Hi guys! :) It's time for Round 12 of the QLFC! This time I had to write an unhappy story for my OTP - which, as we all know, changes on the daily. SO HOW ABOUT A LITTLE GINNY/HARRY ANGST? Fun, right?

*sobs distantly*


1 July 1997

"I can't be involved with you anymore. We've got to stop seeing each other. We can't be together."

"It's for some stupid, noble reason, isn't it?"

Ginny was on the Hogwarts Express—at least, her body was, sitting beside the window, across from Neville and Luna, who were both quiet and morose. Her mind was far away, back beside the lake where, just twenty-four hours ago, she had watched white flames engulf Professor Dumbledore's body and solidify into the white tomb on the banks. And then Harry had talked to her…

They'd all been crying, and his green eyes were rimmed with red; Ginny's tears had dried the very moment she had felt the tension in Harry's fingers as he gripped her hand—the moment she had known something was going wrong.

"I've got things to do alone now… Think how much danger you'll be in if we keep this up. He'll know, he'll find out. He'll try and get to me through you."

"What if I don't care?"

"I care."

The train was pulling into King's Cross, and Ginny was still lost in her thoughts. She moved as if in a fog—as if her limbs and brain had become disconnected from each other, and everything in the world around her was muffled by a buzzing sound…that stupid Muffliato spell Harry was always using, to get them a minute's privacy…a minute here, a minute there…

"I just wish I'd asked you sooner. We could've had ages…"

"But you've been too busy saving the Wizarding world… I knew you wouldn't be happy unless you were hunting Voldemort. Maybe that's why I like you so much."

Bill was supposed to meet her and Ron at the train; he wasn't well enough, so it was Fred and George, cracking jokes and trying to make them cheer up. She smiled mechanically and gave a few brief laughs. Ron quietly asked her if she was all right, and Ginny nodded mutely. She hoped he wouldn't mention Harry to Fred or George, but she had a feeling that he would, try as he might to respect her…grief, if that was what she was feeling right now. Loss, certainly, and loss came with grief, and she was suddenly feeling acutely the losses of Sirius, of Cedric Diggory, whom she'd barely known—of Professor Dumbledore…

She barely noticed their arrival at the Burrow. She must have been taken by Side-Along Apparition, but she wasn't entirely sure which twin had taken her. Mum flung open the kitchen door and came running at Ron and Ginny, taking them both up in her arms and crying as she hugged them. Dimly, Ginny wondered what she was crying for—for Harry, as Ginny wanted to? No, for Professor Dumbledore, of course…

Her mind was becoming a maze, in which every corner she rounded she came up against Harry's face and voice: "We've got to stop seeing each other… We can't be together… I've got things to do alone now…"

Ginny was simultaneously trapped inside her head, stuck on this constant loop of the worst conversation of her whole life, and outside of herself, all too aware of the hushed conversation Ron was having with Mum, to which the twins were listening intently. She couldn't bear it. She bent and seized her trunk, dragging it upstairs, still trying to find her way through the fog in her brain; she stood for almost five minutes on the landing of the stairs, before realizing that she had gone up one floor too many, and that was why she couldn't see her bedroom.

Then, at long last, she was there—her bedroom, her safe place, the one space in their busy, crowded Burrow that even her brothers respected as belonging only to her.

Ginny looked around the chipped lavender paint on the walls, the Holyhead Harpies photos, the stacks of books and the Weird Sisters poster. It was home, but it wasn't, because something was missing. She turned on the spot, trying to take it all in, to make it fit her again—but it didn't. It couldn't, because she was missing something.

And as this thought struck her, her eyes welled up with the tears she hadn't shed yesterday, or last night, in the dormitory—the pain she'd held inside, unwilling to let it control her…

Still sobbing, Ginny crawled under her blankets, burying herself in the violet comforter she always missed when she was at school. She pressed her face into her pillow, trying to stifle out sound and sight, but it was impossible. Harry was still there.

"I just wish I'd asked you sooner. We could've had ages…"

They could have had ages, but she'd never been brave enough…

"I can't be involved with you anymore. We've got to stop seeing each other. We can't be together."

"It's for some stupid, noble reason, isn't it?"

"He'll try and get to me through you."

"What if I don't care?"

"I care."

"Ginny…"

The bedroom door had opened. Ginny drew her face back from the pillow, and the moment she met her mother's eyes, she dissolved into fresh tears. In an instant, Mum had her wrapped up tightly in her arms, rocked her back and forth as Ginny cried into her old flowered apron.

"My poor girl…"

"D-don't—tell—him," Ginny stammered through her tears. "Don't…"

"Shh, shh," Mum replied, kissing the top of her head. "It's all right…it's all right…"

Ginny curled up closer against her, sobbing as though her heart would break—as though it hadn't already broken.