Have you ever heard of karma?
Wow. Sooner or later I'll have to keep track of how many hours Hermione has made me stay in the library all these years.
Well, anyway. Karma is a Hindu belief, and basically means that all you do in this life will come back to you in your next life. For example, since Malfoy is an insufferable arse in this life, he'll easily turn into a cockroach when he is reborn.
Although the image of Malfoy quivering in fright under my shoes is truly inspired, I find it hard to believe that I'll be born as a different person someday, and that all I did in the past seventeen years of my life will come back to me then.
Especially since karma seems to be haunting me in this life already.
I don't know when it began exactly. It must be because I spend too much time with her after...things happened.
Put it this way. Last year my two best friends, Ron and Hermione, found that... being prefects is actually a brilliant thing. See, they discovered that other things could be done in certain places in Hogwarts. The Room of Requirement, for instance. I knew that something was already going on between them beforehand, but it never really registered in my brain until I saw them one February evening in the D.A. room, their lips locked—
I quickly closed the door and told the other D.A. members that the evening's session was cancelled.
Don't get me wrong; I'm really happy for Ron and Hermione. But understandably, things changed. We still hang out and do stuff together, but they need time for themselves, too. For...you-know-whats.
Then there was Quidditch.
As you all probably know, in my fifth year she took my place in the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. She is a brilliant flier, although not as great a Seeker as...some. But when she became one of our Chasers in my sixth year...she practically shone. (Malfoy therefore hurled never-before-heard insults to her when Slytherin lost to us, but before Ron and I could retaliate, she used the Bat-Bogey Hex on him like she did in my fifth year. We won the Cup after that match, but she got a detention. I wouldn't say it wasn't worth it, though; it was a brilliant hex.)
Anyway. We started talking to each other (for a change) and became friends in fifth year, but it was in Quidditch last year when she and I grew closer, especially when there were no Ron and Hermione to hang out with. There were evenings when I hung around the locker rooms after practice, hoping to talk to her...and she was always there, perhaps rambling about the banality of Divination or whooping with delight at a new Quidditch move she had learned earlier. I somehow found her easy to talk and listen to.
And then...there's that smile.
Damn it, I had to shake myself for a moment there.
As I was saying, there's that smile. And that laugh. The way she catches my eyes and looks away again, smiling, because we find something amusing. The way she throws her head back and laughs freely, her eyes shining. The way she glances up at me in Quidditch matches, her long mane of red hair flying, and grins encouragingly.
Wow. When did I ever become such a sap?
But that's not all. Remember when she shut my mouth every time I turned into a git in my fifth year? Well, she still does that—all the time. It's a wonder how she does that. I keep on telling myself that one of these days I am going to snap back at her, but I just can't.
Perhaps somebody who is not as thick as I am (yes, I'm admitting it, sadly) clearly saw that something was going on, or starting to go on...but not me. All I knew was that I enjoyed her company...not in the way that I enjoy Ron's or Hermione's, or enjoyed Cho's (take note of the past tense) for that matter. There is...something else when I'm with her, something that makes being with her different and even special. Something I can't explain. It makes me feel wonderful and free, and at the same time I feel tense and nervous and apprehensive and if I carry on with this cheesiness you still won't understand a bit of it.
It was then that karma started to haunt me.
I was with Ron and Hermione in the Great Hall when I spotted her sitting beside a fifth-year Gryffindor. Luke Parsons, his name is. We sat down, and for some reason I kept on stealing glances at them.
Luke was saying something, but his face was too near her ear. Then she broke into laughter—she threw her head back and laughed freely, as she always did. I began to frown. Beside me Ron didn't seem to notice; he and Hermione were probably engaging in a footsie. I wanted Ron to see this outrageous view so that he could help me wrench his sister away from Luke, but I was simply left alone to seethe in jealousy.
Jealousy? I asked myself. Since when did I become jealous when it came to her?
Unfortunately, whenever I saw her with Luke Parsons I got that same feeling of wanting to shoo Luke.
One evening, after Quidditch practice, she and I walked back to the castle silently, our brooms slung over our shoulders. The spring sun was setting in the horizon; its rays fell on her hair, turning the red strands into gold. She let out a small sigh, then ran her fingers through her hair. I watched, mesmerized, as her hair slid back to place, partially hiding her face from me.
I couldn't stand it any longer. I took a deep breath. "Ginny?"
Ginny stopped walking and looked at me. "Hmm?"
What am I doing?
"Er...is there..." I cleared my throat. It was now or never. "What's going on between you and Luke Parsons?"
Ginny looked at me strangely, both eyebrows raised. "Luke?"
She kept that strange look on me for so long that for a moment, I wanted to shake her to see if she was still breathing. But then, she broke into a grin.
"What?" I asked.
She shrugged. "So what if I am?"
It wasn't my fault, I swear. I didn't mean to shout like that. But I was certainly red in the face afterwards.
Ginny, on the other hand, was laughing. She had thrown her head back again, so that with every shake of her shoulders the light in her hair shimmered. I was half-angry, half-captivated.
When she recovered, she looked at me. Her eyes sparkled with amusement. "No, Harry," she said. "There's nothing going on."
I opened my mouth to speak, then shut it again. I felt more blood rushing to my cheeks.
"What made you ask?" Ginny asked, still sounding amused.
"I...well, I always saw you hanging out with him and I thought—"
Ginny laughed again. "So just because I hang out with a certain boy, there's already something going on between us?" To my surprise, she smacked my upper arm and grinned. "Meaning that since...I'm with you right now—and that I hang out with you more than often—there's already something going on between us?"
There. She didn't know it, but those words made my heart drop like a ten-pound weight into my stomach. She said it so easily that it added more to the hurt. And yet, I didn't understand how it could hurt me so. Ginny is only a friend of mine, after all. She wasn't like Cho....
No. She was never like Cho. Ginny is different. She's one of a kind.
Summer came, and of course I was stuck in my room in Privet Drive. And in the nights when I lay awake on my bed, I found that I thought of her more often than was necessary.
I missed her.
I missed her like hell.
I was allowed to go to the Burrow on my seventeenth birthday. I wasn't surprised to find Hermione there. She rushed to me and tackled me into a hug. Mrs. Weasley embraced me too. Ron and I elbowed each other. Fred and George, who were visiting, punched me in the stomach (just slightly).
Then Ginny came down the stairs in a flowery dressing robe, rubbing her eyes, her hair tousled from sleep.
My heart felt like it had stopped beating for a minute. I had to let my breath out in a whoosh. I never knew anyone could look so ethereal at six in the morning.
She saw me looking up at her (probably with my mouth hanging open). She immediately beamed. She ran downstairs, and for a wild moment I thought, she's going to hug me, too! The very thought made me feel warm and apprehensive at the same time.
"Harry!" she exclaimed. "Hey, I missed you!"
She missed me. Oh yeah. I was about to open my arms to embrace her, but found that she was holding a palm up.
I was confused for a second. Then it struck me. Why did I have to be so thick?
I gave her a high five. But instead of pulling away quickly, I found my fingers slipping into the gaps between hers.
And one thing became clear to me at that very moment: Having her warm, soft hands in mine is the most brilliant feeling I can ever hope to feel in this lifetime.
It was only for a few seconds, but it could have been eternity. Our eyes locked; her smile faded. There was another jolt in my heart, one that greatly resembled the jolt I felt in my hand.
Did she feel that?
I don't know.
But I sure did.
But soon, it was over; the spell broke as she grinned at me, somewhat (or maybe I had imagined it—or hoped that it was—) uneasily. We pulled our hands apart and looked away.
Ron's forehead was knotted when I turned to him. Mrs. Weasley, meanwhile, told Ginny to get the eggs she had fried in the kitchen.
Ron handed me a plate of toast. I took one in a daze and vaguely wondered where the butter was.
Ginny sauntered into the room again, holding up two plates, looking as though nothing had happened. Fred was giving a funny anecdote about something that came about in their joke shop, and Ginny laughed, her eyes crinkling at the edges.
Really, didn't she feel that?
I sat up with a start. Ginny was holding the plate of eggs in front of me. I took it and muttered, "Thanks."
I suddenly became aware of something cold and soft on my elbow. I jerked my arm upwards and saw that my elbow was filled with butter, and the butter dish beside me was half-empty.
No one seemed to notice; Fred was causing a riot on the table. But Ginny did. She set the plate of eggs down and looked away, and in my opinion she was trying hard not to look amused.
Déjà vu, eh?
So. That's karma for me. The tables have turned. Pathetic, isn't it? Now I'm the one languishing in love—waiting, waiting....
Now I ask you. Why did I have to start falling for one Ginny Weasley when I knew that she has already given up on me?
I hate the bloody karma.
So here I am, cold and stiff and not doing anything about it, sitting on one of the stone benches just outside the Hogwarts castle, watching her throw a snowball. It hits Neville right smack on the face. She doubles up with laughter, which rings across the courtyard beautifully. How I wish that one of her snowballs would hit me on my face. Maybe she would come to me, apologizing, sweeping the snow off my hair....
And then what? It's not as if she'd...she'd confess her undying love for me. Nah. I'd probably have to do that—although...no, I can barely think of ways to do that. Oh no. If I can help it I won't have to do that—
But am I willing to let a chance pass away?
I look up and see Ginny waving her arm frantically.
"What are you, chicken? Come here and fight a good fight!"
You said it, Ginny. I am a chicken. You have absolutely no idea.
But you'll know. Someday.
Maybe even tonight.
I grin as I stand up. I join her and the other Gryffindors in the courtyard. Ginny's face is flushed, and bits of snow are stuck on her hair and eyelashes. She is smiling at me as I approach her. It's that smile that I've always loved. Perhaps that smile is especially for me, and me alone...if only I weren't too thick to realize it.
Notes: Many thanks to the people at the Orange Crush for the inspiration. You rock.