A/N: Set alongside the events of HBP Chapter 19: Elf Tails
Ginny burst through the front doors of the castle and rushed up the marble staircase, taking two steps at time. She tripped over her Quidditch robes on the first landing, but was so numb with fear that she barely even felt the fall.
She shuddered as she hurtled along the corridors toward the Hospital Wing, obsessively replaying that sickening sound in her head. It was the sound of a Bludger colliding with Harry’s head.
Ginny didn’t need to see what happened–the sound of Harry’s skull cracking and the sight of him falling off his broom with McLaggen above him holding a Beater’s bat was enough for her to put it together. Without a doubt, McLaggen had hit Harry with a Bludger in the midst of criticizing Peakes and Coote.
The bottom had dropped out of her stomach when she’d seen his body crumple like a rag doll and slide off his broom, completely limp. She’d been too far away to catch him, even with her new racing broom. If Peakes and Coote hadn’t been just below him, he might not have survived…
She banished the thought from her head as she pushed through the double doors of the Hospital Wing. She needed to see for herself that Harry was going to be alright.
Her eyes sought Harry’s mop of messy black hair as she scanned the beds. She saw him at the far end of the room, on the other side of Ron, who hastily laid down and made a loud snoring noise.
“It’s just me, Ron,” she said, rolling her eyes. Did Lavender really believe Ron was always sleeping when she came around? He had been in the Hospital Wing for a week now. Lavender was bound to catch on soon.
Ron sat up and gave her a smile. “Ginny! Here to see me again so soon?”
Ginny let out a hollow laugh. “No, I’m here to see Harry.”
She walked past Ron’s bed, trying to get a better look at Harry. She felt a wave of nausea as she took a seat between their beds.
Harry was lying on his side, facing her, with a huge bandage around his head and his glasses on the night table. His face was white as a sheet with dried blood staining his cheek and temple. His head was almost completely flat where the Bludger had struck him. She was shocked that he was even alive.
Automatically, she reached out to touch his face, as if she might be able take away his pain, but she stopped, suddenly aware that Ron was watching her. Dropping her hand, she turned to Ron.
“Madam Pomfrey says it’s just a cracked skull, and he’ll be okay to leave in a day or so,” Ron said reassuringly.
Ginny nodded silently, relieved that Harry would be okay, even if he didn’t look like it at the moment. She looked back at Harry, unable to get the sound of his head cracking out of her mind.
“Tough match, huh?” continued Ron. “Hagrid told me what McLaggen did when he brought him in, and I could hear Luna’s match commentary from here.”
She felt a surge of anger as she remembered the match. “That McLaggen is such a prat–”
She stopped at the look on Ron’s face. He was nodding and pursing his lips in a poorly suppressed smile.
Ginny shook her head. “Unbelievable! I can’t believe you’re happy that McLaggen nearly killed your best friend!”
“Harry’s survived much worse,” he said with a shrug. “And now there’s no way he’ll keep McLaggen on the team.”
“Of course not! He was never going to stay on the team, Ron!” she responded in utter disbelief. “I can’t believe you’re more concerned about your spot on the team than Harry’s well being!”
“He’s fine, Ginny,” said Ron, rolling his eyes. “You know I wouldn’t be saying any of this if I wasn’t sure that he’d fully recover.”
Ginny nodded, feeling her anger subside. She wasn’t angry at Ron; she was angry at McLaggen for hurting Harry. And as she thought about it more, she was reminded of Harry’s strange behavior before the match.
“What was going on with Harry before the match?” she asked, abruptly changing the subject.
“Huh? What do you mean?” asked Ron, confused.
“He barely made it on time,” she replied. “He mentioned something about Malfoy and a bunch of girls.”
“Dunno, he left here early enough,” said Ron, shaking his head. “I never saw Malfoy, but you know how obsessed he’s been with him lately.”
Ginny nodded and looked back at Harry, who had started to drool on his pillow. She grabbed a tissue from the night table and gently wiped the drool from his mouth, remembering how afraid she had been when Ron was in the same position just a week before. His face felt stone cold, sending a shudder through her.
“How are you feeling?” she asked, looking back at Ron. He looked much better.
“Loads better,” he said enthusiastically. “Madam Pomfrey says I’ll be back in classes on Monday.”
“That’s great, Ron!” she said with a smile. “We were all so scared for you, especially Hermione. She didn’t speak for hours when we first found out.”
Ron seemed satisfied to hear this. “Maybe that’ll make her think twice about carrying on with McLaggen…”
Ginny rolled her eyes. Leave it to Ron to respond to something nice by bringing up a petty argument! She knew she’d told Hermione that she’d stay out of it, but this was getting ridiculous.
“Oh, Ron! She was never dating McLaggen!” she sighed, exasperated. “Can’t you see how much she cares for you? She would be sitting by your bedside around the clock if Madam Pomfrey would let her!”
Ron face flushed scarlet. “Well, I don’t know why–I can’t imagine she would actually do that…” he spluttered.
Ginny smirked, but said nothing.
“Hermione’s visited Harry here too, you know,” he said lamely.
Ginny couldn’t help rolling her eyes again. “And where is she right now, Ron? She hasn’t rushed to Harry’s side now like she did for you when you were poisoned.”
“You’re right,” said Ron, a smile curling at his lips. “But you did. You didn’t even stop to change out of your Quidditch robes.”
“Nonsense,” she replied defensively, feeling her cheeks get warm. “I’m here because the team is concerned, and I agreed to check in on him since I was coming to see you anyway.”
“You never visit me in the Hospital Wing,” he retorted.
“You’re never in the Hospital Wing,” she shot back.
There was a pause in which Ron seemed to be carefully choosing his next words. It made Ginny feel uneasy; Ron seemed to never think before he spoke.
“So does Dean know you’re here?” he asked in a tone she couldn’t quite read. It wasn’t aggressive or sarcastic. It was as if he were simply...curious.
“I don’t see how that matters, but yes, he does,” she said curtly. “And so does the rest of the team.”
“And he doesn’t mind?” he pressed.
“I don’t know what you’re getting at, Ron. Why would he mind?” she retorted hotly. She wasn’t going to let Ron instigate a conflict between her and Dean.
“You know why,” he said, raising his eyebrows and shooting a knowing glance at Harry.
“I’m over him, Ron,” she replied, annoyed. Ron had teased her about her crush on Harry for years, even after she’d started dating other boys. While it was true she had been re-evaluating her feelings for him, it was none of Ron’s business. She was with Dean, and she was very happy at the moment.
“Barely a month ago you were too shy to even speak to him!” said Ron disbelievingly.
“I wasn’t shy, Ron,” she said defensively. “I just didn’t want him to think I was using him for help with my Quidditch applications.”
“Right,” said Ron, rolling his eyes. Ginny bit her tongue, silently seething, but knowing that if she continued to fight him she’d only make him more convinced that she was lying. She could lie so well about so many things, but when it came to Harry, everything was different.
“What if Harry fancied you back? Would that change anything?” he continued, more forcefully now.
Ginny shifted uncomfortably in her seat, willing her face not to give away her feelings. She wished Ron would drop the subject. There was no point in discussing hypotheticals.
“He doesn’t,” she snapped, hoping to shut down the conversation.
“Why do you think that?” he said curiously.
She furrowed her brow, confused. Determined to dodge the question, she turned it back on him. “Why do you think he does?”
“It’s a hypothetical question,” he replied.
“Would that change anything for you?” she asked. She wondered if this wasn’t a hypothetical question at all. Maybe Ron suspected that Harry fancied her, and he wasn’t happy about it...
“What do you mean?” he asked, confused.
“You hate all of my boyfriends–”
“I don’t hate them,” snapped Ron. “They’re just not good enough for you.”
“Yes, you’ve told me many times,” scoffed Ginny. She didn’t want to go through this again. Instead, she was more curious about what Ron thought about Harry fancying her.
“Is Harry good enough for me?” she asked, watching Ron’s face closely.
Ron suddenly looked at Harry, as though he could hear them. After a moment, he looked back at Ginny.
“He could be...if he treats you right,” he said slowly.
“Does Dean not treat me right?” she asked, taken aback. What was Ron on about? Was this really just about how much he didn’t like Dean?
Ron gave her an exasperated look. “He bet against you in the broom race, Ginny!”
“You bet against Harry! How’s that being a good friend?” she challenged. She felt blood rush to her head as her indignation rose.
“Harry isn’t pursuing professional Quidditch, and Dean wasn’t questioning his value as a player!” argued Ron incredulously.
She took a deep breath, willing herself to calm down. She didn’t want to argue with Ron in the Hospital Wing. Madam Pomfrey would be sure to kick her out if she was upsetting a patient.
“So does that mean you want me to date Harry?” she asked, willing her voice to stay even and trying to steer the subject away from Dean.
“Er, well, I don’t know–I don’t like seeing you date anyone,” he said hastily, stumbling over his words.
“Why?” Ginny wasn’t going to let him off easily.
“Because I don’t want anyone to hurt you,” he said pointedly. “You’re my sister!”
“Would Harry hurt me?” she asked, surprised by his answer. She didn’t know Ron cared so much…
“I’d give him a good thrashing if he did,” he said in a low voice, sending a dark look at Harry.
“But do you think he would?” she pressed, feeling suddenly on edge.
Ron’s face softened, his eyes still on Harry. After a long pause, he finally spoke. “He could die one day. It scares me how close You-Know-Who has come to finally doing him in…”
Ginny’s chest tightened at the thought of Harry dying. She’d been so afraid for him today. The idea of losing him, even as her friend, was terrifying to her. And he was Ron’s best friend… it would be devastating for him.
“He’s my best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without him,” continued Ron. “I don’t want you to go through that loss if it comes to that.”
Ginny reached out and put her hand on Ron’s and gave him a reassuring squeeze.
“I’m friends with him, too, Ron,” she said gently, holding back tears that were inexplicably threatening. “I’d be crushed if he died, even if he weren’t my boyfriend. You can’t protect me from that.”
They both fell silent, looking at Harry. Ginny blinked back tears as she studied his pale face and lopsided head. He had survived this and so much more. He was the strongest and most determined person she knew. Voldemort had attacked him many times, and yet he was still standing.
“He will beat him,” she said in a heated voice. Harry must triumph. He was too good–too kind–to be overcome by such evil.
Ron nodded solemnly, as if they were both asking the same unspoken question: But at what cost?
She felt a rush of relief as she remembered that both Harry and Ron would be okay today. She’d experienced a roller coaster of emotions this week–fear, anger, confusion, sadness. She was so grateful that they were both still here after everything that had happened. It wasn’t just the poisoning and the mauling by McLaggen; it was all of their dangerous adventures over the years.
Ginny stood up and bent down to hug Ron tightly. “I would be even more devastated if you had died last week, Ron.”
He said nothing, but hugged her back hard. She never said it, but she loved her brother dearly.
Ginny returned to Gryffindor Tower feeling emotionally drained. While she was grateful that Harry would be alright, the intensity of the match and her conversation with Ron had left her feeling exhausted.
Automatically, she spotted Dean sitting with Hermione and Seamus across the common room and collapsed on a couch next to him with a deep sigh.
“How’s Harry and Ron?” he asked, throwing his arm over her shoulder. Hermione and Seamus leaned over with interest.
“Ron is doing very well, but Harry was still unconscious,” she said wearily. “Madam Pomfrey says they’ll both make a full recovery.”
Dean shook his head, chuckling. “I still can’t believe McLaggen whacked him in the head!”
Seamus guffawed next to him. “Did you see it?”
Ginny felt a pang of annoyance. She didn’t see what was so funny.
“No...I was flying downfield,” she said testily.
“She didn’t need to see it. We all heard it,” tutted Hermione, folding her arms. Ginny was glad to see she was annoyed as well.
“I had turned just in time–you should have seen it!” laughed Dean as he stood up. “Harry was yelling at McLaggen, and McLaggen was waving around the bat like a total prat!”
Dean swung his arms wildly as if he were swinging a bat. Ginny could feel blood rushing to her head, incensed by Dean’s insensitiveness.
“We don’t need a re-enactment…” started Hermione, but Dean ignored her.
“And then Harry–I don’t know why–he reached for the bat–”
“It was like he was trying to take it away from McLaggen or something–” cut in Seamus.
“Exactly!” said Dean. “But then McLaggen hit the Bludger and it went straight at Harry!”
“There was this really loud crack like his head had just...exploded!” exclaimed Seamus, making an explosion motion with his hands.
“His head did not explode!” interrupted Hermione, shooting Ginny a meaningful glance.
“I swear I was close enough to see his skull collapse under the Bludger and blood spurting out of his head,” enthused Dean. “It was amazing!”
“And then Harry just went limp and tumbled off his broom–” added Seamus.
Dean broke off and fell to the ground, presumably imitating Harry’s fall. He doubled over laughing on the floor while Seamus chortled next to Ginny on the couch, slapping his leg.
“He–looked–so…” choked Dean between laughs.
“Ridiculous!” finished Seamus, rolling off the couch onto the floor.
Ginny felt sick again as she remembered how horrible it had been to hear Harry’s skull cracking. She was utterly disgusted at how Dean and Seamus were talking about him.
“It’s not funny!” she spat, raising her voice over the sound of the blood pounding in her ears. “He could have died! Do you gits not understand that?”
“Nonsense!” scoffed Dean, his laughter subsiding. “Players get hit in the head with Bludgers all the time and they survive!”
“Some of them sustain permanent brain damage!” interjected Hermione angrily. Ginny was glad she was on her side.
“We don’t even know if Harry is going to be the same person when he wakes up!” she added, feeling tears threatening again and her fear returning. “You didn’t see him, Dean. His head was lopsided, and he was so pale and cold it seemed like he was nearly dead already!”
Ron hadn’t said there was any risk of brain damage, and Ginny didn’t really believe this. But the fact that Dean could take such a serious injury so lightly disturbed her.
To her surprise, her stirring defense of Harry only made Dean and Seamus laugh harder.
“His–his head–is lopsided?” breathed Dean. Ginny thought she could see tears of laughter in his eyes as he struggled to catch his breath.
“Lopsided!” repeated Seamus, tears of laughter already streaming down his face.
“Dean, you’re such an insensitive prat!” yelled Ginny, unable to control herself now. “Harry is your friend! How could you be so mean?”
Hermione moved over to sit next to Ginny and put her hand on her arm. “Just ignore them,” she whispered.
But Ginny glared at Hermione, shaking her head. She could not let this go.
Dean climbed back onto the couch, seeing her distress. “Relax, Ginny.”
He threw his arm around her and leaned in. “Harry has survived so much worse,” he continued. “He’s not going to be done in by a Bludger to the head. It’ll take a lot more than that to take down the Chosen One!”
“Harry is not somehow less affected by pain and suffering just because the Daily Prophet is spreading lies about a silly prophecy that doesn’t exist! He’s no different than me or you,” she retorted, her voice shaking with anger and tears streaming down her face. She felt hot with embarrassment that she’d succumbed to tears and her voice started to crack. “What if that had been me that McLaggen had clubbed?”
“Let’s go upstairs, Ginny,” said Hermione gently, standing and tugging on her arm. Ginny pulled away, determined to make her point.
“Then McLaggen would have a bed in the Hospital Wing by the time I’d finished with him!” said Dean hotly.
She shook her head in disbelief. It was like she didn’t even know Dean anymore. In the span of one week, she’d almost lost her brother to poison and her...what? What was Harry to her? Her first crush? Her friend? He felt like more than that lately.
Hermione took her hand and gave it a squeeze. “Let’s go.”
This time, Ginny followed. She had nothing more to say to Dean.