A/N: Set during Chapter 22: After the Burial, in which Harry takes the lucky potion to get the memory from Slughorn.
Ginny rose early the next morning and went directly to the kitchens to get her breakfast. She knew Dean was suspect something was up and try to talk to her before she was ready, so she was keen to avoid him. She scarfed her breakfast and took a very long flight around the Hogwarts grounds before finding a secluded spot near the lake. It was an unusually warm and sunny day for April. She had a good book and her Quidditch diagrams, so she’d be content for hours.
After a late lunch with Luna, she headed back to the common room. She wanted to stake out a semi-private couch for her conversation with Dean.
She was almost to Gryffindor Tower when she heard Dean’s familiar booming voice. “Ginny.”
She stiffened, turning slowly on the spot. He hurried toward her and gave her a tentative hug that she returned half-heartedly, still on her guard.
Ginny said nothing, not trusting herself to speak.
Sensing her hesitation, Dean withdrew and cleared his throat. “I know you must be very upset with me.”
“Dean, I don’t want to talk here–” she said quickly, starting to walk back to the common room.
“The weather’s nice today, and nobody will be around until after dinner,” he replied, following her.
He stepped in front of her when the reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. Ginny stopped abruptly.
“Dean…” she started, sighing. She didn’t want to be interrupted when they talked, but it seemed that Dean wanted to talk here and now. Her heart felt heavy with an unexpected sadness, sapping her of the will to fight him.
He cleared his throat again, as if bracing himself. “Ginny, I’m sorry I pressured you to tell me about your boggart. It’s clearly very personal for you, and you don’t need to share anything with me until you’re ready.”
...until you’re ready.
It felt like there was still an expectation that she eventually tell him about Tom. With another pang of sadness, she reminded herself that she would never tell him.
But Ginny just couldn’t bear to tell him that, not with him standing in front of her, looking so sad and remorseful. She knew it took a lot for him to swallow his pride and admit he was wrong, especially without any attempt at a compromise from her. He was taking her at her word and not expecting anything more–for now, at least.
Maybe Dean wasn’t just like Michael. Maybe he didn’t need to her to be vulnerable with him on his terms like she’d thought.
Yet, even if that were true, it wouldn’t change the fact that she couldn’t fight her feelings for Harry anymore.
“Thank you, Dean,” she said softly, steeling herself for the harsh truth. “But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today–”
Dean slipped his hand in hers and started to lead her to the portrait hole. She withdrew her hand quickly, not wanting to give him the wrong impression.
“Ginny, I’m over it,” said Dean reassuringly, misreading her hesitation. “I won’t ask you about the boggart again.”
“What made you change your mind?” she said abruptly. His apology seemed too swift. This was the worst fight they’d ever had, and they hadn’t spoke to each other for over a week. It seemed odd that he suddenly didn’t care anymore.
“Huh?” said Dean, nonplussed.
“What made you want to make up with me?” she said shortly.
“Oh, I, uh–well, er…” he said, shifting uncomfortably.
He trailed off, but Ginny said nothing. She wanted to understand, even though they were breaking up anyway.
Finally, Dean swallowed hard and looked at her. “I just decided I didn’t want to be miserable.”
Immediately, she knew he was lying. She could feel it in her gut.
“I don’t believe you,” she said slowly, studying his face carefully.
Dean looked down and shrugged. “It’s the truth.”
“You’re terrible at lying,” she retorted, more certain now that he was lying.
“And sometimes you’re too good at it,” he said with an edge in his voice, shooting her a nasty look.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she shot back defensively. Was he calling her a liar?
“You were never going to tell me,” he said in a hard voice, finally meeting her eyes.
“Yes, I thought I was pretty clear about that.” she said, folding her arms.
Dean gave her a stony glare, but said nothing.
“I thought you said it didn’t matter if I told you and you wanted to respect my privacy,” she said cautiously.
Dean swallowed and looked away from her again. She was certain he had lied to her, but she wasn’t sure why.
At that moment, all of the sympathy she had felt for him melted away. She’d been touched by his letter and his willingness to let the argument go without any quid pro quo from her. But it didn’t take long to see it was a lie, and she was determined to find out why.
“Tell me the truth, Dean,” she said sternly. She needed to know before she finally ended this relationship.
Dean’s sighed and looked at her, his face softening. “You don’t need to be so defensive. It’s ok, Ginny. I know.”
Ginny felt the bottom drop out of her stomach and her mouth went dry. “You know...what?” she asked, trying not to panic.
“Harry and Ron told me that your boggart is You-Know-Who. I understand now why it was so terrifying and why you’d rather not talk about it,” he said in a gentle voice, dropping his defensiveness.
Ginny stepped backward, suddenly feeling unable to breath. She felt like she’d been punched in the stomach.
“H-Harry told you…?” she stammered, waves of numbing disbelief crashing through her body.
“It’s ok, Ginny. Your secret is safe with me,” he said, reaching for her.
Instinctively, Ginny dodged him, keeping him at arm’s length. “But you lied to me about it!”
Her mind was reeling. If Dean already knew, then that meant that he’d only apologized out of pity for her. She’d thought this was a sign that he was allowing her to be vulnerable on her own terms–but now she knew that this was a lie.
And what about Harry? The realization hit her like a Bludger to the chest. Harry had told her secrets to Dean; he’d betrayed her trust.
A wave of panic washed over her. Had Harry told Dean about the diary? Did Dean know that she’d Petrified the other students? Who else had Harry told? She couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else knowing what she’d done.
“Come on, Ginny,” said Dean in a patronizing tone, moving toward her again. “I didn’t say anything because they told me not to tell you. Don’t be like this.”
Completely overwhelmed, it took almost all of her strength to choke out the password to the Fat Lady. She turned on her heel and started to climb through the portrait hole. Dean followed closely behind her.
She felt him brush against her in an attempt to help her through the portrait hole, sending a wave a frustration through her.
“Don’t push me, please, Dean,” she said, incensed. “You’re always doing that, I can get through perfectly well on my own.”
“Of course! You don’t ever need help from anyone,” he snapped angrily. Then, she heard him mutter, “Except when it comes to fighting boggarts.”
The portrait swung closed behind them and Ginny spun around. “Excuse me?”
“Nothing,” muttered Dean, rolling his eyes.
Anger pulsed through her veins. All this time she’d thought her ambivalence in their relationship was about her latent feelings for Harry. But now she could see that this wasn’t about Harry at all. She wasn’t even sure she could trust Harry anymore now that she knew he’d shared her secret.
The ugly truth was that she’d never taken her relationship with Dean seriously because she knew she would never share her full self with him. As a result, she wasn’t honest with him about her feelings, her secrets, or her fears.
And now, Dean wasn’t being honest with her. There was no trust anymore. Without honesty, they could never have the emotional intimacy of a serious relationship. Nothing could have reaffirmed her decision more.
With an angry sigh, Dean headed toward the boys dormitories. Not wanting to delay a moment longer, Ginny followed him.
“Dean, we need to talk,” she called after him as they climbed the stairs.
They both stopped. Ron, Hermione, and Lavender were blocking their path and appeared to be in the middle of a heated discussion.
“Tell me, Ron!” said Lavender angrily. “What were you doing up there with her?”
Momentarily forgetting her anger, Ginny met Hermione’s eyes with interest, raising an eyebrow. It seemed like Lavender’s jealousy–which Ginny believed was not unfounded–had reached a breaking point.
Hermione gave Ginny a wide-eyed look with a small, almost imperceptible shake of the head, as if to say, “Don’t ask.”
“We weren’t–” spluttered Ron, looking wildly around as if searching for an exit. “There’s nothing going on–Harry was with us...I don’t know why…”
“I don’t see Harry anywhere,” snapped Lavender.
“Because he was invisible!” said Ron desperately. Lavender rolled her eyes, clearly not buying it.
Hermione pressed herself against the wall as she slid behind Ron to pass. “I’ll just leave you two–”
But Lavender stepped in front of her. “No! Stay here!” she demanded. “I want to know what’s really going on with you two!”
“Sorry, I really have to go–” replied Hermione, side-stepping Lavender and brushing past her as forced her way down the stairs. She rushed past Ginny and Dean without looking back and disappeared into the common room.
Ginny grabbed Dean by the arm, urging him back down the stairs. She did not want to get roped into what looked the beginning of Ron’s own break up.
When they reached the common room, Ginny spotted Hermione sitting in the corner with a book in her lap. She sank into a couch near the portrait hole with Dean.
“Dean, we can’t do this anymore,” she said wearily, steeling herself to finally end their relationship.
“I know, I know,” he said dismissively. “You don’t like it when I help you through the portrait hole.”
“No, I mean us,” she said seriously. “This isn’t working for me.”
“What are you saying?” asked Dean cautiously, his face falling. Ginny felt a wave of sadness, but pressed on.
“I want to break up,” she said bluntly.
“Is this about the boggart?” he asked in a worried voice. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you–”
“No, it’s not just that,” she said forcefully. “I’m never going to be able to fully honest with you about...everything. And that’s not fair to you.”
Ginny realized she wasn’t articulating herself very well, but hoped that Dean would understand. He nodded slowly, looking down at the couch.
“I know we’ve both been pretty miserable lately,” he said in a resigned voice.
Ginny leaned over and gave him a hug, feeling the tears roll down her face.
“So that’s it? It’s over?” asked Hermione, sitting cross-legged on Ginny’s bed. The two of them had slipped off to the girls’ dormitories as soon as Ginny had finished talking to Dean. Ron and Lavender still hadn’t emerged from the stairs to the boys’ dormitory, and neither of them wanted to run into them.
“Yes, it’s over,” she said with a sigh. “We talked a little bit after I told him I wanted to break up. We agreed we’d still be friends, but we’re going to take some time apart to get over it first.”
“How are you doing?” asked Hermione gently.
Ginny sighed again. Even though she knew it was the right thing to do, she felt exhausted and sad. It hurt to know that she’d hurt him.
“I feel confident that I did the right thing,” said Ginny heavily. “But I feel so sad that it’s over and that I hurt him.”
Hermione leaned over and gave her a hug. “It’s hard now, but it will get easier for both of you.”
Ginny nodded as they broke apart, wanting to change the subject. “So do you think things are over with Ron and Lavender, too?”
“Oh my goodness,” exclaimed Hermione, throwing her head back. “I certainly hope so. I don’t think Harry or I can stand to hear her call him ‘Won-Won’ one more time…”
She then explained how Harry had taken his lucky potion to get a memory from Slughorn, and Lavender had seen the three of them leaving the boys’ dormitory together. As Ginny suspected, Ron hadn’t been lying when he said Harry was invisible–he was under the Invisibility Cloak, no doubt leading Lavender to believe Ron and Hermione had been spending time alone in the boys’ dormitory.
“I’m just concerned that the potion won’t work,” finished Hermione. “Harry was suddenly adamant that he go visit Hagrid instead of seeking out Slughorn.”
“Maybe Slughorn is with Hagrid,” replied Ginny, shrugging. “It’s hard to see the potion’s endgame. It guides you as though you’re just acting on a whim–but it’s pretty clear it has a path for you. I’m sure Harry will find what he’s looking for.”
“You say that like you’ve had experience with it,” said Hermione curiously.
She gave a half-hearted smile, remembering both her lucky adventure with Harry and his recent betrayal. Normally, she might have felt a bit disappointed that the lucky potion didn’t lead Harry on an adventure with her. But right now all she felt was bitterness.
“I have…with Harry,” she said quietly.
Hermione’s eyes widened. “When? How? Was it Harry’s potion?”
Ginny bit her lip, feeling conflicted. The memory of their adventure felt painful now. All she could think about was Harry spilling her secrets to Dean. And now that they’d broken up, who knew how many others Dean would tell. Would she be ostracized by morning?
“I’ll tell you another time,” she said heavily. “I’m actually quite upset with Harry right now.”
Holding back tears, she recounted what Dean had told her and how shocked and betrayed she’d felt.
“I was completely blindsided,” she said tearfully. “I never imagined Harry would do that.”
Hermione had sat silently the entire time, looking thoughtful.
“Ron had mentioned to me that he’d wanted to talk to Dean about your boggart,” she said slowly. “I told him not to interfere, but he seemed adamant that it was the only way to make you happy. I think Harry and Ron had good intentions, but I agree that what they did was wrong.”
“They went about it completely wrong,” spat Ginny bitterly, choking back more tears. “I can understand Ron putting his foot in his mouth, but Harry? He was there with me in the Chamber. I guess I thought he’d take it more seriously.”
And she’d thought he’d valued her friendship and her trust…
“I think you should talk to Harry about it,” said Hermione reasonably. “You don’t really know what happened or what was said.”
“I don’t want to talk to Harry,” she retorted, folding her arms and wiping her face. She couldn’t bear to speak to him right now. What if she burst out in tears?
“You can talk to him when you’re ready,” said Hermione soothingly. “No matter how long that takes.”
The next day Harry, Ron, and Hermione settled into their favorite corner of the common room in unusually high spirits during one of their rare joint free periods after Charms. Harry could barely contain his joy at the news that Ginny and Dean had broken up the night before, Katie Bell was well enough to rejoin the Quidditch team in Dean’s place, and he’d succeeded in getting the memory from Slughorn the night before–thanks to Felix.
Ron seemed to be almost beside himself with glee about the end of his relationship with Lavender, and Hermione seemed cheery too, though when asked what she was grinning about she simply said, “It’s a nice day.”
As if sensing her presence, Harry’s eyes automatically found Ginny as she entered the common room. His stomach turned over with excitement as he watched her make her way toward him.
But as she drew nearer, his excitement turned to concern.
Harry could tell that something was not right. Ginny’s face was set in a stony scowl and her eyes were red. He stood up to meet her when she reached their couch.
“Ginny, what’s–” started Harry.
But Ginny cut him off. “You told him?” she asked in a low voice, her voice shaking slightly. Her tone was not angry. It seemed like she was...hurt.
For a moment, Harry was confused. He furrowed his brow and opened his mouth to speak, but then abruptly closed it as he realized that Dean must have told her that Harry and Ron revealed her boggart’s identity.
“It’s not what you think,” he said quickly, wildly racking his brain for an explanation that didn’t make it sound so bad.
“I think you told Dean that my boggart is Voldemort,” she choked. “What have I got wrong, Harry?”
Harry could see her eyes begin to water. He hadn’t seen her cry in years, and he felt a stab of guilt at the knowledge that he had caused this. Even if he hadn’t directly told Dean, he had been party to it and hadn’t stopped it.
“No, I told Dean,” said Ron, standing up. Harry felt a wave of gratitude toward Ron. Perhaps he would help her understand. “Harry tried to stop me, so lay off him.”
Ginny looked from Ron to Harry, sniffling and breathing heavily as she sized them up. Harry could tell she was on the verge of tears and would not want to talk about it until she calmed down.
“Ginny, why don’t we talk about this after dinner tonight? We’ll tell you the whole story,” said Harry gently.
“Can’t. I’ve got detention with Hagrid tonight,” she said thickly, blinking back tears.
“Detention? I thought your next one wasn’t until the middle of May,” said Harry, surprised.
“McGonagall asked him to move it up, so it wouldn’t interfere with my studying for OWLs,” she said, the tears receding a bit and her voice evening out.
“But it’s Tuesday…don’t your detentions usually start on Mondays and last through the week?” he asked, not sure if he believed her.
“It’s a five-hour detention, so I’m doing a week’s worth in one night,” she said quietly, rubbing her eyes and sniffing.
Harry didn’t know what to say. She was clearly upset with him, but would not discuss it with him. He wasn’t sure how to make this right–or whether it would be possible at all.
“Ginny, I’m really sorry–” he started, but Ginny cut him off again.
“You both betrayed me,” she said harshly. “Especially you, Harry. I thought you understood.”
Without another word, Ginny turned on her heel and left them alone.
Harry and Ron looked at Hermione, who had stayed unusually silent.
“What do we do?” asked Harry, hoping Hermione would have some advice.
“Give her space,” she said simply.
“Hermione’s right,” said Ron, shrugging. “We don’t have to do anything. She’ll just get over it.”
“That’s not what I meant, Ron,” said Hermione, irritated. “You need to give her some space and then apologize to her when she’s ready. Honestly, I can’t believe you two went against her wishes and told Dean.”
“We did what had to be done for Ginny–and for the team,” said Ron shrugging.
“Did we?” asked Harry, annoyed. “They broke up anyway, and she seems even more miserable now.”
Ron bit his lip, looking thoughtful. “I’ll admit that she does seem more upset than she usually does after we fight.”
Hermione snorted derisively. “Honestly.”
Harry made a beeline for Hagrid’s hut as soon as classes let out that day. If Ginny wouldn’t talk to him, he’d join her detention and force her to hear him out. He’d give her all the space she wanted once he’d had the chance to talk to her.
“I can’ let yeh do this, Harry,” protested Hagrid while the two of them sat down for tea. “Professor McGonagall tol’ me yeh would try ter get detention with me.”
“Hagrid, please, this is really important to me,” Harry said, trying to keep the desperation out of this voice. He couldn’t help feeling like this was his last chance to make amends with Ginny. She could easily avoid him for the rest of the school year if she wanted to.
“Why’s tha’?” asked Hagrid, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. “Yer not up to summat, are yeh?”
“What would I be up to?” asked Harry, deflecting. “Why can’t I just want to find the–er, what was it we’re looking for tonight?”
Harry knew Hagrid would see through this, but he had to keep trying.
“Ashwinder,” replied Hagrid pointedly. “Now stop tryin’ to avoid the question.”
Harry took a long drink of tea, wildly racking his brain for an acceptable response. He could try to guilt Hagrid. After all, Harry had been there to support Hagrid for Aragog’s funeral the night before. But Harry couldn’t bring himself to take advantage of Hagrid’s feelings like that…
“How come Ron and Hermione don’ want ter come?” asked Hagrid when Harry said nothing.
“They don’t like the Forbidden Forest,” said Harry matter-of-factly.
“An’ yeh like it now?” chuckled Hagrid, slapping his hand on the table with amusement. “I haven’ ever seen yeh go in there for fun.”
“It doesn’t matter why I want to go,” said Harry, growing frustrated at Hagrid’s questions and becoming more desperate by the minute. “I’m asking you as a favor, Hagrid. Please do this for me.”
Hagrid studied him for a few moments. Harry held his breath, hoping that Hagrid would take him at his word and stop asking questions. Hagrid was not very discreet despite his best intentions. Harry couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t let it slip to Ron if he admitted his feelings for Ginny.
Suddenly, Hagrid straightened in his chair and his face broke into a grin. Harry stiffened, unsure if Hagrid was about to grant him his wish or suggest something he didn’t want to do.
“Yeh wouldn’ be wantin’ ter spend more time with a certain someone, would yeh?” he asked, still grinning.
“I always enjoy spending time with you, Hagrid,” Harry said stiffly, knowing that wasn’t what Hagrid meant.
“Righ’,” chuckled Hagrid, nodding. “An’ does Ron know yer askin’ me fer this?”
“Are you letting me come or not?” asked Harry testily. He wasn’t going to let Hagrid tease him any longer.
“Alrigh’, yeh can come,” said Hagrid, relenting. Even under his thick bushy beard, Harry could still see him smirking.
“But McGonagall had better not find out,” he added sternly. “I’m doin’ this as a favor ter yeh, Harry.”
“Thank you, Hagrid,” said Harry gratefully. “I promise McGonagall won’t find out.”
“Be here at seven sharp,” replied Hagrid, as Harry bid him good-bye.