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SIYE Time:15:15 on 10th May 2021


Hearts' Desire
By Kezzabear

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Category: The I Love You Challenge (2020-2)
Characters:Harry/Ginny
Genres: Drama
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: G
Reviews: 14
Summary: ***Winner of Best Overall and People's Choice Award in the I Love You Challenge***A little something their hearts had known for years.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2567



Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.





ChapterPrinter


Ginny chased the train. She felt the wind lick at her hair, whipping fly away strands into her face as the train picked up speed. She saw him. Harry Potter. Her insides felt all warm and squirmy as he peered out at her. She waved madly, half laughing, half crying and chasing the train. Harry Potter was watching her, messy hair falling into his face and his green eyes — watching her. Looking at her. He was very cute. Ginny kept waving. Harry kept looking at her. Smiling a shy smile, Ginny waved at Harry Potter. Perhaps he waved back. She couldn’t believe she’d met him at last. She’d wanted to meet him forever. Was sure they’d be friends if they had the chance. Maybe Ron would be able to be his friend? Imagine that! It would almost be like being his friend herself! Ginny kept waving, the train starting to vanish, taking Ron and Harry Potter away to Hogwarts far away from Ginny. Ginny slowed down, her waves slowing as well, thinking about Harry Potter and the shy, uncertain way he’d looked on the platform and on the train. She watched as the train, and Harry Potter, disappeared into the distance.

I love you.

**************************

She was absolutely mortified. Ginny couldn’t believe what had just happened. It had been completely and utterly mortifying. It was actually, well … probably, going to be all right until Malfoy had opened his fat mouth. Harry wouldn’t have been certain she’d sent the Valentine and sending it had seemed like a really good idea when she’d organised for the dwarf to do it. But no one knew it was her. Until Malfoy. None of it was supposed to go like this though! It wasn’t supposed to chase Harry and it wasn’t supposed to make his bag break and all his stuff fall out. At first Ginny had been pleased that she would get to see Harry get her Valentine. At that point she’d thought he would love it. She did work very hard on it after all. It had been a pleasant respite from Tom. That whole situation was starting to feel a bit weird and it was a little bit terrifying that Harry had the diary now. But she’d think about that later.

Making a Valentine for Harry made Ginny feel warm and fuzzy inside. It felt a whole lot better than when she was talking to Tom. But Harry didn’t seem to want a Valentine and then it all just got awful and he fell over and all his stuff was ruined and she was sure the dwarf had hurt him because when Harry got up he kind of wobbled a bit. Everyone was laughing. Harry and Malfoy had practically got into a duel and Percy was probably going to take house points from Harry again and it would all be her fault. And everyone would know it was her fault because Malfoy was a horrible boy who opened his fat mouth and told Harry she’d sent the Valentine. All she’d wanted to do was tell Harry how much she liked him. Something she could never do in person! He would never be her friend now. She would never be able to look him in the eye. From her seat at the back of her classroom, Ginny watched Harry head to the Charms classroom.

I love you.

****************************

Ginny tried to push her embarrassment down as she sidled into the hospital wing. It had been awful, but she had to come after what happened to Harry yesterday.

Huddled under an umbrella in the Quidditch stands, Ginny was determined not to miss the match even though she didn’t have anyone to go with. She still hadn’t really made any friends in her year level and Ron was always telling her to go away. That didn’t upset her though. Ron was always with Harry Potter and Ginny found it really difficult to be near Harry these days. It was almost worse than last year — since he’d saved her life and everything. But still, she was a bit lonely. She had thought maybe she wouldn’t feel so alone at a Quidditch match with all the other people around. And she did love Quidditch.

Ginny had watched Harry fly around the pitch as the rain got steadily worse, her fingers going numb even inside her gloves. It was a miracle Harry was still on his broom, really. The Hufflepuff Seeker was good. Really good. And a bit cute as well so Ginny was enjoying herself even though she was chilled to the bone and her feet were getting wet. The sky got darker and darker and the lightning began to flash. Harry nearly hit some of the other players and it was getting hard to see. Ginny was almost relieved when Oliver Wood called a time out so that she could stop straining to watch the match.

“Hello,” said a lilting musical voice near her left ear. Ginny jumped, startled. A blonde girl about her own age was standing just outside the reach of Ginny’s umbrella and her hair was beginning to drip great fat drops of rain. Ginny hastily shuffled over so her umbrella covered the other girl who smiled dreamily in acknowledgement.

“You’re, um Loony — er, Luna, aren’t you?” Ginny asked timidly after a moment. She blushed heavily but Luna just nodded.

“The Hufflepuff team are very good,” Luna said, “but I still think I will cheer for Gryffindor.”

“Aren’t you in Ravenclaw?” Ginny enquired, a little confused now. Luna nodded but gave no further explanation for her decision. The wind seemed to blow a little sharper and more lightning slashed the sky.

“I think Harry Potter needs to find the Snitch soon,” Luna said vaguely, peering out into the pitch as the teams took to the sky again. Thunder boomed and lightning flashed as play resumed but Luna didn’t say anything else. The stadium fell silent then and suddenly Ginny felt incredibly cold, the way she had on the train on the way to Hogwarts. She shuddered, hearing that hissing sound again, her vision darkening even more, but not because of the weather.

Harry was falling. It was awful. Ginny was swaying on her feet. Luna was holding her up. Harry fell. Ginny sat down with a thump, shaking, the umbrella tilting sideways as a cheer went up from the other side of the pitch, where all the Hufflepuffs were. Ginny noted rather dully that their Seeker had caught the Snitch but her eyes were drawn to Harry lying motionless on the ground.

“You should go and get a hot chocolate,” Luna said, peering at Ginny. It was the most sensible thing she had said so far. Ginny nodded and struggled to her feet; her lower body now entirely soaked to the skin.

“I will,” Ginny said. “Er, thanks Luna.”

“You should visit Harry in the hospital wing,” Luna said when Ginny had steadied herself and repositioned her umbrella. “Everyone should have friends.” And then she was suddenly gone, and Ginny wasn’t sure if she had made a new friend or not, but she resolved to visit Harry.

And that was why Ginny, clutching her handmade ‘get well’ card tightly and blushing violently, made her way into the hospital wing and to Harry’s bedside. Ron and Hermione were there, and Ginny stopped uncertainly a few feet away.

“What d’you want?” Ron asked. Ginny blushed even more. Hermione hit him on the arm. Harry looked up.

“Hello,” he said. He sounded sad. Ginny took a few more steps towards Harry’s bed and her face heated rather spectacularly.

“Imadeyouthis,” Ginny said in a rush and thrust the card at Harry before her nerve failed her.

“Thanks,” Harry said politely, taking the card. As Ginny loosened her grip the card opened a little and it started singing. Ron started and Harry’s eyes widened. Hermione looked at Ginny kindly and smiled a bit, but Ginny’s nerve was just about gone. She took a few steps back as the card started the chorus.

“I — I — I hopeyoufeelbettersoon,” Ginny mumbled before fleeing. He was still really cute. Cuter than the Hufflepuff Seeker. Hopefully she would be able to talk to Harry properly next time. She hovered in the doorway and snuck one last look at Harry who had a half smile on his face as he let the card finish it’s song before he closed it. The card wouldn’t stay closed and kept singing. Harry looked momentarily panicked before laughing and sliding it under his fruit bowl. Ginny slipped out with one last look at his sparkling green eyes.

I love you.

***************************


Ron was an insensitive berk. Served him right that Fleur turned him down. He didn’t deserve to go to the Yule Ball with her. He didn’t deserve to go with Hermione either. Ginny didn’t know what Hermione saw in him. Not that Hermione was going to admit it, but Ginny wasn’t as stupid as Ron was. Hermione was clever, although Ginny wasn’t sure she was right about Harry. Ginny had tried to give up on him, she really had, and she thought she’d succeeded the past three weeks. Mostly.

“Harry can’t see you,” Hermione had said kindly that morning at breakfast, shortly before the first task. “You’re not yourself.”

“Yes, I am!” Ginny protested. Hermione smiled at her, kindly, rather than with pity.

“You can’t even talk if you’re in the same room with him,” Hermione pointed out. Ginny sighed heavily.

“I just get so tongue-tied,” Ginny said. “I don’t even know why! It’s like my brain stops my mouth saying anything because it knows I’m going to say something stupid and I don’t want him to think I’m stupid!” Hermione put her porridge spoon down and turned to face Ginny.

“Harry is a very kind person,” she said. “He wouldn’t think you were stupid, but … he is a boy.”

“Boys are dumb,” Ginny said morosely. Hermione laughed.

“You should get on with your life,” Hermione said. “Don’t think so much about Harry.”

“I can’t help it!”

“Maybe go out with some other people,” Hermione continued as if Ginny had not spoken. “Stop thinking on Harry so much and relax. Then perhaps you can be a bit more yourself.”

“Oh, what would that matter?” Ginny muttered, grabbing a piece of toast, and biting into it violently.

“Honestly?” Hermione said urgently. “If Harry could see you, really see you he’d take notice of you. You’re clever and funny and strong. You love Quidditch just like he does and you’ve a wicked sense of humour. He’ll see that when he gets to know you — the real you.”

“Well, I doubt anyone is ever going to ask me out, Hermione,” Ginny said wryly. “But I’ll keep that in mind.” Harry had turned up then and Ginny hastily turned to her breakfast, not wanting to believe Hermione but knowing she was rarely wrong.

It was only a few days later that Ginny had the opportunity to put Hermione’s advice to the test for the first time. She had been sitting in the corner of the Common Room, definitely not looking for Harry Potter, when Neville had come through the portrait hole and thrown himself, grimacing, into the overstuffed armchair by the fireplace.

“Hi Neville,” Ginny said timidly, abandoning her homework. “All right?”

“Oh, hi Ginny,” Neville said, glancing at her and then looking into the fire which was burning merrily. “I think I’ve rather embarrassed myself.”

“I know that feeling,” Ginny replied, sinking down onto the hearthrug. Neville looked at her sympathetically.

“I asked Hermione to the Ball,” Neville confessed. “I know it was a long shot, but I had to try.”

“Did she —”

“She said no,” Neville interrupted, “of course she said no! Who would want to go with me anyway? I guess I knew she’d — I knew she’d be kind.”

“I’m sorry,” Ginny said. “And I’m sure someone would be pleased to go with you.”

“Hermione’s going with someone else,” Neville shrugged. “I guess at least she didn’t just say no because I’m useless.”

“You’re not useless,” Ginny protested. Neville just looked at her, one eyebrow raised. Ginny stared him down. “Who’s she going with?”

“Dunno,” Neville shrugged. “Ron?” Ginny burst out laughing.

“I don’t think Ron has even asked anyone,” Ginny said eventually, her laughter subsiding. “He’s terrified of girls.” Neville allowed a wry smile. Ginny giggled and shook her head before she straightened up and started to get up off the floor.

“Say, Ginny,” Neville said quietly. “Would you go to the Ball with me?” Ginny froze, halfway off the floor, one knee still on the ground and a hand on the armchair.

“Um,” she said eloquently.

“It’s okay,” Neville said. “I — you — it’s okay.” He stood up and turned to walk away. Ginny hastily scrambled to her feet and grabbed his arm, spinning him around.

“I’d love to,” she said, looking Neville in the eye, Hermione’s words echoing in her head maybe go out with other people. Plus, she was a third year, she wouldn’t be able to go unless an older student invited her. Neville smiled a shy smile and ducked his head, blushing slightly.

“Thanks,” he said shyly.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Ginny assured him.

Hermione had confided to Ginny a few days later that Viktor Krum had asked her to the Yule Ball, and she’d felt bad about turning Neville down. She’d approved of Ginny accepting his invitation though. It was ‘exactly what Ginny needed’ apparently. Ginny wasn’t so sure, but she was happy enough to go with Neville. He was nice and at least she’d get to go.

And now Harry knew all about it because Ron was such a … such a git. Ginny had felt sorry for Ron at first, being turned down (probably brutally) by Fleur Delacour, but then he’d gone and insulted Neville, and Hermione, and then he just offered her up to Harry like some sort of consolation prize. Ginny didn’t know whether to be outraged on Hermione’s behalf, offended on Neville’s behalf, or incensed on her own account. She eventually settled for miserable, giving Harry one last glance before casting her eyes down and heading for the portrait hole.

“I think I’ll go and have dinner,” Ginny said, with one last glance at Harry.

I love you.

**************************

Hermione had been right. Giving up on Harry and going out with other people had been a good idea. It had gotten Ginny’s mind off things; she’d had a few good snogs and being around Harry wasn’t difficult anymore. Well, it wouldn’t be difficult if Harry weren’t hiding from them and would actually be around them. Though Ginny had spent more time with Harry this year than she had before — and she’d done it without blushing. They’d spent a fair bit of time together cleaning Grimmauld Place and generally hanging out over the summer. It was the first year she’d ridden the Hogwarts Express back to school with Harry and, in an effort to be herself, she’d made a point of saying hello when she saw him around the castle.

Unfortunately, Harry was not returning the favour. He was moody and grouchy and occasionally being a right foul git. Not that he didn’t have reason sometimes mind you. Life wasn’t exactly going swimmingly for Harry. Being the Gryffindor Seeker was bittersweet for Ginny, given Harry was banned for life. She was excited and pleased to be on the team but knew how much it was hurting Harry. If Ginny ever got her hands on that Umbitch …

He was busy now telling Hermione that he was fine. Ginny nearly snorted. Harry had been in a mood for days, didn’t help decorate for Christmas, refused to talk to them and was voluntarily spending time shut in a room with a Hippogriff. He was not fine. Again, he kind of did have a reason, given The Order thought he might be possessed by You-Know-Who and all.

But if he’d bothered for one minute to talk to them about it …

“Oh, don’t lie, Harry,” Hermione said impatiently. “Ron and Ginny say you’ve been hiding from everyone since you got back from St, Mungo’s.”

“They do, do they?” said Harry, glaring at Ron and Ginny. Ron looked down at his feet, but Ginny had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. She wasn’t going to let Harry get away with his little tantrum. Not only had he been hiding but she wanted to help.

“Well, you have!” she said. “And you won’t look at any of us!”

“It’s you lot who won’t look at me!” said Harry angrily. That was rich. As if Ginny could stop looking at Harry! But she pushed that aside. She really had given up on him. She had a boyfriend. Hermione was trying to make Harry laugh, but he was having none of it.

“Look, the others have told me what you overheard last night on the Extendable Ears –” Ginny winced. She wasn’t sure about the others, but she was fairly sure her face hadn’t been impassive. It was a scary thought; she would have looked scared.

“Yeah?” growled Harry. “All been talking about me, have you? Well, I’m getting used to it …”

“We wanted to talk to you, Harry,” said Ginny, “but as you’ve been hiding ever since we got back –”

“I didn’t want anyone to talk to me,” said Harry, who was sounding more and more nettled. Well that was just peachy, wasn’t it? Ginny felt herself getting annoyed and even angry. It was a new sensation being angry at Harry, but she couldn’t hold back now. This was the real her and Hermione said be herself. Well Harry Potter was about to get a dose of Ginny Weasley being herself!

“Well, that was a bit stupid of you,” she fumed at Harry, “seeing as you don’t know anyone but me who’s been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels.” Harry remained quite still before he turned on the spot to face her.

“I forgot,” he said.

He forgot? Well, it was all right for some, wasn’t it? He forgot. He’d been there. He was part of it and yet he forgot! Ginny would like to bloody forget but she didn’t have that luxury. He forgot.

“Lucky you,” said Ginny coolly, still feeling quite angry but trying to hold it together. She might want to show him her ‘real self’ but she didn’t need to scare him.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said. He sounded like he meant it and Ginny felt her anger subside a little. Harry looked at he for a moment before continuing. “So … so do you think I’m being possessed, then?”

“Well, can you remember everything you’ve been doing?” Ginny asked. “Are there big blank periods where you don’t know what you’ve been up to?” She suppressed a shiver just thinking about it.

“No,” he said.

“Then You-Know-Who hasn’t ever possessed you,” said Ginny simply. She found herself less angry now and back to wanting to help him. “When he did it to me, I couldn’t remember what I’d been doing for hours at a time. I’d find myself somewhere and not know how I got there.”

Harry looked like he didn’t dare believe her. After some deliberation about whether he’d been transported out of his bed at Hogwarts, Harry stuffed a sandwich in his mouth. He looked happier. Ginny felt that she’d been able to help. She hoped she’d helped. Sirius came past their door belting out God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs and Ginny watched as Harry stuffed another sandwich in his mouth, almost smiling.

I love you.

**************************** ***

Harry and Ginny ran out of the library and down the corridor, ducking and weaving as Harry’s stationery chased them, whacking them on the head. Harry nearly dropped the remains of his egg when his ink bottle spilled onto his uniform as it collided with his head. His bag thumped Ginny and she winced as he tried to grab it and his fingers tangled in her hair.

“Sorry!” Harry gasped. Ginny just laughed, capturing the ink bottle before it emptied itself on Harry’s head. His Transfiguration textbook rapped her smartly on the head just as Defensive Magical Theory belted Harry over his left eye. He glowered at it, snatching it out of the air and stuffing it in his bag. Ginny held out the now properly stoppered ink bottle and Harry threw that into his bag as well.

“Well,” Ginny said with a smile, “we probably won’t make that mistake again!” Harry grunted, trying to wrestle his Charms text back into his bag.

“Who knew there was a place you shouldn’t eat chocolate?” he said. Having tamed the Charms book, Harry grabbed at the parchment he had been writing his Astronomy essay on, it was trying to bop him smartly on the top of his head. Harry threw a withering look at the library doors which now slammed shut. Ginny gestured rudely at the doors as they heard the locks click into place.

“I’ve never seen you do that!” Harry exclaimed, slinging his bag over his shoulder. Ginny rolled her eyes at him as she snatched at the ragged quill that was trying to slap her across the face.

“Maybe you should pay more attention then,” she said, grinning. “I grew up with Fred and George — remember?” Ginny handed him back the quill and Harry shoved it in his bag. The pair of them turned in the direction of Gryffindor Tower, Harry’s belongings now safely captured and stowed in his bag.

“What else do you do that I don’t know about, Miss Weasley?” Harry said, still feeling the bubble of hope that started when he looked at her in the library, right before Madam Pince chased them out. Ginny stepped onto the staircase that loomed in front of them, hopping up a few steps and then looking back at Harry.

“I’m the reigning Exploding Snap champion in my dorm,” Ginny informed him solemnly, “and I can knit — but don’t tell anyone that second thing!” Harry laughed and crossed his fingers over his heart.

“And what is it you do, Mr Potter, that I don’t know about? Ginny asked, stepping backwards up the stairs, still facing Harry.

“I’d wager you know everything there is to know,” Harry replied, taking a step upwards. Ginny reached over and snagged another piece of Harry’s chocolate egg.

“You strike me as a man of secrets,” she said, popping the piece of egg in her mouth. “I bet there’s some things no one knows.” Harry shrugged and Ginny skipped ahead a couple of steps. She tilted her head to the side and smiled.

“You sing in the shower,” Ginny said confidently. Harry laughed.

“I can’t sing,” he said, shaking his head.

“You don’t need to be able to sing to sing in the shower,” Ginny said, turning and heading up the stairs. She hopped and bounced up the stairs towards Gryffindor Tower and Harry hurried after her.

“I don’t sing in the shower,” he protested.

“Wouldn’t matter if you did,” Ginny said as she reached the portrait hole. “Mimbulus Mimbeltonia. I’ll have to listen outside the bathroom for your singing next time we’re at The Burrow.” The Fat Lady swung open and Ginny grinned as she stepped through the portrait hole.

“I can juggle!” Harry said desperately as he followed her through the portrait hole. He hadn’t done it in years, but it was a skill he had perfected as part of keeping things out of Dudley’s reach when they were younger. Ginny lurking outside bathrooms while he showered was not something he wanted to encourage.

“You’ll have to show me one day,” Ginny said with a smile, her hair glowing in the firelight of the Gryffindor Common Room fire. “I’m going to head up to bed. G’night, Harry.” With a little wave she headed for the girls’ dormitories. Harry watched her go, her hair swinging as she walked.

I love you.

**************************** **

Ginny casually asked Ron if he thought Dean Thomas was a better boyfriend choice than Michael Corner (git) but inside her chest, her heart was thumping so loudly, it was a wonder no one could hear it.

“WHAT?” The chessboard went flying, Crookshanks leapt of the seat in pursuit of the chess pieces, Hedwig and Pigwidgeon went a bit nuts up on the bag racks and Harry Potter stared at her — just for a moment, but he definitely stared at her, however briefly. Ginny dedicated herself to marking her quiz answers in the Quibbler, trying not to think about all the ways Harry looked at her now.

It seemed to start after Easter, but Ginny couldn’t be sure. There was, after all, the time he’d yelled at her, and after she’d helped him talk to Sirius too! But Ginny found it easy to forgive Harry almost anything. By the time Umbridge had them all in her office, all was forgiven, although she’d seen his look when she, Neville and Luna had wanted to come to the Ministry. He hadn’t wanted them to come at all.If she had to guess, it was because Neville was a bit slow — magic wise and Luna was just plain dotty — lovely, but dotty just the same. And Ginny herself was too young of course. Story of my life and bane of my existence, Ginny thought. She stifled a sigh and flicked to the next page of the Quibbler.

Things had gotten a bit crazy after that. Flying to London on an invisible magic horse-thing was completely barmy and the events in the Department of Mysteries were totally nuts. Her ankle still felt a bit stiff sometimes even though Madam Pomfrey had healed it expertly in no time at all, unlike that time poor Harry had received broken bone treatment from GIlderoy Lockhart. But Harry looked at her now. Even though he hadn’t wanted her to come, he saw her now. He’d even stepped in front of her when that mad bitch Bellatrix had ordered the Death Eaters to torture her. Ginny was unable to stop the shudder as she turned the page in the Quibbler — not really reading, too lost in her own memories. She felt a toe nudge her own and looked up into Harry’s green eyes. He raised one eyebrow in question and Ginny quirked a smile at him before burying her face back in The Quibbler. Now he was noticing her randomly shudder?

She kind of liked the way they sometimes communicated with just a look. She remembered when they’d both laughed over poor, lovestruck Percy back at the beginning of her second year and just recently in the Hospital Wing when Hermione was being polite about the Crumple Horned Snorkack. Ginny stifled a grin. She liked sharing things with Harry, things that no one else really knew about. Just a look here and there. It was like sharing a secret with Harry. Ginny mentally kicked herself. Hadn’t she just told Ron she’d chosen Dean? She should stop thinking so much about Harry Potter. She wondered how he was doing since the unfortunate events at the Ministry that night, that’s all. It was perfectly normal to think about Harry a bit in these troubling times …

They arrived at Kings Cross Station and practically the entire Order turned out to see Harry off to stay with his horrible Aunt and Uncle. Mad-Eye Moody really put the fear of Merlin into that very large and unpleasant man Harry had the misfortune to call ‘uncle’. Ginny wished she could do magic outside Hogwarts. She’d do a bit more than simply put fear into him! Mad-Eye, Professor Lupin, her mother, Ron and Hermione farewelled Harry, promising to fetch him as soon as they could. Harry looked back and smiled before he strode out of the station ahead of the horrible Muggles. Usually he followed them, looking sad, but he had a sort of confidence today. The Muggles looked a bit scared, but that was probably because of Mad-Eye. Ginny watched Harry go, the sunlight glinting off his glasses as he waved.

I love you.

***************************


Harry watched the long, red hair dance as Ginny walked away from him, along the corridor of the Hogwarts Express, to find Dean. He was annoyed to remember that Ginny did not hang out with him at Hogwarts the way she had all summer.

Harry had mostly enjoyed the summer at the Burrow. The odd happenings reported in the papers, his musings about Draco’s odd behaviour and Ron and Hermione’s bickering aside, he had enjoyed spending long days outside playing two a side Quidditch, cloud watching and cooling off by the pond. It wasn’t really big enough to swim in, and thoroughly frog infested, but it was a good place to stick your feet and splash a bit. He and Ginny would sometimes escape there when Ron and Hermione had a full head of steam up and were arguing a point such as whether or not a freed House Elf would live in a cottage or a tree stump. Harry though Ron made up ridiculous things like the fact that House Elves lived in tree stumps just so he could fight with Hermione.

“I don’t know why she bites,” Ginny said one day as she plonked herself down next to the pond, removing her shoes. They had just snuck away from an argument that seemed to be centred on whether or not Garden Gnomes enjoyed being chased by Crookshanks.

“Unsustainable desire to be right?” Harry suggested. “Defence of her cat?”

“Protection of Garden Gnomes?” Ginny guessed with a giggle. “Foreplay?” Harry nearly choked on thin air.

“Ginny!”

“Don’t tell me you haven’t thought it,” Ginny looked up at him before tugging him down to sit beside her as he seemed to have frozen halfway to the ground.

“I try not to think about it!” Harry muttered, pulling off his own trainers and then removing his socks and stuffing them inside. He wriggled closer to the edge of the pond and dangled his feet in the water. Ginny shuffled forward, dangling her own feet into the water, and leaning back on her hands.

“I wonder how much longer it will take?”

“How much longer for what?” Harry asked, twisting around to look at her.

“For the two of them to sort themselves out and snog,” Ginny said, flopping back to lay on the ground, her hair fanning out around her head.

“Snog?” Harry shuddered, turning back to gaze across the pond. Ginny laughed.

“Snogging’s not that bad, Harry!” she said. “It’s actually quite fun!”

“Is it?” he asked morosely.

“I’ve always thought so,” Ginny said brightly. Harry thought he could feel her eyes on him, but he didn’t turn to look at her.

“Maybe,” Harry allowed, “if you’re not kissing a human hosepipe.” Ginny snorted inelegantly. Harry flopped back onto the grass and sighed. The sun warmed his face and he closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

“And you know,” Ginny continued, “Bill and Phlegm seem to enjoy it.”

“I wish they wouldn’t enjoy it all over the house,” Harry grumbled. “I can’t believe I’ve walked in on them six times now!” Ginny fell about laughing. Harry waved a rude hand gesture in her direction.

“You get used to it,” she said eventually. “You walk in on all sorts of people doing all sorts of things in a large family.” Harry looked at her askance.

“I don’t think I even want to know,” Harry said.

“One time, Charlie had a girl over —”

“I definitely don’t want to know!” Harry exclaimed, cutting her off.

“And that day I found mum and dad —”

“Ginny!” Harry covered his face with his hands, blushing hotly.

“Bill and Phlegm are definitely the worst though,” Ginny said with a sudden glower.

“Well at least they have someone I guess,” Harry said a trifle gloomily now.

“Never mind, Harry,” Ginny said, patting his hand, “you’ll find someone one day.” She giggled. Harry turned his head to look at her and rolled his eyes.

“I’ll be sure to let you know,” he said dryly. Ginny just laughed. Harry poked her in the side and Ginny squirmed before slapping his hand away, giggling.

The tickle fight ended with Harry half in the pond and a frog dangling over his left eye while Ginny giggled at him mercilessly as he struggled out of the pond, chasing her back to the house.

And now he was surrounded by giggling girls. This could not be good. He looked back to that dancing red hair with longing as Ginny made her way down the corridor.

I love you.

**************************** **

Ginny was furious. Utterly, unshakably, unspeakably furious. Ron was the biggest git on the planet. First, he nearly ruined Quidditch practice and then … and then … oh she could cheerfully Bat-Bogey him right now!

That prat, Harry Potter probably saved Ron’s sorry arse this afternoon. Stepping between them like that after Dean had left. Speaking of which, where had her boyfriend been when her brother was hurling spells at her? Oh, that’s right, not there. Ginny glowered at the canopy as she lay brooding in her four-poster.

She hadn’t been able to shift Harry as he stood in front of her, stopping Ron from getting a clear shot. Ron had gotten a spell off — a wide one — and before she knew it, Harry had Ron against the wall and was telling him to lay off her. She’d been so beside herself at the time she’d not really noticed it, but Harry had actually protected her — hadn’t he? First he’d moved in front of her in the Department of Mysteries and then again just now. He had a strange look on his face actually. Dean had looked acutely embarrassed, but Harry had looked … annoyed.

Oh Merlin. Then she’d gone and dragged him into it too! Ginny groaned and turned on her side, thumping her pillow. She’d gone on about Harry snogging Cho and — oh sweet Merlin, she’d let it slip that Hermione had snogged Viktor. She hadn’t even told Harry that this summer and they had talked about snogging. In fact, they’d talked a lot about snogging for two people who weren’t doing it. Ginny sighed and shifted onto her back again.

Harry had found her one afternoon, on the second lowest branch of her favourite apple tree. She was reading one of her textbooks and munching on whichever apples she could reach when she was suddenly startled by a shock of messy black hair and a pair of sparkling green eyes hovering near her feet as Harry straddled the branch below her.

“I just caught them sitting on the front porch,” Harry said, grinning. “She was stroking his nose again.” Ginny grinned then pretended to vomit over the side of the tree branch.

“No one ever sits on the front porch,” Ginny said, tossing her apple core over her shoulder.

“Guess they were looking for some privacy,” Harry said trying to haul himself up next to her. Ginny laughed when he didn’t quite have the upper body strength necessary. She closed her book and tossed it to the ground before shifting and extending her arm to help Harry up onto the branch with her.

“Don’t let Hermione see you do that to books,” Harry said, looking down at the textbook lying innocently in the grass. Ginny just shrugged and reached for two more apples, handing one to Harry. She took a bite, chewed, and swallowed before speaking.

“So, how many times have you caught them snogging now?”

“I think I have lost count,” Harry said with a sigh, leaning against the tree trunk and taking a bite of his apple. “Twenty, maybe?” Ginny laughed.

“I think you’re exaggerating.” She had balanced herself in the fork of the branch and took a bite of her apple, chewing thoughtfully.

“I never exaggerate,” Harry said. “Everything I say is the plain honest truth.” Ginny laughed.

“Are you looking forward to getting back to school?”

“It will get me away from the snogging,” Harry replied, “so I think I am, yeah.”

“It should get me closer to the snogging,” Ginny said, thinking about Dean. Harry mimed vomiting over the side of the tree branch and Ginny stuck out her foot in an effort to unseat him.

“Hey!” Harry protested, grabbing at the tree trunk. As he did so, he noticed Bill and Fleur, hand in hand, entering the orchard. He put his fingers to his lips and tilted his head towards the two lovebirds who had stopped to snog — again — in the middle of the orchard.

“They’re not even attempting to hide it,” Ginny whispered.

“They do think they are alone,” Harry whispered back.

“You are so beautiful Beel.” Fleur’s voice drifted up to them and Ginny grimaced.

“Oh, you’re the beautiful one,” Bill replied, his voice gooey and ridiculous. Harry winced as they started kissing again.

“Don’t they ever stop?”

“Nope!” Ginny whispered cheerfully. “His technique is getting better though. At the start of the summer it used to look like he was going to eat her entire face.” Harry stifled a laugh with difficulty.

“She seems to enjoy it,” Harry said wryly as Bill moved to kiss Fleur’s neck.

“We could be stuck up here for a while if they keep that up,” Ginny said dispassionately. She had turned so that she was lying face down on the tree branch, staring down at her brother and his fiancée.

“We could just climb down and so what if they see us,” Harry said.

“Nah,” Ginny said. “I don’t wanna deal with Phlegm.”

“Have an apple,” Harry said, plucking another off the tree and tossing it to her. Ginny nearly fell off the branch trying to catch it and she glared at Harry who just shrugged. Ginny rolled her eyes. They had stayed in the apple tree, critiquing Bill and Phlegm for another hour before the lovebirds had finally left the orchard and headed back to the house. Harry had showed Ginny his juggling skills with three small apples and Ginny had won seven games of ‘I Spy’ by the time they climbed out of the tree. Ron had looked at them suspiciously when they had entered the Burrow’s kitchen, so Ginny waved at him with a rude hand gesture when their mother wasn’t looking.

Ginny sighed as she shifted in bed, remembering the summer. They had laughed and joked for several blissfully long weeks, hanging out in the orchard or at the pond. Harry had taught her how to juggle and she had taught him how to hide rude hand gestures from her mother. What was Harry doing to her? She was going out with Dean. She liked Dean. He wasn’t at all bad at snogging.

Restless, Ginny pulled open the top drawer of her nightstand and searched underneath the debris collected there. Three broken quills, a rather sticky bag of Droobles, a torn bit of parchment and, underneath it all, a picture Colin had taken of Harry last year during a Dumbledore’s Army meeting and given to her. He was standing in front of the fireplace and smiling as though watching someone perform a tricky bit of magic. He was cuter than he’d been even in her second year. Ginny sighed heavily and looked at the picture one more time before she shoved it back into her top drawer. Photo Harry winked at her as she closed the drawer.

I love you.

**************************

Harry sighed. Ginny had begun invading his every waking moment, and most of his sleeping ones. He wanted to rip Dean limb from limb most days. Harry’s stomach swooped whenever Ginny touched him. What he wouldn’t give to have maggots in his hair again, just so she could pick them out for him! She had been pleased he was taking Luna to Slughorn’s Christmas party though — and that had irritated him.

“What eating you?” Ron asked. Harry, whose mind had conjured another image of Ginny confessing her feelings of deep attraction to him, started so violently that he knocked his ink bottle off the table. With lightning fast reflexes, he caught it before it irrevocably ruined the common room rug.

“Just thinking about how to tackle Slughorn,” Harry said hastily, avoiding Hermione’s eyes. She was watching him shrewdly and Harry didn’t like it. Ron might be thick enough for him to fool, but Harry though Hermione might be getting wise to the thoughts constantly zooming through his head. They should have been about Dumbledore and Tom Riddle and how to get a memory out of Slughorn but everything in his head was Quidditch and Ginny.

“You really need to work it out,” Hermione said primly, reminding him of the time she harangued him to work out what that stupid Tri-wizard Egg meant. Harry just rolled his eyes at her.

“Yeah that, or work out what Malfoy’s up to,” Ron said, sucking absently on his quill.

“You need to forget about Malfoy!” Hermione exclaimed. “You don’t want to disappoint Dumbledore again!” But Harry found himself quite unable to care about either Malfoy or Dumbledore at that moment because Ginny Weasley had entered the common room and was greeting Dean who’s arms were snaking around her waist and who’s lips were now on her cheek. And ear. And neck.

Harry bent his head to his parchment and began scribbling furiously about Deadly Nightshade, hoping that was what he was supposed to be writing about. Professor Sprout was going to be mighty surprised if it wasn’t. He didn’t want to look at Dean and he definitely didn’t want to look at Hermione. Harry could feel her gaze and just knew she’d have a knowing look. Harry wasn’t ready to admit what she knew because that would mean admitting to himself what he knew and the longer he could put that off the better. Ron did not appear to be any closer to accepting a boyfriend for Ginny.

“Slick git,” Ron muttered as if on cue. Harry looked up to see him glowering at Dean. The monster in Harry’s chest purred in approval of Ron’s attitude. Harry smirked a little and Hermione hit him on the arm. He glared at her, but she just stared at him with a smug look on her face. Harry looked away which didn’t help because he was now looking at Ginny again and she was laughing at something Dean had said from her seat on his lap.

“I’m going up to bed,” Harry mumbled, starting to slide his parchment and other study materials into his book bag. The monster in his chest was roaring in disapproval and Harry felt distinctly nettled.

Ron and Hermione didn’t try to stop him. Ron because he was too busy mangling another quill and glaring at Dean and Hermione because she was smirking knowingly while she worked on her Arithmancy essay. Harry swung his bag over his shoulder and went up to his dormitory, pausing on the bottom step, turning back to gaze at Ginny. She swept her long red tresses over her shoulder and looked up, smiling.

I love you.

********************

Herm ione was being insufferable, and Ron was being … well he just being Ron really, but it was bloody annoying. Hermione was smirking knowingly every time she looked at Harry. Especially when she caught him staring at Ginny. Ron just had an annoying habit of being wherever Harry was whenever Ginny was there. Which was an awful lot given how much time Harry was spending with Ginny since she and Dean had broken up. He found himself laughing with Ginny, talking with Ginny, walking back from Quidditch practice with Ginny. She was absolutely the life and soul of the Gryffindor team and Harry found his longing grew along with the number of Quidditch practice injuries he sustained because he was staring at Ginny instead of the Snitch.

Perhaps Ron wouldn’t mind so much Harry wondered for the umpteenth time as he nursed another bruised knee and laughed at the impression Ginny was doing of McLaggen in front of the common room fire. It’s possible Ron might decide that nothing would make him happier than his best friend and his sister falling for each other. That could happen … right? Harry sighed as he watched Ginny spin in front of the fire, her eyes sparkling and her hair fanning out around her. Harry could feel Hermione’s gaze and he deliberately avoided it. He knew it would be another smug one.

“All right, Harry?” Ron asked as he slumped down on the overstuffed couch next to Harry, jostling Harry’s knee. Harry winced.

“I was until you bumped my knee, you great oaf!” Harry said through gritted teeth.

“I really don’t know why you don’t go and get some bruise paste from Madam Pomfrey,” Hermione said, the hint of a smug smile still on her face.

“Oh, I’ve got some of Fred and George’s,” Ginny said with a smile as she plonked herself down on the couch between Ron and Harry, shoving Ron with her elbow as she did so. Harry gritted his teeth as she bumped his knee again. “Want me to get it?” She looked at him, flicking her hair over her shoulder so that it slapped Ron in the face.

“That’d be good,” Harry said breathlessly, “thanks!” He tried not to laugh at Ron spitting hair out of his mouth. Ginny patted Harry on the knee as she got up and Harry groaned involuntarily.

“Oh!” Ginny froze. “Sorry — I didn’t — was that the bruise?” Harry just nodded. Ginny smiled a dazzling smile at him before skipping off towards the girl’s dormitories.

“You’re getting a lot of Bludger injuries lately,” Ron commented, settling back onto the couch.

“It’s almost like you’re distracted,” Hermione said with a smirk.

“Just, er, training hard,” Harry said, shifting uncomfortably and looking away from her. He did not want to look at Hermione with her smug looks and her knowing glances. How did she know? At least Ron didn’t know. Harry glanced at Ron who looked wholly unconcerned and was saying something about Ravenclaw and how to beat them.

“I mean they haven’t really got a decent Seeker,” Ron said, forgetting that the Ravenclaw Seeker was Cho and she wasn’t all that bad, “and we’ve got the youngest Seeker in a century. We really need to use that to our advantage.” Harry wasn’t properly listening to Ron though because Ginny was back with a small jar in her hand.

“Right then,” she said kneeling down on the floor in front of the couch and unscrewing the lid of the jar. “Where’s this bruise?”

“Oh, well, erm, I’m sure I can manage,” Harry said, flushing a deep red and holding his hand out for the jar.

“It’s his right leg,” Hermione said helpfully. Ginny grinned up at him.

“Right then, Potter,” she said cheerfully, “trousers up!” And she rolled his trouser leg up swiftly, exposing his knee and the blossoming bruise before he could be properly embarrassed.

Ginny kept up a stream of steady chatter about Quidditch, how big of an arse McLaggen was and the deficits of the Ravenclaw team as she deftly covered his bruise in thick yellow paste from the jar. Harry sat silently, watching Ginny tend to his knee and reminding himself to breathe. It was an exquisite torture but one that he endured willingly. When she finished, Ginny screwed the lid back on the jar, rolled his trouser leg down and scrambled to her feet.

“Good as new,” she proclaimed with a smile before heading back to her dormitory. Harry watched her hips sway as she headed for the stairs.

I love you.

***************************


Ginny sat in the corner of the common room watching Ron dance with the Quidditch Cup as if it were a woman. She laughed when she spotted Lavender Brown looking jealous of it in spite of the fact that she and Ron had broken up. Hermione caught her eye then, they both grinned and Ginny was glad they’d made up. She wasn’t used to being at odds with Hermione but somehow they’d managed it — over Harry of all things.

Ginny wasn’t going to pretend she was happy about the fact Harry had earned himself detention at the same time as the most important Quidditch match of the year, then put Dean back on the team and made her Seeker. He couldn’t even look at her when he told her which was unusual for Harry lately. She’d felt his gaze on her for months. Perhaps Harry thought he was being subtle about it but even Dean had noticed how preoccupied Harry had been with Ginny. She and Dean how even rowed about it. Still they rowed about everything towards the end there. And Ginny was secretly thrilled that Harry seemed to be noticing her, but she wasn’t about to admit that to anyone. Part of her thought she was imagining it anyway.

But while Ginny wasn’t happy about Harry’s detentions, it was nothing compared to how unhappy Hermione had been about Harry’s stupid potions textbook. Ginny listened as Hermione harped on at him forever about the damn book. She bitched about the spell written in the book, lambasted him for thinking about going back to get the book and then she got nasty and Ginny couldn’t help it any longer.

“— got a reputation for Potions brilliance you don’t deserve!” Hermione said shrilly.

“Give it a rest Hermione!” Ginny said and Harry looked up at her. He looked amazed, even grateful. Ginny wasn’t imagining it. Suddenly she felt emboldened and kept on at Hermione until she finally backed down when Ginny threw Quidditch in her face. The rest of the evening had passed in silence, but Harry had seemed happier somehow. Ginny and Hermione had patched things up the next day at breakfast.

Sitting alone at the Gryffindor table, Ginny reached for the porridge. She swirled some honey on the top and poured a glass of orange juice before turning a box of cereal so she could read the back while she ate. A moment later the box moved, and Hermione sat opposite her, wringing her hands. Ginny slowly and deliberately ate a mouthful of porridge, raising an eyebrow at Hermione.

“I — I just — I’m worried for Harry,” Hermione said quietly, trying to quiet her hands by pressed them on the table. “That book … it’s dangerous.”

“Harry can take care of himself,” Ginny said quietly. “I mean I’m not exactly happy for him but, well — I am glad he wasn’t cursed. It could have ended really badly if Malfoy had cursed him.”

“I can’t believe Malfoy would even try an Unforgivable,” Hermione whispered, buttering some toast, and leaning forward. “Harry’s been obsessed with what Malfoy’s doing all year and swears he’s a Death Eater of all things! I mean … he is definitely up to something but a Death Eater? And I never suspected he try and cast an Unforgivable!”

“Sounds like Harry was right to be obsessed,” Ginny said, still a little miffed at Hermione who concentrated on spreading marmalade on her toast for a moment.

“Malfoy’s not Harry’s only obsession,” Hermione said idly, raising her marmalade covered toast to her lips with a sly smile. Ginny concentrated on scooping porridge onto her spoon.

“Oh?” she said as casually as she could while her heart thumped a crazy beat in her chest.

“He notices you,” Hermione said quietly. “He can see you.” Ginny just stared at Hermione for a long moment, her spoon halfway to her mouth.

“I never gave up, you know,” Ginny said, lowering her spoon, placing it carefully back in her bowl. “I always hoped.” Hermione smiled.

“What are you going to do?” she asked curiously.

“Do?” Ginny repeated, resuming her breakfast. “I’m going to win the Quidditch Cup.”

“I meant about Harry!” Hermione exclaimed in a fierce whisper. “What are you going to do about Harry?” Ginny just smiled at her.

“Nothing,” Ginny answered serenely. Hermione looked at her dubiously, a piece of toast halfway to her lips. But Ginny just continued eating her breakfast, a little smile on her face and her heart fluttering and dancing in her chest.

Ginny shook herself from her reverie, willing her heart to stop beating erratically, although she wasn’t sure it knew how to beat a regular rhythm any longer. She glanced at the clock. Ten past one. Harry’s detention must be over soon. She couldn’t wait to tell him about the match. The look on Cho’s face when she’d caught the Snitch had been incredibly satisfying and the Chasers had surpassed all expectation. Even if Dean had hugged her just a little bit too long.

Ginny suddenly felt restless. She was impatient for Harry to get there. The rest of the team didn’t want to talk about the match anymore. Peakes and Coote were attempting to impress some third-year girls who had gone all giggly in their presence and Katie was busy snogging a boy who looked like a Hufflepuff. Ginny wondered idly how he’d gotten into the Gryffindor common room. Demelza was sitting right next to the punch, which Seamus Finnegan had clearly spiked, and being thoroughly enchanted by their Irish housemate. The only other member of the team was Ron who was utterly obsessed with the Cup. Ginny wondered if he was going to take it to bed with him and giggled at the thought. She uncurled herself from the chair she was sitting in and wandered over to Ron.

“Are you going to let anyone else hold that Cup?” she asked.

“Maybe Harry,” Ron replied with a grin as the portrait hole swung open. The room was suddenly filled with shouts and cheers as people realised it was Harry and a number of people swarmed the portrait hole, pulling him into the room. Ginny’s heart stuttered a little as Ron bounced away from her and over to Harry, brandishing the Cup.

“We won!” Ron shouted. “Four hundred and fifty to a hundred and forty! We won!” A smile began to spread across Harry’s face as he looked around the room. Ginny sucked in a breath as their eyes locked. He was looking for her. And then she was running towards him, exhilarated with the win, buoyed by his presence, and determined to be the first to tell him all about the match. Ginny threw her arms around him.

It all happened so fast after that. She was just going to hug him, but Harry had other ideas apparently. His lips were on hers before she even realised it and then she was kissing him back, her hands found their way into his hair and she realised Harry was holding her up, his arms wrapped around her waist. Ginny lost herself in the kiss, forgetting that an entire room full of people were watching until they broke apart. Ginny was breathless and not quite sure where to look next, being completely unprepared for this moment despite how long she had waited for it to happen. The common room was completely silent until several people (probably Seamus, Peakes and Coote) wolf whistled. Ginny fought the urge to giggle and, while snuggling herself into Harry’s chest, looked for Hermione.

Romilda looked livid but Hermione was beaming. Ginny beamed back. And then Harry grinned down at her. Ginny grinned back as he gestured towards the portrait hole. She was going to lose herself in those eyes. And that smile. As they headed for the portrait hole, hand-in-hand, Ginny looked up at Harry.

I love you.

**************************

Harry turned his back on Ginny and Dumbledore’s tomb, unable to bear it any longer. He needed to move. Couldn’t sit still any longer. Couldn’t bear to think about the fact he was giving up his best source of comfort but knowing he had to. Getting up, Harry began to walk away from Ginny, around the lake. The place where he had spent many happy moments with Ginny these past few weeks.

Harry slowed down and lingered at the tree where they had carved their initials. They weren’t the only couple to have carved initials there and Harry searched for theirs among what was probably decades of Hogwarts couples. Harry idly wondered who MG+DP were and smirked when he saw RW 4 LB. He was surprised to find a weathered VK+HG — he’d never seen that one before and wondered if Ron knew about it. Harry knew he and Ginny had carved their initials somewhere near the base of the tree and he scanned it eagerly. ML+AB, SB+MM … JP+LE … Harry swallowed the lump in his throat. He’d missed that one too. He kept looking until he found it, encased in a heart, HP 4 GW. He smiled sadly, remembering the day they had carved it there, shortly after they had started going out.

“I thought Romilda was going to hex me at breakfast,” Ginny said playing idly with Harry’s hair as they lay under a large oak tree on the edge of the lake. It was a glorious June day and they still had a good twenty minutes left of lunchtime, having spent a good portion of it snogging.

“She always looks like she’s going to hex you,” Harry said, closing his eyes as Ginny’s hands drifted through his hair, “or throw something.” Ginny giggled.

“She believed me about the Horntail tattoo, you know,” Ginny said, leaning back against the tree. Harry shifted and sat up, so he was facing Ginny.

“I don’t care about Romilda,” he said huskily. “She’s never going to see my chest anyway.”

“Am I?” Ginny asked, lashes lowered as she traced her fingers around his shirt buttons. Harry didn’t — couldn’t answer her. He lowered his head to hers and rested his forehead on hers. Their eyes met and Harry took in a deep shuddering breath before his fingers reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ears, but he didn’t really know how to answer her. He wanted to say yes.

“Erm …” was what he did say. Ginny laughed.

“It’s okay, Harry,” she said kissing the end of his nose and captured his hand in her own. “We’ll get to that part later.” Her fingers caressed Harry’s hand, running over the scars on the back. Harry pulled his hand away and Ginny frowned. She reached for his hand again.

“Ginny …” Harry trailed off, not even sure what he wanted to say. He let her hold his scarred hand. Harry kept his eyes on their hands, watching as she traced the letters there.

“You know,” Ginny said conversationally, still tracing the scars on his hand, “sometimes I think I hate her more than V-Voldemort.” Harry looked up at her, she looked pale but determined. He squeezed her hand, acknowledging how much it must have taken her to use the name.

“It’s a close call,” Harry allowed with a smile, only partly joking.

“We should carve something much better,” Ginny said suddenly.

“On my hand?” Harry yelped, alarmed, trying to snatch it away.

“No silly! On the tree!” Harry whipped his head around to look where she was pointing at the tree they were sitting under. He hadn’t noticed that it was covered in carvings. A closer look revealed the carvings were initials.

“Is that … those are couples?” he asked, squinting at the tree. Ginny nodded.

“Everyone carves their initials here.”

“Everyone?” Harry arched an eyebrow at her. Ginny just shrugged.

“Everyone who’s going out,” she said simply. “D’you want to?”

“Have you carved your initials here before?” he asked. He already knew the answer and jealousy clawed at his chest unbearably, but he pushed it down.

“Not with yours,” Ginny said. She got out her wand and rolled over so that she was facing the tree trunk. “There’s a spot down here. D’you want to?” Harry crawled up beside her. Ginny turned to face him, gazing at him expectantly.

“I’d like that,” Harry said, his jealousy almost abated. He watched as Ginny, her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth in concentration, slowly and carefully carved HP 4 GW in a clear spot near the base of the tree and then carved a heart around it. When she’d finished, Harry reached his hand out, cupping the back of her head, and pulling her to him, he kissed her until they were both breathless and it was time to go back to the castle.

It has been mere weeks ago. Harry, remembering that lunchtime down by the lake, stared at the carving, determined not to break down. The letters blurred and he reached out a finger to trace the GW, blinking fiercely.

I love you.

****************************

Ginny let the tears fall. She didn’t usually, but something told her she needed to this time. Perhaps it would clear her head, clear things up, somehow make things bearable again. She could hear Ron, thumping down the stairs, Harry clattering after him and the quick pattering of Hermione’s footsteps as she trotted after them, leaving Ginny quite alone in her room, silent tears sliding down her cheeks.

She was going to kill Ron, she decided. It had been like torture having Harry at The Burrow. They’d barely been alone, and mum had always given them a gazillion wedding jobs to do. And then, that moment they had been alone and he’d finally admitted it — that things he was going to do included killing Voldemort. She was terrified for him. She could also see that he hadn’t meant to tell her, his guard had been down but since he let that slip it had gone back up. Harry avoided touching her or being alone with her. She didn’t blame him. Not really. Ginny didn’t seek him out either. It was too painful.

But she had risked it — for his birthday. She needed him to know, before he left, how she felt because maybe it would give him something to come back for. Thankfully Hermione had made sure Ron left them alone and although it had taken a moment, Harry had finally looked at her and she had made her move, throwing everything she had into that kiss. All her feelings, all her longing, everything she felt for him. He kissed her back and it was sweet oblivion. He pulled her close, his fingers tangling in her hair and Ginny slid her arms around his neck. His hand began to slide towards her waist, and she moaned as his tongue danced against hers.

And then Ron had barged in bringing in all the reasons she and Harry and broken up. Even if she didn’t understand them, she could feel them, and she didn’t like them. Ginny, feeling flat, had wished Harry a happy birthday and then turned her back on the three of them, willing them to leave her alone because she couldn’t stop the tears from falling. And they had left. Ginny wondered where things would have gone if Ron had not barged in. Would she and Harry have secretly gotten back together? Would they have made a secret arrangement? A pact? She knew it couldn’t be openly — Harry would never agree to that — but maybe before he left, he’d know. Maybe she should have told him? Ginny laughed humourlessly to herself. Told him what exactly? She wasn’t ready to say it no matter what her traitorous heart said to her head. Maybe she could have shown him? Ginny felt herself heat at the thought.

She could hear Ron now, yelling at Harry. He wasn’t wrong, she had been cut up when Harry and ended it, but neither was Harry wrong when he said she wasn’t an idiot. It was none of Ron’s business. Ginny wished she could hex him. Well, he wouldn’t have cause to interfere again, would he because she wouldn’t be kissing Harry again. Ginny sniffed, wiped her face with the back of her hand and inhaled deeply, blinking fiercely to keep fresh tears at bay. She leaned out of the window a little, twisting so she could see where Harry, Ron and Hermione were standing stiffly on the freshly mown lawn. Hermione looked nervous, Ron was tense, but Harry looked just as Ginny felt — miserable. The sun was still shining brightly but she found it difficult to believe so because it felt like the sun had gone in. Unshed tears in her eyes, Ginny took one last look at Harry, standing apart from Ron and Hermione on the lawn, his head bowed, hands in his pockets.

And her traitorous heart whispered, I love you.

*************************


Harry lay in his bunk listening to Hermione snore softly above him. The tip of his wand was giving off a low light and he stared resolutely at the map, searching for Ron’s dot, watching Ginny’s. He was miserable without Ron and frankly didn’t know what he was going to do. He’d lost his best source of comfort and now his first and best friend. It wasn’t a stretch to say that they were the two people he loved most in the world.

Not that he was able to say it. Even if they were both in front of him right now, he wouldn’t be able to say it. He’d never said that to anyone before. Memories flashed through Harry’s mind as though a train was bringing them. A small red-headed girl running after the Hogwarts Express. An eleven-year-old Ron sharing sweets with him on his first train ride to Hogwarts. Eating breakfast in the Great Hall with Ginny. Tossing Garden Gnomes with Ron. Exploding Snap. Chess. Two-a-side Quidditch.

There was no sign of Ron’s dot. Harry didn’t know where he was or if he was all right. He couldn’t bring himself to even say his name. And there was Ginny’s dot, appearing suddenly on the seventh floor, next to Neville’s. Harry watched the dot avidly as Ginny made her way to Gryffindor Tower, through the portrait hole and up to the girl’s dormitories. Harry wondered what she was doing as she moved around the dormitory.

He’d asked her once — what girls do when they mysteriously disappear for ages into their rooms or the bathroom. Ginny had laughed a tinkling little laugh, assuring Harry he did not want to know the minutiae of what girls did. But Harry had insisted, claiming that as he had no sisters it was important information that he had no other way of getting.

“I imagine we’re doing the same sorts of things as boys,” Ginny said eventually.

“But you come out smelling all flowery,” Harry said.

“That’s my shampoo,” said Ginny. “Surely you also shampoo?” Harry shrugged and gave her a cheeky grin.

“Sometimes.”

“Prat!” Ginny slapped his arm.

“Seriously,” Harry said, “girls take longer. What’s going on in there?” Ginny rolled her eyes. Harry just smiled.

“I guess brushing my hair takes longer than brushing yours,” Ginny said. “Honestly, it’s not that mysterious!” Harry laughed and ran his hand through his hair.

“I do like your hair,” he said, reaching out to tug gently on her long fiery tresses. Harry never did find out what girls did in the bathroom, but in the few short weeks they were together he discovered that Ginny usually carried a small hair brush in her book bag and it didn’t take much to convince her to let him brush her hair. He spent long moments running a brush, and his fingers, through her hair and he missed it, and her, more than he could possibly express.

Harry watched as Ginny’s dot stopped moving near the edge of the dormitory. She had probably gone to bed and he watched the unmoving dot for a few more minutes before putting the map away and dousing his wand.

His heart ached, whispering something he couldn’t say aloud, I love you.

*******************

Ginny ’s heart was shattered. Her brother gone and Hogwarts in ruins. As she clung to Hermione, Ginny let the tears fall. Ron wrapped them both in his strong arms and the three of them cried for several long minutes. Ron pulled back and Ginny raised her arm to her face, using her sleeve to wipe the tears away.

“It’ll be okay,” Ron said without much conviction.

“Where’s Harry?” Hermione asked quietly. Ron spun around frantically, swearing.

“Is he not with you?” Ginny asked in a small voice.

“He was …” Ron trailed off.

“He’s — he’s — no …” Hermione whispered.

“We’ll find him,” Ron said. “He’s gone to help is what he’s done. If we help too — you know, get the injured, get the — the bodies — we’ll find him.” Ginny felt frozen to the spot.

“Do you think so?” she said, searching Ron’s face for the truth that no one wanted to admit.

“Course,” Ron said firmly. “He’ll be out there, helping. We should go help too.” He squared his shoulders and strode off, out of the Great Hall. Hermione grabbed Ginny’s hand.

“C’mon,” she said softly. “Let’s go and help.” With a last look at her parents who were comforting George, Ginny followed Ron and Hermione out into the pitch-black grounds.

Ginny had lost count of the number of injured she had helped and the number of bodies she had seen. She was too small to carry anyone, but she watched Ron as he gently carried more than one body into the Great Hall, she and Hermione supporting injured classmates in his wake. Neville and Luna were helping too and Ginny didn’t know how but she kept going, finding injured students and bringing them back to the castle.

Eventually she was alone, Ron having taken a breather and Hermione assisting Madam Pomfrey with some bandages. Ginny, bone tired but unwilling to stop until everyone was gathered, tripped down the steps to the lawn. She caught herself on a broken piece of wall and blinked back tears she didn’t think she had left in her. She was only a few steps away from the steps when she saw Neville. He was with Oliver Wood and they were carrying someone. Ginny felt a sob rise into her throat when she realised it was Colin. She reached out a hand and let the tears fall as she stroked his head, the blond hair dusty and blood caked. She did not say anything as she moved on, looking for more injured, more dead.

Ginny soon came across someone whimpering, light from the castle just reaching the girl Ginny found covered in blood. She crouched down, smoothing matted hair back from the girl’s face.

“I want my mother,” the girl whispered.

“I know,” Ginny said. She felt something wash over her as she crouched there. She hesitated, wondering at the feeling. It was cold and warm all at once. The girl whimpered again, whispering for her mother.

“It’s all right,” Ginny said, “it’s okay. We’re going to get you inside.”

“But I want to go home,” whispered the girl. “I don’t want to fight anymore!”

“I know,” said Ginny, and her voice broke. “It’s going to be all right.” It was cold and Ginny shivered. She paused again, a strange feeling washing over her once again. It was almost familiar, but it made her shiver at the same time. Ginny knelt, taking the girl’s hand in hers. She wasn’t sure if she should risk moving her now or … wait.

“Shhhhh,” Ginny said, squeezing the girl’s hand and smoothing her hair back again, soothing the whimpering girl whom she didn’t fully recognise.

The strange feeling pressed in on Ginny again, like someone had walked past. Ginny turned her head and that’s when she caught his scent. Ginny faltered, knowing Harry was there. Knowing he had just walked past her. Ginny stared out into the night, towards the Forest and she knew. Everything Hermione had not said earlier but they all knew. Ginny swallowed painfully around the lump in her throat. She wanted to jump up and run after him, beg him not to go. To stay. The girl in front of her whimpered again.

Ginny turned back to the girl, swallowing back a sob and whispering quiet words of reassurance as the girl’s breathing became shallow, her eyes closing. Ginny would not go after him. And she would not think about what was to come. She comforted the dying girl in front of her, eyes flickering towards the Forest where she knew Harry had gone.

And Ginny’s heart broke, whispering in anguish, I love you.

******************

Harry opened his eyes slowly, stretching cramped limbs. The sun shone weakly through the windows, but he had no idea what time it was. A loud snore disturbed the stillness of Gryffindor Tower and Harry looked over to see Ron and Hermione curled together on Ron’s four-poster. Burns and scratches littered Ron’s arms and Hermione’s hair was singed from the Fiedfyre, her clothing ripped in places. Dirt and soot smudged their faces which were utterly relaxed in sleep.

Harry smiled and stared at them for a moment, acutely aware that he too was singed, scratched and filthy. None of them had bothered to clean up after leaving the headmaster’s office and before tumbling into bed. Harry doubted any of them would have had the energy if they’d tried it. Harry straightened his glasses. He hadn’t even taken them off before sleep had claimed him.

A noise from the other side of his bed startled him and he quickly turned to see who was there. His breath caught in his throat. There was a chair pulled up to the side of his bed and Ginny was curled in it asleep. Her hair spilled over the edges of the chair and it glowed all the colours of fire in the weak sunlight. She was breathing evenly, her lashes skimming the freckles sprinkled across her cheeks.

Harry drank in the sight of her. There was a faint bruise on her cheek and a small cut above one eye, and she was almost as filthy as he was, but she was still the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Harry wondered how long she had been sleeping in the chair and reached out to touch one of her hands. He froze as she stirred. He hadn’t meant to wake her.

“Hi,” Ginny whispered. She had opened her eyes and they were locked on his.

“Hi,” Harry whispered back. They looked at each other for a long moment.

“I missed you,” Ginny said as she entwined her fingers with his own.

“Me too,” Harry said, his voice scratchy. He stared at their joined hands and wondered if he should tell her what his heart had been whispering for a while now, but that he had only recently heard and that he had only just understood. He was caked in grime and mud and probably smelled worse than a sewer at this point, but if he had learned anything in the last … however long it had been since he, Ron and Hermione had arrived at Hogwarts, it was how much he loved his friends and how very much he loved Ginny.

“I thought I had lost you,” Ginny whispered, her eyes shimmering.

“I had to,” Harry said quietly. And he knew that she understood him perfectly. Ginny uncurled herself from the chair, their hands still linked, and Harry tugged her towards him as he sat up. Ginny climbed onto the bed and they sat facing each other. Harry reached up and ran the ends of his fingers through her hair. They had hours, days and even years to talk but Harry couldn’t wait any longer.

“I love you,” he whispered. “I think my heart’s known for a while now.” And then she was kissing him like she had never kissed him before, one hand on his cheek and the other around the back of his neck. Harry grasped her waist and pulled her into his lap. It was a kiss full of love and hope and new beginnings. At last she pulled away, one hand still cradling his face.

“I think my heart has known for years, Harry” Ginny whispered. She smiled a brilliant dazzling smile. “I love you.”
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