Ginny let out a heavy sigh as sat outside the broomshed, her back against the door with an old Comet Two Sixty in her lap. She’d left her Nimbus in her trunk, but didn’t dare go back to Gryffindor Tower to fetch it lest she run into Harry or Dean.
She turned Dean’s letter over in her hands, not quite ready to open it. She knew it didn’t matter what it said. It was time to end her relationship with Dean. She’d been ignoring their growing distance for too long, and she had let her latent feelings for Harry get out of hand.
She had been unconsciously weighing a break-up with Dean for quite awhile now. He hadn’t been supportive of her Quidditch aspirations (even though he’d come around after the broom race in January), and he was increasingly accusing her of keeping secrets from him. She felt like she was always tending to his insecurity and feelings of being left out as though she were the aggressor.
Isn’t that what their current row was about right now? Dean was making her feel guilty for not sharing the most personal, traumatic period of her life. Just like Michael, he wanted intimacy and vulnerability on his terms, not hers.
And yet she didn’t think she’d ever be able to be completely vulnerable with Dean. She had been dating him for months and hadn’t even told her own parents. Her family was more important to her than anything in the world–and she had no desire for Dean to be a part of that. It had been a fun fling when it started, but now it wasn’t fun anymore.
Ginny swallowed hard, feeling a heavy sadness settle onto her chest. There didn’t seem to be a way out without hurting Dean, but she knew staying in a relationship would only hurt him more.
Her mind drifted back to her conversation with Harry.
She could not deny the truth any longer. It had been staring her in the face these last few months, but it took Fred and George’s silly Mood Mallow to force her to face the fact that, finally, Harry fancied her.
Her heart thudded loudly in her chest as warm, unbridled joy spread through her body and into her bones. She threw her head back against the broomshed and laughed out loud.
But her joyful laughter slowly turned nervous as the weight of reality hit her. She had denied the truth because, deep down, she was frightened.
The Quaffle was in her hands now, so to speak. What would happen when she finally ended their relationship? Would she just move on to Harry? She’d started dating Dean almost immediately after Michael had dumped her.
Michael’s rejection had hurt Ginny more deeply than she’d been willing to admit at the time. Not only did he ditch her because she couldn’t be vulnerable with him, but he’d upgraded to the girl who Harry fancied!
It seemed like a cruel joke–Cho had stolen the hearts of the first two boys she’d ever fancied by wooing them with her beauty, Quidditch skills, and raw vulnerability. Ginny was so much stronger than Cho, yet her boyfriends made her feel guilty and broken for it. Perhaps she should take a leaf out of Cho’s book and spend more time moping and crying in public.
Somehow, every relationship she had came back to Harry (or Tom, who inevitably always led her back to Harry) in some way. When Michael and Dean weren’t intimidated by her one-time crush on Harry, they were fixated on her desire for privacy that stemmed from the trauma she’d experienced with Harry in the Chamber.
But she didn’t want to be with Harry because she’d been victimized and he was the only one who could understand her. She wanted to be with Harry because they both chose it; because they enjoyed each other’s company, inspired by each other’s courage and strength, and challenged by each other’s ideas.
With Harry, Tom wasn’t a dark secret that she hid from him. They had talked about it, albeit briefly, and he never asked for more. She’d confided in him more than anyone else, and she had done it because she had wanted to–not because he’d asked.
So what if she did make a move with Harry? What if they started dating? Her heart soared again, and she couldn’t help smiling to herself.
But what if one day Harry rejected her, too? Harry was the most famous wizard in the world. Nearly every girl at Hogwarts wanted to be with him. What would happen when they left Hogwarts? What if she wasn’t enough?
And even if he only ever had eyes for her, she couldn’t help but feel that the stakes were higher in a relationship with Harry because he was so close with her family. Over the years, Harry had slowly become part of her family, and they meant everything to her. A break-up with Dean or Michael was just a blip on the radar. But what would a break-up with Harry do to them?
In the back of her mind, she knew her family would support her no matter what happened between Harry and her. It might create some discomfort, but it wouldn’t destroy them. But as she thought about it more, this wasn’t her greatest fear.
Her greatest fear was the inescapable fact that Harry was a marked man whose fate would always be bigger and more important than their relationship. He could be violently ripped away from her at any moment–even now, when he wasn’t even hers.
Even though she told Ron in the Hospital Wing that she’d be equally devastated by Harry’s death whether or not she ever dated him, she knew deep down that it was safer to secretly love him from a distance, where he couldn’t break her heart.
Ginny stood up suddenly, mounting the old broom and kicking off. It was getting dark, so she would have to return to the castle soon.
Looking down at the glassy black lake below her, she realized that she didn’t want to play it safe. She’d loved Harry from a distance for too long. She was ready for him now.
With Tom, she had sunk to the deepest depths of despair and found the strength to carry on. And if she could handle the very scary fate that awaited Harry, she could handle attention from the hordes of silly, fawning girls. Besides, Harry saw right through them. Amid all of the attention he was getting, he still looked at her like she was the only girl in the room.
And she knew that Harry was so much more than The Boy Who Lived or The Chosen One. He was a kind and brave wizard who persevered through every setback and put the welfare of the ones he loved before himself.
The sun was setting behind Hogwarts, signalling that it was time to return to Gryffindor Tower. Ginny descended, ready to face Dean.
She didn’t need to rush into anything with Harry, but she did need to end her relationship with Dean. She would start by reading his letter.
She stowed the broom back in the broomshed and slowly unfolded his letter as she walked up to castle.
I cannot tell you how sorry I am for my behavior after you were attacked by the boggart. It was wrong of me to demand that you share something so personal with me while the trauma was so fresh. I hope you know that I care deeply about you, and I acted out of fear for your well being. This doesn’t excuse my behavior, and I realize now that it was unfair of me to put that burden on you.
I hope you will meet me at the Astronomy Tower tonight, so I can start to make it up to you.
Ginny stopped at the castle doors, her heart breaking as she folded the letter and shoved it into her pocket. Even though it had taken over a week to break the stalemate, Dean’s heartfelt letter showed he was really trying. The boggart encounter must have been terrifying for him as well, and the prolonged exposure to the dementor had put them both in a really dark place. Perhaps they’d both said things they didn’t mean in the aftermath.
At the same time, Ginny knew she couldn’t stay in a relationship with him while she felt the way she did about Harry. It felt cruel to dump him without giving him a chance to clear the air, so she would hear him out and let him down as gently as possible.
But that meant she couldn’t meet him at the Astronomy Tower tonight. It would be too secluded and emotionally charged. They’d shared so much there–their first date, their first first kiss, their first make-up after their first fight…
If Ginny was going to lose her nerve, she would lose it at the Astronomy Tower. She would need a location that was slightly less private and much less romantic. The Gryffindor common room seemed like the best option–she would do it at dinner time when it would be relatively empty and it would signal to Dean that she isn’t planning to snog him afterward.
She sat down on the steps, pulling a quill out of her pocket. Flipping Dean’s note over, she quickly scrawled a note to slip under the door to his dormitory:
Thank you for the sincere apology. It was a terrifying experience for us both, so I understand why you were concerned. I’m really tired tonight. Can we meet in the Gryffindor common room at dinner time tomorrow to talk?
There was no way she was meeting him tonight. She was emotionally drained and needed her wits about her if she was going to break up with him.