|SIYE Time:20:17 on 19th June 2018|
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Genres: Angst, Fluff
Story is Complete
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?
Hitcount: Story Total: 6023; Chapter Total: 1804
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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