagall is letting us take our N.E.W.T. exams that we missed last year. We’re up here working out the details” he said when he got to her. A bucket of cold water was thrown on her and she shook the disappointment from her heart, willing her smile not to slip off of her face.

“That’s great,” she said. She started to say something else but she was cut off as Luna walked up.

“Hello Harry,” she said, smiling serenely at him.

“Hey Luna,” he said with a smile. “How are you? I love the earrings,” he said, noticing that she had on a pair with butterflies that were flapping their wings. She smiled vaguely and reached up, playing with one of them.

Harry shot a glance at Ginny and they shared a quick smile as Luna began to respond.

“Oh do you? Thanks, Ginny found them for me… Oh, and Harry, do you know those girls are staring at you?”

Harry looked over Ginny’s shoulder and ran a hand through his hair, “um, yeah, thanks, I had noticed that.” Ginny turned and watched as a group of fifth year girls tittered and ran the other way. She turned back around and rolled her eyes.

“It’s the whole, scar, chosen one, more famous than I deserve thing,” he said watching them go. “Rather annoying that.”

“Oh no, it’s not that,” Luna said lightly as she began to walk away. “They're just jealous of the way you’re looking at Ginny. See you later.”

Heat flooded Ginny’s cheeks and she started walking quickly, while Harry stood frozen, his mouth hanging open. “Where are Ron and Hermione?” Ginny asked, trying to sound casual, as though Luna hadn’t spoken at all, even though she thought she might start crying at any moment.

“She’s talking to you boy,” an old wizard in a nearby painting called to him and Harry jerked his head up, realizing he hadn’t moved. He ran to catch her and fell into step beside her. “Um, what did you say?”

“Where are Ron and Hermione?” she repeated.

“Oh, she dragged Ron to the library, and as exciting as that sounded, I decided to pass… I thought I would check out the Quiddich fields since Hagrid is away.”

“Oh yeah, I heard he is getting supplies for some new lesson… I am soooo glad I dropped Care of Magical Creatures,” she said with a shudder and he laughed; the awkwardness from before gone. Ginny felt her heart flip over at the sound of his laugh; it was deep and smooth, and just for her.

“Do you want to come with me?” he said, looking over at her.

“Ok,” she replied after a minute, cursing her unwavering need to stay near him. Moving on is certainly going well so far, she thought sarcastically. She didn’t look over at him as they walked but he watched her for a second. It had been two weeks since he had seen her and he had missed her.

They talked about random things as they walked and Ginny could feel his excitement building as they approached the field. When they arrived it wasn’t empty, since a lot of the seventh years were on their break. Ginny waved at some friends who were flying overhead and Harry looked up. His good mood was threatened when he recognized Logan and another boy landing in front of them. He felt a surge of jealously shoot through him as he eyed Logan and batted it down.

“Hey Gin,” Logan said, looking at Harry as though sizing up the competition.

“Hey,” Ginny replied. “Logan, Todd, this is Harry. They’re on the quiddich team this year, chaser and beater.” Their eyes widened a bit as they recognized his scar but didn’t say anything.

“Hi,” Harry said shaking hands with them.

They made small talk for a minute before Logan said, “Hey, weren’t you a seeker Harry? I heard you were pretty good, do you want to play two on two? You and Ginny against us.”

Ginny spoke up at this, “Oh, I don’t think -” but Harry cut her off.

“I’ll play,” he said, looking at Logan. He looked down at her. “If you want to.” She didn’t quite understand the look in his eyes… he seemed determined to do something, but she couldn’t decide what.

“Ok,” she said after a minute.

They found brooms and rose into the air. “First to score five times wins,” Logan called as he and Todd moved into position. They played on half of the field and any of the three rings counted. Harry watched Ginny fly, noting that she had gotten faster and adjusted his speed to match hers. They hovered together, waiting for the other two to start.

“Ready?” he called to her and she smiled.

“This isn’t really a fair match you know,” she called back.

“Why?” he called back but she just laughed, shaking her head.

“You’ll see.”

He realized she was right when they began playing. There really wasn’t a contest. The guys were good but they were nothing compared to Harry and Ginny. They had always flown well together and quickly found a rhythm as they looped around the other team. They passed the quaffle back and forth, anticipating each other. They knew each other’s strengths and signals and Harry soon scored a goal.

Harry felt great, feeling the wind on his face as he flew. He had missed flying, and he realized he had missed flying with Ginny too. He watched her as she looped around Todd and he could see the excitement in her eyes. He knew she loved flying as much as he did and she was a natural. He watched as the wind whipped her hair around and made her shirt cling to her. She was beautiful and a beautiful flier. He was distracted by watching her and suddenly the quaffle flew past him as Logan scored. “Crap,” he muttered as Ginny flew over.

“What happened?” she asked. He looked at her, distracted again by her appearance. Her hair was windblown and her face was glowing and he didn’t respond for a second as he looked at her. “Harry, are you ok?”

“Um, yeah, sorry… the sun was in my eyes,” he finally said, running a hand through his hair. She looked up at the cloudy sky above them and raised her eyebrow… “uh-huh,” she said as he smiled sheepishly.

“It won’t happen again,” he said gravely, putting his hand over his heart. She laughed and moved away.

“It better not Potter,” she called.

He was true to his word and they quickly won the game as Ginny scored the final goal. Ron and Hermione cheered from the ground, having arrived earlier but they couldn’t hear them from the air. Harry and Ginny landed quickly, both laughing and Harry scooped her up, swinging her around as Logan and Todd landed beside them. Harry set her down but kept his arms around her. “You’re right,” he said, leaning down in with a smile and lowering his voice. “It really wasn’t fair.” She looked up at him, her eyes sparkling and laughed.

“I told you.”

“Good game guys,” Harry said, looking mostly at Logan as he kept his arm around Ginny. Todd just rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, if you ignore the fact that the only goal we scored was because you were too busy watching Gin to defend,” he said laughing. Harry felt Ginny tense slightly beside him and he cursed silently.

“Well, she’s a great flyer, and a beauty, who couldn’t watch her?” Logan said, flashing a smile at her and Harry glared at him, his arm tightening a little around her.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Flattery will get you nowhere Logan. You of all people should know that.” Harry wondered what she meant as Logan clasped his hand over his chest dramatically.

“Oh, that hurts Gin… but don’t think I won’t keep trying,” he said, leaning in a little and winking at her. Harry had the sudden urge to hex him.

Ginny just rolled her eyes. She pushed away from Harry and he felt a little disappointed at the loss of her touch, but he quickly shook it off, following her over to Ron and Hermione.

Ginny felt his hand trail across her back as she moved away and was suddenly angry at him. What was he doing? She had felt his hands linger on her when they touched and she saw the way he looked at her, even Luna and Todd saw it. He knew how she felt and it was like he was playing with her or something, showing her in every way that he loved her back except the one that mattered.

They said goodbye to the Logan and Todd and began to walk back towards the castle. Ginny stayed near Ron, letting Harry and Hermione follow behind.

“You ok Gin?” Ron asked, seeing her expression and she shook her head, her eyes suddenly full of tears.

“I just want him to leave me alone,” she said softly. “He chose to be with Beth. He doesn’t get to have me too.” Ron glanced back at Harry whose eyes were on Ginny and he frowned. Harry’s gaze flicked to Ron’s as he looked at him and he promptly dropped his eyes to the ground as he walked. Ron looked at him for a second longer before looking back at Ginny.

“What happened to being friends? I thought you guys were being friends, Harry said… what did he do?”

Ginny laughed and gave a sniff. “He didn’t do anything. But he doesn’t want to be my friend,” she said softly. “He’s just, I don’t know… he just won’t be with me.”

~..~..~..~..~

Harry’s eyes made their way back to Ginny as he and Hermione followed them, too far back to hear the conversation. “What was that?” Hermione asked lowly after awhile and he looked over at her.

“What was what?”

“What was that? Back there?” she asked, gesturing towards the field.

“It was nothing,” he replied. “Those guys wanted to play so I played, and…”

“Harry, that’s not what I mean and you know it. What are you doing?” Hermione asked, watching his face.

He huffed in frustration, jamming his hands into his pockets. “I’m not doing anything Hermione, it was just a game,” he said, his eyes making their way back to Ginny.

Hermione pursed her lips. “Mhmm. Don’t do anything stupid Harry,” she said stiffly. Harry opened his mouth to respond but she cut him off. “What is wrong with you? You are playing with fire… and Ginny’s feelings and I want you to stop it right now,” she hissed before she sped up and took Ron’s hand, leaving Harry by himself. He ran his hand through his hair distractedly. She’s right, he thought, what am I doing? I should never have sought Ginny out. Deep down he knew that’s what he had been doing when he hadn’t gone to the library. He had wanted to see her. Like a test or something… which he failed miserably he noted with a frown.

He thought about the last couple of weeks. It had been easy to pretend that everything was fine because he hadn’t seen Beth or Ginny. But he had to admit that his thoughts strayed more to Ginny than Beth. But I have been able to talk to Beth, he reasoned, trying to justify it. He needed to talk to someone. He needed help with this.

He quickened his pace until he caught up with them, falling into to step beside Ginny. The four of them walked together in an odd silence, each one lost in their own thoughts about the same subject.

Ginny was fumbling with her robes as she walked when she tripped on a root that was sticking out of the ground in front of her. Harry wasn’t a great seeker for nothing, and his arm shot out automatically, catching her before she hit the ground and pulling her back up.

“Are you ok?” he asked, his hand still holding her arm.

“Yeah, fine,” she said gruffly. Harry’s hand trailed down her arm as she pulled away and she narrowed her eyes, jerking away from him as his fingers trailed lightly over her wrist.

“What are you doing Harry?” she demanded and he gave her a confused look.

“Well, I thought I was keeping you from falling but - ”

“Don’t be daft , that’s not what I mean,” she said sharply, moving toward him suddenly. Her hands shot out and to him as she continued her tirade.

“What is this?” she demanded as she ran them over his arms, mirroring the way his had touched her.

“And this?” she asked as her hands moved around to his back.

“Or this? Or this?” she continued to repeat, louder each time as she moved her hands over him, mirroring where he had touched her before running them over his chest. “What are you doing?” she practically yelled in frustration as she pushed him and he stumbled back a few steps… too stunned to come up with a response. All he had done was keep her from falling…

“Gin,” he began but she cut him off.

“Answer one question for me Harry,” she said, her hands going to her hips.

“Um, ok?” he replied, not sure why she was suddenly angry at him.

“Why are you with Beth?”

Harry furrowed his brow at her. What had brought this on? All he had done was help her. “Ginny, I don’t think – “ he began but she didn’t let him finish.

“You know why I think you're with her?” she said, taking a step toward him. Harry was pretty sure he didn't want to know why.

“I think you’re with her because you are coward. I think you're hiding behind her because you're afraid to get hurt. You love her just enough to want to be with her, but not enough for it to really hurt you if it ends.”

“She won’t hurt me,” he said automatically, still thrown by her attack.

“She won’t hurt you,” Ginny repeated under her breath, shaking her head slightly. She knew what he meant. Beth wouldn’t hurt him the way she had, the way the letters had.

Harry glanced behind her at Ron and Hermione for help, but they were just stood watching the scene silently. He bristled as their expressions told him that they had agreed with Ginny’s statement. They don’t know anything, he thought.

“That’s why you’re with her right?” Ginny asked, bringing his focus back to her. “Because she won’t hurt you?

“No,” he shot back, that’s not the only reason. “I love her. She - ”

“Oh don’t even start Harry,” Ginny said throwing up her hand. “You know what’s funny? I agree with you. You are probably right. She won’t hurt you, but do you even know why that is? Why she won’t hurt you Harry?”

“Because she loves me,” he said but Ginny shook her head.

“No. She won’t hurt you because she can’t. Because she doesn’t mean enough to you. Even if she tried she could never hurt you the way I could Harry.”

Harry opened his mouth to tell her she was wrong but nothing came out. That’s not true he tried to tell himself, even though a tiny voice at the back of his heart seemed to think that she might have a point.

Ginny took another step toward him and jammed her finger into his chest.

“If she is your choice Harry, like you keep insisting that she is, then start – acting – like it,” she said, poking him in the chest with each word toward the end. “I don’t have time for your games, or your indecision. I am trying to do what you wanted, so I would really appreciate - a little help from your end. Got it?”

Harry could only nod and give her a weak “yeah,” before she turned and stormed away, her red hair flowing behind her.

~..~..~..~..~

The next day Harry sat in Remus’s flat, watching Tonks as she scurried from the kitchen and back, bringing plate after plate of snacks. Her hair was multicolored at the moment and she was practically glowing. “You really don’t have to do this,” Harry tried to tell her again, but she wouldn’t hear it.

“You’re our first visitor Harry!” she said as she left the room again. Harry looked at Remus for help but he just shrugged his shoulders, smiling.

“So, why are you here Harry?” Remus asked when Tonks finally took a seat beside him. Harry looked at her, trying to decide whether to talk in front of her. He decided that he might as well since he knew Remus would tell her everything as soon as he left anyway. And he didn’t want to disappoint her by asking her to leave so soon into their “first visit.”

He cleared his throat and ran a hand through his hair. “Well,” he said, uncertain where to begin. “You know I have always trusted your advice Moony. You were a friend of my father and Sirius… and me.” He paused, looking down at his hands before continuing. “I, I need your help I think. I need some advice.”

“And you know I will always help you Harry, whatever it is…” Remus said, wondering what was going on.

“Well, you know how I started dating Ginny before I left,” he began and they nodded. They listened in silence as Harry told them about everything. He told them of the letters, of what had happened, of his anger and feelings of betrayal and about Beth. He told them about going back to the Burrow and about finding out the letters weren’t real and about him telling Ginny that he wanted to be with Beth. He broke off at this point and was silent for awhile.

“Now everything is all mixed up. I’m with Beth, but what about Ginny?”

“What about Ginny?” Remus asked, finally breaking his silence. “It sounds like you are with Beth.”

Harry rubbed his hands over his face. “Well, I can’t stop thinking about her for one thing. That is certainly a problem…”

“And why is that a problem?” Remus asked. Beside him Tonks tried to hide a smile.

“Because I am with Beth!” Harry huffed in exasperation, gesturing with his arms as he said it.

“Right, do you love Beth?” Remus asked.

“Yes, of course.”

“Do you love Ginny?”

Harry paused. Now was not the time for lying. “Yes, very much,” he finally admitted, running his hand through his hair. “How can someone love two people at once? How can that work? I mean, that can’t work!”

“Well, it certainly doesn’t seem to be working for you,” Remus responded with a smirk.

“Do you think this is funny?” Harry demanded as he shot up. He started pacing, gesturing with his arms as he talked. “This is serious Moony! These two people love me. They want to be with me and I am hurting them. I am hurting Ginny and it’s killing me! But if I stop hurting Ginny then I have to hurt Beth, and I can’t do that either!”

“And why can’t you do that?” Remus asked.

“Because… because I made a commitment, I can’t just press rewind and go back!” Harry said.

“And you love her,” Remus added.

“Yes, of course!” Harry replied in frustration.

Remus raised his eyebrow. “Ok. So, let me see if I have this straight… you told Ginny that you loved and wanted to be with Beth. You hurt Ginny because you couldn’t hurt Beth. It would seem to me that you have your answer.”

Harry stopped pacing and looked at him.

“And yet, here you are, pacing around my living room, trying to make a decision that you have already made.”

Harry opened his mouth to respond but no sound came out.

That would seem to indicate that you are not happy with what you chose.”

Harry plopped back down onto the sofa in frustration.

“It’s not that I’m not happy, Beth is wonderful, it’s just…”

“You can’t stop thinking about Ginny.”

“Yes,” Harry groaned, burying his face in his hands. “It’s like, ever since she left the Burrow. No, ever since I told her we couldn’t be together I can’t stop thinking about her…”

“I think, Harry,” Remus said, leaning forward, “that it is time for you to decide who you truly want. You need to stop going back and forth. You are right, this is serious. It is serious to you, and it is serious to them. You need to take some time to think. Which one can you live without? So far, it doesn’t seem that you can live without Ginny.”

“I could live without her when I hated her,” Harry said lamely from the couch.

“True,” Remus agreed. “But that isn’t the case now. Those feelings were based on a lie, and now you know the truth. Can you live without her now that you don’t hate her? Knowing that she would love you if you let her?”

Harry was silent, frowning into his lap. Ginny’s face flashed into his head as he closed his eyes. Across from him Remus spoke again.

“Can you live without Beth?” Her face replaced Ginny’s and Harry suddenly felt guilty for thinking about Ginny.

“I have never been in this position Harry. I was lucky,” Remus said, sliding his arm around Tonks. She settled against him and smiled contently. “You know you are having trouble letting go of Ginny, so why don’t you try switching the positions. If you had chosen Ginny and hurt Beth, do you think, after you got over the initial pain of hurting her, that you would be having the same problem? Could you let Beth go and give your heart completely to Ginny?”

Harry shut his eyes, trying to picture the scenario, but he didn’t know. He wasn’t sure if he could let go of Beth. She had been his rock for so long… what if he thought that he could, and then realized he was wrong after he tried it? That would just make everything worse.

“If I were you Harry, I would picture my life with Beth. And I would picture my life with Ginny. Which one makes you happiest? Where do you feel home? I believe that you care for them both, but you are only meant to be with one, and when you finally let yourself make that decision and accept it, you will know it is right.”

Harry looked up eventually, his eyes swimming.

“But how could I do that to Beth? She hasn’t done anything except believe in me and love me. I know what it feels like to lose the person you love… I just can’t do that to her, it’s not fair.”

Tonks, who had been unusually quiet, felt the need to speak up. “Life’s not fair Harry,” she said softly. “And if you are with Beth just because you don’t want to hurt her, then that isn’t fair either. She wants to be with someone who loves her, not someone who feels obligated and guilty… It isn’t her fault, or anyone’s fault Harry, if your heart belongs to someone else.”

The couple watched him from across the room as Harry looked down at his lap and ran his hand through his hair. He needed to think, he didn’t know what he was going to do, but he knew it was time to make a decision one way or the other.

After thanking Tonks for the snacks and assuring her that everything had been great he went back to the Burrow and straight to his room. Or Percy’s room really, that Mrs. Weasley was letting him stay in temporarily. Ron and Hermione came upstairs when they found out he was back but he told them to come back later, that he was busy. He lay on his bed and stared at the ceiling; his conversation with Remus, and more specifically Tonk’s words on repeat in his brain.

His eyes moved to the dream catcher that was hanging from his bed post and he sat up, pulling it down. He looked at it in his hand, rubbing it with his thumb. He reached up and pulled the pendant over his head and held it in his other hand, his eyes going back and forth between them. Eventually he lay back down, staring at the ceiling, holding one in each hand.

~..~..~..~..~

That evening Harry looked up when he heard the door open. “Harry?” Ron asked uncertainly, peaking around the door.

“Hey Ron, come in, what are you…” He trailed off when he saw his friend’s expression. “What’s wrong?” He asked as he stood up. “What’s happened? Is it Hermione?” Ron shook his head as Hermione came into the room behind him, her expression mirroring his.

“Ginny,” Ron whispered.

“Ginny? What about her? She’s at Hogwarts…”

“She’s missing,” Ron continued, shaking his head. “Hogsmeade…”

Harry froze. “What do you mean,” he asked, his heart beginning to pound, “how could she be missing? She was at Hogwarts…”

“Apparently it was Hogsmeade weekend Harry… and, she never came back,” Hermione said, her voice shaking. Harry felt like he was going to be sick.

“Who told you this?” He demanded lowly.

“Remus… my parents are downstairs talking to him now…”

Harry shoved past them and stormed down the hall, panic beginning to grip him. “MOONY!”

When he got to the bottom of the stairs he heard voices coming from the den but he walked to the kitchen instead. He went straight to the family clock and his heart plummeted when he saw that Ginny’s marker was in fact, pointed at “lost.”

When he entered the den he found the Weasleys sitting on a sofa, talking to Remus while the twins paced behind them. “Harry,” Remus began, standing up when he saw him.

“What happened?” Harry demanded, not bothering to sit in the chair Remus offered him. Remus told him what they knew, which was very little. No witnesses, nothing suspicious; they hadn’t been patrolling heavily because they didn’t think there were any targets at Hogwarts. As Harry processed the information dread began to build in his stomach.

“Where’s Beth?” he asked suddenly, interrupting Remus.

“Beth?” Remus asked, confusion filling his face. Harry looked at the Weasleys. Their faces were confused as well.

“I’m going to get her back,” he said to them, “but first we need to get Beth here.”

“Now Harry, we don’t know that this has anything to do with you yet,” Remus said, moving towards him but Harry raised his hand and Remus flew into the chair he had gotten up from.

“Of course it has to do with me,” Harry said lowly, “it’s always about me… always my fault…. I’ll be back in a minute with Beth.” He turned on his heel and disappeared with a pop.

~..~..~..~..~

He ran quickly up the steps and rang the bell of the Ward’s house. After a minute Beth answered the door and relief flooded through him. “Beth,” he breathed as she opened the door and stepped back, letting him come in. He followed her inside and pulled her into a hug for a second.

“What are you doing here?” she asked pulling back and kissing him.

“We have to go right now,” he said taking her hand and she stared up at him.

“Now? Why, where are we going?”

“I’ll explain when we get back to the burrow, but we have to leave.”

“Ok,” she said, pulling back and seeing the fear in his eyes. “Just let me get my wand,” she said, turning and walking into the den. Harry followed her, looking around. As she picked her wand off of the table Harry turned around, looking back into the hall.

“Where’s your dad? Where are the aurors who are supposed to be here?” he asked but she didn’t respond, she just raised her wand and hit him in the back with a stunning spell and he fell forward, hitting the floor with a thud.

A hooded wizard walked into the room from the hall and Beth looked up at him. Two more wizards walked in behind him. He didn’t bother to remove the imperio curse from Beth, he just stunned her and watched her fall to the floor. “Bring them,” he said kicking Harry’s unconscious form as he walked out the front door and disappeared with a pop.


Chapter 15: Harry's Choice
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Ginny woke up on a bed in a room she didn’t recognize. She jerked up, looking around, but didn’t see any doors or windows. She was alone. Her head was pounding and she closed her eyes, her hand going to her forehead as she tried to remember what had happened. She remembered walking down the street in Hogsmeade. She remembered leaving her friends to go on ahead to her brother’s shop but that was it.

She got up slowly and moved around the room, running her hands along the wall, trying to detect any sign of a concealed door. By the third time around she was completely frustrated and gave up with a huff. She didn’t want to go back to the bed, for some reason it made her nervous, and instead went to stand in the middle. For awhile she yelled out, asking if anyone could hear her and demanding that she be let out, but after awhile she gave up on that too. Finally she sank to the floor and rested her back against the wall.

~..~..~..~..~


Harry woke as he was being half dragged, half carried down a hallway. His head was pounding and he tried to struggle but the two wizards on either side of him held his arms. They opened a door at the end of the hall and thrust him inside. He landed hard on his hands and knees, his head still groggy from the stunning spell. One of the wizards kicked him in the stomach and he curled over with a grimace as they left and the door disappeared.

Holding his stomach with his arm, Harry sat up with a groan and looked around him. He was in what looked like a small bedroom, but there weren’t any windows and only one candle mounted on the wall. The air was stale, like the room hadn’t been used in a long time. He squinted, looking around but the only thing he could see was a bed to one side. He had just pulled himself to his feet when a movement caught his eye and a figure came towards him from the other side of the bed.

“Ginny!” He said, relief filling his voice as he pulled her to him. The panic that had filled him when she went missing ebbed away as he realized she was alive. “Are you alright love? Are you hurt?” She shook her head, wrapping her arms around him. Relief filled her momentarily as she leaned against him. She didn’t know how long she had been here and was thankful to see another person. “Where’s Beth?” He said, looking around.

Ginny pulled back and looked up. “I don’t know, I haven’t seen anyone, is she here too? What are we doing here?” The fear that had gripped her earlier flooded back; if they were all here, it couldn’t be good. Harry cupped her cheek with his hand, seeing the fear fill her eyes. “I don’t know, but I’m going to get you out of here, ok?”

She smiled slightly at this, “And how are you going to do that? I doubt they left you your wand.” Harry smiled but could tell that she was frightened. He caressed her cheek with his thumb as he looked into her eyes.

“I’ll find a way… I won’t let them hurt you… I promise.” With this he kissed her on the cheek, letting his lips linger on her skin. He pulled away but not much, hovering next to her, as if trying to decide whether to move to her lips. Ginny could feel his breath on her skin and her eyes began to water. Her hands were resting on his sides and she fiddled with the hem of his shirt, letting her eyes close at the comfort of his nearness.

She didn’t care that he was with someone else as his lips met hers. She was frightened and wanted his comfort so she kissed him back, opening her mouth to him as he pulled her face more firmly against his with his hand.

In another room, Beth was sitting against a wall, watching the scene unfold before her on the wall across from her, as if projected by an invisible source. A hooded figure was crouched next to her, whispering to her. “Get away from me,” she said harshly, trying to ignore the figure beside her. She trusted Harry and she knew he would comfort Ginny, but refused to listen to the poison the person was whispering into her ear. She dropped her head and stared at the floor when Harry kissed Ginny on the cheek. She didn’t see when he moved to her mouth. With a pop the wizard beside her disappeared and he reappeared in the room with Harry. The picture faded away and Beth was left in darkness as she tried not to cry.

“Well, isn’t this just so sweet,” a voice drawled from behind the embracing couple.

Harry spun around, thrusting Ginny behind him as he moved. “I am surprised Harry, I’m always hearing about the amazing, wonderful Harry Potter, not a bad bone in his body… but won’t Beth be upset seeing this tender scene, she has been watching this you know…” Ginny felt Harry tense with anger.

“Where is she? If you hurt her…”

“Oh, what will you do Harry? Kill me?” Harry narrowed his eyes and focused his energy. He raised his arm expecting his wandless magic to thrust the figure back but nothing happened. He tried again, focusing harder but still nothing happened. The figure laughed as he moved forward. “Do you want to know a secret Harry?” Harry backed up as the figure approached, moving Ginny with him. “While you were unconscious I bound your powers, so alas, they won’t work in my house.”

Harry felt dread fill him as he heard the words. “What do you want?” he ground out.

“All in good time Harry, but right now I would like to have a word with Ginny.” Ginny felt Harry’s grip on her tighten and he backup up again but the figure flicked his wand and Harry disappeared with a small pop. Ginny gave a startled cry and backed up quickly until she ran into the wall behind her. The figure flicked his wand again and chains appeared, binding her wrists. She pulled against them but they didn’t move.

A picture came into view on the wall in front of her and the figure moved aside so that she could see. She saw Beth sitting against a wall crying and Harry appeared suddenly in front of her, landing in a heap on the floor.

“Harry!” Beth sobbed out as he appeared. She moved towards him and grabbed him as he pulled her close to him.

“Beth! You’re alright… it’s ok baby, don’t cry,” he said softly as he held her. She raised her head and kissed him. He pulled her closer as he kissed her back, trying to soothe her.

“I’m so scared,” she said against his lips, and he kissed her again, rubbing her back.

“I know,” he said as he broke away, looking at her, “I’m going to get you out of here.”

“What do you think is happening to Ginny?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Harry replied worriedly. “Did you look for a door?” he asked as he pulled her up, beginning to examine their surroundings.

Back in the bedroom Ginny watched the scene silently, determined not to betray any emotions. The wizard waved his wand at the wall and the picture dissolved while Harry and Beth were still embracing on the floor. She tensed as he approached. When he got close he pulled his hood back and she gasped. “Hello Ginny.”

This can’t be right, she thought as she looked at the young man before her. He was around 23 and he was handsome, with dark hair and dark eyes. He looks like… like Tom Riddle… from the diary.

“Who are you?” she asked, her voice shaking. He smiled at her and leaned in.

“It seems you recognize me…”

She opened her mouth but no sound came out at first so she shut it before tying again. “You… you look like…” She blinked, thinking maybe it wasn’t real. “It’s not possible…”

“I think…” he said, pausing dramatically, enjoying her reaction, “that you are mistaking me for my father.”

Ginny’s eyes bulged… “Your… but… Voldemort didn’t have any children.” His face became hard as she said Voldemort’s name and he narrowed his eyes.

“And how would you know that?”

Ginny didn’t respond, suddenly realizing he was right, she didn’t have any reason to think that. “I always knew I was special,” he said, leaning in. “My mother groomed me to be his heir, protected me. And when I was old enough I set out to find him, to join him… and just when I do… guess what… Harry Fucking Potter comes along and kills him… We were supposed to rule together… he was teaching me…”

Ginny began to feel sick as she listened, dread filling her. “Now I am going to do what my father wanted, I am going to kill Harry.”

“If that’s what you want, why am I here? Why is Beth here?” Ginny asked, narrowing her eyes and he began to smile. Ginny couldn’t help noticing that it seemed to make him look more evil than happy.

“That’s what I love about you Ginny, always thinking,” he said, trailing a finger down her cheek. She jerked her head away from his touch.

“Harry took someone from me, so I am going to take someone from him… but it is up to him to decide who,” he said as he rested his arm on the wall beside her and leaned in. She suddenly began to feel claustrophobic. “And just my luck, Harry seems to have the misfortune of loving two people, and I get to help him decide who he loves more… I have Darco Malfoy to thank for that delicious twist.”

Ginny’s heart stopped and she felt faint. “Malfoy?” she breathed…

Riddle’s smile became wider as he watched her reaction. “Oh that’s right, you didn’t know who it was… well the idiot spent months working that stupid scheme out, determined to tear you two apart… intercepting letters, writing letters, it was bloody annoying really. He had some crazy idea that it would help my father, and then just – when - it worked he got himself captured during a fight with some aurors and thrown into Azkaban. He didn’t even get to gloat…” Ginny’s vision blurred and she bit her lip, the answer to the question that had haunted her finally answered.

Riddle was almost giddy now, gesturing as he spoke. “And you guys… oh it was classic!” He moved a little closer and rested his free hand on her stomach. “You guys fell for it with flying colors didn’t you… not that it ended up helping my father at all… until now.” He leaned his face in until it was inches from hers and dropped his eyes to her lips.

“I’ve been watching all of you for awhile now, waiting for the perfect moment, and personally Gin… I would have to pick you over the ice princess,” Ginny turned her head to the side, shutting her eyes. Revulsion flooded through her when she felt his lips touch her neck.

“Get away from me,” she whispered coldly, but he just kissed her neck more forcefully.

“Oh come on Gin, you saw him, he isn’t going to choose you…”

Ginny had the sudden urge to throw up and brought her knee up between his legs as he added his teeth. He jerked away from her as he doubled over in pain. “You disgust me,” she said harshly.

He rose up and smacked her hard across the face with the back of his hand. She gritted her teeth against the pain and turned her face back to his, glaring at him. “You are a sick, pathetic wizard, just like your father,” she spat at him. He struck her again and her vision spun as she struggled to remain standing. Her cheek was aching and when she pulled her head back up she saw him looking at his hand. He was wearing a ring and she realized it must have cut her because he wiped a little blood off of the green stone in the middle. He broke into a hard mirthless smile as he raised his wand.

“My father was the greatest wizard in the world,” he reminded her coldly and she doubled over, pain from the cruciatus curse shooting through her body. She sank to her knees as she cried out.

He left her shaking on the floor, a bruise forming on her cut cheek.

~..~..~..~..~

“You’ve got quite a little hellion there Harry, no wonder you broke up,” Riddle said as he appeared in the other room. Harry began to jerk Beth behind him when he froze, staring at the face of the man before him.

“Riddle,” he said in disbelief.

“Tom Riddle the third to be exact Harry,” Riddle said as he flicked his wand, sending Beth flying into the wall where she sank to the floor in a heap. “But we can talk about this more later.” He flicked his wand again, sending Harry into darkness.

~..~..~..~..~

“Harry…” Someone was calling him. He opened his eyes slowly, his head pounding. “Harry!” He was lying on his stomach and tried to roll over, but couldn’t. His hands seemed to be stuck. He struggled to his knees and sat up, looking around him. He tried to move his arms but they wouldn’t work. It was like they were chained to the ground on either side of him with magic. As his eyes focused his heart dropped. Ginny and Beth were across from him, both sitting against the wall. Beth looked horrified and Ginny had a bruise forming on her cheek. Was that blood?

“Are you ok?” he asked. Beth said yes, while Ginny merely nodded, staring at him.

He looked around the room quickly. He didn’t recognize it but it seemed to be some kind of study. There was a large mahogany desk to his left and a large bookcase behind that. To his right there was a fireplace with a couple of large chairs facing it. He could only assume there was a door behind him. He looked back to Beth and Ginny. “Can you move?” he asked but they shook their heads. He could see a new fear in Ginny’s eyes that hadn’t been there in the other room. “What’s wrong?” he asked her. “What’s going on, what did he say?” Beth looked over at Ginny, waiting for her answer.

“He’s, he’s Voldemort’s son,” she said, her chin wobbling a little. “He said he’s going to -”

“Now Gin! Don’t ruin my big entrance,” a voice called from behind Harry, cutting Ginny off. Harry tried to turn around but whatever was binding him held him in place as Riddle walked to the middle of the room, standing in front of Harry.

“Well, now that we’re all here and all acquainted we can get down to business. I believe you knew my father Harry... before you killed him.”

Harry narrowed his eyes but didn’t respond. His gaze flicked to Ginny, wishing he knew what she did.

“Why so quiet Harry? You killed the great Lord Voldemort!” Riddle exclaimed, throwing his hands up. “You should be shouting it from the rooftops!”

“Everyone else is,” he added in disgust. Harry knew he was trying to provoke him so he remained silent, but this only seemed to make Riddle angry. He came toward Harry and punched him in the face. Beth gasped and Ginny tensed, watching from their place on the wall.

Harry shook his head to clear it and looked up, his eyes flashing, but he remained silent. “Come on Harry, what do you have to say?” Riddle said. He kicked Harry in the stomach and he doubled over, trying to suppress a groan. Riddle grabbed a fist full of Harry’s hair and jerked his head back so that he was looking at him. “Nothing to say Harry?”

“What do you want me to say? That I did it? That I killed him? Yes, after he spent the first 19 years of my life trying to kill me and anyone I cared about, I killed him. Happy?” Riddle hit him again and Harry doubled over, this time spitting blood on the floor before wrenching his head back up. “Does this make you feel strong? Hitting someone who is tied to the ground? Either let me up Riddle, or tell me what you want so we can get on with it because if you just wanted to kill me you could have done that already.”

“Such attitude Harry,” Riddle said in a silky voice, “you really should work on that… But you’re right, I do want something. You killed my father and I want revenge. Simple I know, but that’s what I want. And I’m sure you are just dying to know how I intend to get it,” Riddle said as he leaned down. “So I guess I’ll tell you.”

He brought his mouth close to Harry’s ear and lowered his voice so that only Harry could hear his words. “I’m going to kill you like the scum you are Harry, but first, I’m going to kill one of them. You are going to choose for me, choose the one I kill, and then I’m going to make you watch as I do it before you die.”

Ginny watched Harry’s eyes as Riddle whispered to him. She knew what he was telling him and she saw his eyes widen. His gaze shot to her and she could see his panic as he began to shake his head and she fought the tears that rushed to her eyes.

“I… I can’t do that… I won’t do that,” Harry said as he shook his head. He was going to be sick. He pulled on his bonds in vain. Riddle only laughed and stood back up.

“You don’t get a choice Harry,” he said patting Harry on the head but he jerked away. Riddle chuckled softly and turned around. “Beth!” he called and she tensed, dragging her eyes away from Harry’s suddenly pale face. “I don’t want you to feel left out, you see I told Ginny about our game earlier, and you can see how eager Harry is to play.” Beth looked back at Harry and his gaze locked with hers. She could see the fear in them.

“You see princess; I’m going to kill Harry. But not before he chooses which one of you two…” Riddle said flicking his wand lazily between her and Ginny, causing a force to drag them up from the ground and away from the wall until they were standing in the center of the room facing Harry, “is going to die.”

Beth felt her heart drop. Oh my God, she thought, looking at Harry and then at Ginny. He’s insane.

Riddle smiled harshly at her expression and turned back to Harry. “So, which one do you choose Harry? Because one of them is going to die today.”

Harry glared at him, hatred pulsing through him. “I won’t choose – you can’t make me choose. I save them both.”

“Now Harry that is certainly not a choice…”

“I save them both,” he repeated, his mind racing. I can’t do this, this can’t be happening. He felt like he had fallen into one of his nightmares, except worse.

“If you won’t choose Harry, then they both die.”

“NO!”

Riddle only leered at him, enjoying the fear and tension surrounding him. It made him feel powerful that he was causing it. “Look at them Harry. Both beautiful, which one do you love? Which one do you save?” Riddle moved to Beth, stroking her hair as she tried to move away. “She’s lovely. Blonde, elegant… any man’s desire; and she certainly loves you… don’t you dear?” Harry looked at Beth, trying to will her to be strong as she started crying, choking out his name. This isn’t happening, he thought frantically.

“But what about this one?” Riddle asked, drawing Harry’s attention back to him as he thrust Beth away and moved to Ginny. “She is fire where the other is ice… I have to say I prefer her spirit.” Harry’s eyes narrowed as he watched Riddle pull Ginny against him. She glared at him as he continued. “You know Harry, she is a pure blood after all; I may just keep her for myself… I’m going to need an heir and I do love a fighter.”

At this Ginny began to push at him but he grabbed her hair and crushed her face to his, kissing her roughly as she struggled. Harry tried to jerk up as rage flooded through him at the sight of Riddle moving his hand over her body. After a minute Riddle raised his head, and threw Ginny to the floor.

“If you touch her again I’ll kill you,” Harry said in a low voice. Riddle laughed at this.

“And how do you plan to do that?” He reached down and grabbed Ginny’s hair, jerking her up onto her knees as she cried out. He twisted her hair, holding her in place as he kneeled beside her and ran the back of his hand down her cheek. She felt sick as he touched her but kept her eyes on Harry. “What do you think Gin? Do you think he’ll choose you?” He looked at Harry before he leaned in and kissed her neck.

“I think you make me sick,” she spat, her skin crawling. He only laughed as he stood up, throwing her back to the floor.

“Come on Harry… who do you choose?” Riddle pointed his wand at Beth and she screamed, collapsing to the floor in pain.

“STOP IT!” Harry yelled at him.

“You can stop it Harry,” Riddle said, pointing his wand at Ginny, causing her screams to mix with Beth’s. “Well, at least for one of them I suppose.”

Harry pulled desperately at the invisible bonds that held him as Riddle continued... “Have no doubt Harry, I am going to kill you, but one of them gets to walk out of here alive.”

When Harry didn’t respond Riddle tapped his wand to his cheek, pretending to think really hard. This guy is completely mental Harry thought as he watched him, we have to get our hands free.

“You know what may help Harry? How about a taste?” Ginny tensed at this and glanced at Beth, who looked as startled at the suggestion as she felt. A second later she was drawn forward again until she and Beth were standing close together in front of Harry. Riddle moved to Harry’s side and yanked him up, his bonds stretching to allow him to rise, but not move his arms.

“You’re sick,” Beth said softly. It was the first thing she had said and everyone looked at her, a little surprised that she had spoken.

“Well well, maybe the ice princess has some fire in her after all,” Riddle said as he pulled Harry in front of her. “Come on Harry… you know what they say about love… it’s all in the kiss.” Harry glared at him.

“I am not participating in your sick idea of fun Riddle.”

“Harry, I am trying to help you make an important decision here… you should really be thanking me…” Harry felt himself pushed closer to Beth, until they were practically touching. “Now, I don’t want any of this wimpy pecking either – that would be cheating… Kiss them both and decide who means more to you…”

“Harry…” Beth whimpered, her eyes swimming with tears…

“Shh… it’s ok baby… everything will be fine,” Harry said to her. He closed the gap between them and kissed her slowly. Harry tasted her tears as he moved his mouth over hers. He was trying to be strong but inwardly he was beginning to panic.

“Isn’t this exciting?” Riddle whispered in Ginny’s ear as Harry and Beth kissed, “you can cut the tension with a knife can’t you?” Ginny glared at him and he turned her face back to the couple, making her watch. How are we going to get out of this she thought desperately, trying to ignore the panic rising in her stomach, we have to get our hands free…

Harry and Beth broke apart, their faces still close. “I love you,” Beth whispered as Harry was pulled away from her and pushed in front of Ginny. He kept his eyes on Beth’s as he was moved, but looked down when he felt Ginny lace her fingers into his. They were just close enough to reach. He felt a comforting warmth begin to spread up his arm at her touch. He raised his head and studied her face, seeing the bruise and the dried blood on her cheek again.

“Are you ok?” he asked softly. He could see the fear in her eyes, and the panic that was beginning to rise. How am I going to get us out of this? “I’m so sorry Gin,” he said and she gave him a small smile.

“This isn’t your fault Harry.” He leaned closer and his breath mingled with hers and he smiled back at her a little.

“You always say that and you’re always wrong.” With that he caught her lower lip with his and kissed her softly. Ginny ached as she kissed him back. She could feel his fear and she was overcome by the fact that this could literally be the last time they touched, and she suddenly couldn’t hold back her tears.

Riddle moved behind Beth as Harry and Ginny kissed. “Are you nervous dear?” He asked while he watched them. “I mean, you’re with him now, but you have to admit there is a connection between them.” Beth just stared at the couple, trying to stop her tears.

After a minute, Riddle had had enough. With a flick of his wand Ginny went flying away from Harry, landing in a heap across the room where she had been originally as Riddle said, “OK, let’s not get carried away here, you’re making me jealous Harry. Now who do you choose?” Harry glared at him, trying to think of something, anything, that he could say to buy time but he just couldn’t think...

“I… I won’t choose… let them both go. You don’t have to be like your father.”

Riddle’s eyes narrowed to slits, “My father was the greatest wizard in the world Harry!”

“Your father was a psycho and I killed him.”

Harry regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth. Riddle didn’t appreciate them either and he punched Harry hard in the jaw. Harry doubled over, spitting blood onto the floor as Riddle raged, pointing between Beth and Ginny.

“YOU KILLED HIM SO I KILL ONE OF THEM! AND AFTER YOU WATCH I’M GOING TO KILL YOU TOO!” When Harry looked up Riddle hit him again before moving towards Beth. “Reminding me of what you did certainly doesn’t help your cause.”

“COME ON HARRY! MAKE YOUR CHOICE! WHO DO YOU SAVE?”

Harry shook his head, trying to clear it as panic gripped his stomach, his jaw throbbing. Ginny watched from her place on the floor as Riddle grabbed Beth, thrusting his wand against her throat. “WHO DO YOU SAVE?”

“DON’T TOUCH HER! I SAVE BOTH OF THEM YOU BASTARD!” Harry screamed at him. “I WILL NOT CHOOSE!”

“THEN THEY BOTH DIE HARRY!” Riddle grabbed Beth’s neck and squeezed.

“STOP IT!” Harry cried desperately. Beth clawed at Riddle’s hands frantically, unable to breathe as he turned around, pointing his wand at Ginny.

She didn’t take his eyes off Harry as he snapped his head to hers, catching her gaze in his. For a split second they stared at each other. At that moment it was as if Harry could see her soul in her eyes and he knew his heart. “AVADA - ”

“I’LL CHOOSE! OK! STOP!!”

Harry sank down on his heals, his shoulders slumped and his head hanging in defeat. “Just, just stop…”

Riddle shoved Beth away and walked over to Harry and leaned down. “Who do you choose?”

“Please don’t do this,” Harry said, his face pale and his voice shaking. He could hear Beth coughing. “Just kill me. That’s what you want. Let them go, there is no reason to kill them.” Riddle backhanded him across the face.

“You took my father from me Harry,” he spat. “And I am going to take someone from you now STOP STALLING! Now is not the time for begging. You are the great Harry Potter!” Harry fought the tears that were trying to get out, shaking his head.

“Fuck you,” he said lowly but Riddle only smiled.

“Be a man and tell me who you choose or I kill them both… you said you would choose, so choose.” Harry looked from Beth to Ginny, taking in their fear before dropping his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said, barely loud enough for them to hear.

His voice was hollow and Ginny’s heart broke when she heard it. She knew this was his worst nightmare – that he would be responsible for the death of another person he loved, but she doubted that he had ever imagined it would happen like this. Despite her fear she couldn’t help the pain that rose in her heart for him. Across the room Harry said the name of his choice so softly that only Riddle could hear it.


Chapter 16: Aftermath
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Riddle smiled in triumph as Harry told him his choice. He rose up and spun around, facing the girls, a sick smile on his lips.

“Wait,” Ginny said suddenly, her mind working furiously. “What if… what if I stay with you?” Harry’s head snapped up at this and Riddle looked at her and cocked his head to the side.

“Pardon?”

Ginny looked at Harry then back to Riddle, her heart pounding. “You… you said you wanted to take someone from Harry… you don’t have to kill anyone to do that…” Harry’s heart slammed into his chest as he realized what she was doing.

“Ginny,” he said lowly but she ignored him.

“You said it yourself,” she continued, watching as Riddle began to move toward her. “You need an heir, I’m a pureblood. Let Beth go and… and I will stay with you.”

“Ginny! Shut up, what are you doing?” Harry yelled at her, causing her gaze to flick back to him.

“I don’t really want to die today Harry,” she said to him. “And I’m sure Beth doesn’t want to either, so if you don’t mind…” she turned her gaze back to Riddle, who was looking at her as if trying to decide if she was mental or just stupid. After a minute he spoke.

“It is an interesting proposition I must admit, but I think watching one of you die will be enough so -” but Ginny interrupted him.

“Really? Because Harry has always believed he would get one of us killed eventually, so it can’t really be a shock for him. But if he dies knowing I am with you… that you will be in… in my bed, doing what he never finished… it, it would be much more poetic… don’t you think?” Riddle stared at her, processing what she had said before he began to smile. He threw back his head and laughed.

Harry felt a brand new terror fill him, what if he accepted? Riddle turned his head toward Harry as he stalked towards her, tucking his wand into his robes… “Oh Harry! You had this girl wanting you and you didn’t take her? You are a bigger fool than I thought you were!” Harry’s eyes were murderous as Riddle pulled Ginny to him.

“Don’t touch her…”

But they ignored him and Ginny looked up at Riddle, her heart pounding, please let this work. “Do you want to try again, with less fighting this time?” He threw one last look at Harry before kissing her deeply. This time Ginny kissed him back and didn’t fight. As Riddle deepened the kiss Ginny moaned, pushing against him. Harry’s mouth fell open as he watched, fighting the bile that rose in his throat as he saw her return Riddle’s kiss with enthusiasm.

Ginny was fighting the urge to throw up as well. She closed her eyes, trying to pretend it was Harry, but he tasted different. She steeled her insides and played the part, taking his tongue into her mouth and moaning as she struggled against her bonds to move closer. As Riddle wrapped his arm around her and pulled her against him she felt the bonds holding her arms give way, allowing her to wrap them around his neck. She rejoiced inside as she began moving her hands over his chest and on his back, thanking her mother for having Fred and George.

After a few more minutes Riddle broke away, startled by her passion, but clearly excited by it. He grinned and leaned back in to her as Ginny fought the urge to back away. “You know what my dear?”

“What,” she ground out, moving her hands behind her.

“I think that I might just take you up on your offer… and you know what the funny part is?” She shook her head, holding her breath. He turned her so that she was facing Harry and leaned in to whisper in your ear. “Harry is about to die, so take a good look while I tell you what’s funny.” He leaned in closer and lowered his voice so that only she could hear. “The funny part Ginny… is that he chose you… you weren’t the one who was going to die today.”

Harry watched Ginny’s eyes fill with tears and she gave a small sob. He knew by her face that Riddle had told her. He looked down for a second, squeezing his eyes shut before meeting her gaze again. “Kind of makes you wish you had kept your mouth shut doesn’t it?”

Riddle laughed lowly and moved in front of Ginny. “Time to die Harry,” he said with a smile, “Don’t worry; I’ll take very good care of her for you.” As he reached for his wand Ginny spoke from behind him.

“And how do you plan to kill him without your wand?” He froze and Harry began to smile. Riddle spun to see her standing with his wand pointed at him, his hand going instinctively to where it had been in his robes.

“You bitch,” he said, moving towards her, but she threw a spell at him and he was thrown hard against the wall and crumpled to the floor.

There was a split second of stunned silence before Ginny rushed to Harry. “Get these off of me!” he said as she approached. Ginny pointed the wand at his hands, “finite incantatum.” She turned and started to run to Beth when Harry stopped her.

“Wait! Ginny,” he said, trying to pull his hands up, “it didn’t work… try something else.” Ginny pointed the wand at his hands again.

“Alohamora.” Harry pulled but nothing happened.

“What else?” Ginny asked as Harry looked up at her.

“I don’t know, how about - ”

“LOOK OUT!” Beth screamed from behind them. Ginny turned but Riddle barreled into her, knocking them both to the ground. Ginny heard Harry yell her name as she kicked at Riddle, trying to scramble away. She jumped up and turned, throwing a curse at him, but he ducked and it hit the wall behind him.

“Stay back!” she yelled. “I will kill you– don’t think for one second that I won’t. Tell me how to release them.”

“Accio wand!” Riddle yelled, holding out his hand. The wand flew across the room towards him, bringing Ginny with it. She stumbled and cried out, but held on as the wand reached him. She slammed into him and they staggered back as Riddle grabbed the other end of the wand. “Give me the wand girl!” He screamed at her, trying to wrench it from her.

“You’ll have to kill me first!” she spat back as she struggled, trying to twist away. The wand was firing bursts of energy at the ceiling as they both clung to it, debris raining down on them.

“Oh, don’t worry,” he growled as he spun her around, slamming her back into the wall. “I’m going to kill you.”

Ginny cried out as the wind was knocked out of her and her head slammed against the wall. “Give me the wand!” Riddle hissed. Ginny’s head was spinning as he thrust her into the wall again. Across the room Harry’s heart dropped as he saw her falter, but a second later she brought her knee up between his legs, hitting Riddle as hard as she could.

Riddle collapsed over his knees with a groan as Ginny slid to the floor, miraculously still holding the wand. She scrambled unsteadily to her knees and shoved past him. Ginny heard Beth yell at her “BREAK THE WAND! If you break the wand the spell binding us will end!” Riddle heard this too and launched himself up with a groan.

“Ginny look out!” Harry yelled at her as Riddle grabbed her foot.

Ginny fell forward onto her hands and knees as he pulled her back towards him but she was too quick for him. She slammed the wand across her knee, breaking it in half. “NO!” he screamed at her, pulling her towards him as she started kicking, trying to back away. “You little bitch, you’ll pay for that!” He said yanking her up to her knees and slapping her across the face.

“Ginny!” Harry yelled from across the room. Ginny slapped Riddle back before he thrust her back on the ground.

“You’re just like your father, you know why?” Ginny said as she struggled.

“Why?” Riddle ground out, trying to catch her hands and force them to the floor as she hit him.

“Because Harry’s going to kill you – just like he killed him.”

~..~..~..~..~

As soon as Ginny broke the wand Harry tried to stand up, but it didn’t work. He looked at Beth who was also struggling to move. “It didn’t work” he called to her, “now what?” She looked up at him and he saw the bewilderment and panic in her eyes as she tried to move.

“I don’t know - it should have worked! Give it a minute, maybe the magic has to die down…”

“We don’t have a minute!” Harry yelled, his head snapping back to Ginny as he heard her scream. Riddle backhanded her across the face and she fell back onto the floor. Harry yanked as hard as he could, but it was no use, he was still stuck to the ground.

“Riddle! Don’t touch her!” he screamed. Come on! He raged inwardly as he struggled to move, please just give me a break…

Riddle’s face was red with fury as he grabbed Ginny around the neck and began to squeeze. Ginny struggled beneath him as her air was cut off, trying to pry his hands loose, but he was too strong. He smiled down at her as he squeezed tighter, relishing the feeling of her frantic struggle beneath him. Ginny opened her mouth to scream, but no noise would come out. She couldn’t breathe; she couldn’t think; she couldn’t see anything as stars erupted in her vision before everything began to fade. Just as she started to go limp in Riddle’s hands he was yanked off of her. Ginny began coughing and rolled onto her side as air filled her lungs.

Beth had been right, it had taken a few moments for the magic from Riddle’s wand to die down and eventually Harry’s arms began to move as he pulled on them. He ripped Riddle off of Ginny and punched him in the face, letting out the rage that had been building. Riddle went sprawling back but Harry yanked him up and hit him again, “I told you… not… to touch her,” he said as he continued to strike him. Riddle shoved Harry away with a yell and landed a punch of his own.

As they continued fighting Beth ran to Ginny, helping her to sit up. “We have to get out of here,” she said as she pulled Ginny to her feet.

“No, we have to help Harry,” Ginny replied as she swayed, her legs feeling like rubber and her body aching.

“Ginny, we won’t be any help unless we can find a weapon or our wands so come on!”

Across the room Harry had Riddle by the shoulders and he brought his knee up into his stomach. Not letting him recover, Harry threw him backwards. Riddle hit the desk and tumbled over it, landing on the floor on the other side. “Get the door open!” he yelled at Beth and Ginny. He began looking around for anything he could use as a weapon. On the other side of the desk Riddle smiled in triumph as he yanked the bottom drawer open and thrust his hand inside.

He stood up and came at Harry, launching himself back over the desk and knocking into him. Harry stumbled back and Riddle swung his arm, causing Harry to cry out in pain. The girls stopped at the sound and turned to see Riddle with a knife and Harry looking down at his chest. A line of red formed under his ripped shirt, running all the way across his chest. Ginny felt her heart stop as she saw the blood quickly soaking the fabric. “No,” she breathed and Beth grabbed a fire poker that was leaning against the wall beside her and ran towards them. Harry looked up and raised his arm to block Riddle as he brought the knife down, trying to stab him with a maniacal expression, but Beth hit him with the poker from behind.

“Beth!” Harry cried in panic as Riddle spun around and caught the weapon in his hand. He lunged at her, catching her in the shoulder with the knife. She cried out as Harry grabbed Riddle and pulled him back. He grabbed his arm and tried to wrench the knife away.

As they struggled Ginny made her way to Beth, ignoring her aching body. Beth was on the floor, holding her shoulder and watching Harry and Riddle fight. Ginny grabbed her arm and began pulling her away.

Harry slammed Riddle into the wall, trying to knock the knife loose, but Riddle held on. He pushed Harry back and they tripped, falling to the ground. Riddle landed on top of Harry, knocking the wind out of him and he scrambled across him and towards the girls.

Beth cried out but it was too late. Ginny let go of her and spun as Riddle grabbed her. She tried to yank free but he jerked her in front of him and thrust the knife under her throat, wrapping his other arm around her to keep her from moving. “Now what are you going to do Harry?” he panted to Harry who was pulling himself up from the floor, breathing hard.

“Let her go Riddle,” he said in a low voice. Ginny grimaced as she felt him push the knife harder against her skin. She kept her eyes locked on Harry but he didn’t look at her.

“Let her go,” he repeated, watching Riddle’s face, unable to look at Ginny. He already felt like his heart was trying to break through his chest, and he didn’t think he could handle the fear in her eyes. He took a step forward and she cried out, feeling the blade begin to cut her.

Harry stopped, seeing the blood run down her neck, his heart pounding in his throat now as rage and fear pulsed through him. Beth watched the scene from the floor, afraid to move, afraid to make it worse as Harry raised his hands slowly. He kept his palms up as a sign of surrender, unable to take his eyes off the redness staining Ginny’s skin, staining her shirt now as it traveled lower. In that moment nothing mattered beyond saving her. “Ok. Just… Look, I won’t fight you. Just let her go. Kill me… like you wanted…”

“Oh, you are so naïve Harry, even after all this time,” Riddle replied, his voice full of wickedness, relishing that with one move, one slice he could break the great Potter’s spirit.

“You said you wouldn’t kill her,” Harry said, bringing his eyes back to Riddle’s. But Riddle only smiled back cruelly, causing Harry’s blood to run cold.

“Well, I changed my mind Harry,” he said. Harry’s heart stopped completely as Riddle brought the knife up swiftly, bringing it down towards Ginny’s stomach and she screamed his name.

“NO!” Harry cried, throwing his arm out.

The knife flew out of Riddle’s hand, spinning across the floor. His arm continued its motion though, hitting Ginny hard in the stomach. Riddle looked over to where the knife had flown as Ginny doubled over. His head snapped back to Harry and there was a pause as they both realized that Harry’s wandless magic was no longer bound. Riddle was the first to move as he threw Ginny to the floor and ran for the knife but Harry tackled him to the ground. They rolled across the floor, kicking and punching as hard as they could.

Suddenly, Harry was on top of Riddle, letting his rage out in each punch. Harry stuck out his hand and the knife flew into it and he brought it down swiftly into Riddle’s chest. He saw the surprise flick across his face as Riddle looked down, seeing the blood but still he continued to struggle. Harry felt sick, but all he could see was Riddle trying to kill Ginny, hitting her, trying to kill the people he loved; trying to kill him. Harry pulled the knife out and stabbed him again and again until he was still beneath him.

Harry stayed on top of his body, unable to move as tears streamed down his cheeks. He was covered in blood, his and Riddle’s. He realized that his chest was hurting after awhile, but he still couldn’t move. He had killed someone, not with magic but with his hands. He hadn’t had a choice but he was still horrified.

He heard someone call his name, but it sounded far away, like he was in a tunnel. Someone touched his shoulder but he jerked away. He stood up and looked over at Beth and Ginny’s faces. He was going to be sick. Beth moved towards him but he shook his head, moving unsteadily away from them. He stumbled to the desk and sank to his knees behind it as he threw up. Beth and Ginny looked at each other and waited. After a minute Beth moved behind the desk.

“Harry, come on,” Beth said softly as she knelt down and took his hand. He kept his head down but allowed her to pull him up and into a hug. “Let’s get out of here,” she said as she held him.

Ginny hadn’t moved, and she stayed silent, watching the scene. Harry looked up at her over Beth’s shoulder before looking down at Riddle’s body again. He kept his hand around Beth’s waist and she guided him around the desk to Ginny.

“Are you ok?” he asked when they reached her, his eyes boring into hers.

“Yeah,” she said softly as he reached up and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. He dropped his hand from Beth’s waist and she stepped back silently as he pulled Ginny to him in a hug. He cupped her cheek in his hand and brought her face up next to his as he closed his eyes.

“Don’t – ever – scare me like that again,” he breathed shakily before pulling back.

When he took his hand away from her cheek he saw the red mark he left and he looked down at his bloody hand. He wiped it on his jeans, feeling sick again.

“Let’s go,” he said, taking her hand as Beth moved back to him.

It was a strange scene as they walked down the hall. Harry had his right arm around Beth as she leaned into him. Ginny walked a little behind them on Harry’s left, holding his hand. She clasped his with both of hers, feeling the blood but not caring. Ginny felt his warmth seep into her but couldn’t shake the cold feeling in her stomach. She just kept feeling Riddle’s hands on her, feeling his mouth on her and seeing him attack Harry.

They made their way through the house quietly. Harry realized as they came to the landing that he recognized it. He had seen it in his dreams years ago. “We’re in the Riddle house,” he said, stopping at the top of the stairs. “We need to find our wands,” he added as he began to lead them down the steps. It was dark and oddly quiet and Harry wondered where the wizards were who had been dragging him earlier. They found an open door that led to a den. There was a fire going, but it certainly wasn’t inviting.

“Accio wand,” Harry whispered and a small desk started rattling on the far wall. Harry pulled away and quickly crossed the room. The drawer was locked, but Harry was in no mood to waste time looking for the key. He raised his hand and focused his energy causing the drawer to shoot open. Harry felt a sense of relief move through him at the return of his powers.

He heard Beth cry out and spun around, grabbing their wands. He had found the two wizards from earlier. He didn’t recognize the one who was holding Beth, but the one holding Ginny was the man who had attacked them in the shop.

Beth was grimacing as the man behind her squeezed her injured arm, but when his eyes moved to Ginny’s he found only anger in them. She had seen him use his powers and knew she had hers back as well. She shut her eyes and Harry watched as the two wizards flew away from them and across the room, hitting the wall with a crack. She raised her hand and her wand flew from Harry to her and she spun, hitting both men with stunning spells as they tried to pull themselves up. Harry and Beth gaped at her as she turned back around.

“Harry,” she said calmly, looking at him.

“Yeah?”

“I’m ready to go home now.”

He nodded and walked back across the room. “Incarcerous,” he muttered as he flicked his wand and ropes appeared, binding the hands and feet of the unconscious wizards. He handed Beth her wand and Ginny came up beside him and took his hand back in hers. He felt it shaking a little and he squeezed it. Beth muttered a charm under her breath and the cut on Harry’s chest closed, stopping the bleeding. She did the same to her arm before taking his other hand.

When they got outside they stopped on the porch. It was dark but the half moon was bright, illuminating the land around the house, and Harry could see the graveyard in the distance. Ginny saw it too and glanced automatically to his right wrist. She knew he still had the scar where Wormtail had cut him the night Voldemort came back; the night that Cedric died. She looked up at his face and squeezed his hand, causing him to glance down at her. She didn’t smile at him and he knew she remembered what had happened here. He looked at the graveyard once more before leading them down the steps. They turned on their heels and disappeared with a pop.

They arrived in front of the Burrow and began walking towards the house. Harry opened the front door and brought them inside.

There was a pause as everyone sitting in the front room fell silent and gaped at them. All of the Weasleys were there, even Charlie, Bill and Fleur. Hermione and Ron were on the sofa and Fred and George seemed to have frozen in mid pace behind them. Dr. Ward was there, as well as Remus and Tonks. They all sat frozen in shock at the appearance of the trio. They looked terrible. They were bruised and dirty and covered in blood.

Mrs. Wealsey was the first to move. She let out a sob and ran to Ginny, pulling her into a hug. She dragged Harry into it as well after a second, and Dr. Ward took Beth. Hermione pulled Harry away and hugged him tightly as she cried. After a few minutes when everyone calmed down Harry Beth and Ginny went upstairs to shower and change before having to explain what happened. Before he went upstairs Harry told Remus to send some aurors to the Riddle house.

Harry paced in his room while Beth was taking a shower. The events from earlier kept rolling around inside of him. Ginny could have gotten herself killed. She almost did get herself killed. What if she hadn’t been able to get the wand? What if his magic hadn’t come back? He was angry at her for putting herself in danger, and being unable to help her had caused a terror to erupt inside of him so fiercely that it still hadn’t died down completely. He couldn’t get the feeling out of his stomach. He didn’t… he just had to… he stopped pacing and left his room.

Ginny was standing in front of her mirror, turning her face from side to side, looking at her bruises as she listened to the shower, waiting for the water to stop. She saw the smudge of blood on her cheek, dry now and she brought her hand, also caked with dry blood to it absently as her eyes moved to the door. She had heard it open and she watched in the mirror as Harry came in. She held his gaze as he shut the door behind him and walked towards her.

He moved quickly and spun her around when he reached her. He didn’t say anything; he didn’t think, he just pulled her against him and kissed her hungrily, almost desperately, his tongue invading her mouth. He didn’t know what would have happened to him if she had died and he pulled her closer.

A knock sounded on the door and he jerked away from her, mumbling an apology as he backed up and turned away. Ginny tore her eyes away from his back, following his gaze to the door as Dr. Ward came in. He applied a paste and said a few simple healing charms to lessen the bruising on their faces and soon they were looking relatively normal.

Harry winced as Dr. Ward checked him for any broken ribs and Ginny’s eyes, which had been fixed on her tightly clasped hands shot to him. “Take your shirt off Harry,” Dr. Ward commanded and Harry grimaced as he pulled it off over his head, his side aching as he stretched. Ginny’s eyes moved to his body, which was splattered with purple bruises where he had been kicked. Harry looked down as Dr. Ward began to mutter a healing charm, not really even remembering when he had been hit in the places he had the bruises.

When Dr. Ward finished with Harry, he moved to crouch in front of Ginny, beginning to examine her arms as Harry stood to the side, looking at the ground, his hands in his pockets.

“Harry?”

Everyone looked toward the door at the sound of Beth’s voice. She had on one of his shirts and a pair of Ginny’s shorts, her hair still wet from the shower. Harry crossed to her and she slipped her arms around his waist. Harry looked back at the bed where Dr. Ward had gone back to examining Ginny as she sat silently, watching them in the doorway. “You go next ok?” he offered softly and she nodded. He seemed to hesitate for a second before taking Beth’s hand and leading her out of the room.

~..~..~..~..~

When they finished showering and changing they met Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Remus and Dr. Ward in the den. Harry hadn’t really felt like telling a large audience the story so they had agreed that Mr. Weasley would fill in the others. He told them the basics of what had happened, but didn’t talk about some of the specifics. He told them of Riddle’s game but he didn’t tell them that he had actually chosen. He told them they had gotten free, but didn’t explain how Ginny had done it; just that she had distracted him and gotten his wand.

Harry had a hard time keeping it together as he told of his fight with Riddle, of how he had killed him, and Beth took his hand. She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
Ginny, suddenly feeling ill, got up to leave, mumbling an apology. Harry watched her go and looked down. He felt Beth begin to rub his back and suddenly wanted to finish the story as quickly as possible so he could leave the room too. Remus listened in silence. He knew Harry had left things out, but didn’t push. He had heard what he needed. When he had finished, Harry walked quietly through the house until he found Ginny in the kitchen. He stood in the doorway and watched her for a minute before entering.

She was at the sink. She was scrubbing her hands vigorously, washing off the blood that was already gone. My blood, and Riddle’s blood, he thought as he watched her. When she finished she picked up the glass of water she had on the counter. He could see the glass shaking as she raised it. She noticed too and slammed in back down with a frustrated huff. She shook her hands quickly, trying to make them stop trembling.

“Hey,” he said quietly as he walked towards her. She spun around when she heard him and clasped her hands behind her back.

“Hi,” she said. He stopped when he was in front of her and reached behind her, pulling her hands between them and rubbing them gently with his own. She closed her eyes at his touch. “I… I can still feel him, it’s like it won’t go away.”

“It’ll go away…” he said, gazing down at her. “You saved us. You’re the strongest person I know… it will go away…” He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. “I promise,” he said against her skin.

She sank into him as he pulled her to him, slipping her arms under his and bringing her hands up his back, curling them around his shoulders as he wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his head on hers. “I was so scared,” she said into his chest. “I thought he was going to kill you.”

Harry closed his eyes and pulled her closer, remembering his horror when Riddle had hit her, seeing him hold the knife against her. Scared didn’t even begin to describe what he had felt.

Ginny felt like she was dying. She couldn’t take the need to be near him, the want to be near him and she certainly couldn’t take him being nice to her. She knew that Beth was in the other room and that any second he was going to go back to her. She had to get away from him. She pulled out of his arms and backed up. “I, I have to get out of here…” she said as she looked into his eyes.

Pain shot through her as she saw the emotion in them. He loved her, she could see it, but it didn’t make her happy, it made her feel sick. He had saved her… He had saved her over Beth, but he still chose to be with Beth. Across from her Harry wasn’t feeling well either. He saw the pain in her eyes. They were haunted and he knew he was the reason. Where was her spirit?He had done that to her, and he felt empty.

“I can’t be around you,” she whispered.

“Gin…” Harry reached out for her but she shook him off.

“Just… Don’t…” she whispered, backing away, “I’m fine.” With that she turned and fled. As she crossed the kitchen she ran into Beth who was coming through the door. She mumbled an incoherent apology and kept going.

“Is she ok?” Beth asked as she reached Harry, sliding her arms around his waist and resting her head against his chest.

“I think so,” he lied, his arm going around her automatically as he stared at the door Ginny had gone through.

~..~..~..~..~

After a minute they went back to the den and sat on the sofa. Beth was resting her head on his shoulder and his arm was around her but he felt detached, empty. He knew he was going to have to hurt her. He had tried to do what he thought was right but he couldn’t escape the reality of the situation. He loved Ginny and he always had. He had tried to fight it, tried to deny it, but when it came to the end, when he had to choose someone to save, it had been her. It would always be her. He had known tonight that he would die to protect her and not think twice.

He knew what was coming: Beth was going to hate him for it, but he didn’t have a choice. He couldn’t be with her, disrespect her by lying about how he felt. He couldn’t do it here though, he would have to wait; so he sat with her, lost in his thoughts.

He looked around the room, watching Ron and Hermione talking softly on the other sofa, Remus and Tonks talking by the fireplace. He wondered where Ginny was. He watched Mrs. Weasley leave the room and figured she was going to find her. He wanted to go with her, to talk to Ginny but he knew he couldn’t. Not yet. He had to fix the mess he had created first.

“What are you thinking about?” Beth asked, startling him out of his thoughts. He looked down at her, and her eyes were so trusting, he suddenly felt like the worst person in the world.

“Nothing,” he said, looking away. Worst doesn’t even describe it, he thought. She didn’t know his choice and the guilt rose inside of him. He would have let her die… he felt dirty even touching her. I have to get out of here. “I need to go find Mrs. Weasley,” he said standing up suddenly.

“Do you want me to come with you?” she asked.

“No,” he said, running a hand through his hair as he walked out.

Ron and Hermione watched the scene from across the room. “What do you think is going on?” Ron asked her quietly.

“I don’t know,” she whispered back. Harry seemed distracted, different somehow. He hadn’t told them what had happened, but she knew it couldn’t have been good. “I… I think we should go find him.” Ron nodded and they got up, making their way out of the room.

They found him outside, sitting on the steps. Moving cautiously, they sat down on either side of him. “Hey Harry,” Hermione said softly, putting her hand on his arm. He tensed but didn’t pull away, which she took as a good sign.

“So… do you want to talk about what happened?” Ron added, watching Harry’s face. They could tell he was struggling, trying to decide whether to open up.

“Harry, we’re your best friends, we want to know… we want to help you through whatever happened.”

Harry looked up at Hermione’s words, looking back and forth between them as Ron nodded. Softly, he began to tell them. He told them about Riddle, about how he had bound his powers. His voice became shaky as he told them Riddle’s game, about making him choose who to save. Hermione’s hands went over her mouth as she listened.

He told them of how Ginny had saved them, had gotten Riddle’s wand and broken it, of the fight and how he eventually killed Riddle. By this time Hermione was crying and Ron’s face was ashen. “So, so you didn’t have to choose then,” Ron said, feeling a sense of pride at Ginny’s quick thinking, even though he felt sick at the thought of what she had suggested instead of death.

Harry laughed bitterly at this. “Oh no, I chose… before she… there wasn’t a way out. It was either choose or lose them both. He pointed his wand at Ginny and started the killing curse so I… so I chose…” Hermione took his hand in hers, she could feel it shaking. “I chose Ginny… and the worst part is that she knows… Riddle told her.”

“How is that the worst part?” Ron asked.

“Ron,” Hermione said softly. “He’s with Beth.” Reality dawned in his eyes and he looked down, frowning.

“Does Beth know?” Hermione asked softly. Harry shook his head.

“She didn’t hear it. All I could think of was saving Ginny. When I was fighting him… stabbing him… all I could think was that he had hurt her, had tried to kill her… I, I don’t think Beth really even entered my mind.” Harry broke down at this, and Hermione pulled him to her into a hug, running her hand through his hair, trying to soothe him as she looked at Ron over his head. “After all of this, after months of telling Beth, and Ginny and myself… everyone that I wanted Beth, loved Beth… how can I be so stupid? How can she forgive me?” They weren’t sure who he was talking about, and didn’t know what to say, so they just sat with him.

Eventually Ron spoke. “So what does this mean? What are you going to do?”

Harry pulled away from Hermione and looked at Ron for a second before turning away again to look back at the yard, resting his elbows on his knees. “What I should have done in the first place,” he said softly.

~..~..~..~..~

Upstairs Ginny began to cry as she told her mother what had happened with Riddle, about him making Harry choose one to save. Mrs. Weasley’s heart broke for her daughter as she listened. She knew that she still loved Harry and hated that she would have to endure something like this. “So… so Harry finally told Riddle his choice but as he turned I suggested an alternative, that he… that I stay with him… you know, since I’m a pureblood… and then… and then I had to kiss him, and it was horrible, it was like a nightmare… and then… and then he told me who Harry’s choice had been and…” at this Ginny broke off completely, sobbing into her bed. Mrs. Weasley rubbed her back, trying to think of something to say to help.

“Oh Ginny, I’m so sorry. I know you love him, but you can’t make someone feel something they don’t. Just because he chose Beth doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for you… I know that right now it might seem - ”

Ginny cut her off with a muffled cry into her pillow as she shook her head. “No… he chose me… mum, he… he… saved me.” Mrs. Weasley’s eyes widened at her daughter’s words. Her tone was haunted and broken but Mrs. Weasley couldn’t help feeling like she could kiss Harry herself. He saved her; he would have saved my daughter – again. Ginny’s sobs had turned to hiccups as she tried to pull herself together.

“You saw him mum, he is downstairs with her. He is still with her. He would have saved me but…” she trailed off, trying to hold back a new round of sobs. “How can he do that?” she whispered.

Mrs. Weasley was silent for a minute before speaking trailing her hand through her daughter’s hair. “This is hard dear. This is a hard situation for everyone, especially Harry. I don’t doubt that he loves Beth, but I know he cares for you too.” At this she pulled Ginny up until she was facing her, looking into her eyes. “I want you to really listen to me Ginny. You have to trust him to work this out because he is the only one who can. The fact that he chose you means something. If he loves you the way you are meant to be loved, he will find his way back to you.” Ginny felt her eyes begin to water again. “And if he doesn’t… well then he doesn’t deserve you.” Ginny threw her arms around her mother, hugging her tightly.

~..~..~..~..~

Not too much later Dr. Ward took Beth home. Harry stayed on the sofa until finally Mrs. Weasley came into the room. “Harry, you should really go to bed, you must be exhausted, you need rest or you’ll get sick,” she said when she came in. He got up when he saw her and smiled at her motherly treatment.

“I’m going soon Mrs. Weasley. Um, is Ginny still in her room?” he asked, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I wanted to talk to her.”

“Oh no, I’m sorry dear, Ginny went back to school a few minutes ago,” she said, watching the surprise fill his face.

“She went back to school? Tonight? But… You let her go?”

“Well, that’s what she wanted, you know how she is. Her friends are there you know. I don’t think she wanted to dwell on what happened.”

“But… how did she?”

“Remus had the fireplace in her room connected to the floo network, incase she wants to come back,” she said, watching him.

“Oh,” Harry said, not sure how to feel about the fact that she just left. That she didn’t even say goodbye. “Well, ok, I guess I’m going to bed then.”

“Goodnight dear.” She watched him leave and suddenly called him back. She walked over to him and hugged him tightly. “Thank you for bringing her back Harry. Thank you… thank you for everything.” He hugged her back. He didn’t realize that she knew he had chosen Ginny.

“Well, she really saved us,” he said softly and she patted his back, pulling him tighter for a second.

“You saved each other,” she said as she pulled away, wiping her eyes and turning to leave the room. At the last minute she turned back around. She had to say something. Harry had so far proved not to know how to handle this situation and she just couldn’t not say something.

“Harry, I don’t want to lecture you. I love you like a son, but I love my daughter. She is very confused and fragile right now… and you have the potential to do some real damage if you aren’t clear with her. I want you to be happy, and whoever you find that happiness with is very lucky… and I hope you know she will always be welcome here… but… I need you to be clear with Ginny about what you want. I know that she seems strong, but… she has had a very hard time this past year, and you could really hurt her.”

Harry didn’t know how to respond so he just gave a small nod. “I know,” he said, his voice barely audible.

“Just… either be with her Harry, or leave her alone.” Mrs. Weasley said, giving him one last look before leaving the room and heading upstairs.



Chapter 17: Whatever You Want
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It was almost a week before Harry saw Ginny. You would think that one day they would actually close this off, he thought as he crawled through the tunnel from the shrieking shack to the whomping willow. But even as he thought it he was glad they hadn’t yet since he needed it. He slipped his invisibility cloak on and made his way to the castle.

He actually saw her in the hall, walking with some friends but he didn’t approach her. He watched her for a minute as she talked and laughed excitedly about something as they walked, her hair bouncing around her. When she turned the corner and disappeared out of view he continued on, making his way through the familiar halls until he reached the portrait of the fat lady. He waited against the wall until someone came out and slipped through the opening, into the familiar common room.

He made his way up to the head girl’s room and went inside. It certainly is a nice room, he thought as he looked around. It was a round room, with a large bookcase and desk to one side that curved with the wall and large bed. There was a door leading to a private bath and a large fireplace with ornate carvings. He had considered using it to get here, since he knew it was still connected to the network, but had decided against it. He looked at her posters and piles of clothes discarded near her closet. It seemed like her, a nice balance of order and chaos. Finally he sat down on the bed to wait.

~..~..~..~..~

When Ginny entered her room later, she found Harry lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling with his arms folded behind his head. He looked like he had been there awhile, as she noticed that his shoes were off and there were a couple of books beside him on the bed. He looked over at her when he heard her enter and she paused for a second before walking to her desk.

“What are you doing here?” she asked as she started pulling her books out of her bag. Harry sat up and watched her as she stacked them one at a time on her desk.

“You know what I’m doing here,” he said quietly.

Ginny didn’t look at him as she moved around her room, walking to her closet to take off her robe. He followed her with his eyes.

“How’s Beth?” She asked as she pulled out a hanger and slipped off her sandals. He paused before answering. He saw that her hands were unsteady as she fumbled with the hanger.

“I don’t know,” he replied truthfully, continuing to watch her. “She’s not talking to me right now.”

Finally, unable to come up with anything else to do, she shut her closet door and turned towards him. She crossed her arms across her chest, as though trying to shield herself. “Why not?”

Harry stood up and began walking slowly towards her as though she was a frightened animal; afraid she would run away if he moved too fast. “Well, I broke up with her,” he said as he approached, watching her eyes but they remained shuttered, closed off from him.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah,” he said softly.

She took a step back as he got closer but ran into her closet and soon he was in front of her, trapping her between his body and the wall and filling her vision so she closed her eyes. He stopped when he was in front of her and raised his hands to her face, running the tips of his fingers gently over her features as he continued. “I didn’t think it was fair to stay with her… because… you see I’m in love with someone else.” Ginny felt his fingers moving over her eyes and down her cheeks, her skin tingling where he touched it. Harry followed his fingers with his eyes, bringing them to rest on her lips.

Ginny’s eyes flickered open and she looked at him. “Oh, yeah?” she breathed against his fingers.

“Yeah,” he said, bringing his eyes back to hers. “It’s the strangest thing. I tried to deny it, I tried to ignore it, but I just can’t stop… and any attempt to do so came to a crashing halt the other night.”

He took her hand in his and began to trace circles on her palm with his thumb as he continued; his voice dropping. “I have never been more terrified in my whole life than when he tried to kill you.”

Ginny felt tears rise in her eyes and they fluttered shut. Her breathing was becoming shallow, her body tingling from the movement of his thumb; around and around, making small circles across her palm and up onto her wrist.

He drew her hand up and kissed it, replacing his thumb with his lips and Ginny let out a shaky breath at his touch.

“Harry,” Ginny whispered, opening her eyes. She felt like she would melt as she looked in his eyes. They were full of love and passion, and fear – fear that she might not forgive him, that she might not give him another chance.

“Yes?” he whispered back, dropping his gaze to her lips. They were so close and they were beckoning him, but he was afraid to do anything that might ruin the moment. It was too important for him to screw it up by pushing her.

“Harry,” she repeated; her voice shaking as she tried to stay in control. “How am I supposed to believe you? Last week you loved Beth, by the lake you told me it was too late, now you have broken up with her… It has only been a few days… what if a week from now you change you mind?” He raised his eyes at this and started to respond but she cut him off. “I just don’t think I could take that.”

She pulled her hand out of his and slipped past him. As she walked to her bed she could feel her legs shaking and she sank down on the edge of her mattress, her hands braced on either side of her as she stared at the ground. The feelings racing around inside of her were startlingly different than what she would have expected and she found herself terrified of him, terrified of getting hurt.

Harry came over and knelt in front of her. “I love you Ginny. I love you so much… and I’m not going to change my mind… and I think,” he said, bringing her head up with his finger so that she was looking at him. “I think you know that, but if you need time, I can wait…” Ginny squeezed her eyes shut and cocked her head to the side as she fought not to start crying.

“You can’t just do this…” she said, her voice beginning to rise. “You can’t just… just come here and expect me to just… just believe you… expect everything to be ok… because… ”

Harry shook his head. “I don’t… I don’t expect that. What do you want me to do?” he asked, trying to keep the desperation from creeping into his voice. “What do you want me to do Gin? I’ll do it… I’ll do whatever you want… what do you want?”

“I… I just don’t want to get hurt.”

Harry took her hands in his, resting them on her lap. “I know love. And I swear to you I will never hurt you again. You are all that I want. I would die for you… you know that.” She opened her eyes and they stared at each other for what felt like hours.

Harry felt his stomach begin to fill with dread as the seconds ticked by. It’s too late, he thought, I’ve ruined it. He lowered his head and kissed the hands that he was holding, resting his forehead against them. “I would die for you,” he repeated softly, more to himself than to her. He didn’t know what he was going to do; he didn’t know how he could leave the room and not be with her.

Ginny stared at his head on her lap. She could feel his fear radiating off of him and felt her heart beat faster. She let everything he had said since he had arrived sink in. She thought about everything that had happened since the night he had returned. He was here. He was asking for her. He had, when it came to the end, saved her. She wanted to believe him, wanted to be with him, but she wasn’t ready yet.

“We don’t even know each other anymore.”

“Yes, we do,” he replied softly, shaking his head and kissing her hand. “I know you’re scared, but you know that’s not true… You know me,” he said, raising his head to look at her. “You have always known me,” he said, bringing his hand up to her face; brushing her hair behind her ear. “You knew me at school. You knew me after Dumbledore’s death. You knew me by the lake before I knew myself… I may not know every detail of the last year of your life but I know you too Ginny. I know what makes you laugh… and what makes you cry. I know that your favorite color is pink, even though you would never admit it.”

She smiled despite herself at this, and bit her lip as Harry continued. “I know that you bite your lip when you’re nervous… or trying to control your passion.” She stopped biting her lip and Harry smiled softly. He brought his hands up and cupped her face between them, using his thumbs to wipe the tears off as he looked at her. He had to make her see, he had to make her understand so he started talking, rambling, saying anything and everything that he loved about her.

“I know that flying makes you feel free… I know that your family is the most important thing in the world to you. That you hate being wrong and rarely are. I know that you are loyal, and strong, and would sacrifice yourself to save your friends. I know that you love the smell of fresh bread because it reminds you of your grandmother, but that is makes you sad when you smell it. That you are afraid of tunnels but can’t remember why…”

Ginny missed a couple of things that he said as she tried to figure out how he would know about the bread. She hadn’t told him it made her sad.

“…I know that you can’t hide what you are feeling from me. I can read your eyes, and I know… I know that you still love me as much as I love you,” he said.

With a shaking breath she closed her eyes, feeling his fingers move over her skin as he trailed his right hand down to her neck, resting his finger just under her ear. “I know that if I kiss you right here… that you -”

Ginny put her hand on his mouth, silencing him. “Stop.”

“But I’m not finished… I know I’ve hurt you,” he said shakily, taking her hand with his and lowering it. “I know I have made bad choices. Horrible, unforgivable choices, but I’m going to make myself worthy of your love if it takes the rest of my life…” Ginny shook her head as a few more tears escaped and made their way down her cheeks.

“You were right you know,” he breathed. “I will never look at anyone the way I look at you…”

Harry dropped his hands to her knees as she lowered her head covering her face with her hands as she cried. He stayed in front of her until her tears subsided and they sat in silence for a few minutes.

She lowered her hands to her lap, noticing how small they seemed next to his. Slowly, almost tentatively she slid her hand across her leg to his, tracing his finger lightly with her own. Harry tensed, tingles shooting up his arm as her fingers grazed his skin. Her touch was so gentle as she traced his fingers and hand, he was amazed that something so simple could affect him so completely and he swallowed as she curled her fingers underneath his hand and laced them through his.

Harry was just daring to hope when she jerked up, pulling her hand away and he stood up quickly too as he stumbled back.

“I want time. I… I need to think about this,” she said looking up at him. He nodded, his throat suddenly constricted.

“That’s fine love… whatever you want,” Harry heard himself say, even though inside he was terrified and his stomach was now firmly twisted in a knot he didn’t think would ever come out completely.

He watched her as she moved away and walked to her door, leaving him alone. He almost took a step to follow her, to beg her not to leave, to talk to him until they worked it out but he didn’t; she had asked for time and he had to give her that.

Ginny made a valiant effort to be sensible. She walked to the door, her heart pounding and her mind racing. She actually got pretty close to it before she stopped. She began to turn back to him, but stopped again, her body struggling to decide which way to go. She ended up pivoting back and forth slightly as her heart and her mind debated. Finally she turned around completely and began to walk back toward him, running a hand through her hair.

Harry’s breathing got faster as she approached, her eyes on his but unreadable. He thought she was going to stop. To say something to him before she left but she just kept getting closer and the next thing he knew she was kissing him, one hand cupping his face and the other on his neck, pulling him down to her as she stood on her toes.

Harry froze for a second, before his hands moved to cup her face and he kissed her back, the intensity rising as the seconds ticked by. Their mouths moved together as Harry tilted her head to the side with his hands, pulling her face more firmly against his. When it became necessary to breathe Ginny pulled back and he stared at her with questioning eyes.

“I want you to promise me something,” she said softly.

“Whatever you want love,” Harry replied, holding his breath. She looked up at him and a tiny smile spread across her face.

“Promise me… promise me that you will never write to me again,” she said. Harry’s heart leapt for joy as he looked down at her.

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against him. He buried his head in her shoulder as they clung to each other. “I love you so much… I was so scared.” After a few minutes they pulled away, looking at each other. Harry saw Ginny’s eyes drop to his lips and he smiled, causing her to snap her eyes back to his. She bit her lip.

Harry slipped his hand into her hair, drawing her back towards him, watching her eyes for a sign to stop. When he didn’t see one he brushed his lips against hers slowly. It was a soft, questioning kiss and after a minute Harry broke away, his breathing heavy.

“I’ve missed you,” she said and he kissed her back swiftly.

“You have no idea,” he murmured against her lips.

They kissed tenderly for a second, but it soon became hungry and almost frantic as desire rushed through them, pent up and denied for too long. Ginny began to pull him toward the bed and they continued kissing as they moved, unwilling to break apart except to breathe. When they reached it they tumbled down onto the covers.

Ginny’s hands quickly found their way under his shirt and he was yanking hers out of her skirt as their tongues danced together frantically still. Harry finally dragged his mouth away, finding her neck as he settled more fully against her. “Are you sure… this is ok?” he panted into her skin between kisses as his hands moved up and down on her sides, his hips pressing into hers. Ginny groaned and nodded in response, trying to pull him closer.

“I mean… maybe… maybe we should slow down…” Harry managed to get out but trailed off, distracted by the sounds Ginny was making for him and he slid his hand down her leg and up under her skirt, pulling her leg up and massaging her thigh as he found her lips again.

She was just too much… this was too much… he hadn’t expected this to happen and he tried to pull himself into some semblance of control as he pushed off of her and gazed down at her. His chest was heaving as he tried to bring his breathing under control and speak at the same time. “Gin… are you sure… this… I mean… a minute ago you needed time… and… and now… maybe we should go slow…”


She stared at him for a second before bringing her hand to his face and pulling him down to her. She kissed him softly and after a minute he kissed her back, this time slow and tender. He didn’t want to push her; just kissing her at all at this point was enough and he shifted off of her until he was beside her, leaning over her.

He began to pull his hand out of her skirt but Ginny’s hand shot out, covering his and stopping his movement. He broke away from her, looking down at her questioningly.

She just looked back at him as she began to pull his hand up her leg, back under her skirt. He closed his eyes and let out as shuddering breath, “I… I’m trying to go slow Gin.” She moved his hand until it was resting on the inside of her thigh and removed her hand. Her skin was burning underneath his touch as she looked up at him.

“I don’t want you to go slow,” she said, waiting. His eyes darkened at her words and he paused for a second, studying her.

He let out a sound that was half groan half sigh and sank into her, finding her neck with his lips as he moved his hand to her other leg. He ran it down to her knee and pulled it up, bending her leg and resting it against him before running his hand back into her skirt. They froze when the door opened, looking up. Ginny felt Harry tense beside her and she tried to move but he held her in place.

Logan stood in the doorway in shock, taking in the scene. Ginny was on the bed with, he looked again, with Harry Potter(!) whose hand was practically up her skirt. She looked like she wanted to fall through the floor while Harry was looking at him like he wanted to kill him. “Oh God Gin… I’m, I’m sorry… I just came to… Are you ok?” he stuttered before trailing off.

“She’s fine Logan… get out.” Harry managed through clenched teeth.

Logan looked at Ginny and she nodded. The look he was getting from Harry was making him nervous and he suddenly started backing out of the room. “Ok, it’s not important… I’ll talk to you later…” Harry apparently didn’t feel like he was moving fast enough because Logan suddenly flew backwards out of the room and hit the wall with a thud as the door slammed shut.

“Harry!” Ginny said, looking up at him.

~..~..~..~..~

Outside Logan pulled himself up and yelled at the door, “I said I was leaving asshole!”

He made his way back to the common room where he saw Luna.

“What’s wrong Logan?”

He waved his arms in frustration as he told her what had happened and she broke into a smile as he spoke. “Oh, Harry came to his senses, I am so happy for her…” She said in her signature dazed tone. Logan huffed at her.

“I guess so…” He sank into a chair, his irritation fading as it suddenly occurred to him that he was probably lucky not to be dead. I mean Harry Potter, he killed Voldemort... I just called him an asshole…

~..~..~..~..~

Back in the room Harry looked at Ginny who was still in shock, her face now the color of her hair.

“Do you need to go talk to him?” he asked tightly. Ginny’s eyes began to sparkle with mirth as she felt the jealousy radiating off of him.

“No,” she said, watching his eyes. “Why don’t you like Logan? You used him against me in the den now that I think about it... how did you even know him then?”

She watched the emotions flicker across his face at her words and she brought her fingers up to play with his hair, sensing his shame at the mention of the den.

“I saw you by the lake… last year when I came to confront you… And I saw you on the porch…” he said quietly after a minute… thinking back to the scene by the lake.

Ginny furrowed her brows, the lake?

And then she remembered. “You were at the lake? To confront me?” she asked. He nodded. “I remember that… I was crying and Logan tried to comfort me… I remember… I remember I could feel you.” She suddenly felt like crying again. “Why didn’t you talk to me?”

Harry kissed her forehead lightly. “Your letters told me you had met someone. I thought he was that person… I was so stupid… God we were so stupid… and then I saw him again on the porch when you kissed him…” Ginny smiled at him.

“He kissed me, and he was never someone new, he is just a friend, and not even a very good one at that.” Harry felt his heart lighten at this, which he knew was completely ridiculous. He had been with someone else but it somehow made him feel better anyway, knowing that she hadn’t.

“I have a promise for you too then,” he said, curling his fingers on her skin.

“Hmmm?” Ginny sighed as goose bumps erupted on her thigh.

“I want you to promise that you will never kiss him again. Never kiss anyone but me.” He captured her lips with his and Ginny mumbled “I promise” against them, opening her mouth wider as he deepened the kiss, waving her hand at the door to lock it.

“God, you’re so beautiful” he said against her skin.

She was overwhelming him and he willingly lost himself in the moment. The taste of her, the feel of her, even the smell of her, roses and citrus was enchanting him and he didn’t think he would ever get enough of her. God, it was like she had practiced the sounds she was making, learning just what would drive him mad… She was completely and utterly beautiful beneath him as he dragged his mouth away from her and rose up.

Her red hair was spread around her, her eyes dark as they met his, her lip between her teeth. He was sure at that moment that she had created the habit just to torture him and he dipped his head and kissed her deeply, teasing her lip with his own teeth, determined to figure out what made it so delectable.

He needed to show her how much he loved her. All he could think was how this was right; how she was right and he wanted to show her, make her understand how important she was, and as much as he wanted to, as much as he ached to, he knew that the way to do that wasn’t by jumping into bed thirty seconds after getting her back.

With a groan he dragged his mouth away again and rolled over, drawing her with him until they were lying on their sides facing each other. Their faces were close and his arm was around her, holding her against him.

They stayed together, just holding each other in silence for a few minutes as their breathing slowed before Harry kissed the top of her head. “Tell me something I don’t know,” he said softly and she looked up at him, shifting back to see him better.

“What do you mean?” she asked, matching his hushed volume, watching his face as he gazed at her.

“Anything. About last year, about your life… tell me something I don’t know,” he said, brushing a piece of hair out of her face as she gave him a smile. He leaned over and gave her a kiss, and they started to talk… and talk… remembering what it felt like to have someone you could talk to for hours and never run out of things to say.


Chapter 18: Show Me
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Harry lay on his side, with his head propped up on his arm, tracing patterns lazily on her arm as they talked. She told him about last year, stories about when she was young, and he told her more about the Dursleys, about the horcruxes, and about his childhood. Some things were important and some things were random, but it didn’t matter.

Harry was telling her what he felt was an very amusing story about a time when a spider was determined to move in with him under the stairs when Ginny raised her hand to his cheek. “Ron would have freaked,” he was saying when he trailed off, seeing her expression. “What?”

“They’re horrible,” she said, and Harry smiled.

“They’re not that bad really, I mean, Aragog was horrible, but he was like, a hundred times bigger than this one…”

“Not spiders, you’re family… I’d like to see your cousin live in a cupboard…”

Harry smiled and leaned down and kissed her. “Oh no, Duddykins would never fit,” he joked as he pulled back and her eyes flashed.

“Oh I’d make him fit,” she said and Harry chuckled, capturing her mouth again. “Without magic,” she added as the mood began to shift and they felt the tension begin to build between them.

“Protective are we,” Harry murmured against her lips and she grinned.

“Always.”

She ran her tongue along his bottom lip and he opened his mouth for her, letting her slip her tongue inside. He groaned softly as she pulled him to her.

“I love you so much,” Ginny said, moving to kiss his neck.

“I love you too Gin,” Harry tried to reply, but it came out jumbled. His mouth and mind refused to communicate as he felt her lips on his skin. She rolled him over until he was on his back, and from her position on his chest she could see the hunger in his eyes and feel how much he wanted her.

“Gin,” he began, but she silenced him with a kiss and gave him a small smile as she sat up and pulled her shirt over her head, shaking her hair out and dropping it onto the bed beside them. He groaned inside, feeling his resolve wavering as he reached out and ran his hands over her stomach. She could feel them shaking as he touched her.

She reached for his shirt and pulled him up until he was sitting with her straddling his lap. Her arms linked around his neck keeping him close as they kissed, their tongues dipping and exploring, dancing together. As the kiss became harder, more intense, Harry couldn’t help it as his hands moved to her thighs and he pulled her more firmly against him. Ginny moved her hands down his sides and lifted his shirt up, breaking the kiss as he raised his arms, letting her pull it off of him. He’s so beautiful, she thought as she looked at him.

He tried to keep his breathing steady as she ran her hands over him, feeling the muscles on his stomach and arms. She ran her fingers along the scar Riddle had given him on his chest, trailing soft kisses across it before moving up to his neck. He let out a low moan as she grazed her teeth over his skin and she smiled at his reaction as she continued her attack on his senses.

Ginny trailed her hand down his stomach and along the thin line of hair that disappeared into his jeans. She brought her head up and kissed him, grabbing his bottom lip with her teeth as she began undoing his belt. He brought his hand between them and caught hers, stopping her movement. “You, you don’t have to do this,” he said when she looked up at him. “We can wait…” She kissed him softly and then leaned her head into his chest.

“You’re right. We should wait. I needed time to trust you,” she sighed, not even trying to hide the disappointment in her voice; a feeling that matched his completely.

“That’s probably best,” he murmured into her hair, trying to be supportive.

She kissed his chest softly. “Do you think so? Do we really need to wait?” she asked as she raised her head and looked at him. He opened his mouth, but he didn’t know what to say to her. “Will we be more ready or surer of our love if we wait?”

He shook his head, but just barely. He wanted this. He felt like he had to have her, to claim her as his and he certainly didn’t want to stop her if she was talking herself into it. At least part of him didn’t want to, the randy male part of him that was rattling the cage inside of him, begging to be let out after all this time of being without her. The other part needed her to be sure because if she regretted it later it would crush him. He took a steadying breath.

“You need to trust me remember? I need to prove to you that… that…”

“You need to prove what love?”

She was trailing her hand up and down his stomach now and finally he took it in his, stopping her movement so that he could think.

Harry swallowed. “That I love you. That I’m not leaving, ever.”

“Do you love me?” she asked.

“Yes,” he answered, watching her face. “You know I do,” he added softly and she shut her eyes for a second.

He leaned his head in, resting his forehead against hers as he shut his eyes too. “Do you know what would have happened if you had died? If he had killed you?” he whispered.

“No,” she breathed back and she felt him shake his head a little.

“I don’t either. But I think… I truly think I might have just died with you. I am never letting you out of my sight again, so we can do this whenever you are ready love. We have the rest of our lives.” Ginny took an unsteady breath and brought her hand to his cheek, running her thumb back and forth across his bottom lip.

“I want you to show me,” she said and he struggled to swallow, to focus on her words and not the movement of her finger.

“Show you what?” he asked, his voice more ragged than he would have liked as he pulled back to look at her and Ginny gave him a hint of smile as she met his gaze.

“Show me how much you love me,” she replied, biting her lip. Harry’s eyes flew from hers to her mouth and any attempts by him to be the noble, honorable, sensible person he had been going for flew straight out the window.

He didn’t say anything; he just took her face in his hands and brought her to him, catching her lips in a kiss that took her breath away.

They kissed hungrily and after a second Harry slid his shaking hands up her back, unhooking her bra and slipping it off before pulling her against him. Harry couldn’t get enough of her; he felt like he had been starving for her and hadn’t fully realized it until finally being able to have her. Ginny moved her hand back down his body; feeling him shudder under her fingers as they moved lower. She undid his belt with trembling fingers and pulled it off, dropping it over the side of the bed.

Harry’s heart was pounding as he felt her pull the button free and unzip his jeans. She hesitated for just a second before slipping her hand into his boxers and Harry groaned into her mouth, his breathing becoming raspier and more labored by the second.

Neither one of them could believe this was actually happening and after a few more minutes Harry didn’t think he could take anymore and flipped them over, coming down on top of her.

“Ginny, if you want to stop you need to tell me now,” Harry ground out, searching her eyes while trying to keep control.

“If you stop Harry, I will never speak to you again,” she gasped and he laughed before kissing her deeply.

“Well I couldn’t have that,” he murmured as he unzipped her skirt and slid it off of her. She was so incredibly beautiful to him that he just froze for a second, staring at her before pulling off his remaining clothes and bringing their bodies back together. He wanted her so badly as he fumbled for the wand he had left on the table next to them and performed a quick charm, he was amazed that he could think clearly enough to remember the words.

“I love you Ginny… I’ve always loved you,” he said softly, looking down at her. His eyes were dark with passion and filled with emotion as she looked into them.

“I know,” she replied, cupping his cheek in her hand and drawing him down for a kiss. He could tell she meant it – that she believed him - and he felt the last bit of his heart fall into place. “I love you too.”

Harry went slowly, trying not to hurt her and they came together, giving themselves over to the love of the other. Harry had never felt anything like it. He would have sworn that she had been made just for him. With Beth it had always been soft and quiet, and just a little bit rushed because they didn’t want to get caught, but this was different. He couldn’t even pinpoint how it was different really, it just was. It was intense, emotional and utterly complete; it was Ginny. She was passionate and enthralling and he lost himself in her. Every touch, every kiss was amplified and he knew, absolutely knew in his soul that he would never be able to leave her, would never be able to get enough of her.

The intensity of the situation, of what they were doing and the feelings coursing through them was almost too much for them to bear as their love and desire overwhelmed them; their cries seeming to echo around them in the otherwise silent tower.

~..~..~..~..~..~


When they came back down Harry rolled onto his side, drawing her over with him.

“Oh God Ginny, that was…” He didn’t know how to finish, so he pulled her against him, kissing her deeply. It had been so pure and emotional and unlike anything he had experienced. In his mind it had been perfect.

“Brilliant?” Ginny finished for him and he looked down at her.

“More than brilliant,” he said softly, pulling her closer for another kiss.

They continued to hold each other for a few minutes and eventually, as their breathing became normal and they began to fall asleep, Ginny’s mind ran back over what they had just done. She could still feel him. He had been everywhere; teaching her, loving her and filling her so completely that she couldn’t think so she had finally just given in to the intensity of it all. It had been amazing, perfect… but… almost too perfect. There hadn’t been any fumbling or awkwardness and her heart dropped a little.

Ginny’s vision began to blur and she sat up, not wanting Harry to see her. She brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs, wiping her tears quickly from her face as he sat up next to her.

He brushed her hair behind her shoulder so that he could see her face. “What’s wrong love?” he asked softly, running his hand up and down her back. “Ginny?” She still didn’t answer him and he furrowed his brow as he looked at her profile. Did she regret it? It had been everything to him, he wanted her to feel the same.

“Please talk to me,” he said quietly, kissing her shoulder softly. She took in a shaky breath and wiped her face again. She didn’t know how to say it. She looked over at him and saw his expression, full of worry and confusion and she leaned over and kissed him.

“This was… this was my first time,” she said, her voice wobbly and he moved his hand into her hair, massaging her neck.

“Was it not… did you…” Harry trailed off. He didn’t know what to say, didn’t know what to ask. He didn’t understand. Oh God, was I rubbish?

Ginny shook her head. “It was wonderful. It’s just… it wasn’t your first time was it,” she asked softly, not really wanting the answer.

Harry’s hand stopped moving on her neck and after a second he closed his eyes and rested his head on her shoulder and she knew. Ginny’s mind began to race. He had slept with Beth. She wasn’t sure how that made her feel, he hadn’t cheated but…

“This wasn’t how it was supposed to be…” she said softly and he kissed her shoulder before resting his forehead against it.

“I know,” he said softly.

Ginny put her hands over her face. A second ago everything had been perfect and now… “Oh God, I’ve ruined the moment… I’m sorry… it doesn’t matter… I…” Harry kissed her shoulder again.

She kept her hands over her face so he pulled them off and she opened her eyes to look over at him. He gazed at her and brought his hand to her cheek.

“It does matter. I… I have done this… but, but it has never been like what just happened.” He looked at her, running his fingers through her hair as she gazed at him. His eyes were full of love and a peace she hadn’t seen before. “I have never felt more connected to anyone in my whole life than I felt to you a minute ago.”

Ginny bit her lip, blinking back her tears. “I haven’t either,” she said and he gave her a small smile.

“I’m sorry,” he said, closing his eyes and shaking his head a little, hating the letters, hating everything they had taken from him. “It should have been you, but we can’t change it.” He opened his eyes again. “I’m here now, and I’m not going anywhere. You are the last person I will ever do this with love. That’s what’s important.”

He kissed her softly before pulling away again. “I thought what we just did was incredible,” he said searching her eyes. “Nothing can change that, or take it away from us. Please don’t… don’t let anything cheapen that.”

Ginny looked at him and knew in her heart that he was right. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t how she wanted it, but he was hers. He was here with her and she brought her hand to his cheek. “It was amazing, and it doesn’t cheapen it.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

He gazed at her and kissed her forehead before resting his own against hers, their faces close and their eyes closed. They sat there for awhile, warmth from the other flowing through them before Harry spoke. “Truthfully Gin,” he said softly, lacing his fingers through hers, “It… well I’m not sure it would have been as brilliant… if we…well, if one of us didn’t know what we were doing… at least the first time,” he said awkwardly, feeling his face flush and feeling like a complete git for actually saying that thought out loud. Ginny was silent for a second before she began to smile and after a minute she let out a small chuckle.

“Way to look on the bright side Harry,” she chuckled and he smiled.

“You know me, mister optimism… and you didn’t ruin anything love. We have the rest of our lives to have moments like these,” he said softly, running a hand down her cheek. “In fact,” he said as he moved his hand down her neck to her chest. “We have right now…”

He began to kiss her, moving her back down onto the bed. “Harry,” Ginny murmured against his lips as they kissed, heat beginning to build inside of her but he didn’t let her finish.

“Please,” he whispered between kisses. “Please let me show you… let me show you how much I love you,” he practically begged, needing to be near her, needing to know that it was ok, that they were ok, and after a second she wrapped her arms around him and they lost themselves in each other.

When they came back down again she smiled up at him and he kissed her softly. Harry dragged a blanket over them and they fell asleep in each others arms; both feeling whole for the first time since last year.

~..~..~..~..~..~

Harry woke slowly, smelling roses and he smiled as he opened his eyes. He was on his side and Ginny was asleep beside him. He watched her for a few minutes, playing with her hair. He liked it long and decided she should never cut it. He began running his finger over her shoulder, tracing patterns with her freckles. His touch eventually woke her and she smiled up at him as she stretched, arching her back like a cat.

“Hi,” he said, leaning down and kissing her lazily. He pulled away from her with a sigh. “I guess I should go,” he said, “I don’t want your mum to send out a search party.”

She frowned playfully at him and he chuckled, leaning back down and kissing her quickly before moving to get off of the bed. He pulled on his boxers and headed to the bathroom. When he came back into the room he stopped. Ginny was sitting up on the bed waiting for him. She was holding a sheet up to cover herself and she looked gorgeous.

The sun had set while they were asleep and a fire had been started, causing the light to bounce off her hair as it fell in soft, messy waves to her elbows. Ginny saw his eyes flash as he looked at her and she dropped the sheet to her waist. “Are you sure you have to go?” she asked casually, even though her heart was pounding and even she was a little surprised at her boldness.

He stared at her, suddenly jealous of the hair on her chest. He smiled as he moved back to the bed, jumping up on it and crawling quickly over to her. She fell back giggling as he crouched over her. “Decide to stay?” she asked as he lowered his head to kiss her. It was a playful, yet passionate kiss and Ginny pouted dramatically when he broke away.

“Well,” Harry said as he began to kiss her face, moving from her nose to her cheeks and down her neck. “I just remembered something important I needed to do.”

“Oh yeah? And what is that?” He kissed her shoulder before raising his head to hers, his eyes a mixture of mirth and desire.

“I have to kiss every freckle on you body,” he said with a smile before he dropped his head back down. He kissed her neck, sprinkling kisses down her throat to her chest.

“Oh yes, very important,” she agreed in the most serious voice she could muster.

“You see Ginny” he said as he moved down, kissing her skin as he went, “I don’t want any to feel left out.”

“Oh course not,” she sighed, her body beginning to tingle.

“I mean look,” he said kissing her between her breasts. “Here’s one.” Ginny settled back onto the bed, sighing contently as the tingling increased. After awhile he moved on. “And then there are all of these,” he said moving down her stomach, pulling the sheet down as he went. He kissed her hip, “and here’s another one.” He kissed under her belly button, “and another.”

He looked up at her, his eyes flashing as he pulled the sheet off completely. “Did you know you had one here,” he asked, as he lowered his head, shifting her leg so that he could kiss the inside of her thigh. Ginny was having trouble breathing as she watched him, not entirely sure where he was going with this. He looked up at her before dropping his head again, kissing the inside of her other thigh. Her heart was pounding when she heard the last thing she ever expected.

“GINNY!?”

Harry flew off the bed, scrambling over the side and landing in a heap as Ginny jerked the sheet up, tucking it under her arms. “Ginny, where are you? Are you here?” her mother called from the fire place. “They really need to fix the reception on this thing I can barely see… oh there you are dear, are you already in bed?” Ginny turned, trying to block the other side of the room, but she didn’t really need to; there was nothing in the world that could have made Harry sit up so that he could be seen. His heart was trying to break out of his body and he swore he had just experienced his first real heart attack as he listened.

“I… I was just taking a nap mum, what did you need?” Ginny said, running a hand through her hair and trying to sound normal.

“I just wanted to see how you were doing. I know things have been hard for you… have you spoken to Harry?”

Ginny’s mind raced, what can I say, yes? In fact, he’s hiding behind the bed in his boxers?… she settled on, “umm, no, I haven’t why?”

“Oh, no reason dear. I just thought… well never mind… I just want you to remember how special you are. Give him time, he will work it out…” Harry sat up slowly, staying directly behind Ginny so that he couldn’t be seen and reached across the bed, taking her hand. Ginny squeezed it as Mrs. Weasley continued. “I know you love him, and I know he saved you but if he doesn’t get it together, then he doesn’t deserve you.”

At this Mrs. Weasley’s hand came into the fire and she wiped her eyes. “You know that right dear?”

“Yes mum,” she replied as Harry squeezed her hand.

“Now, your father’s birthday is coming up and we need to talk about what you are getting him.” Harry had begun to trace patterns on her back and she struggled to focus.

“Um, mum, I have a lot of homework to do, can we talk later?”

“Well I really need to know dear so I can let your brothers know and…” Ginny tried to subtly swat Harry’s hand away as her mother continued on about how they couldn’t all get him the same present but it didn’t work.

“Mum, I’ll let you know about the gift tomorrow, I promise, but I really need to go,” Ginny said quickly, trying not to squirm too obviously as she tried to move away from his tickling fingers. As soon as her mom was gone Ginny grabbed a pillow and threw it at Harry who was on the floor with a ridiculous grin on his face. “You’re horrible! What if she had seen you?” He climbed back on the bed with a smile and drew her to him.

“She would have said ‘Oh Harry dear, I’m so glad you got it together, of course you can be with my gorgeous daughter!’” Ginny laughed at his impression of her mother and kissed him. He became serious after a minute and ran a hand through her hair.

“I really don’t deserve you right now,” he said, playing with a piece of her hair. “But I will.”

Ginny wrapped her arms around his neck and began kissing his face. “Oh shut up Potter, or I may start to believe you,” she said as they fell back onto the bed, a tangle of arms, legs and fabric.

~..~..~..~..~..~

Ginny was lying on top of Harry, resting her chin on his chest as she looked at him. The sheets were gathered around their waists and he had his hands folded behind his head, looking at the ceiling as she traced her fingers lazily along his scar. “Was it bad? When you told her?” she asked.

He looked down at her and she saw his eyes cloud over. She could tell he didn’t really want to tell her about it and she looked down. “I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have… It’s really none of my business,” she said, shaking her head before she kissed his chest and turned her head, laying it on his chest. He looked at the top of her head for a second before moving one of his hands to her hair with a sigh.

“It was horrible,” he said as he ran his fingers through it. “She just kept crying. She can hit pretty hard actually.”

He twirled a piece of her hair around his finger as he thought back. “Although not as hard as you…” he added, reminded of the several times she had slapped him. She turned her head to look up at him.

“Does she know? That you didn’t choose her?”

He shook his head. “I didn’t tell her, but I’m sure she probably guessed… I just… I just couldn’t tell her that.” Ginny stared at him and opened her mouth to ask a question but changed her mind, turning her head and nestling against him instead. “What?” Harry asked, watching her.

“Nothing, it’s not important,” she mumbled, snuggling closer. Harry frowned.

“Ginny, what were you going to say?”

She sighed and turned back. “I… I was just wondering if you reconsidered.”

Harry narrowed his eyes in confusion, “reconsidered what?”

“Well, reconsidered leaving her… thought about taking it back and staying with her… I mean it must have been awful and…” his eyes cleared and he reached down and grabbed her arms, pulling her up until their faces were level.

“No.”

Ginny looked down at his face as his eyes watered.

“I hated, hated hurting her and it was awful, but no, that never even occurred to me…” Her eyes began to water too. “My heart is yours Ginny… ” She swallowed, suddenly feeling foolish for even asking.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry you had to deal with this...” she trailed off as he brought her down to him, wrapping his arms around her as she nestled her head in his neck.

“It’s ok, love. It was my mess to fix. And don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault.” She laughed into his neck and pushed herself up.

“Isn’t that my line?” she asked, leaning down and kissing him. He smiled and pulled her back down to him, wrapping his arms around her as she nestled her head back into his shoulder.

~..~..~..~..~..~

Eventually Harry really did have to leave. “I’ll see you soon,” he said, kissing her softly.

“Promise?”

He smiled and kissed her again. “Yeah, I promise.”

~..~..~..~..~..~

It was after three in the morning as Harry moved quietly through the burrow to his room, unable to keep the stupid grin off his face that he had had since leaving Ginny’s room. He opened the door and slipped inside, closing it quietly.

“Where have you been?” a voice asked and Harry jumped in surprise, spinning around to find Ron sitting on the edge of his bed, waiting for him to answer.

“Lord Ron, don’t do that!” He said, running a hand through is hair.

“Where have you been Harry?” he asked again and Harry stared at him for a second, not sure what the best answer to the question was. When he didn’t answer straight away Ron spoke again.

“Hermione talked to Beth today,” he said, watching Harry for his reaction.

“Did she?” Harry replied, slipping his shoes off and walking to his dresser.

“Are you going to hurt her?” Ron asked to his back and Harry glanced over his shoulder quickly before looking back down into his drawer, pulling out a shirt.

“I already hurt her. I’m sure Hermione told you that.”

“Not Beth, Harry. Ginny. Are you going to hurt Ginny? I assume that’s where you’ve been, judging by the state of you,” he said, giving an automatic shudder and going into big brother denial about what had probably happened.

Harry turned around and looked at him for a second. “No,” he said, sensing the importance of his answer. “I will never hurt her Ron. She’s everything.”

Ron looked at him, seeing the seriousness and the truth in his face and after a second he nodded and stood up. “Ok then.”

He walked to the door and opened it. He stopped as he began to leave and looked back at Harry who was still watching him. He looked down for a second, fiddling with the doorknob as he tried to figure out what he wanted to say. “You know I love Beth Harry… but… well…” He looked up and Harry gave him a hint of a smile.

“I know,” was all he said and Ron nodded, closing the door behind him and heading off to write a note to Hermione. She had threatened to hex him if he didn't tell her what Harry said the minute he talked to him and he didn't doubt she would do it.




Chapter 19: The Trouble With Tutors
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]





Ginny knew that Harry meant it when he said he would see her soon, but “soon” came much sooner than Ginny expected.

The next day she was sitting in transfiguration, trying half heartedly to focus. She was resting her arm on the table, holding her head in her hand while she doodled in the margin of her book. She had really and truly tried to pay attention at first but had soon given up, her mind determined to focus on Harry. She heard the door of the room open but didn’t bother to look up. “Ow! What?” she whispered when Luna elbowed her hard in the ribs. Luna nodded to the front of the classroom and Ginny looked up to see Headmistress McGonagall, Harry, Ron and Hermione standing at the front of the room.

She straightened up as her eyes widened and her stomach fluttered at the sight of him. His eyes found hers and he smiled swiftly, his eyes twinkling at her before turning his attention back to McGonagall.

“… and so Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger will be joining your class and several others until your exams,” she was saying. When she finished with explanations she motioned the trio to the table at the back of the room before turning to speak quietly with Professor Muniss, the new transfiguration teacher. Ginny watched the trio walk past her and they all smiled at her. Her arm tingled where Harry brushed against her as he passed.

She turned around and gave them a look demanding to know why she hadn’t been told about this but quickly turned back around when McGonagall began to speak again.

“Our three additions will each need someone to help them catch up on what they have missed so if I could get three volunteers…”

Hermione rolled her eyes as she saw all of the female hands shoot up in the room and she turned to Harry with a smirk but he just shrugged sheepishly.

“Hey,” Ron whispered to her. “They don’t all want Harry,” he mumbled irritably. Hermione looked around and was surprised to see several girls openly staring at Ron. She stiffened and leaned in, kissing him on the cheek before glaring at the room in general, as though warning them off. Ron smiled and took her hand, drawing it towards him and playing absently with her fingers, pleased with her protective response.

They already knew the specifics so they didn’t really listen as McGonagall explained the situation; about how the tutor would help them in all of the classes, not just this one… but their heads snapped up and their mouths dropped when they heard McGonagall begin to pick their tutors. “Ah, Miss Vane, thank you, if you could help Mr. Potter, Miss Anderson, if you could help Miss Granger and Miss Weston, you help Mr. Weasley.”

None of them listened past the first set of names. Ron and Hermione’s eyes shot to Harry and they followed his gaze, which was fixed on Ginny’s back. They could practically see the tension radiating off of her suddenly stiff and upright form.

Harry barely stifled a groan when he heard who was paired with him. Romilda Vane? You’ve got to be kidding. He looked around until he saw her. She was glowing and looked like someone had just given her a million quid.

When the class ended Harry made his way to the hall with Ron and Hermione. They saw Ginny leaning against the wall waiting for them and Harry walked straight to her. He slipped his hand into hers as he leaned his body into her and kissed her. “I’ll fix it,” he said, squeezing her hand, but she just huffed.

“Miss me?” he asked and she broke into a smile and nodded as he moved his free hand to her waist. “Yeah?” he asked, breaking into a grin as he leaned closer, mirroring her nod.

“Mhmm,” she managed as he kissed her. “Miss me?” she asked as he pulled back and his eyes flashed.

“Desperately,” he murmured as he found her mouth again. Hermione smirked at them while Ron’s face began to turn crimson with mounting horror as he watched Harry press her into the wall, molding their bodies together as their kisses became increasingly less chaste and in his opinion, certainly not appropriate for the corridor.

Ginny was in heaven, he was heaven and she wondered if this was all some great dream. It certainly seemed real as he pressed into her and she suddenly didn’t want to go to class. She wanted to go to her room. She wanted to do what they had done last night, to just be with him and make up for their lost time.

Ron was of course happy for both of them that they were back together but his control snapped when he heard Ginny give a sort half sigh, half moan and he grabbed Hermione’s hand, beginning to pull her away as he began to sputter.

“That’s… stop it!... that’s… that’s indecent is what that is! Don’t you have… any regard to the feelings of others?!”

Harry just chuckled into Ginny’s mouth as she smiled and Ron mumbled something about sisters as he stormed away, pulling Hermione with him.

“See you in class!” Hermione called over her shoulder and Harry waved dismissively in response. Class was the last thing on his mind at the moment.

After a minute Harry dragged his mouth away from hers and moved to attack the sensitive spot under her ear. Ginny gasped and her body arched up and away from the wall and Harry groaned softly into her ear as she pressed into him. “Well this is going to be terrible,” he breathed into her ear as he pushed her back against the wall.

“Why?” she gasped and she felt him smile against her ear.

“Well I’m certainly never going to want to go to class if you keep attacking me like this.”

“Me?” she gasped, trying to sound offended but failing. “This is entirely your fault…”

She trailed off as Harry began moving his hands up over her shirt. “Please don’t make me go to class Gin,” Harry said into her skin before bringing his head up and giving her a kiss. He grinned at her as he inched his hands higher. The hall was empty now except for them… and the paintings… they hadn’t thought about the paintings.

“I say!” an old gentlemen to their right called down to them and they looked up startled. “Just what do you two think you are doing down there?!”

Ginny felt her face flush as Harry shot away from her; pulling her away from the wall in a flash.

“Where is Filch anyway,” the old woman holding a cat across the hall added, looking up and down the hall as if she would find him waiting there. “Such behavior from the head girl!”

“Um, right… so sorry, we’re just off to class,” Harry called as he dragged Ginny, who was at the moment too embarrassed to function, down the hall. She soon found her feet though and they all but ran to class, their laughter echoing behind them as they moved.

“You… are going to get me…. in trouble.”


~..~..~..~..~..~


Harry went to see Professor McGonagall, asking to have Ginny switch with Romilda but she wouldn’t hear it. “Miss Weasley is head girl Mr. Potter, she doesn’t have time to help catch you up…”

“But Professor… I can’t have Romilda help me.”

The Headmistress sighed and put down the paper she had been trying to read. “And why not Potter?”

Harry paused, not sure how to explain it. “Well, she likes me,” he finally said dumbly, shrugging his shoulders.

A few minutes later Harry left the office, defeated and still with Romilda as his tutor. Ginny certainly isn’t going to like this, he thought as he made his way back to the main hall where she was waiting for him. He groaned inwardly as he realized he wasn’t going to like it either. Romilda Vane?


~..~..~..~..~..~


Ginny sat with Harry on the sofa in the Gryffindor common room later, watching the fire. “Do you really have to go soon?” she asked, snuggling against him. He kissed the top of her head.

“Unfortunately. I’m still technically living at the Burrow you know, and I had a hard enough time explaining last night.” The portrait opened and Harry tensed when he saw who was climbing in. Ginny saw too, but ignored it. She knew she didn’t have anything to worry about, and he wouldn’t need a tutor for that long. Her eyes narrowed however, as Romilda made her way to them, her eyes on Harry.

“Hello Harry,” she said, smiling at him and ignoring Ginny.

“Romilda,” he replied coolly, watching her.

“I’m really glad we get to work together,” she said, grinning at him. Harry and Ginny both watched her, unmoved by her attempts at flirtation. “I was thinking we should have a couple of sessions before class, you know, to catch up,” she said coyly.

“Alright,” Harry replied in a bored voice. “Tomorrow morning then? After breakfast?”

“I can’t wait,” she said lowly before flipping her hair and walking back to her friends, where they promptly started giggling and whispering.

“I really can’t stand her,” Ginny said, watching them from her position. Romilda hadn’t looked at her once.

Harry took a piece of her hair and twirled it around his finger. “Oh, I don’t know, I think she’s sweet,” he said with a small smile.

Ginny snorted. “Oh sure you do. She’d give her right arm to be with you…”

“See, she certainly has great taste,” he said. “I’m sure she’ll be an excellent tutor.”

Ginny smirked up at him. “Well maybe I’ll just find someone to hang out with while you two are studying, I’m sure there are lots of guys who would be more than willing to keep me company.”

Harry kissed her, pulling her up on his lap. “Doubtful,” he said and Ginny hit him on the shoulder.

“Doubtful my foot, one word from me and Logan for one would be all over it.”

Harry’s eyes narrowed and his gaze moved around the room. “Really…”

Ginny leaned up and began to nibble his neck as he found who he was looking for across the room. Logan was sitting with his friend what’s his face, but Harry didn’t even try to remember his name as he focused on the blonde. As if he could feel someone watching him Logan looked up after a second and his eyes met Harry’s. Harry glared at him, his arms wrapped around Ginny as he watched the surprise flick across Logan’s face. Logan glanced quickly behind him to see if Harry’s hard eyes were actually focused on someone else before shifting uncomfortably in his seat and dragging his eyes away, once again pissed that no one had bothered to inform him that Ginny had been with Harry Potter. Harry was vaguely aware that Ginny was speaking and dragged his focus back down to her. “What?”

Ginny smirked at him. “I said… are you quite finished being a jealous idiot, Logan doesn’t stand a chance.”

“He might not know that.”

Ginny kissed him. “Trust me love, he knows.

Harry huffed. “He better,” he muttered before his eyes began to twinkle and his lip began to twitch. Ginny narrowed her eyes.

“What?”

“Oh nothing. I was just thinking about how my fame is finally going to help me out.”

“And how is that?” she asked, genuinely curious about what he was getting at.

He leaned down and kissed her ear. “Well Miss Weasley, in case you are not aware, you just happen to be sitting on the lap of the “boy who lived,” the great and powerful Harry Potter, defeater of Voldemort and dark wizards everywhere,” he announced with a sarcastic bravado, puffing out his chest dramatically before breaking into a grin and moving to kiss her neck. “And I intend to make it perfectly clear that if anyone so much as looks at you, it will be the last thing they do,” he said between kisses. Ginny rolled her eyes and pulled him up from the couch.

“Ok, time to go home oh powerful one.”

Harry flashed her a cheeky smile. “But I’m not ready to go yet,” he said but she just continued to pull him over to the fireplace.

“I’m sorry, you have become delusional, your ego has taken control of your body and you need sleep…” she said, trailing off as he came up behind her, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her against him, lowering his head to her ear.

“Maybe I want to stay with you love,” he said. She sank into him for a second before turning around. She rose up on her toes and kissed him swiftly.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said pulling away from him and grabbing the floo powder. When she turned back he was gaping at her incredulously.

“You’re really making me leave?”

“Yes, I have homework and you,” she said, dropping some floo powder into his hand, “need to get ready for your big day with Romilda tomorrow.”

He sighed and walked dejectedly to the fire but she just smiled as him. “Note to self,” he said as he leaned down and gave her a quick kiss goodbye, “don’t remind Ginny how much more powerful you are than her, it makes her jealous.” He flashed her a smile and her hands went her to hips as he quickly said “the Burrow” and stepped into the flames.


~..~..~..~..~..~


The next day Harry began his tutoring. Professor Muniss decided that it would be much more beneficial if the tutors sat with the trio during class and no one was happy about the situation except Romilda. Ron and Hermione wanted to sit together, the other two girls wanted to sit with their friends and Harry wanted to be near Ginny.

Ginny sat a couple of rows up and as class went along she couldn’t help glancing back at Harry. He was looking at the book and Romilda was speaking quietly to him. Ginny didn’t like it. She knew it wasn’t really an issue, that she didn’t have anything to worry about it, but she couldn’t help it. They had been back together for one day and now she had to watch that twit flutter around him nonstop? She didn’t like her being so close to him and she stared at them, her eyes narrowed. Harry glanced up and caught her looking at them. He saw her expression and winked at her before looking back at Romilda.

He was paying attention, being polite and nodding, smiling, doing what he needed to do to make the situation passable. He had seen Ginny’s eyes though, and pulled out a piece of paper as Romilda continued talking to him. He tore a piece off and wrote a quick note before folding it up. He watched Professor Muniss, and when he bent down to speak to a student on the other side of the room Harry shot the note to Ginny before turning back to Romilda.

Ginny had turned back around and started a little when the paper zoomed to a stop in front of her face, hovering in the air. She grabbed it and glanced back at Harry but he was giving his full attention to Romilda and she looked down at the note and opened it. Harry glanced up and watched her as she read it. He saw her face get red and her mouth drop open before she snapped her head up to look at him, ripping the note up before anyone could see it. He gazed back at her, his eyes twinkling and she smothered a laugh as she turned back around quickly and he dragged his gaze back to Romilda.


~..~..~..~..~..~


“What if Muniss had seen the note and read it?” she asked as they walked down the hall to their next class. Harry looked over and his expression told her that he clearly hadn’t thought about that possibility when he had written it.

“Well that would have been awkward,” he said, pulling her to a stop. “But, since we’re talking about the note,” he said lowly beginning to back her into the wall.

“Harry,” she said as he began kissing her, “we have class now…” she trailed off and began kissing him back when they were interrupted by a tap on Harry’s shoulder. He glanced over to find Romilda leaning on the wall next to them and he straightened up while Ginny sighed, eyeing Romilda as she leaned back against the wall.

As Romilda started talking to Harry, Ginny moved her hands to his pants, fiddling with the top of his belt. She heard Romilda saying something about study sessions or something but she wasn’t really paying attention as she slipped a couple of her fingers inside of his waistband and felt his stomach tighten as she ran them back and forth across his skin.

She looked up at Harry. He was talking to Romilda but she saw a muscle in his neck twitch and she smiled before slipping her hands into his pockets and pulling herself off of the wall and up against him. Harry’s arm went around her as she began kissing his neck, but all he could think of was how ridiculous this situation was. There was no way Romilda couldn’t see what Ginny was doing but she didn’t even blink and it occurred to him that maybe there was really something wrong with her.

He tried to hold his body still, and he clenched his jaw, trying not to laugh and groan at the same time as Ginny moved her hands around inside of his pockets. “I think there is something wrong with her,” Ginny leaned up and whispered into his ear and he burst out laughing, her words mirroring his thoughts.

Romilda began to laugh too, not wanting to be left out of the joke, which only made Ginny shake against him, trying unsuccessfully to contain herself as Harry tried to force his face into seriousness as Romilda asked him what was funny.

“Um, well…” he began but Ginny grabbed his hand and pulled him away from her, walking down the hall.

He slipped his arm around her shoulder and looked back where they had left Romilda, who actually looked a little shocked that he had just walked away mid sentence. “That wasn’t very nice love,” he said turning back around and he felt Ginny shrug.

“We have class, she was making us late,” she said, and he nodded. “Right, well, you know she is in our class Gin,” he said with a smile. He moved his arm down to her waist and slipped his hand into her front pocket as they continued walking.

“Oh I’m sorry Harry, do you want to go back and talk to her?”

“Nope.”


~..~..~..~..~..~



A week later Ginny had had just about enough of Romilda Vane. She was strutting around the school as though she was dating Harry, telling anyone who would listen about their time together. Harry of course had found it all very funny, since it was obvious that the person he kissed in the halls, ate with at meals and was generally never without was Ginny.

She was annoyed with Harry too, because he, along with her idiot brother Ron and the rest of the school, seemed to find it funny that Romilda thought everything he said was some sort of declaration of his undying love.

He had taken to paying extra attention when she talked, and responding as though she was the most interesting person in the room. It was sort of like an inside joke for the entire school, to watch her delusional existence.

Ginny wasn’t laughing however. She didn’t like how it seemed to give Romilda a reason to believe that he was interested and had warned him just last night that it was going to backfire, but he had shrugged it off, assuring her that it was all for fun and even Romilda wasn’t that stupid. Ginny had just raised her eyebrow.

Ginny was sitting at a table in the main hall, working on homework with Luna while Harry had his tutoring farther down the table across from her. Ginny was trying desperately to focus on the chapter assigned, but she was positive that the only one who would ever care about what it said was Professor Sprout. Her mind wandered back to their conversation the night before…

”It’s not funny Harry!”

“Oh come on Gin, it’s a little funny.”

“Well you’re not the one who has to watch it are you?” At this he put his homework down and focused on her, cocking his head to the side as he began to smile.

“Are you jealous of Romilda Vane?” he asked as he pulled her onto his lap from where she was standing next to the bed, glaring down at him.

“Oh course not,” she spat as she settled against him. “It’s just that you are heading for trouble. She is mental remember? She is going to think you like her.”

Harry shook his head. “Who cares? Ginny, you aren’t the one who has to talk to her. Believe me, I
know she is mental… but at least this makes the time a little entertaining…”

Romilda’s laugh, well it was more of a sort of high pitched squeal, brought Ginny back to the present and she wrinkled her nose as she looked over at Harry, who was sitting with Romilda. She saw him wince at the sound, trying to at least look like he was listening attentively as Romilda began talking – again. He glanced up and caught Ginny’s eye. She raised her eyebrow and he smiled, giving her a wink before turning his gaze back to Romilda.

She was tired of having to watch him with her and was suddenly struck with an idea. It may have been immature, but she didn’t care, knowing it was harmless. Ginny smirked and got up from her seat and walked up a few chairs to where Logan and Todd were sitting. She pulled herself up so that she was sitting on the table in between them and crossed her legs.

Harry watched her as she began talking to Logan, and raised his eyebrow at her when she glanced over at him. She just smiled and leaned in closer to Logan, suddenly fascinated by something he was saying.

Ginny looked over at Harry after a minute to see him leaning into Romilda, his head propped on his hand as he hung on her every word. She could tell that Romilda was overjoyed with the heightened interest Harry was showing and Ginny stifled a laugh despite herself and rolling her eyes. Harry glanced over at her and smirked.

She made a face at him and crossed her arms. It occurred to Ginny that Romilda was actually moving very close to Harry as he turned back around and her jaw dropped open when Romilda pulled him into a kiss. Ginny’s eyes narrowed to slits and she jumped off the table, grabbing her wand. Watching Romilda want Harry was one thing, but watching her actually acting on those feelings was something totally different.

Harry was too shocked to move for a second. He certainly hadn’t been expected this. Romilda’s hand went into his hair and he jerked back, jumping up out of his chair but she came up with him, clinging to him.

Oh crap, he thought, trying to pry her off of him as quickly as possible, knowing what was coming. He may not like Romilda, but he didn’t want her to die. He had his eyes open and he began to turn, trying to locate Ginny and just as he did he saw her raise her arm, her eyes blazing and Romilda shot away from him. He wasn’t sure if it was Ginny or him who had made her fly away but he didn’t care as he leapt over the table, catching Ginny as she advanced on Romilda.

He scooped her up, moving quickly before she could get a good aim and walked out of the hall. “Let me down Harry!” Ginny hissed, trying to get down but he just held her tighter, ignoring the stares and giggles.

“I don’t think so love.”

He walked a little ways down the hall, also ignoring the way Ginny was pounding on his back and twisting, all the while cursing him, and pulled open the door to a broom cupboard. He set her down inside and shut the door behind them.

Ginny was fuming. “I’m going to bloody kill her,” she said moving to the door, but Harry caught her and pulled her into a kiss.

“I’m sorry,” he said when he raised his head. “That was my fault.” Ginny pushed away from him.

“Well, you’re right this time,” she said, moving towards the door again.

He smiled at her and drew her back to him. “See, I knew if I just kept saying it, eventually something would be my fault. I forgot she was mental and brainless, but that is no reason to hex her into oblivion.” Ginny raised her eyebrow and he lowered his head, kissing her neck as he pulled her hips into his.

“And besides, I think that maybe I should be thanking her,” he murmured after a minute as Ginny dropped her head back.

“And why is that?” she snapped, bringing her head back up but he just chuckled.

“Because,” he said moving her against the wall. “You are just adorable when you’re angry at someone other than me.”

He pulled her leg up and pushed his hips into her, kissing her deeply.

“And a minute ago, I was listening to her incessant rattling and now,” he kissed her neck, “here I am,” he slid his hand under her shirt, “very much alone here with you. Remind me to send a thank you to whoever designed this school uniform by the way,” he said and Ginny wrapped her arms around him with a short laugh.

He lifted her up as she wrapped her other leg around him. Things escalated quickly and soon they were both panting and wanting more. Harry reached between them and fumbled with the button of his pants, bringing Ginny back to reality as he jerked it open. She pulled her lips away from his.

“Harry…”

“What love,” he said breathlessly, pulling his zipper down.

“We’re, we’re in a broom cupboard.”

He looked up and glanced around, remembering where they were. He hadn’t even thought about it. “You don’t like it? I think it is rather homey in here... reminds me of my childhood.”

She slid her legs down until she was standing. “That’s not funny,” she said softly, crossing her arms.

He tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, his smile fading. “I’m sorry, a little Dursley humor I guess.” She caught his hand as he trailed it down her neck and kissed it.

“Well it’s not funny, so don’t joke about it.”

Harry was a little taken aback by her seriousness. “Ok, I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I won’t.”

She looked at him for minute before leaning up and kissing him softly. “Come on, let’s go,” she said. He watched her as she fixed his pants and took his hand, but he stayed where he was as she started to pull him to the door.

“You go… I’m going to stay here for a few minutes,” he said when she looked back at him. His body was still reeling and he was in no shape to go walking around school.

“Harry,” Ginny said, pulling on his hand but he shook his head and pulled her back against him.

He lowered his head to her shoulder and kissed her neck. “I just need a minute… I’m… it’s a little different for guys Gin,” he said into her skin.

“Oh… oh,” she replied and he felt her smiling against his skin. He smiled too, shaking his head and kissing her neck again.

“It’s not funny.”

She chuckled and pulled back, and kissed him when he raised his head. “Oh come on, it’s a little funny.”

“You Miss Weasley are incorrigible… and very likely the worst head girl in history.”

Ginny gave him an affronted look before hitting him on the shoulder. “And how may I ask… is that?”

“Well,” he said, wrapping his hands around her waist. “Just look at you… snogging in broom cupboards, trying to hex students… bringing males into you room after hours…”

She waved her hand and rolled her eyes. “Oh please… my brothers turned a corridor into a swamp, and you must have broken a thousand school rules at least… I’m a saint,” she said pulling away and plopping down onto a box, causing a small cloud of dust to billow around her. “Just tell me when you’re ready to leave,” she added as she rested her elbow on her knee and dropped her chin onto her hand.

Harry moved to her and sat down beside her, pulling her hand into his lap, playing with her fingers. “Besides,” she added. “I didn’t let you in, you snuck in.”

“True, but you didn’t kick me out.”

Ginny huffed and Harry chuckled. “Incorrigible,” he whispered into her ear. “But I love you anyway.”


~..~..~..~..~..~


A few minutes later they left and Ginny slipped her hand into his.

“Harry?”

“I know… no more tutoring,” he said, bring her hand to his lips with a smile.



Chapter 20: I Want That Day
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]






The days began to pass quickly as Harry and Ginny moved through class in the honeymoon type bliss that was their renewed relationship. They got used to being a couple again, keeping mostly to themselves in a sort of isolated world that ignored the past and focused only on the present and the future.

A few weeks after their reunion Ginny got back late from a meeting with the prefects and made her way to her room, wondering if Harry had stuck around or gone back to the burrow.

When she entered her room she broke into a smile, seeing him asleep on her bed. He had one arm folded behind his head and the other was on his chest holding something. She pulled off her robe and crawled up beside him.

He looked so peaceful she decided not to wake him so she settled beside him and pulled the letter out of his hand to set it aside. She couldn’t help smiling, assuming it was another letter from her brothers. So far Percy was the only who hadn’t written Harry a letter of warning after hearing that they were back together. She had found them all pretty amusing but Harry had seemed genuinely concerned for his safety after reading the multitudes of things that would be done to him if he so much as made her frown.

She glanced at the name and paused. It was addressed to him in a girl’s handwriting but it wasn’t hers and she frowned slightly as she sat up, crossing her legs under her.

She fiddled with it, turning it over in her hands. The seal was broken so she knew he had read it already and her fingers itched to open it. She traced his name with her finger before flipping it over again.

“You can read it if you want,” Harry said from behind her and she jumped, shifting quickly so that she could see him. He hadn’t moved but he was watching her.

“No, I don’t want to… I mean… it’s… who’s it from?”

Harry sighed and sat up, folding his legs and shifting so that he was sitting across from her, mirroring her position. “Beth.”

“Oh,” Ginny said softly as she dropped the letter into his lap quickly and bit her lip as she folded her hands in her lap. “I… I thought you weren’t talking.”

Harry picked up the letter, fingering it. “We’re not… or I guess we weren’t.” They were silent for a second before Ginny spoke.

“What does she want,” Ginny asked, trying to be casual, trying to sound like her heart wasn’t suddenly pounding but she wasn’t sure if she succeeded. Everything had been perfect. It was almost like they had just been pretending like they had never been apart and in many ways it felt like that was true, but this was a big fat reminder of reality and she tried not to be nervous.

“She wants to talk. She wants me to meet her… for lunch,” he said, looking at the letter before looking back up at Ginny’s face. “But I don’t have to go. If you don’t want me to go I won’t go Gin.”

“Do you want to go?”

“I… it’s not that I want to go. But I kind of… I don’t know. I feel like I owe her that? I mean… if she needs to…” he trailed off shaking his head. “I’m not going to go. It’s not a big deal.”

“If you think you should go Harry, then you should go.”

Harry shook his head and leaned in, kissing her softly. He pulled back but then leaned in again, kissing her again, his lips lingering on hers before he pulled away.

“I don’t want to go. It bothers you… I won’t go.”

“It doesn’t bother me.”

Harry gave her a small smile and pulled her forward onto his lap. “You’re a terrible liar Gin,” he said, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her. After a minute she pulled back.

“Ok… it bothers me a little but I’m fine Harry. If you want to go… if you think you should go then you should go.”

He ran a hand through her hair and cupped her face. “You know you have nothing to worry about right,” he sighed and she nodded. “I don’t want you to ever question that. I don’t want you to ever worry… I love you,” he said, resting his forehead against hers and shutting his eyes. Ginny knew she didn’t need to worry, but she couldn’t help the tiny niggle at her heart; she couldn’t help feeling a little nervous. Harry told Beth not to worry and look what happened, a small voice reminded her but she shoved it away, feeling horrible and a little ashamed for even thinking it. She had to trust him.

“Will you tell me what happens?”

He kissed her.

“Everything.”


~..~..~..~..~..~


So Harry wrote Beth back, agreeing to meet. They had lunch and talked and when Harry left he headed straight for Ginny. He found her out on a bridge leaning over the railing, watching the water rush by beneath her.

He walked up behind her, slipping his arms around her waist and resting his chin on her shoulder, breathing in the sent of her hair. “Hey.”

Ginny felt his arms go around her and she immediately melted into him. “How did it go?”

He kissed her shoulder and pulled her tighter for a second. “It was… it was horrible, and awkward…”

She turned around in his arms and leaned against the railing, her hands resting on his forearms as she cocked her head to the side. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you had hoped.”

Harry looked at her for a second before looking down. “It didn’t work out for her… but, but it was good for me.” Ginny began rubbing her hands back and forth on his forearms. Trust him.

“Why?”

He looked back up. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Ginny replied softly, trying to figure out the look in his eyes as they searched hers. Trust him… Nerves began to creep in.

“No, I mean, I love you, I know that. I know that you are all that I want… I mean, well of course I already knew all of that – and you knew that - but… but a tiny part of me was afraid to go.”

He looked down. He hadn’t told her he was nervous because he didn’t want to worry her, but now he felt like he had to explain it. “I… I was afraid that it would be like with you… The closer I got to the restaurant the more terrified I became that I would get confused… that when I saw her I would have the feelings that you always made me feel.”

Ginny felt her heart began to beat faster and her hands stilled; her silent mantra from before forgotten. “Did you?”

Harry shook his head and Ginny let go of the breath she hadn’t realized she had held in. “No. It was nothing like with you. And it was a great feeling… but at the same time it was heartbreaking because I know she doesn’t feel that yet… it isn’t over for her…”

He kissed her and tightened his hold on her as he told her about it. About how they had talked, and how she had started crying, about how he hadn’t known what to do to help her. “It was just… I don’t know, you know. I think she will be fine, but… she’s having a hard time… and I felt awful because… because…” He trailed off, shaking his head.

“Why?”

Harry met her gaze and kissed her softly, leaning into her and pressing her more firmly into the railing. “Because,” he whispered, lowering his head to her shoulder and closing his eyes. “I was sitting there, and I was listening, but I just kept thinking, ‘why am I here?’ you know? I don’t think she even knew what she wanted… but I could tell. She wanted me to do something, or say something, something so that she can keep hating me, so she can be mad at me, but I couldn’t even do that for her.”

He kissed her neck, running his teeth over her skin and Ginny’s eyes fluttered shut.

“I want her to be happy, to move on, but I couldn’t even focus… it was like, she was talking and I just kept wondering where you were… I want her to be ok, but I couldn’t help her because I was too distracted…”

Harry picked her up, resting her on the railing and moving in between her legs, trying to get closer. He found her lips and kissed her for a few minutes until he slipped his hand into her hair, cupping her neck and tilting her head back so that he could kiss her neck again.

“Why were you distracted?” Ginny asked; feeling pretty distracted at the moment herself.

“I was hurting you,” he murmured into her neck, bringing his hand up to cup her face as he pulled back and looked at her. “Going there hurt you, made you worry… I could feel it… and I just couldn’t handle that… I had to get out of there…”

“So what happened?” Ginny asked, pulling him closer so that she could kiss him, feeling stupid for worrying… for doubting. They kissed for a minute before he answered.

“I… I told her I had to go… I came to find you… I can’t help her…” he said between kisses. “Seeing me isn’t going to help her… I love you… it was stupid of me to go…”

“It wasn’t stupid… It was just…” She trailed off and rested her forehead against his for a second. “I want her to be ok too but… but I think you’re right, I don’t think you can help her… and… and I don’t think I would be ok with you being friends with her right now,” she said softly. “I mean, not after… I just remember how well our ‘friendship’ worked out.”

Harry pulled back and kissed her forehead. “It’s not the same Gin… We’re not going to be friends and I’m ok with that.” He pulled her back from him until she met his gaze. “It’s not that same, you know that right? It’s nothing like the way it was with you. You are who I want.”

He watched her as she nodded and pulled him back into a kiss, but he saw her worry and it left him a little uneasy, not sure if she truly believed him.


~..~..~..~..~..~


About a week later Ginny came down to breakfast and plopped down next to Luna.

“Morning,” she said as she began piling food onto her plate. The people around her seemed to grow silent and she looked up to find them gazing at her with expressions varying from interest to humor to… pity? She looked over at Luna, who seemed oblivious to the situation. She was just turning back to her plate when she felt a tap on the shoulder.

She glanced up to find Romilda looking down at her, a hint of a smirk on her face as she held the latest edition of the Daily Prophet out to her. “I thought you might want this,” she said sweetly. Ginny eyed the paper and when she didn’t take it Romilda dropped it on the table next to her plate and walked away.

Ginny watched her go, not even trying to hide the dislike from her face, and turned back around. She unfolded the paper and her hands tightened on the page as she looked at it in shock. Luna looked over at it and gave a small gasp before Ginny shot up and walked stiffly out of the room, taking the paper with her.


~..~..~..~..~..~


At the burrow Harry came down to breakfast and found Ron and Hermione arguing softly at the table.

“What’s going on?” he asked when he reached them and they spun around guiltily as Hermione hastily folded up the paper they had been looking at.

“Nothing,” she said quickly but Harry just raised his eyebrow.

“What is it?” he asked, looking over at Ron. He frowned seeing the accusing note in his friend’s eyes as they narrowed. Sensing that this had something to with the paper he grabbed it out of Hermione’s hand and opened it as he backed up out of reach.

He looked at the front page and his mouth dropped open, his eyes widening in shock. He was on the first page. So was Ginny… and Beth. What was this? he thought as he glanced up at Hermione before dropping his gaze back down to the parchment.

“I think… I think it may have been a slow news week,” Hermione said softly but Harry wasn’t listening. His eyes narrowed at he read the headline.

“Two loves for the Boy Who Lived?”

There were two pictures side by side on top of the article. One was an old picture of Ginny and him somewhere in Hogsmead, waving at the camera, but his eyes were drawn to the other picture - a picture of him outside of a restaurant with Beth. He saw himself leaning in, talking to her and after a second she turned to leave but he grabbed her hand and pulled her into a kiss. They kissed for awhile before breaking apart and repeating the cycle. The caption read, “Harry Potter and Beth Ward show their affections outside of Murdock’s Tea Shop in Leicester last Wednesday.”

The color drained from his face as he read the caption. “Does Ginny get the paper?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione said as Ron shot up out of his chair. He began to move toward him, opening his mouth to yell at him but Harry ignored him as he turned suddenly and ran out of the room and back upstairs to get his wand and the mauraders map, Ron’s yell echoing behind him.


~..~..~..~..~..~


Ginny was up in one of the astronomy towers. She didn’t like to admit that she was hiding, but that was what she was doing. Apparently the paper had been seen by most of the school and everywhere she went people seemed to be staring at her and she finally had given up and gone where she knew no one would be during the day. She was leaning on the windowsill of one of the large open windows, looking out over the lake.

Harry used his map to find her and climbed the circular stairs quickly, his heart pounding. Maybe she hadn’t seen it he thought as he reached the top. Her back was to him and he began to approach her but his heart plummeted and he suddenly felt sick when he saw a copy folded on the windowsill next to her. This can’t be happening, this isn’t fair! I can’t lose her so soon, not over this.

He came up behind her and slipped his arms around her the way he had on the bridge but this time Ginny didn’t melt. He felt the tension in her body and rested his forehead against her hair. Ginny shut her eyes as he pulled her against him, willing her tears not to fall, silently begging him to say what she wanted, to tell her it was fake.

“It’s not real love,” he said and she cracked, the tension leaving her body in a rush as she let out a small sob. He turned her around and searched her eyes, seeing every emotion in them at once, fear, hope, pain… they were murky and glassy, as she fought back her tears and she blinked quickly, trying to keep them from falling.

Blinking knocked one loose however, and Harry watched it roll down her cheek, his chest tightening.

“Stop it!” he whispered, bringing his hands to her face and wiping the tear away quickly, kissing her. “Please don’t cry love. It’s not real, I don’t know how they did it… photo-manipulation or something but I never kissed her, you have to believe me, I would never…. I would tell you… Please believe me, I - ”

Ginny kissed him, cutting off his ramble. “I believe you,” she said and he blinked, surprised at how quickly her eyes had cleared.

“Really?”

She gave him a small smile. “Did you read the article Harry? Did you look inside?”

Harry shook his head and she sighed, picking up the paper from the windowsill, folding the front page over and turning it so that he could see the second page. He dropped his eyes to the article in front of him and blinked again.

He was on this page too, but in this picture he was standing with Beth on one side and Ginny on the other and they seemed to be having a very civilized battle over him as they turned his head from side to side to kiss him. The weight that had been pressing him down seemed to lift a little as he looked back up. She was smirking at him now. “I think I would have remembered that,” she said softly and he would have smiled back, if he wasn’t still getting over the panic he had felt all the way here.

“So you didn’t think that…” he breathed and she leaned in, kissing him.

“Well, when I saw the first picture I…” she trailed off and Harry’s heart sank. She had thought it, she had doubted him… but how could she not with the evidence staring her in the face? He crumpled the paper in his hand and dropped it on the floor as Ginny found her voice again.

“It just didn’t fit… not with what you said happened… I just… I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it and then when I saw the picture on the inside I…” she looked down. “Well, at least I hoped…”

Harry pulled her against him. “I’m suing the paper.”

Ginny laughed, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him tighter, the ache that had been threatening to consume her gone from her chest. “Ok.”

“I’m so sorry love,” he murmured into her hair. “I’ve hurt you again.”

“You didn’t hurt me Harry.”

“No, but you were hurt because of me. I swore that wouldn’t happen,” he replied softly, running his hands through her hair and finding her lips.

“It only hurts if it’s true Harry… you didn’t hurt me,” she murmured against his lips and he kissed her harder.

They kissed for a few minutes before Harry pulled back. “She’s going to get this too you know,” he said. “I may… I may have to go talk to her or something.” Ginny nodded.

“I know. That’s fine,” she said before she looked down.

She rested her head on his chest for a moment while Harry ran his fingers through her hair. “I just want you to promise that if you ever aren’t sure… if you ever don’t want to be with me that you will tell me ok?”

Harry furrowed his brow and pulled her back with a frown. “No way.”

“Why not?”

“Because that’s stupid.”

“It’s not stupid Harry,” she said but he just shook his head.

“I’m not going to promise to tell you when I don’t want you… that’s never going to happen Ginny.”

Ginny shook her head. “You can’t know that Harry, I just - ”

“Yes I can,” he said, cutting her off. “I can know that. And if you want me to promise something like that you have to promise it too.”

Ginny opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. “I will always want you,” she managed after a minute and Harry bristled.

“And I won’t?” He pulled away from her and took a step back. “How could you think that? After everything how can you question that? You still don’t trust me.”

“I didn’t mean… I do trust you,” Ginny said but Harry took another step back and arched his brow at her.

“Really? You want me to promise to tell you when I don’t want you. How is that trust if you think that will happen?”

Ginny took a step toward him but he backed up again. “If, Harry, I said if that happens, not when,” she said but he shook his head.

“Same thing.”

Ginny’s hands went to her hips. “No it’s not Harry. Why are you pushing this?”

“Because you don’t trust me!”

“Says who?”

“Says your expression, says your eyes… you have been worried and nervous ever since that letter, and now you want me to promise to let you know when it’s over! You – do – not – trust me.”

“Yes I do! I’m sorry, I take it back! You don’t have to promise ok?”

“No Ginny! You can’t just ignore the issue here,” Harry countered, taking a step toward her. He couldn’t place what he was feeling, he just knew it wasn’t good. He felt a little sick that he had been right… she had worried about him meeting Beth, she doubted his feelings.

Ginny threw up her hands in frustration. “What issue? What do you want me to say Harry?!”

“I want you to tell me the truth! I want you to admit - ”

“Fine!” she yelled, closing the distance between them. “I worry ok? It has crossed my mind that you could change your’s! That you could decide you made the wrong choice! I have felt… a little fear that you will see her, or talk to her… or she will say something that… that…” Harry nodded, his face falling as he took a step back and Ginny immediately regretted it. She saw his hurt and she wanted to take it back. She didn’t really mean it… not really… and her voice became soothing as she followed his retreat.

“They are just thoughts Harry. They aren’t truth and they don’t mean anything. The last few days… with you talking to her… with the paper… it scared me but it doesn’t mean I don’t trust you, or don’t believe you.”

She brought her hand to his face and he flinched slightly. “Harry,” she said cocking her head to the side and caressing his cheek until his eyes met hers. “Harry, I know that you love me. I know that I am who you want. But you were with someone else, you loved someone else… I can’t just… we can’t just pretend like it never happened. The more time that passes the less it will matter and one day it won’t; there won’t be any doubts no matter what is printed in the paper or how many letters you get.”

He pulled her to him and buried his head in her hair. “I just don’t want you to be scared. Because you don’t need to be,” he said and she pulled him closer. “I want that day.”

“I know.”

He sighed into her neck. “I’m suing the paper ok?” he mumbled and she grinned and nodded her head, holding him tighter.

"Oh no," Harry breathed after a few minutes and Ginny felt him tense in her arms. She pulled back slightly and looked up at him but he was looking at something behind her. She turned around, following his gaze out the window. Her eyes widened when she saw 6 large owls gliding gracefully toward them - - - each holding a large red envelope.

"Harry," Ginny breathed worriedly as she realized what they were and he began to back away from the window, away from her.

The owls swooped in and dropped the envelopes at his feet before swooping out again, as though they knew what was coming and wanted to get as far away as possible before it started. Harry looked down at the envelopes in horror as Ginny moved quickly to him. He scooped them up and looked at her. "I don’t want you to hear them,” he said, backing up and pulling his wand out of his pocket. Ginny grabbed his hand as he began to do a muffling charm and shook her head.

“It’s ok. We just have to explain what…”

She was drowned out as the letters exploded and Harry quickly put his hands over her ears and pulled her to him, resting his chin on her head and closing his eyes. The sound was deafening as all six, even Percy this time, Weasley brothers screamed at Harry. Ginny’s eyes widened as she made out some of the words in the cacophony of sound. She had never heard some of them before and most of them she had never heard her brothers actually use. And that was saying something because she had heard a lot over the years. Ron’s was the last to die out, and it seemed like he had only stopped because his voice had given out on him. When it was over Ginny pulled back and looked up at Harry’s face. He still had his eyes shut but his face was white and he looked genuinely frightened. “We… we have to explain before any of them get here,” he managed, keeping his eyes shut. He thought he might be sick. He had just been threatened with death and worse… and somehow he didn’t doubt that any of his former friends had been joking or exaggerating.

Ginny smiled and rose up to kiss him. “They’ll understand. And they will apologize too ok?” He kissed her back and finally opened his eyes to see her smiling at him. He tried to smile back but it just wouldn’t happen. After a second Ginny let out a giggle and Harry’s eyes widened.

“This is not funny Ginny.”

She laughed again before forcing her face into seriousness and nodding. “I know… it’s just… well it is a little sweet that they are so protective… don’t you think?”

Harry gaped at her. “Pr – protective? Ginny, you have to contact them right now of I will be dead before the day’s out…”

Ginny just smiled at him and kissed him again. They heard the rustling of wings and broke apart, their heads snapping to the window. There was another large owl landing on the windowsill, holding out its leg with a letter. This one wasn’t a howler but it too was addressed to Harry. He walked over warily and untied it, walking back to Ginny as the owl flew off again. He pulled it open as he moved but stopped walking before he reached her.

“Who’s it from?”

Harry’s face fell as he began to read it. “Your mum,” he said quietly and Ginny’s eyes widened. She knew that it wasn’t going to be good if her mother had moved past a howler to an actual letter. She moved quickly, trying to grab it from him but he twisted away from her, out of her grasp.

“Harry, don’t read it. It doesn’t matter. As soon as we tell her it was fake it won’t matter,” Ginny said, trying to take it from him but he shook his head, turning away from her.

Harry pulled away and kept reading it. “I want to read it,” he said and Ginny moved toward him but he held out his hand, motioning for her to stay back as his eyes moved over it. “I don’t want you to read it,” he said and Ginny stopped, watching him as his face paled more, his expression becoming more devastated by the second. She watched his hands begin to shake as he read and took as step toward him, only to have him take a step away.

“Harry,” she said softly and finally he looked up, blinking back the tears in his eyes.

Harry felt like he couldn’t breathe. He had been cut off. Disowned by the Mr. and Mrs. Weasley with such heartbroken words of disappointment that he didn’t think he would ever be able to return to the burrow, wouldn't ever be able to fix it. She hadn’t sent a howler, she hadn’t been mad, but her words had hurt more than anything that anyone could ever have screeched at him. It didn’t even matter that it wasn’t real, that she would take it all back as soon as she talked to Ginny. He had created a situation that without a question, without even thinking about the possibility that it would be fake, his family had believed him capable of this, still capable of hurting her like this. That realization was too much; it hurt too much, even though he knew he deserved it. The letter fluttered to the floor as he brought his hands to his face.

“Harry,” Ginny said gently as she approached him, pulling his hands off of his face. “You shouldn’t have read it love.” She kissed him and he took a shuddering breath.

“I won’t ever be able to go back to the burrow,” he said softly and she shook her head, kissing him again.

“Yes you will. She loves you. You are practically her favorite son,” she said, giving him a soft smile and he shook his head.

“Not anymore,” he managed. Ginny kissed him again, moving his hands around her waist and cupping his face in her hands.

“We’ll fix it. We just have to tell her the truth. It doesn’t matter. I love you and they love you and nothing they said will matter or be true as soon as we tell them. Ok?”

Harry nodded and she kissed him, moving her lips over his and asking for entrance with her tongue until he finally responded, opening himself to her and kissing her back with rising intensity. They kissed deeply for a few minutes before Ginny led him back to her room so that she could floo her parents and her brothers. “If you like I can be mad at them from jumping to conclusions and not bothering to ask anyone involved what happened,” she said and he smiled a little, bringing her hand to his lips.





~..~..~..~..~..~



That night Harry ended up back in the Riddle house, but this time it was just Riddle, Ginny and him. Panic filled him as he watched helplessly from his position on the floor as Riddle hit Ginny again. The scene played out much like it had before, and soon Harry was standing up, his hands free as Riddle pulled Ginny in front of him and thrust his knife under her throat. Harry couldn’t think as terror gripped him and he spread his arms, offering himself, trying to get Riddle to let her go, but he didn’t. Riddle raised the knife and brought it down toward her stomach as she screamed out his name. Harry threw out his arm but this time his magic didn’t work and the blade sank easily into her stomach. He cried out as Riddle pulled the knife back out and stabbed her several more times, smiling at him the entire time before throwing her to the floor and fading away.

Harry ran to her and fell to his knees as sobs wracked his body and he pulled her into his arms. He pushed the hair out of her face and kissed her, saying her name over and over but her eyes were closed and her lips were already becoming cold and he cried out.

He couldn’t save her, and he felt himself dying with her. “NO! No no no no no…. Ginny, wake up… wake up for me love… open your eyes for me” he said as he sobbed, cupping her face in his hand and shaking her.

“WAKE UP!!”

A profound sadness and a pain like he had never felt before shot through him and he physically ached as she didn’t move, her head falling back limply when he let it go. He cried out as he held her limp body to his, crushing her to him and burying his face into her neck. Sobs consumed him and tears streamed down his face as he rocked back and forth with her, letting her blood cover him as it left her body. “Ginny…. Oh God Ginny… I’m so sorry… wake up… please wake up… don’t leave me here…”

Harry woke with a start, twisted in his sheets and sobbing. It had seemed so real. He put his hands over his face, trying to make it stop, trying to make his heart slow down. “It’s just a dream… it’s just a dream…” He shut his eyes and took in a few deep breaths as his tears began to slow.

He got up from the bed and left the room, going straight to the den and throwing floo powder into the fire and stepping into it. He came out on the other side into Ginny’s room and walked to her bed. He saw her jerk up, woken by the sound and the flare of green flame erupting from the fireplace. “Harry?”

He didn’t respond, he just climbed quickly onto the bed and pulled her into his arms, burying his face into her neck. Ginny’s arms went around him and she realized he was shaking and his face was wet on her skin.

“Harry, what is it? Are you ok?” He still didn’t answer; he just kissed her neck, pulling her closer. “Harry… did you have a nightmare?” He nodded into her with a shudder. “It was just a dream. It wasn’t real…” she said, rubbing his back. She pulled him down beside her and pulled the covers over them. Harry kept his face nestled in her shoulder as she held him, running a hand through his hair and kissing his forehead.

“Do you want to tell me about it?” she asked softly and he shook his head, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her closer. She was safe and she was real in his arms and he refused to let go of her, still consumed by the feelings that had overwhelmed him at her death. He just held her for awhile before finally he started talking, telling her about the dream and she pulled him closer.

“I think… I think I would die if I lost you again,” he mumbled into her skin when he finished and tears filled her eyes.

“Stop it. No one is losing anyone… it was just a dream… it wasn’t real.”

“I know,” he said shakily after a minute and she stayed silent, just holding him, rubbing his back and eventually she felt him begin to relax. “I hate this,” he whispered after awhile, “it makes feel weak.” She kissed his forehead.

“You are not weak Harry,” she said, pulling his head up and kissing his lips. “And I don’t want to hear you say that again.” They were just words but somehow hearing her say it made him feel better and after a few minutes Harry spoke.

“She was a filler,” he said softly and Ginny shook her head.

“What? Harry, you don’t have to - ”

“She was. I never loved her this way. Never like you.” He kissed her and cupped her face in his hand and Ginny just stared at him, transfixed by the look in his eyes. “Never like this.” He kissed her again. “I’m not saying I didn’t love her because I did. But it wasn’t whole. I wasn’t whole… I’m not whole without you.” He kissed her, his hand massaging her cheek until she opened her mouth to him and the kiss became deep, his tongue slowly and reverently caressing her and Ginny protested softly when he pulled back. “I don’t have anything to be filled or fixed so there just isn’t room for anything else, for any other feelings. You take up too much of me. I love you so much I don’t know what to do and I will always want you.”

Ginny’s eyes filled with tears and she rested her forehead against his. “I know. Harry I know that. Truly I…”

He kissed her and leaned his head into her shoulder. “I want that day. That day you talked about. I want the day when we have no doubts to be today,” he said into her neck and Ginny sighed running her hands through his hair.

“It is that day. Almost everyday is that day.”

He kissed her soundly and pulled back, gazing at her. “I don’t want almost. I want always. I want you to know in your soul that you are all that I want, all that I will ever want – no matter what gets printed, or said, or who writes me. I want the day that you never doubt to be today. What’s keeping that from happening? What’s holding you back?” He searched her eyes.

“Nothing,” she breathed, unable to break his gaze. His eyes were intense and shining at her.

“Do you love me?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“I love you so much it hurts. It’s killing me that you doubt that.”

Ginny shook her head, I don’t doubt it, she thought, hating that her words, her stupid words earlier had hurt him so much and she started to correct him but he put his fingers on her lips as he continued.

“I will never stop loving you. I will never want anyone else… I need you to believe me,” he said and she nodded, watching his eyes. She saw their depth and the hint of desperation and she knew that if she gave the wrong response it would break him.

“I believe you,” she said against his fingers and he took them away and kissed her.

He kissed her again. “Do you trust me?” he asked and she brought a hand to his face.

“Yes.”

He let out a shuttering breath. “Say it.”

“I trust you.”

He leaned his head into her shoulder. “Say it again.”

“I trust you, Harry.”

He kissed her neck, his voice getting caught in his throat.

“Again.”

“I trust you,” she repeated, her eyes filled with tears as she felt his on her shoulder but when he spoke his voice was firm.

“I want you to believe it.”

“I do believe it love.”

“I want you to mean it.”

Ginny shook her head as a few tears escaped. “I mean it Harry. It’s your turn to believe me…” He kissed her, wiping her tears off of her face.

“I want… I want you to say it again.”

So she said it again, telling him that she trusted him… loved him… believed him until they fell asleep, both knowing it was true.

He woke early and kissed her goodbye before going back through the fire and quickly up to his room, careful not to wake anyone.


~..~..~..~..~..~


It became a regular occurrence for Harry to come to her room at night after that, regardless of whether he was having dreams or not. He just couldn’t seem to sleep well without her when she was so close to him, so easy to get to.

About a week later Ginny woke up to find Harry beside her, shifting and moaning softly, his head jerking to the side. She moved over to him and slipped her arm around him. She leaned her head into his and began whispering into his ear as he slept, stroking his face with her hand.

As Harry dreamed he began to hear her voice in his head. “I love you Harry. It’s not real, we’re safe,” she said softly over and over and eventually the scene faded away. Ginny felt him slowly become calm in his sleep but she kept whispering in his ear for a few minutes, just in case. As the months passed she did this over and over and each time it seemed to take less time to calm him down until eventually he seemed to stop having nightmares all together.



Chapter 21: Too Good To Last
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It was early in the morning on the last Saturday before Christmas break.

Ginny’s eyes fluttered open and she stretched, turning her face away from the offensive stream of sunlight falling on her eyes. She glared at the window before turning away from it and toward Harry, who was sleeping peacefully beside her and she watched him for a minute.

She smiled and pulled herself up until she was on her knees beside him and she leaned across him, grabbing her wand off of the table. She twirled it in her fingers for a second, debating with herself before flicking it toward him and the t-shirt he was wearing disappeared. He shifted in his sleep, turning his head to the side as she bit her lip.

She leaned down but at the last minute rose back up and flicked her wand at her mouth and then his, rolling her eyes at herself and biting her lip to keep from laughing aloud as he shifted again, turning his head and smacking his lips a little as the charm hit him.

She leaned down again and began to nibble on his ear. “Wake up Harry,” she whispered and he shifted away, trying to move away from the sound. “Harry,” she purred again running her tongue along the edge and this time he swatted his hand at his ear as he shifted, as though trying to wave off a bug.

Resting her hands on either side of him, Ginny climbed on top of him and plopped down on his stomach. Harry’s eyes flew open with a grunt that quickly became a groan as his eyes closed and he turned away. “It’s too earrrly,” he groaned as she leaned down and began kissing his jaw.

“Wake up Harry,” Ginny said softly but he shook his head, grumbling at her to let him sleep but she just smiled.

She shifted down and began kissing his chest, trailing her fingers up and down his sides.

“Ginnnnyyy, stop. I want… sleep… early,” he grumbled, using his hands to push at hers and she sat up, undeterred.

“Are you sure you want to sleep Harry?” she asked, biting her lip again as she slipped her hand behind her and between his legs.

Harry’s eyes shot open and he bolted up with a surprised yelp, grabbing her hand and lacing his fingers through hers as she laughed at him. He groaned and leaned his head onto her shoulder. “Why do you hate me? I’m sleepy….”

She chuckled and brought her free hand to his head, playing with his hair. “I don’t hate you, I love you,” she said lightly, kissing his cheek. “And I want you to wake up because we are celebrating,” she said and he groaned again.

“I’m afraid to ask why,” he replied into her shoulder, his words muffled by her shirt.

“We’re celebrating you love.”

Harry sighed and after a second he dragged his head up; knowing the fight to sleep was useless. He focused on her, his shoulders hunched and his head tilted back a he looked at her, his eyes droopy. “I give up… why are we celebrating me?”

“Because,” she said, kissing him. “You haven’t had any nightmares in a month.”

Harry blinked at her as it dawned on him that she was right and he began to smile. “I haven’t have I,” he acknowledged and she shook her head. “What have you done to me Miss Weasley?” he asked and she shrugged her shoulder before leaning into him.

“I am amazingly talented,” she murmured as she kissed him and he arched his brow, pulling back, suddenly much more away.

“Really,” he asked, beginning to smile and her face flushed.

“I meant, I didn’t mean…” she stuttered but he cut her off.

“Oh no,” he said, pulling her up against him. “I happen to agree love,” he said. “I think you are very talented.”

She laughed as he nuzzled her neck and pushed him away.

“Well,” he said, running his hands up and down her thighs. “In honor of this celebration of me, I think I should get a present.”

“A present huh?”

He nodded and grinned. “Definitely a present.”

“I thought you wanted to sleep?” she asked as she linked her arms around his neck but he shook his head.

“I’m wide awake now…”

“What do you want then?”

At this he pretended to contemplate really hard. “I think I want…” he moved his hands up her thighs and fingered the hem of her shirt. “I think I want… my shirt,” he said, his eyes twinkling at her.

Ginny’s eyes flashed back at him as she shook her head. Harry spread his arms as he continued. “But Gin, that’s what I want. Mine seems to have mysteriously… gone missing,” he said looking down at his chest before looking back up to find her smiling innocently at him.

“I don’t know how that happened,” she said gravely, shaking her head.

“I’m sure you don’t,” he replied in the same tone. “But now I need another one,” he said as he moved his hands back to the one she was wearing. It was an old one of his that he had unfortunately left in her room and had been unable to convince her to give back. She shook her head again.

“Please give it to me,” he said, kissing her.

“I don’t think so.”

“Please?” He asked again and she shook her head. He kissed her and began moving his hands up underneath the shirt, drawing it up as he moved up her skin.

“But this is what I want Gin,” he pouted and she fought not to smile at him, her lips twitching as he ran his hands over her exposed skin, moving the shirt higher but again she refused so he kissed her deeply as he shifted her closer.

“Please? I promise I’ll give it back,” he said as he moved his head down to kiss her neck.

“Promise?” she managed as she leaned her head back, shivering as his hands moved the shirt higher, the air cool on her exposed back as his fingers traced the underside of her breasts.

“Uh-huh,” he answered into her skin as he grinned, raising his head to see her. Her eyes were dark and she sighed. “Fine, just take it then.” He grinned in triumph as he pulled it over her head and she shook her hair as it fell back onto her bare skin. “What are you going to do now that you have it?”

He didn’t even look at the shirt before he dropped it off the bed and rolled them over until she was beneath him.

“I’m going to say thank you of course.”

She laughed at him as he began attacking her neck before joining in on the thank you.


~..~..~..~..~..~

Ginny was sitting in Harry’s lap later, her arms and legs wrapped around him and at the moment he was nuzzling her neck as she giggled.

“Come on Ginny, say it.”

Ginny forced her mind to focus on his words and not his mouth. “And what is it you want me to say Harry?”

He kissed her neck, running his hands over her before pulling back so he could see her. “You know what I want. It’s my favorite thing to hear…”

Ginny cocked her head to the side. “Hm… I love you Harry?”

He kissed her. “No… although that is nice…” He kissed her quickly again. “Come on Gin…”

He sounded like a little boy whose favorite toy had been taken away and her mouth began to twitch.

“I trust you Harry?”

He shook his head. “Also a nice one, but no.”

“How about…” she leaned closer. “Yes Harry? More Harry? Please Harry?”

He dropped his head with a groan and began kissing across her collar bone and moving under her neck and across her chest to the other one. “Why do you hate me?”

“Oh I know! How about, Take me now Harry?” she said with a grin and he chuckled into her skin as he shook his head.

“Please… I want to hear it… my three favorite words…”

He sounded so pathetic that she took pity on him and pulled his head up. She kissed him and leaned in so that she could whisper in his ear. “Oh… those three words… I remember now… are you ready?”

He nodded, pulling her against him.

She smiled and kissed his ear. “Fly with me.”

He broke into a grin and gave a dramatic sigh of satisfaction. “You sure know the way to a guy’s heart.”

“It’s a gift,” she murmured and he laughed before pushing her off and scrambling off the bed to get dressed.

“Race you there!”


~..~..~..~..~..~


Christmas and New Years came and went and everything was perfect. Too perfect. One of them should have realized that it was too good to last.

They sat down at the table for lunch not long after returning to school and began talking about the upcoming quiddich match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff with Ron. Hermione was just beginning to read her latest addition of the Daily Prophet when she gasped.

She looked up as Harry, Ginny and Ron looked over at her.

“What?” Ron asked, taking another bite of his sandwich.

“Oh God,” Ginny grumbled. “Not that again, I swear I am writing to the ministry. That thing is turning into nothing but a bloody tabloi…”

She trailed off looking at the front page that Hermione had turned around so they could see.

There was a picture of Draco Malfoy on the cover, looking sick and underfed, obviously having been taken in Azkaban. His eyes were haunted as he looked around before dropping his gaze to the floor. He almost didn’t even look like himself. The headline read “Innocent Boy in Azkaban?”

Harry and Ron gaped at the story and Ginny’s eyes narrowed to slits as Hermione began to speak.

“Apparently they are reopening his case. And guess who the in-depth reporter is who has been researching it, bringing it to everyone’s attention?”

“Rita Skeeter,” Ron said automatically and Hermione nodded.

“The filthy death eater should rot there,” Ginny said darkly and Harry looked over at her. He hated Malfoy too but her expression was almost maniacal; like she planned to single handedly keep him there.

She glanced up at him and saw the confusion in his eyes and was suddenly confused herself why he wouldn’t have the same reaction that she did. “What?” she asked. “How can you not feel the same after what he did?”

“Well,” Harry said slowly, thinking about his answer. “It was Snape who actually did it wasn’t it, we don’t really know - ”

“Yes, but I mean, after the letters there can’t really be any doubt about -”

“What about the letters?” he replied, cutting her off as his eyes narrowed and Ginny blinked. Her body tensed in horror as she realized he didn’t know. I didn’t tell him. How could I not have told him? She had forgotten that he wasn’t there, that he hadn’t been in the room when Riddle had told her that Malfoy was the one who had written their letters. She took a breath and swallowed.

“He wrote them,” she breathed, staring at Harry.

“WHAT?!?!” He all but screamed and the hall became quiet as all heads turned in their direction.

Ginny was up and pulling him toward the door before Ron or Hermione could even respond and she didn’t stop until she reached her room. They sat on the bed while she told him what Riddle had said and with every word Harry’s hatred of Mafloy grew until it was bubbling inside of him. The only thing he could think was that there was no way in hell he was going to let him out of Azkaban.


~..~..~..~..~..~


They spoke to Mr. Weasley and he spoke to the minister and it was decided that the only thing they could do was testify at his hearing; Harry as a witness to Dumbledore’s death and Ginny about the “supposed” letters.

The day of the hearing they were excused from classes and flooed to the ministry from Hogwarts, meeting Mr. Weasley in the hall. Harry was tense as they walked into the Wizangot holding hands. He didn’t like this room; he didn’t have any fond memories of it and was lost in his thoughts when Ginny’s grip on his hand tightened; squeezing with a surprising amount of strength for her size. He looked down at her and followed her gaze to see Rita Skeeter quickly making her way towards them from across the room, a gleam in her eye and a quill in her hand.

He narrowed his eyes and held Ginny back as she started to move forward but Mr. Weasley stepped in front of them, cutting Rita off as Harry drew Ginny away and they went to sit near the back as the hearing began. He could feel Ginny’s tension and he looked over at her. He kissed her temple and she looked up and gave him a small smile before her gaze went back to Rita.

She had given up the chase and was now sitting across the room, practically bouncing with excitement. Harry watched as Ginny narrowed her eyes and the quill and parchment that Rita was holding shot out of her hand and across the room, hitting one of the council members squarely in the nose.

He smiled and they were both soon trying to hold back chuckles as every time Rita pulled a new quill and paper out of her bag Ginny sent it flying out of her hands. Rita glared around the room trying to find the culprit.

Ginny just smiled sweetly at her when she met her gaze and Harry leaned over, giving her a kiss on the neck. They broke off their game however, as Malfoy was raised in the center, coming up out of the floor and into the cage and Harry squeezed Ginny’s hand as it began to shake.

He looked terrible, his hair was longer and matted down, and his usually pale skin was even lighter than normal, almost transparent over his body from lack of sun and he was thinner, frail and tragic looking. His eyes were haunted as he glanced around the room, the haughtiness that he usually exuded nonexistent. When his eyes fell on Harry and Ginny they narrowed slightly before dropping to the ground.

The wizard representing Malfoy worked to show that he had acted out of fear for his life, joining Voldemort because he didn’t have a choice. His parents were devoted death eaters and he had no way to disobey them when they ordered him to do things, for he had seen what happened to those who rebelled.

Harry and Ginny sat through the trial, unmoved by the attempts to show him as a victim and when Harry went before the council he told about Malfoy’s attitude, past actions and how he had been there when Malfoy had tried to kill Dumbledore.

“So, Malfoy was the one who killed Albus Dumbledore?” One of the wizards asked him.

“Well, no,” Harry said, his eyes flicking between the wizard and Malfoy who was still looking at the floor. “He was too much of a coward to do it, so Snape… but I think that -”

“That’s all,” the wizard interrupted him.

Harry knew that Malfoy was a death eater, knew that he was cruel and that he had been loyal to Voldemort but he also realized that so far the evidence seemed to be pointing toward him being a victim. He could tell that the council wanted to find him innocent because the backlash from the article. The response to Rita’s article had been quick and severe; the wizarding world didn’t want to see someone so young in Azkaban. They wanted to have a happy ending after all of the death and Malfoy was their way to do that.

When Ginny was on the stand, things only got worse. She told of what Riddle had said to her, about Malfoy writing the letters in a scheme to help Voldemort, but there was nothing to support the story other than her word. The letters were in their handwriting, not Malfoy’s, and with Riddle dead there was no one to corroborate her claim. The wizards didn’t even seem to believe that he actually was Voldemort’s son. They seemed fixed on her connection to Harry and his dislike of Malfoy as a reason she would push for him to stay in Azkaban.

When the hearing was over they left; disgusted with the ministry once again for their incompetence and inability to see a death eater sitting right in front of their faces. The council had agreed that Malfoy deserved another chance and were releasing him.


~..~..~..~..~..~


“You can’t possibly let him come back here!”

Harry was in Headmistress McGonagall’s office, pacing back and forth, livid after hearing that not only would Malfoy be released, but he would be allowed to come back to school so that he could finish and be able to get a job.

McGonagall watched him pacing from behind her desk. “I don’t like it either Potter, but - ”

“But nothing! We know what he is! What he has done - ”

“Potter! There is no need to take that tone with me, I am well aware of the circumstances here!”

Harry deflated somewhat at her tone and sank into a chair in front of her desk. “I’m sorry professor, it’s just… we know he was loyal… we know he wasn’t…”

“I know Potter. But the fact is he has been cleared, and we cannot stop him from receiving his education. The council knows what they are doing…”

Harry huffed at this and she shot him a look before continuing.

“They know what they are doing and he will be returning to Hogwarts, whether we like it or not… Now, whether you and Ms. Weasley have anything to do with him is your choice, but I don’t want to hear about you hexing him or making trouble because I will be forced to deal with you like any other student here. Are we clear?”

“Yes professor.”


~..~..~..~..~..~


When Malfoy arrived back at Hogwarts it was very different from the trio’s return. No one wanted to say hello to him, or welcome him back. His friends had graduated and even his fellow Slytherins seemed a little uncomfortable being around him.

His hair had been cut and he was dressed in new robes but he was still thin and pale. He didn’t seem quite as put together as he used to and he didn’t seem to care either. He was oddly quiet and his eyes seemed constantly haunted, clouded as he moved from class to class, keeping to himself.

When Professor McGonagall asked for volunteers to be his tutor no one raised their hand. Malfoy didn’t care, he just stared out the window at the lake and the class became tense, restless as it became clear that one of them would be unlucky enough to be assigned to help him.

Ginny’s eyes widened when she saw Luna slowly raise her hand, signaling that she would tutor him. Malfoy’s gaze shot to her and his eyes became murky before he narrowed them slightly and looked back out the window.


~..~..~..~..~..~


“What were you thinking?” Ginny asked Luna as they walked to their next class. Harry stayed silent but eyed Luna warily, trying to decide if she had taken that final step out of reality but she seemed strangely lucid as she shrugged.

“He is very sad, he needs someone’s help,” she said and Ginny shot a look at Harry.

“Sad? He…” Ginny trailed off as Malfoy materialized in front of them, his eyes on her.

“Wealsey,” he said. He started to say something else but Harry moved in front of Ginny, blocking her and Ron came up on the other side.

“Shove off Malfoy,” Ron said as Ginny slipped her hand into Harry’s tense one. He squeezed it but kept his eyes on Malfoy.

“I wasn’t speaking to you weasel,” Malfoy replied.

“You don’t speak to her either Malfoy,” Harry said in a hard low voice and Malfoy’s gaze shot to him.

“Are you going to stop me?”

“If I have to.”

“Because you love her right Potter? Because you protect her… you keep people from hurting her?”

“Yes.”

Mafloy leaned in. “That’s probably good. You probably should keep others from hurting her… since I hear you have turned hurting her into an art.”

Harry’s eyes turned to ice as he stiffened. “You’d know all about that wouldn’t you Malfoy,” he ground out, feeling Ginny squeeze his hand. “I believe you have some letters of mine.”

Something clouded Malfoy’s eyes for a second before he gave a hint of a smile and flicked his gaze back to Ginny. He opened his mouth but Harry didn’t give him a chance to speak.

“You don’t speak to her. You don’t come anywhere near her or I’ll kill you.”

Malfoy’s sneer vanished. “You don’t scare me Potter. There is nothing you could do to me now that would hurt,” he said and Harry was thrown for a second by the emptiness that shot through his eyes.

“I need to talk to you,” Malfoy said, moving his gaze back to Ginny.

“In your dreams Malfoy,” Ron all but growled at him and when Ginny narrowed her eyes at him and didn’t respond Malfoy finally moved off, leaving them alone. Luna followed him down the hall, waving at them distractedly as she left.

As they continued on to class Harry pulled Ginny up beside him, wrapping his arm around her. “I don’t want you going anywhere alone ok?” She slipped her arm around his waist and agreed, wondering what Malfoy would possibly want to say to her.

Luna caught up to Malfoy and fell into step beside him. “If you want them to forgive you, you might want to change your approach,” she said and Malfoy shot a glare at her.

“I don’t want their forgiveness.”

Luna just gazed back at him serenely, ignoring his scowl. “Then why did you want to talk to her?”

Malfoy didn’t answer and after a second he looked away.

Luna smiled knowingly and adjusted her bag on her shoulder. “They need more time. And you need to be nicer or you’ll never get anywhere.”


~..~..~..~..~..~


As the days passed Luna began spending her time with Malfoy, helping him catch up in classes. He didn’t talk much but she sat with him anyway, determined to help him. She knew that the others were too angry to see it but she could tell that he was different, that Azkaban had broken him.

So when he went off by himself she found him and even though he huffed and sneered, he never sent her away and it wasn’t long before he found himself looking for her. He refused to think that he liked being with her, but having someone - anyone who didn’t look at him the way the others did was enough to draw him to her.

Her odd way of looking at things, or explaining things helped draw him away from his reality, his memories and he found himself asking her about her dad’s paper, asking her about the fanciful things she found so fascinating that he knew weren’t real. At least he was pretty sure they weren’t real. It helped him relax and let go of the ever present shadow; the echo of the dementors that never went away.


~..~..~..~..~..~


Ginny was walking down the hall in a crowd of students on her way to meet Harry when she felt a presence behind her. She turned her head when she felt a hand on her lower back and found Malfoy walking beside her. “Hello Weasley,” he said silkily as she jerked away from him.

“Don’t touch me.” she said but he grabbed her arm so that she couldn’t move away.

She jerked her arm out of his grasp and turned to walk the other way but he moved quickly, keeping his body in front of her so that she couldn’t get by.

She stopped and he took a step closer, dropping his voice to a whisper. “I want to talk to you.”

The crowd was thinning around them as the students moved on or entered their classrooms and Ginny took a step back. “I don’t want to hear it Malfoy,” she said beginning to turn but he grabbed her arm, pulling her back to him as he advanced on her.

“I don’t care what you want… I need to say it.”

Before she could respond he was jerked away from her and slammed up against the wall, Harry’s face inches from his.

“What did I tell you Malfoy?”

“We were just talking Potter,” he replied, wincing as Harry pushed him harder into the wall.

“Were you talking love?’ Harry asked, not taking his eyes off of Malfoy.

“He was talking, I was trying to leave,” she said from behind him, crossing her arms as he pushed Malfoy harder, making him wince.

“She doesn’t want to talk to you. You may have fooled the council, but don’t think for one second that we don’t know what you are, and what you did.”

“You don’t know me.”

Harry laughed at this and leaned in. “Really? I know you are a pathetic excuse for a wizard who should be in Azkaban. You are a waste of space and you are mental if you think that you have anything to say that she wants to hear.”

Harry dropped him and backed up until he was level with Ginny.

Malfoy looked back and forth between them as Harry took her hand and he swallowed; suddenly nervous. He hadn’t wanted to talk to them together. He had wanted to get Ginny on his side before going to Harry but he knew he would probably not get another chance so he took a breath. Luna’s words flashed in his head. You need to be nicer. He took another breath and tried to do that. “I… I just wanted to apologize… I… I wanted forgiveness…”

He would have gone on but Ginny moved quickly and her wand was suddenly pressing into his neck, pushing him back into the wall, her eyes murderous.

“You are pathetic,” she said, her hand shaking with rage. Forgiveness? Was he joking? “Where are my letters? I want them back.”

Malfoy grimaced and shook his head quickly. “I don’t have them,” he choked out, her wand pushing painfully into his throat.

“You stay away from us Malfoy because you will never get what you want. You made your bed; you chose which side you wanted and just because they let you out doesn’t change what you have done… or what you are.”

Malfoy’s eyes narrowed at her words and he spoke softly. “You don’t know… you don’t know what it’s like there… it’s… I’m not…” he trailed off as he thought back, his gaze becoming unfocused and haunted but Ginny didn’t care.

She dropped her wand and stepped back. She turned to leave but at the last minute she turned back and slapped him hard across the cheek, snapping his face to the side before she left. Harry watched for a second longer as Malfoy brought a hand to his cheek before he followed her.

Luna, who had walked up during the exchange approached Malfoy. When he saw her he sank back against the wall, rubbing his cheek. “That went well,” he muttered as she took his arm and pulled him away, leading him back the way she had come.

“I told you not to ask yet, they aren’t ready…” she said as they walked and he glared over at her, hating that she was right – of course.


Chapter 22: Like Father - Like Son
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Harry stepped into the fire at the burrow, eager to get to Ginny. He had stayed up late with Ron and decided to sleep at the burrow instead of going back Hogwarts. He hadn’t slept well though, and woke up ridiculously early. He hadn’t been able to get back to sleep so he figured he would just go ahead and get to her. The Green flames flared up and threw him back rudely though, and he landed on the floor, covered with soot a second after he stepped in. He gave the fireplace an affronted look as he hauled himself to his feet and brushed himself off. She couldn’t possibly be mad at me for staying here, he thought. Not enough to block me out of her room.

He went back upstairs and grabbed his invisibility cloak before returning and trying again, this time heading for the fireplace in the head office that they were supposed to be using and it worked fine. He pulled his cloak around him and headed to the tower, moving silently through the dark halls.

He entered Ginny’s room and walked to the bed but frowned when she wasn’t in it. He heard the shower going and looked down at his watch. It was five in the morning, why was she up? He went and knocked on the door but she didn’t answer.

He knocked again and when he didn’t get a response he opened the door and went in, walking up to the shower. He called her name but again she didn’t answer and he frowned.

“Ginny?” he called louder but still nothing. He hesitated, trying to figure out why she would be angry with him when he realized he wasn’t just hearing the water running. It sounded like someone was…

He pulled the curtain back and found Ginny sitting in the shower, her arms wrapped around her knees, sobbing as the water ran over her. She was wearing his shirt, the one she just flat refused to give back to him but he couldn’t see her face because she had it buried in her arms, her hair plastered to her as she rocked back and forth. Harry didn’t even think about it as he jumped, fully clothed into the shower and sank down next to her.

When he touched her she jerked back with a cry, scooting away from him. What was going on?

She launched herself into his arms a second later though, when she realized it was him. The tile was slick and he slipped as he caught her, falling back into the direct stream of the water. This seemed to splash some sense into him and he reached back, quickly turning the shower off.

Her sobs seemed to echo in the suddenly quiet room as she clung to him. She was probably the only thing making any noise in the entire castle, save the house elves who were already busy preparing breakfast in the kitchens.

“Ginny,” Harry said as he peeled her arms away from his neck, trying to move her so that he could see her. “What happened?”

She pulled away from him and his face darkened as he looked at her. His shirt was ripped down the front and her skin was raw, almost bleeding beneath it. Her cheeks and neck were red and so were her arms and thighs and Harry felt his heart begin to pound as he looked back up at her face. “What - happened.”

“I… I had to get him off of me…” she murmured, looking down at her body and Harry’s eyes widened. She did this to herself?! He cupped her face in his hand and brought her head up until she was looking at him.

“Who? Get who off? What happened? Talk to me Ginny.”

“He was here.”

“Who was here?” Harry felt a helpless anger building inside of him. Someone had hurt her…I wasn’t here and someone had… it suddenly hit him. Malfoy.

“Oh God Ginny… did he… did he…” he trailed off, afraid to say it out loud. His vision blurred but she shook her head no, and relief flooded into him.

“Can you stand up love?” he asked gently. When she nodded he pulled her to her feet and helped her out of the shower. “I’m going to kill him,” he said as he hugged her to him and she gave a mirthless laugh.

“Yeah well, apparently that doesn’t work. Even if you stab him repeatedly,” she said into his chest and he pulled back from her.

“You stabbed Malfoy? Where is he?” He found it hard to believe that she was capable of that and he watched as her face clouded with confusion for a second before her eyes cleared and she brought her hand to his cheek.

“Not Malfoy… it was Riddle, Riddle was here.”

Harry just stared at her blankly for a moment, repeating her words in his head, Riddle was here. He tried to make them make sense but it was no use. After a second he brought his hand up and placed it over the one she had resting on his cheek. “Riddle’s dead love,” he said softly. “You must have been dreaming.”

Ginny only shook her head. “No he’s not. I don’t know how he did it, but he was here. It wasn’t a dream.”

“No, it was a dream Gin. I killed him, you were there. You were dreaming. That’s all it was, I know they can seem real… believe me I know, but he wasn’t here.” Harry turned his face so that he could kiss her hand but she jerked it away as she backed up.

“It wasn’t a dream Harry,” she said stiffly as she pulled his ripped shirt around her. He doesn’t believe me, she thought in surprise. I would never lie to him.

“Ginny, think about what you’re saying.”

“I don’t need to think about it Harry. I would never lie to you about something like this. It was not a dream.”

“I don’t think you’re lying Gin. I just think you’re confused.”

He came toward her to lead her out of the bathroom. “Come on, let’s get you out of - ”

“Get out,” she said bristling at his touch.

“Gin,”

“I said get out Harry.”

“Ginny, don’t -”

“GET OUT!” she screamed at him, on the verge of tears, her arms wrapped around her. Harry stayed where he was, startled by her outburst and the anger in her eyes. She pulled at the ripped shirt as she came toward him. “DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A DREAM TO YOU HARRY? WHAT DID I DO? RIP IT MYSELF? DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?” she raged at him, thrusting her wrists in front of his face, bruised where Riddle had held her down.

She backed away from him as quickly as she had approached but his hand shot out, catching her arm.

“DON’T TOUCH ME!” she screamed trying to yank her arm away from him but he didn’t let go. “GOD YOU MAKE ME SICK!”

He pulled her back toward him as she screamed at him. “I WOULD BELIEVE YOU! I WOULD TRUST YOU HARRY!”

“Stop it,” he said as he drew her into his arms. She hit him half heartedly a few times before sinking into him. He rested his head on hers as she clung to him, shaking like a leaf; fragile and small in his arms. “Tell me what happened.”

She stayed silent for a minute as she sobbed before she took a few deep breaths and began to talk into his chest, keeping her eyes closed as she continued to cry.

“I…I was sleeping,” she whispered and Harry stroked her hair when she trailed off, urging her to continue.

“Tell me what happened Ginny,” he murmured into her ear and she turned her head, brushing her cheek against his before burying it in his neck.

“I thought it was you I…I thought I was kissing you,” she managed before she let out a sob. She brought her hands up shakily and wiped her tears off her cheeks as she took a deep breath.

“He tasted wrong though…and felt wrong, you know? The more I woke up,” she pushed on, forcing her voice out as she thought back. “So I shoved him up and…and screamed when I…when I saw him. But he was just so…so much stronger…”

Riddle smiled down at her, grabbing her arms as she tried to shove him off and pinning them down on either side of her head. “Did you miss me Gin? Because Merlin, I couldn’t wait to get back to you.”

Ginny shut her eyes, forcing his face away. “I tried to tell myself it wasn’t real…that I was dreaming and he was dead. But it was real Harry,” she shook her head burrowing farther into Harry and he tightened his hold on her, feeling her begin to shake again. “I panicked…I mean I struggled…trying to get him off…to make him stop but…” she trailed off with a sound that was half laugh, half sob. “I think I just, completely forgot I was a witch.”

“You’re hurting me,” she ground out as Riddle squeezed her wrists tighter. He cocked his head to the side as his eyes became steely.

“You don’t know anything about pain. You haven’t had your body die on you have you Gin? Because I have… remember?” he growled, jerking her up and thrusting her back down on the bed.


“He ripped your shirt,” she said shakily. “He said…he said…” she trailed off and her tears began to flow again.

“What did he say love,” Harry urged gently as he stroked her hair.

“He said he…he wanted to see what you had been enjoying while he was away,” she breathed shakily and Harry clenched his jaw before he kissed the top of her head. Ginny moved her arms around to his back and hugged him tighter. “That made me mad,” she murmured and he kissed her again.

“I’m glad,” he soothed running a hand up and down her back, knowing that angry Ginny was much harder to hurt. He listened silently as she finished telling him what happened.

She narrowed her eyes Riddle went flying off of her, hitting her bookshelf with a crack before falling to the ground, her books and pictures and broken shelves raining down on top of him.

Ginny scrambled off of her bed, pulling her shirt around her as she grabbed her wand and swung it toward him.

Riddle had pulled himself up and was dusting off his robes as he shook his head. “What is it with you two and wandless magic? Isn’t that a little advanced?”

“We’re overachievers,” Ginny replied in a hard voice, shooting a spell at him but he deflected it with a wave of his own wand and it hit the wall beside him instead.

“Well, it’s a nice trick… want to see one my father taught me?”

He flicked his wand and disappeared. Ginny backed up, looking around as she moved but ran into Riddle’s body that had appeared behind her.

He grabbed her arms and spun her around into the wall as she cried out. He pinned her with his body and held her wrists up beside her head. Ginny let out a sob, her wrists hurting where he crushed them to the wall but after a second he flew away again, skidding across the floor as Ginny stood shaking against the wall.

He pulled himself up again, muttering about her wandless magic. “Say hello to Harry for me, although I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again soon enough,” he said with a hard smile, flicking his wand and disappearing as she threw another spell at him before sinking down the wall to the ground.


When she fell silent again Harry scooped her up and carried her back into her room, taking in the broken bookshelf and black scorch mark where a spell had hit the wall. He sat down on the edge of the bed with her and quickly dried them both with his wand.

“He’s Voldemort’s son,” she said quietly as he rocked her absently, lost in his thoughts.

Harry nodded and kissed the top of her head. “He said he had been teaching him, I think now we know what he was learning.”

They sat silently for a few minutes as Harry rubbed Ginny’s back before he looked up. “Dobby!”

Ginny started and looked up as he called the name again, louder this time and after a second the house elf appeared before them with a pop.

“Oh Harry Potter sir! Dobby is so glad to see you… it is an honor sir for you to call on Dobby and…” Harry and Ginny gaped at the small creature as he rattled on. At first Harry thought he had grown taller or something before he realized what was different. Dobby had so many pairs of socks jammed over his feet, raising him up, it was a wonder he could stay upright or walk at all. He was pulled out of his thoughts when Dobby gave a loud gasp, his eyes wide as he looked at Ginny.

“What happened to Harry Potter’s lovely?”

My lovely?

“Dobby,” Harry said after he realized what he meant. “Someone got into the school. I want you to find out how and I want you to make sure they can’t do it again. And I want you to send someone to tell the Headmistress. Can you do that?”

Dobby nodded, a mixture of enthusiasm and serious commitment. “Yes sir Harry Potter sir. Dobby will find out, don’t you worry. No one hurts Harry Potter’s lovely.” With that he disappeared with a pop.

Harry held her for a few more minutes before Ginny got up and changed into pajamas. As she settled back onto the bed the Headmistress and Madame Pomfrey arrived.

Ginny told them what had happened, and they repaired her room. The fireplace was turned off and after Ginny was seen by Madame Pomfrey she and Harry were left alone while the teachers were assembled to search the castle.

“He didn’t use the fireplace,” Ginny said quietly as Harry shut the door and he came back to sit next to her on the bed.

“I know, but he might. It’s better if it’s off love.”

She nodded and then moved away, crawling back onto the bed and curling up onto her side. Harry followed her and leaned over her, running his hand over her hair. “What is it?”

She looked up at him. “It’s just that… you won’t be able to get here if it’s off,” she said softly as her eyes filled with tears.

Harry’s heart clenched at her words, hearing her fear. “Ginny,” he breathed as he slid down beside her and enveloped her in his arms. “I’m going to be here.”

He pulled back and kissed her softly. “I’ll be here,” he repeated. “I just won’t leave at all if I have to, but there is no way I’m leaving you alone at night after this.” He kissed her again, longer this time and when he pulled away Ginny came with him, following him and bringing their lips back together.

Harry felt her tears and rolled her onto her back so that he was leaning over her as they kissed. He felt her shaking and pulled back looking into her eyes and cupping her face. “Talk to me love… let me help you.”

Ginny brought her hands to her face, wiping her tears off. “I was just… really frightened,” she said shakily. “I… I thought he was you… I was sleeping… he…” she trailed off, feeling sick again at the thought of his hands on her, of how she had kissed him back at first, how she had responded...enjoyed it thinking he was Harry and she started to cry again.

“Shh…” Harry said, kissing her softly. “It’s ok. I’m here now… he will never touch you again.” He kissed her, massaging the side of her neck with his hand. “You’re safe now… I’m here… he can’t hurt you when we’re together… right?” he said between kisses and she nodded. “That’s right love… we’re stronger than he is… he won’t touch you again…”

He kissed her, trying to comfort her and she opened her mouth to him. She shifted underneath him and pulled him down to her, slipping her hands under his shirt to his belt to undo it as she kissed him more forcefully. She wanted to lose herself in him, to replace the feeling of Riddle’s hands with his and feel safe again. He began to pull back but she grabbed his shirt and pulled him back down, wrapping her legs around him and grabbing his face to keep him close. “I need you,” she murmured against his lips and he smiled. “Ok,” he breathed back, kissing her deeply. He pulled his head up and looked down at her. “I’m not going anywhere love... I wasn’t going anywhere.” He reached between them and began to undo his belt. “I was just going to help you,” he said, bringing his lips back to hers and kissing her until she unwrapped her legs so that he could move enough to give her what she needed. He pulled off his clothes and then started on hers, going slowly, making sure she knew that she was beautiful and safe.

“I don’t want you to be scared love,” he said, kissing her neck and running his hands over her. “I protect you… I’ll always protect you… you know that…” he rose up and kissed her as he pulled off her remaining clothes. “You are my lovely after all,” he added with a smile and Ginny smiled with him, drawing him closer. Feeling better already.


~..~..~..~..~..~


Malfoy was walking down the hall by himself, on the way to muggle studies when he suddenly found himself shoved roughly into the wall.

“How many does he have?” Harry demanded, his eyes glinting dangerously as he held Malfoy against the wall, their faces inches apart.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Potter,” Malfoy replied, his eyes shooting to Ginny who was standing behind Harry, her arms crossed.

“Oh sure you do. Your friend Tom, how many horcruxes does he have,” Harry demanded again, pulling Malfoy off the wall and shoving him back against it.

Malfoy, whose strength had been returning, shoved Harry away with a laugh. “Why would I possibly tell you Potter? You would never do the same for me.” He turned to walk away, but Harry grabbed his arm and pulled him back around.

“Tell me. You said you wanted forgiveness so prove it.”

Malfoy just smiled mirthlessly at him. “You would never give it to me Potter, so why should I even try?” With that he turned and walked away.

He stopped walking though, when he heard Ginny call his name.

“Draco…”

She came up behind him and he slowly turned back around, looking down at her as she put her hand on his arm. “Please… Please help us.”

He looked at her hand on his arm before looking back up, his expression unreadable for a second before he gave a hint of a smile. He spoke slowly, as though he was still trying to work out what he meant as he said it.

“If I give you what you want… you have to give me something I want.”

“What do you want,” Ginny asked, not sure what was coming but knowing that they needed to know about the horcruxes and she was more than willing to lie and say she forgave him if that meant he would tell them.

He stared at her for a second before lowering his head and closing his eyes. He spoke softly so that only Ginny could hear him as Harry stood back, watching the scene warily. He didn’t like Ginny being so close to him.

“I want…” He trailed off. What did he want? “I want… goodness. You have someone who loves you; would die for you… I have… I have no one. No one would do that for me… I want… I want to understand…”

He brought his hands up and cupped her shoulders softly as Harry tensed, watching. “You are good and pure... and I just want to… to feel that, I want to understand what makes you worth dying for,” Draco breathed as he leaned down and Ginny’s eyes widened as he brought his lips to hers. It was a soft kiss and Harry’s blood began to boil at the sight and he moved quickly toward them but Ginny brought her hand up, gesturing for him to stay back and he stopped.

After a moment Draco pulled back and looked at her.

“How many?” she asked softly.

“One.”

“What is it?”

“His mother’s ring… It’s buried in a box underneath her gravestone.”

“Where?”

At this Draco shook his head. “I don’t know, I don’t know who she was…”

“How is it protected?”

“I don’t know…”

Ginny pulled out of his grasp and backed up. “Thank you,” she said. “And Draco… It’s your own fault that you have no one,” she said as she turned and walked away from him, back toward Harry. Harry met her eyes before passing her as he moved forward.

Draco pulled his eyes away from Ginny’s retreating figure to find Harry’s fist flying at his face. It connected soundly, knocking him to the ground where he lay, holding his bleeding nose. Harry looked down at him for a moment, disgust etched clearly across his face before turning and walking quickly to catch up with Ginny.

“Was that really necessary?” Ginny asked when he caught her. Her words were muffled slightly because she was busy wiping her mouth over and over with her hands.

“Hell yes,” Harry said, taking her hand and pulling it away from her face as his voice became gentle. “I think you got it love.”

“You know Harry,” she said as they continued to walk. “I seem to end up kissing all of your enemies. I would really appreciate it if you could work that out.”

~..~..~..~..~..~

Harry and Ginny were sitting on Ginny’s bed doing homework. Ginny was on her stomach facing the end of the bed, working on a paper and Harry was sitting up on the other end, his back against the headboard. He had a textbook in his lap and he was running his hand up and down the back of Ginny’s thigh lazily as he read. They looked over when there was a knock on the door.

“It’s Hermione can I come in?”

“Yeah,” Harry called but the door didn’t open and they heard a shuffling and muffled voices outside the door. Ginny looked back at him but he just shrugged before looking over at the door.

“Um… right, Ron’s here too… is it still ok to come in?” Hermione called from outside the door in a voice that clearly spoke that she thought the question was stupid.

Ginny started to laugh and Harry broke into a mischievous grin as he quickly flipped her over and came down on top of her as she laughed. “Yeah, come in!” he called to the door as he began kissing her neck. “Stop laughing Gin,” he mumbled… “I’m trying to ravish you here,” he managed but she only laughed harder.

“Oh sorry… here… let me help you,” she laughed, pulling her legs up around him.

The door opened and Hermione came in, ready to go off on how immature her boyfriend was when she stopped up short and Ron ran into her. Her mouth dropped open and Ron’s face quickly turned a deep shade of crimson as he saw why she had stopped and Harry looked up from his position. “Did you need something?” he asked casually trying not to grin too stupidly as Ginny rose up so that she could kiss his neck.

Ron’s face moved more to a purple shade as he opened and shut his mouth… He spun and started walking out, trying not to gag but Harry called for him to stop as he rose off of Ginny laughing and moved back to his former position, pulling the book back onto his lap as she flipped back over.

“Really Ron,” Ginny said, going back to her paper, “what is wrong with you? Do you think we are a couple of rabbits or something? If Hermione can come in you can come in…”

Ron crossed his arms and grumbled a little as Hermione pulled him back into the room and shut the door.

“We found it,” she said as she moved back toward the bed and Ginny sat up quickly as Harry shut his book and turned; all thoughts of fun vanishing.

“Where?”

“Well, based on the records… on accounts of Voldemort’s movements and activities we think he was somewhere in northern Scotland twenty years ago. That led us to look at wizarding families in the highlands, and if you take into account that he would look for a pureblood, we looked only for those families and we found several that fit the bill. But, if you eliminate the ones who didn’t have any women the correct age you narrow it down to only a couple who match what we want. The first family had a daughter, but she married a Squib and didn’t have any children, but the other - ”

“Hermione, that’s fascinating,” Harry interrupted her. “But we just need to know where it is. I don’t really care who Voldemort spent his leisure time with or why.”

Hermione shot him a look before crossing her arms. “Greenville Cemetery in Carrbridge… in the highlands.”

“Brilliant,” Harry said as he stood up but Hermione shook her head.

“You can’t go Harry. Ron and I will have to go.”

“No way, I’m going.”

“Harry, you can help destroy it but you can’t go to Scotland. You know he’s watching you or he wouldn’t have known when he could get Ginny alone. If you go he will know what we are doing. We can handle it. We’ve done it before.”

Harry ran a hand through his hair. “You’ve found them before; you never gotten them by yourself.” Ron seemed to pull himself out of his stewing at this.

“Harry. Trust us, we will be fine. We’ll be back in no time.”


~..~..~..~..~..~


Hermione and Ron appeared at the edge of the Greenville Cemetery with a pop and looked around. It was dusk and there didn’t seem to be any buildings or people in sight. There was a church down the road but it seemed rundown, if not abandoned completely.

“Ok, let’s stick together,” he said, taking her hand and leading her through the gate. They began to travel up and down the rows, moving deeper into the cemetery slowly, reading the names on the headstones and speaking in whispers.

“He can’t have done anything too obvious because people come in here, he will have done something small, something we might not think of…” Hermione was saying but she broke off as Ron tugged on her hand and pointed at a large headstone off by itself.

“Oh come - on,” Hermione breathed in disbelief as they moved closer.

There seemed to be dead animal carcasses suspended in the air around the grave. “He couldn’t possibly be so stupid,” she added as they came to a stop in front of it.

It was obvious that Riddle didn’t have the talent or the finesse of his father, as it seemed that he had just put a rather large and rudimentary hovering charm around the grave, so that anything that got too close got lifted up and stuck in the air. It seemed that through the years some unfortunate animals had wandered too close and gotten stuck. Hermione made a face as she looked at one on the edge that apparently hadn’t been dead that long.

They sat on the ground, debating about how to counter the spell as it grew darker and colder around them, the sun finally sinking below the horizon. Ron was just taking off his cloak to give it to Hermione when she brought out her wand. “I wonder if…”

She looked at Ron. “What would you call it… Horcrux? Riddle’s ring? Riddle’s mother’s ring?”

Ron furrowed his brow. “I would probably call it Annabelle’s ring. That was her name right?” She nodded and turned back to the headstone and pointed her wand at the ground.

“Accio Annabelle’s ring,” she said firmly and Ron looked over as the dirt began to shift. A second later a small box shot out of the ground and into Hermione’s hand. She broke into a smile and looked over at him. “Well that was easy.”

“You’re a genius,” he said leaning over and kissing her quickly before pulling her up.

“Voldemort would be so disappointed…” she said but trailed off as the wind suddenly picked up around them, swirling in a circle as it began to draw everything toward the headstone.

Ron pulled her to him as their robes and hair whipped around them. With a crack the headstone broke and sank into the ground and the dirt and air around them began to get sucked forcefully into it. The leaned backward trying to back away but the wind just kept getting stronger, moving them toward the hole.

“The Burrow! Disapparate Now!” Ron yelled as the wind blew harder, trying to force them and everything else down into the hole.

They turned and disappeared, the sound of their pops lost in the wind as it continued to blow like a mini twister, pulling everything near the grave down into the hole, collapsing the cemetery in on itself.


~..~..~..~..~..~


Ron and Hermione landed in a heap outside the front door of the burrow and Hermione rolled over onto her back with a groan. “Ok… so he wasn’t a complete idiot.”

Ron gave a tired laugh and sat up, pulling her up with him as he stood. Hermione used her wand to make them presentable before they went inside to find Harry.

“Oh, he’s not here dear,” Mrs. Weasley said when they found her in the kitchen. “He must still be at Hogwarts” she said.

“That’s ok mum,” Ron said. “We’ll just talk to him when he gets back.”

“Ok, but Hermione dear, shouldn’t you be getting home? You have school tomorrow...”

“Mum, it isn’t that late…” Ron said, trailing off as his mother gave him a pointed look.

“I’m going in just a minute Mrs. Weasley,” Hermione said as they left the kitchen.

“Do you think we should try to sneak back to Hogwarts?” she asked when they shut the door to the den but Ron shook his head.

“We’ll tell them at breakfast.”

~..~..~..~..~..~

The next morning they sat at the table in the main hall, waiting for Ginny and Harry to come down.

“Hey,” Ginny said as she came in and sat down at the table across from them. “Did you get it?”

“Yeah,” Hermione said, pulling the box out of her pocket with a smile and looking around to make sure no one was close enough to hear them. “It should be pretty easy to destroy actually. Where’s Harry?”

“At the burrow,” Ginny said as she began to put food on her plate, but she frowned when she saw Hermione and Ron’s expressions change. “What?”

“He’s not at the burrow,” Ron said, his face paling slightly, “are you sure he isn’t here?”

Ginny tensed. Not at the burrow? “Of course I’m sure, he left early this morning. He was driving me crazy with his pacing all night so I sent him home so he could meet you when you got back.”

“Well he’s not there,” Ron said, “and he wasn’t there when we got back. We thought he was with you.”

~..~..~..~..~..~

Chapter 23: Protection
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]





Draco began to wonder if this was some sort of pattern when he found himself shoved up against the wall yet again. This time, however, it was Ron who held him in place, with Ginny and Hermione standing behind him looking murderous.

“Where is he?” Ron spat.

“Who?”

“Riddle. Where would he be? Where would he take Harry?”

“Do you think I’m stupid? I’m not going to tell you… he’ll kill me.”

“Oh bloody hell Malfoy, I’ll kill you,” Ginny said moving toward him but Hermione caught her arm and pulled her back.

Ron pulled Malfoy away from the wall and slammed him back into it before dropping him and backing up. When he was level with Ginny and Hermione all three of them raised their wands as Mafloy reached for his.

“Tell us where he is,” Ron demanded, itching to throw a curse but knowing they wouldn’t get anywhere if they hexed him too quickly.

Draco was standing, his legs spread and his shoulders set for a fight as he glared at the three wands pointed at him.

He was distracted however by a flurry of white moving into his vision.

Luna seemed to come out of nowhere as she stepped in front of Draco, laying a hand on his chest and gazing up at him. He glanced down at her small hand, pale on his dark robes and in that moment all of the fight left him and he lowered his wand.

“Tell them Draco. If you want to be good, here is your chance.”

He stared at her, transfixed for a moment as she held his gaze steadily, waiting for him to do what was right. She believed in him. She was the only person who believed in him. He couldn’t disappoint her.

Behind them Ginny Ron and Hermione shot shocked glances at each other, seeing the effect that Luna had on him. Finally he looked up from Luna’s face and at Ginny.

“I don’t know if he has Harry, but Riddle’s at…” He trailed off, rubbing a hand over his face. “He’s at Malfoy manor.”

“WHERE?!?” Ron bellowed, stepping forward and raising his wand to his face. “YOU FILTHY, RUDDY DEATH EATER! YOU’VE BEEN HELPING HIM?!”

“LOOK I DIDN’T HAVE A CHOICE DID I? HE’S INVINSIBLE, HE HAS A HORCRUX! I HAVEN’T HELPED HIM!” Malfoy shouted back, although his eyes had dropped to Luna as she drew her hand away and took a step back.

“I… No, Luna I…” he trailed off as he saw her expression change. Damn it

“What did you do? Help him recover? Were you his wormtail?” Ginny spat and he shook his head vaguely, his eyes glued on Luna; silently begging her to believe him.

“No… I don’t know how he managed that… he… he was there when I got back from… from Azkaban… I haven’t helped him… I've been here...”

It was Hermione’s turn to speak. “So, you really expect us to trust you? To believe that you have changed?”

Malfoy merely nodded vaguely, his eyes still on Luna as Hermione continued.

“You knew where he was? You knew where his horcrux was and it never occurred to you that you could just tell the ministry and they would get rid of him?”

At this Malfoy looked up. He opened his mouth but no sound came out so he shut it, and the expression that crossed his face told them that he had, in fact, not thought to do that. He blinked and shook his head, speaking lowly. “They wouldn’t have believed me. They didn’t even believe Harry Potter, why would they believe me? He is too powerful for them…”

Ginny’s wand twitched as she struggled not to hit him with a curse. She was on the verge of giving in when it suddenly hit her that this was all irrelevant. Whether or not Malfoy had stopped him sooner didn’t matter. She knew where Harry was now so why was she still standing here?

She lowered her wand as she turned and started walking down the hall, leaving the others behind. Ron called her name but she just kept going, quickening her pace. It wasn’t until he grabbed her arm, having run after her to catch her that she stopped.

“Hold on, we can’t just run off,” he said. “We have to destroy the horcrux.”

She blinked at him, remembering that he was right and her mind began to race. She couldn’t just sit here, Riddle was going to kill him… they had to get to him. She had to find him but if she did before the horcrux was destroyed it wouldn’t matter. She couldn’t wait, she couldn’t… and then it hit her.

“Coins.”

“What?” Ron asked frowning.

“I’ll take a coin; you can send a message to me when it is destroyed so that I know he can be killed… He’s going to kill him Ron, we can’t wait.”

Ron reached out, taking her shoulder gently. “Ginny. I think you need to slow down… I… I think you need to prepare yourself… in case…” he trailed off, unable to say the words and Ginny pulled back shaking her head.

“He’s not dead Ron.”

Ron nodded. “Right. I’m sure… but… he’s been gone for hours Gin, I just think that -”

“He’s not dead,” she repeated louder, but her voice shook a little and Ron brought a hand to her cheek, his voice becoming gentle and soft.

“You don’t know that,” he said but she just shook her head.

“Yes I do… I…” her voice dropped to a whisper as her eyes filled with tears. “I would feel it.”

She shook herself, shaking her hands to make them stop trembling with a small cry of frustration and her eyes cleared quickly. There wasn’t time for her to fall apart. “He’s alive Ron… Riddle wouldn’t kill him without me there, that wouldn’t be any fun for him. He’s just… preparing him, he’s just…” Oh God I don’t want to think about what he’s doing.

Ron stared at her, seeing her determination and clenched jaw. “Ok,” he said, nodding. “But you aren’t going by yourself; let me get Fred or George or someone…” Ginny started to respond, to tell him there wasn’t time when Malfoy came up beside them.

“I’ll take you.”

Ginny looked up at him, her eyes narrowing in surprise and suspicion at his suggestion but he just gazed back at her steadily. Ron started to protest but Malfoy didn’t give him a chance, keeping his eyes on Ginny.

“I know how to get you in; I know where he’ll be. I can help you… you’ll never find him on your own. I’m your only chance of getting out alive if he’s there.”

Ginny was silent for a moment before nodding her head and turning away, walking quickly back to her room to get the coins. Malfoy looked over at Luna and shrugged his shoulders slightly before following Ginny down the hall.

Ron grabbed his arm and stopped him. “If you’re lying Mafloy… if you’re helping him… if anything happens to her you’re a dead man,” he said in a low serious voice but Malfoy just shook him off and kept walking.

He had only taken a few steps when he paused and turned back around, keeping his eyes on the ground as he moved past Ron. He walked quickly to Luna, who took an automatic step away from him as he approached but he just kept coming and looked up at her when he got close. When he reached her his hand shot to her waist and he pulled her up against him as he dipped his head and caught her lips in his. His other hand went to her cheek, holding her close as he kissed her hungrily for few seconds before he pulled back. “Just in case,” he murmured, meeting her wide eyes for a second before turning and walking back down the hall.


~..~..~..~..~..~


They moved quietly through the house, Ginny using Harry’s cloak to hide herself as she followed Malfoy. It was dark and elegant, but not inviting. It seemed cold, and Ginny watched the figures in the paintings bow to Draco as he passed. No wonder he’s spoiled. It was nothing like the burrow, with the dark paneled walls, tall ceiling and furniture that looked like it had never been used.

“He’ll be this way, in the dungeons,” Malfoy whispered, not really sure where she was. He had his head turned to the right but swung it around when she whispered back from somewhere on his left.

“You have dungeons?

Ginny gave a shiver, not wanting to know how often they had been used before his family had been locked up.

They made their way down a back stairway, moving deeper and deeper underground until the air became stale and the halls lit only by torches that were mounted along the walls. They moved cautiously, opening the doors one at a time.


~..~..~..~..~..~


Ginny was beginning to feel a little desperate after finding the first four rooms empty and opened the fifth door quietly, peaking inside. The room was lit by a torch on the wall and she let out the breath she had been holding as her eyes focused.

Harry was on the floor in the center of the room. There were chains coming down from the ceiling attached to his wrists, but at the moment they were slack, allowing him to lie on the floor.

He was so still it didn’t even look like he was breathing and she ran to him, letting out a sob as she dropped down beside him, pulling off her cloak and trying to shift him over so that she could see him.

Malfoy shut the door and stayed back near the wall, watching.

Ginny pushed his hair out of his eyes, sobbing his name when he didn’t move. He was bruised and bloodied, as if he had been beaten and tortured for hours, both physically and magically.

“Enervate,” she breathed, and a light shot out of her wand, encompassing him for a moment before it faded. Harry groaned softly and dragged his eyes open after a minute and they focused on her as she gave a relieved sob and wiped her eyes quickly, leaning down and kissing him softly.

He tried to push himself up but collapsed under his own weight. “Gin, what… are you doing… here,” he ground out as she tried pull to him up. “You have to… get out of here.”

Ginny ignored him. “Can you stand up love? We’re getting you out of here… Draco,” she called over her shoulder. As he stepped away from the wall the door opened and Ginny’s heart dropped as Riddle appeared in the doorway.

“What have we here?” He drawled, raising his eyebrow. Malfoy looked at Harry and Ginny for a second before he stuck out his hand, muttering under his breath and causing Ginny’s wand to shoot from her hand to his. He turned to Riddle and broke into a grin.

“I brought you a present,” he said and Ginny stiffened at his words as Harry’s grip on her arm tightened and he wrenched his head up.

“I can see that,” Riddle said, looking at Ginny. “But I wasn’t ready for her yet. It doesn’t work well to have them together,” he said but Malfoy shrugged.

“She wouldn’t leave me alone, she wanted to know where you were, and she was going to come here anyway so I figured what the hell. At least this way she would be controlled”

“You bastard,” Ginny managed through gritted teeth as she began to shake, holding Harry closer to her. Malfoy just twirled her wand in his fingers, raising his eyebrow as Riddle turned his gaze back on them.

“You said it yourself Weasley, I chose my side… I can’t change who I am remember?” Malfoy sneered.

Riddle chuckled and shook his head. “Really Ginny, trusting Malfoy? Bad call… I expected more from you.” Ginny just narrowed her eyes, flicking her gaze around the empty room, looking for another way out or some type of weapon; even though she knew she would find neither.

“And wandless magic won’t work here… if that’s what you were thinking,” he called to her. He flicked his wand and Harry’s chains shot up into the ceiling, dragging his arms above his head. Harry tried to suppress a groan as he was pulled up until his feet were just barely touching the floor. He was too weak to hold his head up so it hung down, his chin resting against his chest.

Ginny rose up with him and stood in front of him, her arms wrapped around his waist behind her. Riddle flicked his wand and Ginny flew across the room, slamming into the wall and collapsing onto the floor. “Ginny!” Harry cried hoarsely, but it was barely more than a whisper as he wrenched his head up to see her. She rose up onto her knees, shaking her head to clear it Riddle turned to Malfoy. “Want to play?” he asked, gesturing to Harry and Mafloy sneered, waving his wand and hitting Harry with a crutiatus curse.

Harry’s body jerked violently as he cried out hoarsely, his eyes watering as pain shot through him. Ginny launched herself up from the floor and ran back to him, screaming for them to stop. She wrapped her arms around him, cupping his face as he continued shaking; his chains clanging with his movement until Malfoy lifted the curse.

She spun back around, keeping her arms wrapped around him the way she had started as Riddle spoke.

“Harry and I have been having a marvelous time together, haven’t we Harry? But I guess all good things must come to an end… Move aside Ginny, so that I can end his suffering, and then we can talk… that’s what you agreed to remember?” Riddle said, raking his eyes over her with a smirk.

“That was before you changed your mind, remember?” she countered and his grin grew larger and more menacing.

“Well I changed it back, so get out of the way. There is no way to stop me this time; you are just going to make it worse.”

“I won’t let you kill him,” Ginny said, tightening her grip on Harry’s waist, feeling him shaking behind her, his breath shallow in her ear.

“Ginny,” Riddle warned, but she just shook her head and Riddle sighed sarcastically. “I’m not killing you today Ginny. You have something I need… or your blood does anyway, and you said it yourself… this is much more poetic. So get OUT OF THE WAY!”

“NO!” Ginny screamed back, tightening her grip. She looked back and forth between Riddle and Malfoy. Without her wand she didn’t have a chance against them and she tightened her grip on Harry.

Her mind was racing, trying to think of something, anything she could do when the coin in her pocket began to burn and her eyes snapped to Malfoy but he was still wearing his school robes and he didn’t show any indication that he had felt his grow hot within the folds. They had done it – they had destroyed it, but it didn’t matter now.

“Get out of the way,” Harry breathed into her ear and she tensed and spun around, cupping his face in her hands. “Get out of the way,” he repeated, meeting her eyes as Riddle yelled the same command from behind her.

“I won’t let you die for me Ginny… get out of the way.”

“No,” she replied, tears filling her vision, seeing the rising desperation and anger in his eyes.

“There’s nothing you can do love. You can’t defeat both of them… you are not dying for me.” Ginny shook her head and began to respond but she was drowned out by Riddle behind her.

“GET OUT OF THE WAY! YOU HAVE TO THE COUNT OF THREE GINNY! I KNOW YOU DON’T WANT TO DIE…”

The reality of the situation sprang into Ginny’s mind as their words hit home and she saw her chance. She might not be able to save them both but she could protect him.

Riddle couldn’t help but enjoy what was happening; it was better than he could ever have imagined. He could see Harry getting angry, too battered and weak to really do anything but still trying to get her to move. In reality a flick of his wand would have moved her in an instant but it was much more fun to cause Harry just a little more pain before he died. And when it came right down to it, killing Ginny for not moving would probably be more fun too, because Harry would have to watch her die… God he was going to reward Malfoy richly for this…

“ONE!”

“Move Ginny,” Harry ground out, trying to pull away from her but he didn’t have the strength and his vision began to swim as she shook her head again.

“No… I protect you Harry,” she said kissing his lips. “He is mortal, when he hits you it will bounce back on him,” she said softly and his eyes widened at her words. He let out a sob as he realized she knew what she was doing… she was going to be like his mother… Riddle obviously didn’t understand how this worked. He had, in a way, said the magic words by giving her a choice, giving her a chance to move. If she didn’t and he killed her it would protect him. He shook his head, gritting his teeth; suddenly furious at her.

“God damn it Ginny,” Harry ground out, his voice catching in his throat. “Get out of the way. I won’t let you do this…”

“TWO!”

“You can’t stop me Harry, I protect you.”

He shook his head angrily, gritting his teeth against the pain. “No! Damn it,” he growled, looking up at the chains as he tugged on them. “I will never forgive you if you do this,” he sobbed, looking back down at her. She can’t do this…

Ginny kissed him again, both of them crying now.

“That’s ok… I love you so much, I will always be with you,” she breathed, kissing him one last time before she turned her back on him; holding onto the side of his shirt and blocking him with her body as his head dropped forward, unable to hold it up any longer, his body shaking as he cried, trying fruitlessly to jerk his hands free. “Please Ginny…”

“THREE!”

Harry had to stop it. “DON’T DO IT RIDDLE,” he called out, his voice weak and firm at the same time. “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, IF YOU DO IT - ”

Ginny spun and jerked his head down into a kiss, silencing him, or at least muffling him as she held his face to hers as he tried to jerk it back.

“AVADA KEDAVRA!”

~..~..~..~..~..~


Harry cried out against Ginny’s mouth when he heard the words and a violent sob ripped out of his soul as her lips left his and her hands slipped off of his face. The pain he felt was nothing like in his dreams as he heard her body hit the ground. It was so much worse he didn’t know what to do as he sobbed, he just knew he couldn’t open his eyes, he couldn’t see her body. He felt like he was dying and at that moment that was what he wanted. He wanted to be with her.


~..~..~..~..~..~


He felt her hand on his cheek and he knew he had died. He was dead and they were together and when he heard her say his name he dragged his head up and opened his eyes. She was crying and he was suddenly confused. If he was dead, why did his body hurt? Why was he still in chains? She kissed him and wrapped her arms around him and he realized the truth as he looked over her shoulder.

It hadn’t been her body that had hit the ground.

Riddle was on the floor and Malfoy was standing with his wand still pointed at him, looking a little dazed. He dragged his gaze away from Riddle’s body and met Harry’s eyes.

They would never be friends, but an unspoken truce passed between them in that moment and Malfoy flicked his wand toward them and the chains dissolved.

As Harry’s arms became free he collapsed onto Ginny and she sank back down to the floor with him as he groaned, his body aching as it moved.

“Was that… a plan?” Harry groaned, forcing his head to move and his eyes to open so that he could see her. She didn’t answer, she just brushed his hair off of his face and kissed him but he jerked back, wincing as his head began to pound at the quick movement. “Did you… did you know Malfoy was going to do that?”

“No,” she said softly and she saw the fury erupt in his eyes before he collapsed against her. He felt her arms around him and his anger at what she had tried to do intensified as the seconds ticked by. Ginny felt him become stiff in her arms as she held him, and she called for Draco to come help her. Harry was so furious he was afraid to look at her, afraid of what he would do so he kept his eyes closed as he felt Draco pull him up.

They half dragged, half carried him out of the house and Ginny sent a message using the coin to Ron before they apparated back to Hogwarts, arriving outside the gates.

They watched silently, Draco holding most of Harry’s weight, as Ron Hermione and Madame Pomfrey came running down the front steps toward them.

“Sorry about the curse,” Draco said softly and Harry tried to shrug his shoulder but it refused to move so he settled on a grunt, although it may have been more of a groan.


Chapter 24: I Know Love
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Ginny knew he was angry. She knew he was livid and he refused to look at her. They got him to the hospital wing and onto a bed and Madame Pomfrey began healing him, working on his bruises and cuts and broken ribs. He was badly bruised, with a busted lip and a pretty bad cut on his cheek but there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be healed pretty quickly. Ginny moved to the side of his bed and took his hand but he jerked it away.

“Harry…”

“Don’t talk to me right now Ginny,” he said tightly, keeping his eyes shut.

Ginny bristled at his words, raising her chin. He would have done the same thing for her; he had no right to be angry. Ron and Hermione watched silently; confused by the exchange as Ginny put her hands on her hips. “I’m going to be in my room Harry,” she said tightly but he didn’t respond. “When you’re finished here, I think we need to have a talk don’t you?” He remained silent and still so she turned on her heal and stormed out of the hospital wing. Harry dragged his eyes open and watched her as she left, her hair streaming behind her.

There were a surprising number of students milling around outside the hospital wing, obviously trying to find out what was going on. Apparently someone had seen them bringing Harry in on a stretcher and word had spread like wildfire, prompting the older, more reckless students to sneak out and risk punishment. Ginny barked at them to get back to their common rooms, threatening detention for anyone who so much as hesitated. She passed a group of girls and heard Romilda’s voice whining about whether Harry was alight and she didn’t even look over. She just narrowed her eyes and the back of Romilda’s jumper somehow twisted itself up over her head and into her mouth, muffling her shocked screams until her friends finally had to lead her into the infirmary after no amount of tugging would make it come off.

Ginny couldn’t help the satisfied smirk that spread across her face for a second as she heard Ron and Hermione’s laughter echo out of the room and down the hall, following her as she walked.

~..~..~..~..~..~


Draco climbed through the trapdoor and into the divination room. He hadn’t been here in several years, having dropped divination as soon as he had the option to choose his own classes. But Hermione had told him that this was where Luna had gone, so here he was, turning in a circle, looking in the shadows until he found her.

She was sitting at a table, absently stroking one of the crystal balls as she looked out the window. He took a step toward her and she looked over at him.

She looked down at the ball as he continued to approach and shook her head sadly. “I think… that I don’t have the sight,” she said softly and he almost smiled.

“Why is that?”

She looked up at him and he reached down, taking her hand from the ball and pulling her up so that she was standing in front of him. “I… I kept seeing you die,” she breathed and her usually serene, light-hearted eyes filled with tears.

He shook his head and smiled at her. “Are you sad that you were wrong? Or that you don’t have the inner eye?”

She smiled and laughed even as a tear escaped and rolled down her cheek. He brought his hand up and wiped it away.

“You know, you really shouldn’t say things like ‘just in case’… it makes it seem like you might not come back,” she said.

“I’ll have to remember that next time,” he murmured softly with a smile.

“Is everyone ok?” she asked and he nodded.

“Everyone’s fine… can I tell you about it later?”

“Why?” she asked, tilting her head to the side and he brought his hand to her face, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear before cupping her neck.

“Because I don’t want to talk to you right now,” he said softly as he snaked his arm around her and pulled her up against him. He didn’t want to tell her yet that he had killed someone, no matter how much they had deserved it. He didn't want to deal with that now... he just wanted to be with her... wanted to get lost in her innocence like he always did and feel better.

He had done it for her. Not completely for her of course; he knew he couldn’t just stand there and do nothing, but mostly he knew that he would never be able to face her if he had let them die. He couldn’t claim to want to be good, to tell her that and allow her to believe it if he faltered at the first real test.

He kissed her softly, pressing his lips to hers. He drew back and kissed her again, a little firmer this time as he began to move his lips over hers. He felt her stiffen in his arms at first, not sure what to do before she began to tentatively press back.

He kept kissing her lips for a few moments before he began running his thumb back and forth on her jaw. He ran the tip of his tongue along her bottom lip and her eyes shot open. “Open you mouth,” he urged softly and after a second she parted her lips, but just barely and he smiled against them before he kissed her again. He kissed her, tilting her head to the side slightly and slowly slipped his tongue into her mouth, pushing it open. Desire shot through him like lightening as he tasted her – right before she shot away from him with a startled squeak.

“What are you doing?” she asked as she backed up, bringing a hand to her lips and he blinked. What?

“I was kissing you,” he said simply as he studied her reaction.

“But with your… do you… is that…” she stuttered as she took another step back and he almost laughed.

He had forgotten how completely innocent she was. This was Luna, who had never been kissed. He doubted anyone had really even considered kissing her before and he suddenly hated everyone who was too blind to see her. Really see her. She was beautiful. She was perfect. She was too good for him... and he knew he didn’t deserve to kiss her. He wasn’t good enough for her and he realized in the moment that he would never completely be good because it didn’t matter. He was going to kiss her anyway. He was going to kiss her and he was going to keep her as long as she let him; knowing full well that he wasn’t worthy.

He came back toward her slowly and settled his hands on her waist as she looked up at him with wide eyes. “Do you trust me?”

She nodded almost immediately and his chest tightened. She had always believed in him, always trusted him and he didn’t really even understand why. He wouldn’t have trusted him but she had. She had seen something in him that even he had sometimes doubted was there. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he whispered and she nodded again. “I promise you’re going to like this, but I’ll stop whenever you say stop, ok?”

She hesitated and then nodded again. “Just feel it,” he said softly before dipping his head and catching her lips before she could respond or change her mind.

He kissed her slowly and when her lips parted again he slipped his tongue back in. She didn’t pull back as he caressed her tongue with his and after a second she opened her mouth wider as the pleasant tingling that his kisses had started erupted into a fire within her and intensified with every stroke. She whimpered into his mouth, her hands clinging to his shoulders and he kissed her harder.

“Kiss me back,” he murmured against her lips after a few seconds.

“What?” she managed in a shaky voice.

“Kiss me back,” he repeated softly before catching her lips again. He wasn’t sure she understood, but then, tentatively at first, she began to move her tongue with his. After a few seconds they were dancing together as the kiss became harder and more intense and when she slipped her tongue into his mouth he groaned aloud and pulled her closer… he was definitely keeping her.


~..~..~..~..~..~



Ginny sat on her bed, stewing for almost an hour before the door opened and Harry entered, looking relatively normal but tired... and angry.

He shut the door but stayed back as she stood up. She could tell he was still furious, she could feel his emotion and it was like the air shook a little as he finally walked toward her, his eyes flashing.

Her hands went to her hips automatically as he stopped in front of her, his eyes searching hers. When he spoke it was so soft Ginny could barely hear it.

“What did you think you were doing?”

“I can’t hear you Harry, if you have something to say then - ”

He cut her off as he grabbed her shoulders and shook her.

“WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING?” He screamed at her as he shook her and she jerked back from him, out of his grip.

“Saving your life.”

He grabbed her arms and pulled her back to him until his face was inches from hers. “You don’t get to die for me Ginny.”

“Harry…”

“You don’t get to die for me! I am not worth it… what were you thinking? God DAMN it Ginny what - ”

“I wasn’t going to let you die Harry!”

“By getting yourself killed? THAT DOESN'T SAVE ME! THAT KILLS ME TOO!”

“YOU WOULD HAVE DONE IT FOR ME!” She shot back and he shook her.

“THAT’S NOT THE POINT!”

“YES IT IS! HOW - ”

“YOU DON’T DIE FOR ME GINNY! YOU DON’T GET TO DO THAT! WHO SAID YOU COULD DO THAT? I AM – NOT – WORTH - THAT!”

Ginny wrenched her arm free and slapped him across the face. “I DON’T NEED YOUR PERMISSION! OF COURSE YOU’RE WORTH THAT! WHAT DID YOU WANT ME TO DO?!?”

“GET OUT OF THE WAY!”

“OH RIGHT, SO HE COULD KILL YOU?! YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE MOVED HARRY! YOU WOULD HAVE DONE EXACTLY WHAT I DID!!”

“THAT - IS NOT THE POINT!”

Ginny gave a cry of frustration and Harry went flying backwards into the wall. She saw him wince and knew it had hurt him but she didn’t care as she advanced on him. “WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE HARRY?”

He didn’t answer, his eyes narrowed and flashing.

“WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?!” She demanded again. He tried to move away from the wall but her magic held him in place and her eyes glinted dangerously as she reached him. She kissed him hard and despite his anger he kissed her back, her nearness flooding his brain. She was alive. After a minute she pulled back, their breathing heavy. “You would have done exactly what I did you selfish ass,” she said lowly. “We protect each other… how could you expect me to do anything else?” she asked before she stormed away.

“Selfish!? SELFISH?!? Look who’s talking! You’re the selfish one!” he called after her and she stopped, spinning back around with a short laugh.

“Oh please explain that one… how am I selfish?”

He came toward her but she stood her ground. “You were going to leave me here! You would have ‘saved’ me and then you wouldn’t have had to deal with what happens after! WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO IF YOU DIED?! DID YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO ME THEN?” he yelled at her, coming to a stop when he was right in front of her. Her hands went to her hips and she scoffed at him.

“So I’m selfish because I would have saved you? Because I wouldn’t be alive to be sad? Oh that’s rich Harry… that doesn’t even make sense! YOU WANTED ME TO MOVE SO THAT YOU COULD LEAVE ME HERE!” she shot back. “YOU CAN’T BE WILLING TO DIE FOR ME AND NOT ALLOW ME TO DO THE SAME THING!”

“APPARENTLY I CAN BECAUSE YOU DON’T GET TO DO IT GINNY! YOU DON’T GET TO LEAVE ME HERE! AND YOU DON’T EVER GET TO TRY TO AGAIN!”

“YOU CAN’T STOP ME HARRY!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms out in frustration. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!? YOU CAN’T DEMAND SOMETHING FROM ME THAT YOU WOULDN’T DO YOURSELF! YOU WOULDN’T HAVE MOVED! YOU WOULD HAVE DIED TO PROTECT ME… WHAT DID YOU EXPECT ME TO DO?!?” she screamed back as tears of frustration flooded her vision before she stormed away. Harry followed her, grabbing her arm and swinging her back around, catching her lips roughly with his, their tongues battling. Her arms went around his neck automatically and he pulled her against him as his hand went into her hair.

“I expect you to stay alive,” he said when he pulled back and Ginny jerked away.

“I PROTECT YOU AND YOU PROTECT ME! THAT’S HOW THIS WORKS!” She screamed at him as she jammed her finger into his chest. “I WILL NEVER MOVE! I WILL ALWAYS PROTECT YOU! IF YOU DON’T LIKE THAT… IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE THAT, THEN WE SHOULDN’T BE TOGETHER!”

“MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T!” He roared back and she slapped him again. His hands curled into fists as she stormed away. He followed her, narrowing his eyes and she flew onto the bed. She flipped over with a huff, wiping her hair out of her face and began to get up, her eyes flashing but he came down on top of her, forcing her back.

“I didn’t mean that,” he said as his lips met hers, moving over them forcefully, almost painfully as he shoved his tongue into her mouth but Ginny didn’t care. She kissed him back just as hard. He was alive and that was all that mattered and she would take him angry and out of control if that was what he needed.

Harry reached down and shoved her legs apart, pushing between them as she tugged his shirt up, pulling it out of his pants and he rose up for a second, ripping it over his head and coming back down on top of her.

Harry’s hands were on her shirt as their tongues battled and after a few seconds of trying to unbutton it he finally just ripped it open, sending buttons shooting everywhere as he moved his mouth down her neck and his hands moved over her skin and into her bra.

Ginny’s nails were digging into his back, trying to pull him closer when there was a pounding on the door and they heard Ron’s muffled voice. “Guys? Harry? Ginny?”

“Go away Ron,” Harry yelled gruffly, not even pausing as Ginny arched beneath him with a groan and he raked his teeth over her skin, pulling her knees up as their bodies moved with a desperate urgency, both of them on fire as need and emotion pulsed through them.

“Harry… please… I – I need… ” Ginny moaned against his mouth and he responded immediately, knowing what she needed because his heart and his body were begging for it too, and his hand moved between them to unbutton her pants.

Ron pounded again. “Open up!”

Hermione’s voice joined his. "You really need to - ”

Harry jerked his head up and glared at the door. “NOT NOW!” he yelled before Ginny tangled her hands in his hair and pulled his face back down, bringing their mouths back together to muffle her sounds.

There was a shuffling outside the door, muffled voices and another knock, but this time the voice outside was Mrs. Weasley’s. “Ginny? Are you in there?”

They stilled instantly and Harry dragged his mouth from hers, managing an exasperated groan into her neck, resting his head against her shoulder for a second before rolling off of her and sitting up. Ginny stayed on her back, her heart pounding and her chest heaving. She brought a shaking hand to her face as Harry pulled his shirt back on.

Ginny didn’t move and he grabbed his wand, flicking it at her and causing her shirt to fix itself, the buttons flying back into place. She met his eyes and her vision blurred as he turned away, resting his elbows on his knees and staring at the ground and she sat up.

She got up from the bed and waved her hand at the door, unlocking it as she headed toward the bathroom. Harry had lowered his face into his hands but he looked up as she disappeared inside and slammed the door. He lowered his head, closing his eyes and covering his face for a second before running his hands through his hair as the bedroom door opened and the Weasleys piled inside.

“Harry?” Mrs. Weasley ventured as she led the way, looking around for Ginny. “Are you ok dear?”

Harry almost laughed. He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes and shook his head slightly before running his hands through his hair again. He kept his head down, focusing on a crack in the floor. The Weasleys just stood in an unnatural silence for a second, not sure what to do. Mrs. Weasley was the first to take action when she walked to the bathroom door and knocked, calling Ginny’s name. Harry looked over at her, and when Ginny didn’t answer he stood up and approached the door, rubbing his hand on his neck.

“What’s wrong with her?” Mrs. Weasley asked, backing up a little when he got there and he tried to open it but it was locked.

“I was being an ass,” he said softly as he narrowed his eyes and the door swung open. Ginny was sitting on the floor crying, her back to him and her arms wrapped around her knees.

He moved to her and dropped down behind her, pulling her up onto his lap as he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her hair. The Weasleys watched from the doorway as he rocked back and forth with her for a second.

“What do you always say?” she whispered.

“What?”

“What do you always say Harry,” she repeated softly and he sighed into her hair as his vision blurred.

“I would die for you,” he murmured into her hair. He felt her begin to shake as she nodded her head and he pulled her closer.

“I would die for you Harry,” she breathed, her voice shaking. “You would have done exactly what I did,” she added and he moved her hair and kissed her neck, shifting her around so that she was facing him as he held her. He stroked her face with his hand, running his eyes over her features, taking in her tears, her beauty and her strength before kissing her softly and nodding.

“I know love.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him to her as she buried her face into his neck. She brought her hand to his neck, running her fingers into his hair, and pulled his head down as she shifted so that their cheeks were touching. “We protect each other,” she breathed into his skin and he let out a shuddering breath as he pulled her closer.

“I know… you just… you don’t understand… you died… I truly, completely thought you had died… you would be just as angry if it was reversed…”

She pulled him closer. “Probably,” she admitted into his skin as she began to kiss him and he smiled a little... right before he broke down, sobbing against her as he crushed her to him. He didn’t even care that people were watching, he didn’t care about anything except that he had almost lost her. He had heard her die, heard her hit the ground… and he told her about it through his tears. "I... I thought I lost you... I wanted to die... I couldn't hande... I can't handle... losing you... again," he sobbed and Ginny began to cry with him as he spoke to her. He didn’t think he would ever be able to fully erase that feeling of emptiness. What she had tried to do, trying to give her life for his was so humbling, so moving and it shook his soul… saying you would give your life for someone was one thing, but actually doing it was something completely different and he knew that he would have done the exact same thing for her without even thinking.

They stayed on the floor, holding each other and after a minute Mrs. Weasley backed her family out of the room and shut the door, leaving them alone until they were ready to come out.



~..~..~..~..~..~..~..~..~..~..~




Several years later Harry stood in front of the mirror, trying in vain to get his tie to work but it was determined to thwart him. It was some ridiculously complicated dress robe monstrosity and he finally gave up. It was no use, he was too jittery and Ron had abandoned him for some unknown reason. The prat is probably off stealing cake or something he thought as he walked to the door and threw it open, heading down the hall.

He got to the room he wanted and opened the door and walked in, only to be met by a scream and a flurry of white.

“HARRY POTTER GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW!” Ginny screamed as she yanked a blanket off of the bed and held it out in front of her like a wall.

“Why?” Harry asked, looking at the blanket she was hiding behind.

“It is bad luck Harry! Don’t come over here… back up!”

“Gin,” he said smiling, but she cut him off.

“Back up… move your legs and back right out of this room before I get my wand Harry…”

“You’re serious?”

Harry…”

“Ok! But… but what if I shut my eyes and promise not to look, will that work?” he said shutting his eyes and folding his arms. Ginny paused and he knew he had won so he smiled.

“Are they closed?” she asked after a second. When he said yes she lowered the blanket, peering over it before dropping it back onto the bed and walking forward. “What are you doing in here?”

“Ron abandoned me,” he said with a shrug as she reached him. She looked him up and down and grabbed his hand, placing it over his eyes before moving her hands to his tie.

“One day Harry, I am going to teach you how to tie your own shoes too,” she said and he made a face at her before smiling.

“But then we couldn’t have these moments together love,” he said before puckering his lips. She laughed and saw his fingers beginning to inch apart on his face so she put her hand over his and kissed him. He sighed and pulled her to him with his free hand.

“You’re not going to be able to get rid of me after today,” he said softly after a minute.

“I know,” she said and he felt her smiling as she kissed him softly. He smiled too but became serious after a second.

“I love you so much Ginny,” he breathed. “I have always loved you… and I’ll love you until the day I die.” Ginny’s eyes filled with tears as he echoed the words she had said to him years ago by the lake. Ginny pulled his hand away from his face and looked at him.

“Open your eyes,” she said but he shook his head.

“It’s bad luck,” he said softly. “We don’t need anymore of that.”

She smiled and brought her hand to his face.

“Just don’t look down… Just look at my face,” she said and after a second he opened his eyes to see hers sparkling at him, full of tears. She took in a shaking breath as his eyes bore into hers, filled with the look she knew so well. “You are the love of my life Harry Potter,” she said, bringing her other hand up so that she was cupping his face in both of her hands. “I would be lost without you… so we are going to die together, old and wrinkled with a house full of grandchildren.” He laughed and wiped a tear from her face, looking into her eyes once more before he closed his and put his hand back over them.

“Deal,” he said, leaning down to kiss her.

There was a scream behind them and Harry jumped back, dropping his hand and opening his eyes for a second before slapping his hand back over them and turning toward the sound. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HARRY?” Hermione was screaming at him and he felt her hand close around his arm and begin to pull him roughly away. “IT IS BAD LUCK! CLOSE YOUR EYES! DON”T LOOK AT HER!”

“I’m not! They’re closed woman! Good lord, what is wrong with you two?” he said as Hermione practically threw him out of the room and slammed the door on him.

“THIS WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED IF YOUR HUSBAND HADN’T LEFT ME FOR FOOD!” he yelled at the door. It occurred to him that he still had his hand over his eyes and he dropped it and walked back to his own room where he found Ron sitting on the bed with a handful of party mints.

“Where did you go mate?” Ron asked, popping one into his mouth but Harry just glared at him. “Oh good you figured out your tie… mint?”

“I just got assaulted by your wife and sister and you offer me a mint? No thanks mate.”

“What happened, what did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything, I just went to see Ginny since you abandoned me and -”

“You saw Ginny? Aw Harry, that’s bad luck, you aren’t supposed to see her… females are weird about that stuff.”

“Yeah, well I know that now don’t I,” Harry said, going to look in the mirror, admiring Ginny’s handy work.

Ron came up behind him and patted his shoulder. “Don’t worry Harry, I’m sure she’ll still marry you,” he said with a smile and Harry smiled back at him. He was getting married. To Ginny. He didn’t think he had been happier in his entire life.

“Let’s go,” he said, striding to the door and throwing it open, walking out of it and into his future.


~..~..~..~..~..~


Several years after that, they were standing in Diagon Alley. Ginny has holding a fifteen month old Patience, bouncing her absently as she watched Harry. He was crouched down next to Jamie, pointing at the trainer broom in the window that he was still a little too young for but Jamie was clapping and laughing excitedly anyway.

“Your birthday’s coming,” Harry whispered loudly to him. “And if we are both very good, maybe we can talk mummy into getting it for you.” Both of them looked up at mummy, who just shook her head at her husband before moving her gaze to her son.

“We’ll see.”

Jamie clapped with glee, knowing the odds were pretty good that mummy was going to cave and allow daddy to buy it for him. Harry rose up, scooping his son up as he moved and settled him onto his hip so he could see into the store as he laughed. He slipped his hand into Ginny’s and brought it to his lips.

Ginny laughed at them and nodded when Jamie pointed at the window, yelling at her to look at the Chudley jerseys. She rolled her eyes when Harry began begging for one too and her gaze moved away from them as she laughed and she glanced across the street. Her eyes met Beth’s as she gazed at them, having come to a stop on the other side when she heard Harry laughing. Her eyes went back to Harry for a second when he laughed again, ruffling his son’s hair before she looked back to Ginny.

She could tell he was happy and she smiled. Ginny smiled back and watched as a man came up behind Beth, kissing her neck and handing her an ice-cream before running his hand over her bulging stomach. He followed her gaze to Ginny but didn’t show any signs of recognition.

“Someone you know?” he asked and Beth looked up at him and shook her head with a smile.

“Not really.”

“Well let’s go before you start complaining again about how I got you into this position,” he said giving her a kiss and she laughed, running a hand over her stomach.

“Well you did,” she said and he took her hand as they began to walk as he shook his head.

“You helped,” he murmured and she laughed at him, glancing back across the street once more to see Ginny watching them. Beth continued to watch for a second as Ginny’s focus was pulled back to Harry as he pulled her up against him…

“What are you looking at,” Harry asked, giving her a kiss on the neck.

“Nothing,” she said before pulling his head down into a much deeper kiss.

“Mmm… ready to go home love?” Harry asked when he pulled back, his eyes flashing at her and she nodded, biting her lip as her eyes sparkled at him and he grinned. “Let’s get little Chudders home then,” he said and she rolled her eyes.

“We are not calling him that,” she said as he sank down in front of her. “Harry, stop… we’re in public.”

“So?” he asked as he lifted her shirt and kissed her stomach, which was just beginning to show. “Come on Jamie, give your brother a kiss,” he urged and the squirming bundle in his arms leaned over, giving a wet smack of a kiss to his mum’s stomach. “And what’s your brother’s name James?”

“Chudders!” he yelled happily and Ginny rolled her eyes even as she laughed and turned to Patience. “We are not calling him that right?” she asked and Patience said “Bah!” – what she had been saying incessantly over the past week.

“No Patience! You want his name to be Chudders and you know it,” Harry cried dramatically as he stood up and snatched his daughter from Ginny so that he was holding both of his children. Patience squealed as he bounced her and buried her head in his shoulder. “See,” he smirked at Ginny and she gave an affronted look.

“Traitor!” she muttered but brightened as Jamie reached his arms out to her and leaned forward. She snatched him from Harry and settled him onto her hip.

“Traitor!” Harry said but Jamie just wrapped his arms around Ginny’s neck.

“Mummy’s going to buy me a broom!” he yelled, ducking his head into Ginny’s neck and Harry opened his mouth as Ginny laughed.

“That’s right Harry, mummy’s going to buy him a broom… and what’s your brother’s name love?”

“Benjamin!” Jamie yelled and Harry’s eyes narrowed as Ginny laughed in triumph.

“We’ll settle this at home,” he said, breaking into a grin and Ginny raised an eyebrow as he leaned in to whisper in her ear. “First one to scream loses,” he breathed and she smiled.

“You are so going to lose, love.”

He kissed her neck. “Possibly, but it will sure be worth it to try.”



~..~..~.’.~..~..~



THE END


And that’s all she wrote. I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for everyone who has stuck with this story. I loved reading all of your entertaining and encouraging reviews along the way, and even those slightly threatening ones when submissions were closed for a week… ;) I’m glad we all made it… hehe… And thanks to everyone who just read along. I hope you liked it; I certainly enjoyed writing it for you. ~ Princess :)


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