Harry Potter books, and all characters therein are belong to J. K. Rowling, © 2001/2002 Warner bros. In short, they aren't mine, so please don't sue.
A Missed Chance
Ginny watched out of the corner of her eye as Harry trudged glumly into the Great Hall. His face had been looking much more troubled the past week. Ever since Hallowe'en, she thought, prodding absently at her soup. Harry didn't walk very far into the Great Hall; he took a seat near the end of the table. Hermione, usually in his company this week past, wasn't with him today, and Ginny knew why. Hermione, Ron had told her, had caught a ricochet curse from Malfoy. He and Harry had crossed wands after Malfoy had insulted Hermione. So he had gotten a detention along with Ron.
Ron… thought Ginny, shifting from concern for Harry to anger at her stupid prat of a brother. It was so obvious that Harry didn't put his name in the Goblet of Fire, but Ron kept insisting that he had. Kept saying "You don't know him like I do." Ginny knew enough about Harry to know he was going through hell already, and he hadn't even gotten to the first task yet. A shudder tore through Ginny at the mere thought of the first task. For some reason, every time she thought about it, she got a mental image of Harry having to battle a fifty-foot Basilisk.
She shook off her chills and glanced up the table toward Harry. If only I could cheer him up somehow, she thought. Hesitantly she stood up, not sure what she was going to say, but knowing she needed to go to Harry and say something. Something that would ease his mind, if only a little. But what could she say? She thought as she walked about what things might relieve some of the tension he was most undoubtedly feeling. You're not alone, Harry. I believe you, Harry. I know you'll pull through.
Before she knew it, she had arrived at Harry's side, and had to act quickly to save herself from embarrassment.
"Er, Harry? D'you mind if I sit?" said Ginny in the most normal voice she could make. Harry looked up at her with his deep green eyes. The tension within him was evident on his face. He nodded and Ginny slipped into the seat beside him. "Ron told me about Hermione," she said, tentatively waiting for any sign from him that he didn't want to talk. When he gave none, she continued. "I just wanted you to know, Hermione isn't the only one who believes you. I know you didn't put your name in the Goblet of Fire, Harry. Why would you?" Harry looked up at her and Ginny was certain that somewhere in the brilliant green pools of Harry's eyes she could see a glimmer of hope. "It's just Ron being Ron, he's done this to me before, and sooner or later he'll come around. I know it doesn't make it any easier for you now to know that, but-" She hesitated. "But I can try to fill in, it's not the same I know-"
"Thanks, Ginny," said Harry, and he meant it. He was wearing the first smile she'd seen on him since Hallowe'en. She smiled back as warmly as she could muster, feeling a warm squirmy feeling somewhere around her belly.
"I know this may sound silly, Harry, but I know you'll pull through this. You're made of tougher stuff." Harry's cheeks reddened and he turned his face back to his potato soup. Ginny swallowed the lump in her throat and forced herself to go on; the last thing she wanted was Harry thinking it was only hero-worship or that silly crush she'd had on him first year. "I know you know about that crush I had on you my first year, but this isn't like that, Harry. You're practically family, but maybe I've always cared a little more for you because you have to live with those awful Muggles. I don't want to embarrass you-"
"It's okay, Ginny. I know what you mean," said Harry, looking back up at her. "Besides, I never thought your crush was silly. Maybe a bit embarrassing every now and then, but it wasn't silly." Ginny's heart was now trying its best to leap out of her chest and smack Harry in the face. "And I'm glad you believe me. This thing is hard enough without everyone acting like I did this on purpose."
"Well, I knew right away that you wouldn't have put your name into the Goblet of Fire. I'm sorry Ron's such an idiot about it all, I'd tell Mum to send him a howler, but that wouldn't help you out any," said Ginny. Harry laughed out loud; it sounded like music to Ginny's ears. "And I meant what I said about you making it through, I know you can." At this, Harry's face stiffened a little.
"I wish I could share your enthusiasm," said Harry. "Who knows what the first task is, then I've got two more after that." Ginny couldn't help feeling another wave of fear, but she forced it aside; she would not show fear, not now, when Harry needed her support.
"Well, it couldn't possibly be any more dangerous than taking on a fifty-foot Basilisk, could it?" she said. A slow realization seemed to spread across Harry's face and finally he nodded.
"I guess you're right, I-"
"Ginny?" said Colin, rousing Ginny from her reverie. She glanced up the table again and watched as Harry pushed his bowl away and stood up. The tense look was still on his face and Ginny was now cursing herself for letting herself get caught up in a daydream. Her chance to talk to Harry and tell him she believed him and was willing to offer any support she could give him had passed. Harry was heading out of the Great Hall with his head hung.
"I'll be right back," said Colin hurriedly, clamoring to get out of his seat, his eyes fixed on Harry's back. Ginny had lost her chance to tell Harry she'd support him, but she realized there was one thing she could still do for him. She grabbed firmly onto the back of Colin's robes and tugged him backward. "Ow, what was that-"
"Leave Harry alone, Colin," said Ginny plainly. Colin gave her a very pained look and whipped his head around in time to see Harry walk through the door to the Entrance Hall.
"Ginny," said Colin. Ginny cut him off before he could go on.
"No, don't pester him for his autograph, don't go on about how exciting this all is around him." She found she also intended this speech for Dennis Creevey, who had been sitting by his brother.
"But why? He's Harry Potter! He's a Hogwarts Champion! He's famous!" whined Colin.
"He doesn't want that fame, Colin!" she hissed back. Colin was nonplussed, looking from Ginny to Dennis and back again. "He didn't put his name in the Goblet of Fire, he doesn't want all that fame. Just treat him like Harry," said Ginny sternly.
"He doesn't need admirers, he needs friends, so if you can't be a friend, then just leave him alone, okay?" she finished, pushing her own soup away and swung her bag up onto her shoulder. Colin and Dennis sat in quiet confusion as Ginny headed away from them.
She walked slowly up the staircases to Gryffindor Tower, so as not to catch up to Harry. She had already missed her chance to talk to Harry, and though part of her wished she had it back, the other part was grateful she hadn't spoken to him at all. She reached the common room and found an empty table to work on her History of Magic Essay, all the while thinking: next time I won't miss my chance.