Light Reflected by seshhat
Summary: The sequel to Light from an Open Window.
Ginny's firm grasp on her world has started fraying. After overhearing her parents discussing her one night, an avalanche of realities start crashing in, and it is Ginny's turn to feel as though she is drowning in too many worries and fears. Harry too is trying to grasp new feelings that are steadily growing for the girl who forced him out of his self-pity. Can Harry overcome his doubts on his own and reach out to help Ginny, by returning the favour she gave to him?
Chapter 1: Doubts
Chapter 2: Fears
Chapter 3: Truths
Chapter 1: DoubtsLIGHT REFLECTED
Part 1 Doubts
Ginny skipped down the stairs of the Burrow, two at a time. Her trunk was neatly packed and labelled and standing patiently waiting in the centre of her room for her mother to float it downstairs the next morning. Hermione had disappeared earlier, muttering something about seeing that Ron got organised. Ginny strongly doubted that neither her brother nor Harry would finish packing until the time came for them all to depart for King’s Cross.
Sure enough, as she rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs, there was Ron and Harry engaged in a completely one-sided battle of chess. Ginny smiled as she shook her head. Hermione was curled in a chair, reading one of her new textbooks, and occasionally shooting pointed glances in the direction of the two boys. Ginny was interested to note however, that most of the glances tended to be more focussed on Ron.
Hermione looked up and gestured for Ginny to join them, but Ginny shook her head. Maybe later, but right now she wanted a big mug of steaming hot chocolate. With marshmallows. And she would try to snitch one of the brownies her mother had baked for the train tomorrow. But only if Molly Weasley wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity of the kitchen.
Ginny padded around, heating up milk and peering into tins in the pantry for the elusive brownies. Her mother had become very good at hiding things since Fred and George had managed to devour an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies on their own. They had done it when they were seven, and all in the short space of time it had taken for Mrs. Weasley to put Ron and Ginny to bed with a short story.
Voices in the dining room startled her, and she backed out of the pantry with a guilty look on her face. But no one entered. She rushed over to get her milk before it burned. Her father’s voice echoed through the partly open door.
“Did Dumbledore suggest anything, Molly?”
“Hush!” responded her mother. Ginny perked up her ears. Maybe they were going to discuss Order business. This was too good an opportunity to miss. She ducked down behind the bench in case someone thought to check that there was no one listening in the kitchen. But no one did. Odd that they weren’t even attempting to ward the dining room with a silencing charm. Her parents must have thought that they were a little safer at the Burrow with so few people around.
‘It’s okay, Molly,” Arthur said. “Ron, Harry and Hermione are in the lounge, playing chess.”
“That’s alright then. And Ginny’s still upstairs, packing her trunk. She won’t be down for a while. So, what are we to do, Arthur?” Molly’s voice had the plaintive tone of someone who was worried about something close to her heart. Was it about Harry? Everyone knew that Harry was like a seventh son to the Weasleys. Ginny’s heart skipped. Maybe it was Bill, or Charlie? Percy? What had he done now?
“I don’t know, Molly.” Mr. Weasley was tired. Ginny knew he’d been out all the previous night doing something for the Order, but he wouldn’t say what no matter how much she pressed him. She knew she drove her parents crazy with asking questions, but nobody else seemed to be bothered. Ron had given up trying to get answers out of his parents, and for that Mr and Mrs Weasley seemed relieved. But they didn’t know what Ginny did, and that was that her youngest brother and his friends actively sought information on their own through other more devious channels. Namely, the twins.
Cautiously, Ginny crept closer to the door to the dining room. She didn’t dared peek through to see her parents. Hearing them would have to be enough.
“I can’t afford…couldn’t bear to lose her.”
“We won’t lose her, dear. Dumbledore just said that she was at a risk of being targeted. But she’ll be safe at Hogwarts.”
Ginny’s heart descended through the floor. They were talking about iher. Dumbledore thought she was at a risk. From what?
Tom. He’s still trying to get me she thought erratically. But he couldn’t! That was just a memory — in a diary. And the diary was gone! Harry had destroyed it. Tom could never hurt her again. Dumbledore had promised!
“You don’t think…surely he wouldn’t bother with her now, Arthur? She’s just a young girl. What could You-Know-Who possibly want with our little — ”
There was a shuffling sound, and Ginny could picture her parents embracing. “Dumbledore said something about how her mind was susceptible to his influence. Perhaps not greatly, but there is a risk. Right now he’s focussed on Harry — ” he paused as Molly sobbed, “— but there is a chance. You, you saw him this morning. Did he say anything then?”
“No. Just that we shouldn’t tell anyone, not even her. She can’t know, or she’ll be in more danger. He said she’d be safe at Hogwarts, and there they could keep an eye on her for us.”
Molly broke into sobs again, but Ginny couldn’t listen to anymore. As silently as possible she left by the outside door, ran around the house to re-enter through the front door and then dashed upstairs to her bedroom. There she threw herself onto her bed and wept.
“Check mate”. Harry sighed and leaned back against the couch. It wasn’t surprising that Ron had won again. He was easily the chess champion, and Harry could probably never even hope to beat him. But playing against Ron was made even harder when you couldn’t focus on the game.
Harry’s mind had not been his own. Hadn’t been for some time. Alright, for a long time if you wanted to count that, but he didn’t want to. At least not tonight. Not when things had reached a rare peacefulness. No, lately his mind had been on a slighter figure; one with deep red hair and warm brown eyes that pierced him right to the soul and shook him until he didn’t know how to react anymore. Ginny Weasley had righted his world when it was upside down and falling apart. And then she had proceeded to turn it on it’s ear again. And he hadn’t the faintest idea how she had done it.
What the hell was he feeling? Friendship, yes — he had told her that he wanted to be friends the night they went flying. The night he had spilled everything to her, and not felt ashamed, or horrified for doing so. Why? Because it had felt right to tell someone, and Ginny had felt right as that person. But then, that was another thing he couldn’t really explain. Why was she so right?
Harry watched idly as Ron tried to cajole Hermione into a round of wizard chess. Briefly he knew that sooner or later they would start another argument, and chess would be forgotten. Yet his friends’ arguments didn’t seem to be as long as they used to be. They weren’t even really arguments anymore. More like casual bickering. I wonder if they realise just what they sound like, he thought to himself, and then his mind wandered again, and came back to rest on Ginny.
Was he going crazy, or did he feel more for Ginny than just friendship? How could that be? He smiled wryly. Look at yourself Potter — if you don’t watch it you’ll either go round the twist or simply mad. Since when did you become so philosophic? Since Ginny had forced him to see things, that’s when.
The trouble was, Harry didn’t think he should even be contemplating that which he wasn’t even sure he was contemplating in the first place. He didn’t have time for that sort of worry. A rampaging Dark Lord and the imminent threat of a disastrous war should have been foremost in his thoughts. In fact, it had been up until one week ago. Damn Ginny! Far from making his life easier, she had only succeeded in complicating things. Now what was he supposed to do?
Getting up, Harry stretched, and left the room. Hermione and Ron hadn’t even noticed. He climbed the stairs to Ron’s room and got to work packing his trunk. There wasn’t much to do. He hadn’t really unpacked since arriving at the Burrow. Only a few odds and ends were lying loose, and Harry checked around to make sure he didn’t miss anything.
Maybe, just maybe, when they got back to school, things would sort themselves out. It was probably only the fact that the four of them were locked into such a confining space and society that Harry was having these strange thoughts. When they got back to Hogwarts, things would become clearer.
Ginny protested a headache and missed dinner that night, knowing full-well that she wouldn’t be able to face watching her parents share concerned glances. She slept fitfully, and was much subdued in the car to King’s Cross the next day. But it wasn’t misery, or sadness that had dampened her previously happy mood; Ginny was actually quite disgusted with herself that she had broken down in such a way.
After everything that has happened to, I snap over hearing something as small as what Mum and Dad were discussing! She had come face-to-face with Tom Riddle and Death Eaters before. It was natural that she would be at some risk, and she’d thought she already had accepted that. Truthfully, it wasn’t really the threat of being targeted that was worrying Ginny the most. It was more the realisation that her firm hold on her fears and past trials might have begun to fray.
She had woken up in the early hours of the morning, shivering because she had heard his laugh again, ringing maliciously in her ears. She hadn’t heard that laugh so much for at least three years. Not since the Dementors had appeared on the train in her second year. Her hands had been icy cold, and she had rubbed them furiously until they were bright pink, before curling herself into a tight ball and willing herself back to sleep.
At Platform 9 & ¾ she allowed her parents to kiss her goodbye, stubbornly refusing to notice the look of motherly concern in Molly’s eyes. Silently she followed Harry, Ron and Hermione on to the train, and settled herself in the corner of a compartment and stared out the window. Ginny barely raised her hand when Ron and Hermione left she and Harry alone when they headed off to a meeting of Prefects.
She could feel Harry’s studious gaze resting on her every so often, but she ignored that too. If he knew how pathetic she had been last night, he would scorn her. Did Harry bawl his eyes out every time he heard something about himself? No. Because Harry was strong, he could deal with things. She had thought she could deal with things too, but obviously she must have been wrong. Pull yourself together, Ginny, and don’t be so pathetic.
What was going wrong? Everything had seemed so good this past week. Harry had opened up to her; they had shared their fears and come to a deeper understanding of their friendship. Well, Harry had actually done most of the sharing, and she had listened. Then she had argued, cajoled, and sympathised. Honestly, she had been shocked at just how much Harry had been hiding. His guilt, his fears — how it hadn’t overwhelmed him she had no idea. Would she have been able to stand keeping all that in? Probably not, Ginny thought bitterly, especially if your display last night is any indication. Just the knowledge of the prophecy would have tipped you over the edge.
A sudden numbness in her fingers nearly caused her to drop the wand she had been twisting. Oh Merlin! The prophecy! Grey memories of Tom Riddle were now making all that Harry had told her seem even darker, colder and more drastic. Until now the full implications of what it meant hadn’t seeped in. Her heart sank as she mentally cursed herself for being an insensitive git. All week she had been daydreaming about the fact that Harry Potter had finally seemed to notice her, and she had forgotten the more pressing issues at hand. How could she even think to expect things from the boy sitting opposite her, when he already had too much on his plate? Selfish Ginny, only thinking of herself.
Ginny felt tears start to form in her eyes. It was too much. Too, too much. Talk about a delayed reaction. Her love for Harry had risen to unimaginable heights, but it now warred with a growing sense of fear and panic. Why had these fears returned? She had been sure that she had gotten over them to a large extent, and the rest she had pushed far enough away so that they could never rise and make her feel that helpless ever again.
Ginny had built herself a secure world, hidden away from stark realities, and there it had been somewhat peaceful. But she was quickly finding out that reality could not be held at bay forever, and her stable world was unravelling.
What was wrong with Ginny? She had hardly spoken to him all day. Had he done something wrong? Had he said something? Harry frowned. It couldn’t be just him, because Ginny had was barely speaking to anyone. She had stared out the window all the way to the station, and apparently the view from the train was just as fascinating, because here she was — staring out the window again. Staring at anything actually, as long as it didn’t possess a pair of eyes that could stare back at her.
Harry felt frustrated. He had been starting to think that Ginny was a fresh source of friendship; a person to whom he could share things without feeling as though he was being put under the microscope. She had been so open and understanding, and now she seemed to have closed up. What had he missed that could have caused such a change in Ginny?
You miss a lot of things, Potter, he thought dismally. He had never noticed Ginny Weasley until he had really needed her. How selfish was that? He always seemed to be missing details, or important facts it seemed. Like he had blinkers on, and couldn’t see around himself.
So he sat there, in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express, thankful that no one else had joined the two of them. He sat there in a shared silence with Ginny, and every so often tried to be more observant by watching her as she resolutely stared out of the window. Harry knew he had bigger problems to worry about, but he couldn’t focus on anything larger than the petite redhead opposite him. Even the small voice in his head that liked to argue with him was thinking along the same lines as the rest of him.
She won’t look at you, and you know what it reminds you of the voice whispered. iShe can’t bear to look at you, because it has all suddenly sunk in and when she does look at you, all she can see is the tragic little hero that everyone else sees. That’s all you are, a pathetic tragedy to be sighed over and pitied.
By now Harry knew well enough that he couldn’t trust the voice. Hell, Ginny had as good as forced him to see that the voice lied. But it still confirmed suspicions he had held since telling Ginny everything. Maybe he had been wrong in offloading everything onto her. They hadn’t really been friends before, and it certainly wasn’t the way to begin a friendship. You couldn’t just stroll up to someone, tell them that you and only you were responsible for stopping the entire world coming to an end, and expect things to be downright chummy afterwards. Probably Ginny hadn’t fully comprehended the extent of things at first, but surely she must by now. And that would be why she was avoiding him.
But hadn’t she said that she wanted to help? That she understood the darkest of memories, too painful to share with just anyone? Hadn’t she kissed him, albeit just on the cheek, in a friendly sort-of way? Harry smiled. He could still feel an echo of her lips faintly touching his skin. If that was only a friendly gesture, then why does it still make me smile like this he wondered. It didn’t make him feel all funny like Cho did, but the memory of Ginny’s kiss left a small piece of peacefulness inside.
Laughter echoed up and down the corridor of the carriage, and Ron and Hermione were yet to return from their meeting. Harry had seen classmates and DA members go past, some with a wave, but none had entered. He wondered briefly where Neville and Luna were, but on the whole his mind was well and truly preoccupied.
Then he heard the rattle of the lunch trolley, and the calling out of the lady who served the train. Just as Harry reached for him money he heard Ginny let out a small gasp, and looked up quickly to see her wand twisted awkwardly in her hands. She recovered a firm grip on it, and still didn’t even glance in his direction, but a fool wouldn’t have missed the tears that started to form in her eyes.
Harry swallowed a guilty lump that had formed in his throat. It wasn’t enough that he suffered from intense bouts of melancholy and woe, but he had to spread it around like a contagion. What is it I’ve done? he thought miserably.
A/N — heehee, the shoe is on the other foot now, isn’t it? This will be shorter than Light From An Open Window, but a little more rewarding, I think you’ll agree! Oh, and Ginny won’t stay mopey, I guarantee it!
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Chapter 2: Fears LIGHT REFLECTED
Part 2 Fears
Harry sat bolt upright in bed. His muscles protested at the sudden movement, but his mind took no notice. It was too busy whirring with the remnants of a particularly nasty nightmare. His sheets were in a tangled mess, and it took Harry some time to work his way free. His hand groped on the bedside table for his glasses, and he stood blinking while he waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the dormitory. His four room-mates were snoring peacefully and undisturbed, and Harry briefly wished he could join them. But he was wide awake now. Even the dream was fading. He could hardly remember what this one had been about, except that it had left it dreadful feeling behind.
The air in the room was stifling, and Harry had the urge to seek the cooler and less crowded common room downstairs. A glance to his watch told him that it was sometime around three in the morning, and it would be doubtful if anyone were still awake. Gryffindor house had been on the whole a fairly contented and sleepy bunch after the Opening feast. There had been a small yet rowdy welcome-back gathering, but most of it had petered out well before midnight.
Harry rubbed his forehead as he trundled down the stairs. This was getting ridiculous. It was a pointed statement about how much he was getting used to frequent nightmares if he now reacted so little to them. Another display of how un-normal he was. He sighed as he pondered the fact that he had always been outside the ordinary, and probably always would be.
The fire was still going in the common room, although the flames were dancing lower now. For that Harry was grateful; he was warm enough. He crossed the room to his favourite armchair and was surprised to discover it already occupied. A small red-headed figure was curled up under a throw-rug, her eyes watching the shadows the fire cast around the mantle.
“Ginny?” Harry said, a little puzzled. Was she okay? She’d been acting so withdrawn all day.
Ginny was startled to see Harry’s face peering down at her. She couldn’t make out his eyes because of the firelight reflecting off his glasses, and she wasn’t altogether sure she wanted to.
She hated the way she was feeling. It wasn’t like her at all. Well, with the exception of that one year, when this feeling had pretty much become the norm. She couldn’t understand why the hell she should be feeling like this right now! Her world had collapsed on top of itself — if anyone could complain of that it was Harry, not Ginny.
And yet here was that same Harry staring down at her, with concern etched on his face. Why does he bother? He has enough problems of his own, without trying to deal with mine, especially when I can’t even work out what they are in the first place.
“Ginny?” Harry asked again. She sighed.
He smiled to see her respond, and flopped onto the couch opposite. “Couldn’t sleep either, hey?”
You have no idea she thought, and then mentally reproached herself. Harry had a tiredness in his eyes which she recognised automatically.
“Another nightmare?” she asked quietly.
He shot her a sharp look. “How do you know?” he asked wryly. “Am I always that obvious?”
“Sometimes. But I recognise the look from seeing it in my own mirror occasionally,” she replied.
His face fell into a small frown. “I thought you said…”
She waved his concern away. “Yeah, well, it comes and goes I guess. I suppose you’re not supposed to meet the Darkest Wizard in history and come away dreaming of fairyland every night.”
“Tell me about it.”
They were quiet for a while. Harry watched the flames in contemplation. It was he who broke the quiet.
“Ginny — is everything okay? I mean, you seemed really down or something today.”
Harry hesitated. “Was it — was it something I’ve done…or said maybe?”
Ginny wrinkled her nose while trying to work out what he could mean. Harry hadn’t done anything, how could he think…wait — of course. Voldemort. The prophecy. Merlin, how had that gotten pushed back so far?
“No, Harry. It’s nothing you’ve done.” Liar. But Harry looked so relieved, that Ginny couldn’t bring herself to tell him the truth. About how although it wasn’t because of him completely that she was feeling like this. But he was tied into it all the same. He was always tied in there somewhere. Harry Potter had never been far from her problems since the day she had first seen him at King’s Cross. He’d become even more bound up since he had rescued her from the horrors of Tom Riddle’s diary. Ginny supposed she’d always be linked to Harry, even if that link tended to be more or less one sided.
She watched as Harry glanced around the room. He got up and paced a little, as though he were having trouble sitting still. Was it that uncomfortable to sit with her? Why didn’t he just go away and leave her to her lonely thoughts again?
“Ginny, do you want to go for a fly?”
Ginny stared at Harry blankly. A fly? Where had that come from? One minute they were talking serious issues, and the next his mind is on his broomstick? Boys! Ginny shook her head. It sounded like something Fred or George, or even Ron would do. Particularly when they were becoming uncomfortable with a situation they weren’t quite sure how to handle. And Harry barely knew how to handle his own problems, let alone cope with someone else’s.
But then again, hadn’t she seen this before. Harry was at home on his broomstick — that was true. He did use it as an escape from pressure. But he also used it like a remedy. Ginny looked up at Harry’s face. His forehead was still frowning slightly, but that was nothing new. Harry rarely looked really happy these days. His eyes glimmered with concern, and he was waiting expectantly. Harry knew she was troubled and was hiding whatever it was. He wouldn’t push, because he hated that himself. Instead he had offered her what the one thing which he knew always helped him. A night-time flight.
Ginny sighed. “No thanks Harry. I’d rather stay here.” Why was she refusing? Admit it — you want to go. No, she didn’t! Merlin make the voice shut up. I can’t think…
“Oh, okay,” he sounded disappointed. “Well, if you ever do, just tell me. They’re good for, you know — clearing the head. Helps you think.”
Ginny had to close her eyes, and force herself to answer. “No, not this time. Not right now.”
There was a rustle on the couch as Harry sat back down. He pulled out a Quidditch magazine that someone had left stuffed down the side, and began to leaf through it.
“You don’t have to stay, Harry.”
“No, it’s okay. I couldn’t go back to sleep now, and you look like you could use some company.”
No, really - I think I’d rather be alone, Ginny thought, but she kept it to herself this time and nodded acceptance. She had a funny feeling that even had she ordered Harry to leave he wouldn’t. She tried to remember a time when he had acted this way, and came up blank. He had hardly noticed her most of the time, and certainly would never have been this protective. With the obvious exception of the time he had saved her life.
So, as much as she yearned to return to her solace, she was quietly pleased by the attention she was receiving from the raven-haired by opposite her.
He flicked the pages idly, not really noticing the zooming figures on broomsticks that covered every page. In the centre, a double page poster of Viktor Krum scowled heavily at Harry’s solemn face, but Harry didn’t even recognise the Bulgarian Seeker. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Ginny as she watched the flames, until he realised just how much he had been doing that lately. Watching her. Had he ever watched anyone else so much?
You eyed Cho Chang for about a year, maybe more. Eyed maybe. Stared, yes. Open mouthed sometimes. But never watched. He had never sat and just observed anyone. Was it polite to do? Would Ginny hate it if she knew? Did she know?
Pull yourself together Potter! Is this all you can think of? Harry scowled slightly, and stuffed the magazine back down the side of the couch. He stood up and on impulse began to roam the common room. He was restless, and he hadn’t the foggiest idea why. A light rain was falling outside the window, and he went to stand there to gaze out at the darkness folded over the school grounds. Then a log snapped in the fire, and Harry lost interest in the view. He meandered to a corner desk, where someone had left a bag of dung bombs behind on the seat. But he wasn’t interested in that either. In a fidgety mood, Harry continued to trace a path around the common room.
She had said that her mood had nothing to do with him, but if Harry was so used to lying himself, that it was no great shakes to spot someone else’s. He may not have caused whatever was upsetting Ginny completely, but he was certainly a part of it. Come on — he had spilled about the prophecy for crying out loud. What part of that would not affect anyone? And if he had disturbed Ginny, should he really risk telling Hermione and Ron?
It had been such a relief to release the knowledge and share it with someone. It would be even better to tell his best friends. After all, they had been there beside him for five years; maybe they even had the right to know. But did he have the right to burden them with such awfulness? It would be kinder to leave them in the dark. And Ginny could keep a secret.
But that still left Ginny knowing the truth. And how much of it was eating away at her? The harshness of the fact that he must murder or be murdered still cut deep into him; did she feel a deep sadness every time she looked at him? Did she well up with pity? Overflow with dark emotions?
Harry knew then that he didn’t want to make Ginny sad. For Ginny to be hurting was worse than waking up night after night with a nightmare of his own. He couldn’t explain why, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to go to Hermione and ask. Some things weren’t meant to be analysed or understood. They were just there to be experienced.
“Ants in your pants, Harry?” Ginny asked somewhat bemusedly. She couldn’t help it — he did look amusing as he marched around the common room. Occasionally he shook his head, as though he were trying off a particularly annoying mosquito. At other times Harry would pause, and glance around at some unknown thing. Once he turned to gaze back up the staircase to the dormitories, and then firmly march away.
He hadn’t heard her. She had been too soft. Ginny snorted. Since when was she soft? George had dared to call her that about six years ago. He had quickly regretted it and no one had called Ginny Weasley soft again. One didn’t grow up with six older brothers and not learn toughness. It simply wasn’t possible. And Ginny was proud of the fact that her brothers regarded their little sister as a force to be reckoned with.
Yet when she had just spoke, her voice had been soft, and Harry hadn’t heard. Merlin — it was strange how he brought out such a change in her sometimes. Painful shyness, speechlessness, anxiety — just general weakness — stuff she tended to feel only when in the vicinity of Harry Potter. Right now she was trying to gloom her way through a new set of sorrows, and he was interrupting that! She had been wallowing in misery and then he had turned up. His attention had been fixed on her, and she had felt some of her inner tension begin to thaw. Then just as suddenly, his attention had been switched off, and he was pacing the room, clearly lost in his own self-contemplation.
There were no two ways about it: Harry Potter was a damn frustration. She wished she had never gotten the idea to talk out of her open window to herself. Next time she wanted a self-talk, she would do it in her own head with the door locked, and the window barred, and no hope of anyone “overhearing”. She would certainly never write it in a diary. Not only because there was the risk of someone reading it…
The world seemed to revolve around these two figures. Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. The entire world was caught up in the struggle between them. But Ginny herself was caught struggling with each separately. She hated to admit it, but it was beginning to frighten her just how much she was starting to find herself involved. Before, it had been the task of getting over the last remnants of Tom Riddle’s hold over her, and trying to put aside her persistent feelings for Harry. But now it had all swept back on top of her with renewed vigour, and refused to let go. Sink or swim Ginevra, it taunted, and she was started to feel so weighed down…
“Harry, what the hell am I going to do?” she moaned, before dropping her face into her hands.
There was a quiet pause, and then she felt a hand on her shoulder. Slowly Ginny looked up, and stared straight into Harry’s eyes. His face was solemn and pensive, until it broke into a crooked grin.
“Guess I could ask the same of you, couldn’t I?”
“What do you mean?”
Harry laughed darkly but didn’t answer. He was kneeling on the worn rug and picking at the loose dulled gold strands that wove through the lion’s mane.
“He haunts my dreams,” Ginny mumbled.
Harry stood up sharply. “You said — ”
“I know what I said,” she snapped irritably. “Damn, Harry. You don’t own the monopoly on lying you know!”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “Fine then. But if you wanted to lie, then why are you telling me this now?”
Why was she telling him this? She hadn’t told her mother, or her father, or anyone. The Weasley’s thought she’d gotten over it all long ago. No one ever mentioned the Chamber, or referred to Tom Riddle. It was in the past, and it was over. For them at least. Ginny alone knew that he still crept into her thoughts when she was feeling particularly low.
They were right to be worried. She was weak, wasn’t she? Oh, yeah sure — she made out that she was tough, but really she was pathetically weak. And she had dared to think that she would be able to help Harry. Ha! The idea was so stupid, it was laughable. Weak little Ginny help Harry overcome the Darkest Wizard imaginable? Please.
“Ginny, c’mon. You can tell me. Tell me anything, like you let me. You…you helped Ginny.” Was Harry pleading with her? “Please don’t stop. Don’t withdraw away from me. I need your friendship. The one that was just starting to really kick off.”
“I can’t Harry. Help you, I mean. Ron and Hermione are better for that.”
“No Ginny. You are.”
A sharp pain cut into Ginny and she unsuccessfully tried to stifle a sob. It was no use, and Harry looked on in dismay while for the second time in two days Ginny disgusted herself by bursting into tears.
Was it some effect he had with girls? Cho Chang had been like a leaky tap, crying all over him all the time. Harry had thought Ginny was different, but here she was — pouring down like the rain outside. Damn — what was he supposed to do? He had a rotten track record when it came to comforting girls. He really wasn’t much better than Ron at this sort of thing. Yet Ron was the one who seemed to have found himself a girlfriend, while Harry…
It really shook Harry to see Ginny so despondent. The last time she had seemed this vulnerable, he was pulling her out of the Chamber of Secrets. She had been weeping then — because they had both nearly died at the hands of Tom Riddle, the monster who had possessed her. The monster who had become Lord Voldemort.
Something clicked in Harry’s brain. Was that it? Ginny still feared what he might do to her? Did she think of it every time she spoke with Harry. Were they both linked inexorably in her mind?
“Ginny, you have to tell me. Is it…is it only Tom this time?” He asked, half-expecting a tongue-lashing, but not the fury which descended upon him.
Ginny flew up out of the chair. Her eyes were mad and her hair messed around her head. She looked like a wild child and her face was contorted in a mixture of fury and frustration.
“I hate him! I hate him, I hate him, I hate him!” she cried, and began to pummel the arm of the chair. Harry felt like he should back away from the inferno before him, but he was rooted to the spot. He couldn’t take his eyes off Ginny, and he couldn’t speak.
“Why does he have to do it? Why can’t he just leave me alone?” she moaned. “I think he’s gone, and then he’s back. It’s as though he dogs my footsteps, and lies in wait under my bed. Waiting until I fall asleep so that he can seize his chance and invade my dreams again. But not all the time — no! He goes away, and waits until I’m settled again, and then he comes back…and I — I can’t take it anymore!”
“Ginny…” Harry tried, shocked at how timid his voice sounded. He had to be louder, more forceful — he had to break through to her. At least before the rest of Gryffindor woke up. “Ginny…” he tried again, but she wouldn’t listen. Instead, Ginny turned on him.
“And you!” she screeched. “You ignored me for four years! Treated me like I was barely there! You and Ron. Even Hermione. You all acted as though I was nothing, just Ron’s little sister, who was too fragile to get involved. ‘No — we must protect little Ginny. She can’t experience any of the horrors that we can.’”
Harry gulped. He was a little frightened of the girl before him now. And guilty too — they had treated Ginny like that. She had deserved more. Hadn’t she proved that last year?
“Never mind the fact that Ginny had already experienced more horrors than Ron and Hermione! Well, good on you lot, because you were obviously right!” she cried.
“What — what d’you mean, Ginny?”
Her face was flushed and her eyes overly bright with too much emotion. She stared fearfully at him a moment, as though trying to take in all that she had just ranted. Slumping down onto the couch, she flinched when Harry gently sat beside her.
“Ginny?” he prodded.
She sighed. “I overheard Mum and Dad talking,” she said softly. And then she poured out everything she could remember about what her parents had said. Harry sat in silence, only partially taking in her words. They were doing it to her too, was all he could think. Talking and planning, but never telling. Why didn’t Mr. and Mrs. Weasley talk to their daughter about these things? She had the right to hear it from one of them directly.
“I’m sorry Harry.”
“For yelling at you again. I didn’t mean it.”
“No, that’s okay. I deserved it, and some of it was right. Besides, I think I did quite a bit of yelling of my own last year.” Harry frowned. “Hermione ended up in tears a couple of times.”
“You made Hermione cry?”
“Not the most friendly thing I’ve done, I guess.” Harry still felt twinges of guilt for all that he had put his friends through.
“Yeah, well don’t start crying on me,” Ginny said wryly and she wiped her eyes with the corner of her sleeve.
“I’ll try not to.”
There was a comfortable silence as both Ginny and Harry seemed to recognise that the other was trying to gather their thoughts. Some part of Harry marvelled that no one in the dormitories had apparently been disturbed by Ginny’s furious outburst. Ginny broke the quiet of the common room, but her tone was a lot more subdued now.
“I — I’m afraid, Harry.”
“Afraid of what?”
“I don’t think I’m really sure. But I haven’t felt like this for so long. I don’t think I even really felt like this, you know, last time. Then, I didn’t really know what was going on, and I didn’t have a real grasp on it all. But now — there’s just so much to take in.”
Harry felt a welling guilt. He really shouldn’t have told Ginny about the prophecy. But then just as he was about to launch himself back into a series of inner tirades against himself, he took note of the girl sitting beside him. Instinctively, yet tentatively he reached out of put his arm around her shoulders. He didn’t know what else to do; comforting girls was not exactly one of his recognised talents. Ginny stiffened a moment, and he hesitated and considered pulling away again. But then she relaxed against him and they continued to sit there as the last of the flames died in the fireplace.
A/N Sorry about not getting this up before HBP. For those who have managed to finish reading the sixth book, I hope you still like a little back-track. Last bit should be up in a couple of days, and then I have grand aspirations of launching into a much, much longer post-HBP story. In between uni essays of course. *sigh*
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Chapter 3: TruthsLIGHT REFLECTED
Part 3 Truths
Harry’s arm felt warm around her shoulders, and against her better judgement Ginny relaxed into him. Slowly the confusion and fear she had been feeling began to dull until it was just a small aching throb. She had been right when she had thought that Harry was like her Patronus. He made her feel safe. He didn’t take away the fear, and pain and anger — but he somehow made it feel a little more bearable. Like she wasn’t alone.
The past two days had been a blur of emotion. She had started so happy and almost carefree. The simple conversation she had overheard had affected her so much that Ginny now had to assume that all the worries and fears she thought she had overcome had merely been lurking beneath the surface. The knowledge that people like her parents and Dumbledore were seriously worried for her safety, and her own anxiousness for Harry had been too much to contain anything any longer.
Ginny hated the fact that she could still be so weak. But then, she also didn’t mind that Harry acted like her shield. She had flared up against her brothers and mother for treating her like something in need of protection, so why did she allow Harry to make her feel this way?
Harry furrowed his brow. He had to tell Ginny now. Explain to her that she meant a lot to him, and that she had helped him more than she would ever know. Show her that she was someone special before she got lost in uncertainties that he knew was too easy to do. But he was at a loss for words; his mind was utterly blank and he couldn’t he find where to begin.
There was also that lurking doubt that Ginny would brush him off, or worse. Although what that worse thing could be he also had no idea at present. For the thousandth time that evening, Harry wished that he could have been blessed with a simple life.
Ginny sighed. She should tell Harry. She could tell Harry. She had to confess her deepest fear, and if it meant that he would withdraw away from her, so be it. She couldn’t live knowing that she might be putting him in danger just by being near to him.
She took a deep breath, and pulled herself to sit straighter on the couch. Harry’s arm fell from her shoulders, and she felt a chill across them. Momentarily she wished for the warmth again, but then she steeled herself to talk.
“Harry, I need to tell you…”
“Tell me what, Gin?” Harry’s face was unreadable, and that was good because it would be like talking to a brick wall.
“Sometimes I think I’m afraid of being lost to him again; of him possessing me and using me for Dark purposes again. And then I’m afraid that he will get to you through me, or I will hurt others. I want to help so much, and be useful. But right now I can’t see how I can — I’m nothing but a hindrance to everyone. A pathetic figure they all need to protect!”
She expected Harry to recoil away from her, or look concerned. She didn’t want to see pity on his face. Thankfully, Harry only looked down at his hands.
“How can that be?” he asked.
At first Ginny thought he meant how could she be a pathetic figure, but she quickly realised he was talking about her being used by Voldemort. “I don’t know,” she replied despondently, “but he has done it once before, and even Dumbledore is afraid that it might happen again. I’m afraid that he will get to me, and hurt me, but more than that…” she trailed off.
“…you are afraid for me,” Harry finished quietly. Ginny didn’t reply, but merely nodded her head.
Again she was a little surprised when both of Harry’s arms folded around her. He pulled her towards him, and she sat there silently. She didn’t cry and she couldn’t speak. She had used up most of her emotions already this evening, and she was running dry. When Harry began to speak, she simply sat and listened, and tried to take it all in.
Harry told her that he needed all of his friends. She had been the one to tell him that. He needed Hermione, because she knows things, and has helped him so much before. Because Hermione would always be there no matter what.
I’d like to see you try to force Hermione to stay away, Ginny thought to herself. She’d tell you in no uncertain terms to stop being an idiot, and then proceed to organise everyone.
Harry kept talking, in that soft voice that she loved. The one no one else seemed to notice, but showed the lesser seen side of Harry’s personality. The gentler, sensitive side. He told her then that he needed Ron, because Ron has always been his best mate, and would stick to his side through anything. Ginny couldn’t help but chuckle a little when Harry said that Ron made him laugh. Yes, she understood that.
He makes me so mad sometimes, but I love Ron to pieces too. I remember when it was just him and me, against the twins. He made me laugh then too, and still does come to think of it. Especially when he makes such a fool of himself. Usually around Hermione…
But Harry wasn’t finished.
“I need you too Ginny, because if anything, who else will yell at me like you do.”
Thoughts were flying around poor Ginny’s head like a merry-go-round. Harry’s presence and his words were muddling her up even more by heightening her awareness of just how much she really did still like him, no matter how much she thought she shouldn’t. She fished wildly for a second, trying to come up with a response to his latest statement.
Ginny huffed. “Is that all I am — someone to yell at you?”
Harry grinned. She sounded put out, but he could see through the façade. Underneath he knew that Ginny was really quite touched at his words. “Well, no one else can yell like Ginny Weasley,” he replied cheekily.
Ginny rounded on Harry, folded her arms across her chest and tried to look offended. But the face was so comical to him that he couldn’t help but start laughing. Pretty soon Ginny herself joined in.
“We make a great pair, don’t we?” Harry reflected ruefully.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, here we are — you were telling me off for being too hard on myself, and trying to pull away from everyone. Now what are you doing to yourself?”
Ginny smiled wryly. “I guess once this is all over, they might need to lock the two of us up.”
“Preferably not together.”
Ginny looked at him oddly. “I don’t fancy spending my gloomy self-inflicted misery with you yelling at me all the time,” he explained.
“Oh, ‘fess up Potter. You just said you like me yelling at you,” she grinned. He was happy to see her do that. It was the first sincere grin he had seen on the youngest Weasley’s face all night.
“Well…maybe. I guess I do.” Harry sighed. “You seem to be the only one who’ll do it these days.”
“Hermione and Ron really care about you, Harry,” Ginny said soberly.
“I know, but I just wish they would argue with me once in a while. Not give in so easily. Hermione is so good at arguments, and I know for sure that Ron has a temper. I wish they’d fight with me again. Like they used to.”
“Maybe it’s time you told them a few things.”
“Like the prophecy?”
“Ye-es. That I suppose. But perhaps how you really feel about certain things first. Like Sirius. Like your fears for us all. Be honest with them. They deserve it as much as you do Harry.”
“What about you Ginny?”
“Yes, you. You can’t go hiding things to yourself anymore either.”
“I’m not hiding anything —” she started to argue.
“Yes you are,” Harry interrupted. “Tom Riddle, for instance. Among other things. If it’s good enough to tell me to talk to friends, then it’s good enough for you. You don’t have to always confide in yourself, you know. Or the stars for that matter,” he said a little quieter.
Ginny just stared at him in astonishment. “What on earth do you mean, Harry Potter?”
“You know what I mean, Ginny Weasley.”
She blushed and looked away. “That’s different…”
“Rubbish. How can it be different?” Harry sighed in anticipated frustration and ran his hand through his hair. He didn’t know how the hell to say this. Voldemort was easier to work out than Ginny.
“Ginny, I —” he tried to start.
“Harry…” Ginny began at the same time. They both laughed.
“You go first,” Harry said, mentally cursing himself for trying to postpone it again.
Ginny blushed. “I…I can’t. I don’t really know what I was going to say.”
“Well, that makes two of us again.”
Harry took a deep breath, and looked away. “Ginny, I don’t know. We’re — we’re friends, aren’t’ we?”
“Well, I hope so, after tonight,” she said wryly.
“But that’s just it Ginny, I don’t feel like we’re friends anymore.”
Ginny’s face fell and Harry hurried to try to pour out the tangle of words. “I mean, I don’t want to be friends…no wait! That’s not right! Well, it is right, but not in the way it sounded…Oh hell…”
“It’s okay Harry. I understand. You’ve got Ron and Hermione, and it would be like me barging in.”
“But you’re not barging in!” Harry exclaimed. “I like having you around, and talking to you. I miss it when you don’t talk to me. I just meant that I …I…” he stared at her helplessly. Romance was not his forte, and he was buggering this up completely. Ginny wouldn’t want anything to do with him after tonight, much less speak properly to him. Not when he could talk, and babbled instead like a raving fool.
Ginny’s heart was caught. Was she imagining this whole situation? It couldn’t possibly be real. She had dreamed it so much, for so many years, that it was entirely possible that she was just projecting her dreams into reality, or something like that. Wasn’t it?
Harry seemed to be struggling with something. Ginny’s eyes quested for his, but Harry’s green eyes were darting around, as though trying to find something benign to settle on. They were failing.
Ginny sighed. It never ended, did it? The up-down, up-down game that she had played since meeting this boy. One minute head-over-heels with a new crush, the next reasoning that she was being silly. Then over-the-moon with girlish love, and crashing to un-noticed reality. Now she was back on the upward spiral, and dreading the fall back to earth that usually came on the other side.
Harry grabbed her hand. “Ginny — I think I like you,” he blurted.
Time froze. Neither Harry nor Ginny seemed to blink for an endless moment, until slowly Ginny stirred, and blinked slowly. Her breath was irregular. Like you? What, was that like like, or just …like? As in friends, or…or…she didn’t want to complete that sentence. It was too unreal. Calm yourself Ginevra Weasley. As usual you’re jumping to conclusions, and he’s going to laugh himself silly at your foolishness any moment.
“Well, Harry. I like you too. We’re…we’re friends aren’t we?” she said, cursing the hesitation in her voice.
Harry tried to hide his disappointment. “Friends?”
“But everything you said…about what you…” Harry let go of Ginny and ran his hand through his hair. It was all much to confusing for him. He distinctly remembered hearing her say that she still liked him. He would never work girls out. And a lot of experience you’ve had in that department, Potter. One girl, and you have all the wisdom of experience. You couldn’t even really say that you were dating Cho. One Hogsmeade trip and sobbing kisses. Hardly girlfriend/boyfriend.
Ginny was staring at him, with an indefinable expression on her face. He didn’t know why he did it. Frustration at not being able to say anything properly? Lack of experience in how to approach a girl? Memories of miserable kisses with Cho and wish to know something better?
Whatever it was, on impulse Harry leant forward and kissed Ginny softly on the lips. He pulled back just as quickly, and a small gasp escaped from her. Then before he realised it, Ginny had grabbed his hands and was kissing him back. Cho and his teary wetness were swept from his mind as Ginny re-wrote his personal opinions. This was better than anything. As cliché as he knew it would sound, it felt like flying. He was soaring, and his soul felt the same lightness of burden that he got when he went flying on his Firebolt.
It would have been magic to stay that way for the rest of the night, but Ginny broke the kiss after a too short moment. She was blushing furiously, and the tips of her ears were turning an amusing pink. Harry could feel his own face warming, but it certainly wasn’t due to the fire.
“Ummm…”Ginny said, averting her eyes to the loose strands on the carpet that had held Harry captivated attention earlier.
Silence fell, but it wasn’t an awkward one. Harry brushed his forehead, feeling that the common room had heated up a little too much to be entirely comfortable.
“I thought the fire was dying down,” he said. “Little, ah, warm in here now, isn’t it?”
Harry’s eyes cast around the room, knowing that he should say something else, but his sight alighted instead on the window. Sudden inspiration struck.
“Ginny, d’you want to go for a fly? You know, cool fresh air — clears the mind.”
“I don’t have my broom. I left it at home…”
“We can go on mine. Together. You and me. Like last time, only no yelling.”
Ginny grinned. “Are you sure? I thought you liked my yelling.”
Harry smiled, and it was a genuine smile that reached deep into his eyes. “I like you Ginny,” he said simply. Without another word he Summoned the Firebolt from his dormitory, and held out a hand for Ginny. She took it and settled herself on the broom behind him. Harry felt her arms tighten around him, and he squeezed the pair of them through the window into the air beyond.
Sunlight was beginning to creep its fingertips across the distant horizon, but morning was still distant and hazy as Harry and Ginny flew together around the darkened and shadowed castle. The world had come to a hushed standstill, and neither of them wanted to break the spell with useless words. To Harry, it was as though he had found a pocket of pure happiness that had been missing for so long, and that the friendship of Hermione and Ron had only gone so far in filling. The war, Voldemort, the prophecy: all were suddenly in perspective and he didn’t feel tormented anymore. He still feared, but without fear you can’t have courage, or hope. And Harry had discovered that there were quite a lot of both to go around, if only you tapped into the right sources. Namely, the true friends who were willing to share their supplies. And he had the truest of friends. Which was more than Voldemort or his Death Eaters could boast. Maybe Lord Voldemort was envious…well he could find his own friends. These were Harry’s and he’d be damned if anyone would take them away. Especially in light of a certain new…awareness.
For Ginny, time had sped up over the past week to bring her right where she had been longing to be for around five years. She clung tight to Harry and let the rushing wind tear away the pain and fright of the last two days. Hurt would always linger, but she wouldn’t lock it away. It only grew when she did that, and she would sooner be a Death Eater than allow anyone to use her to hurt others again. And he could only do that through her weaknesses. Go to hell Lord V-Voldemort she thought spitefully and more than a little defiantly, before turning her mind resolutely to happier realms. One day she would tell Harry just how much he managed to catch her fears, and hold them so they hardly hurt. One day, but not today. One day when the time for fears was gone. Today was for purely living.
Both were in unspoken agreement that they would go slowly now, so as to keep this special, and cherish every bit. Harry and Ginny didn’t need to be told that life was precious, but they had taught each other that it can’t be wrapped in cotton wool either. Life must be enjoyed and treasured, for it’s not worth anything unless used to the fullest.
Thankyou to everyone who has read and reviewed my little creativity. I’m terribly sorry it didn’t finish until after the release of HBP, but real life has a tendency to strike with spiteful busyness at inopportune moments. Particularly when I’m already busy!
Ah well. Now that we do have the long awaited treasure, I foresee a long wait til we get to clutch the next precious piece of canon. So I also predict quite a bit more in the way of fic-writing from yours truly, and I hope many of you will read it. I’m planning a longer fic, but won’t say anymore or put it up until I’m sure that something will come of it, because I’d hate to write half a story and then lose interest, and disappoint people. I’ll also probably scribble little one-shots now and then. Who knows? I have twitchy fingers, and they’re always tapping the keyboard, or getting splottered with ink.
Once again thanks to all the wonderful reviewers! You make me smile with some of your comments, and encourage me to keep on writing. May happiness be with you all!
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