Jenna's Notes: It seems that Harry had somehow gotten into the countless shippy message boards on the Internet, read all the bashing of you-know-what, and thought of replying to them. So here he is, hauling in the last story in the Karma Series. (Please read "Put Your Elbow in the Butter Dish, Harry" and "We Don't Need Mistletoes" before reading this one.) He'd also like to express his compliments to the H/G-ers out there for believing in him. :)
You'd probably think that since I had my destiny thrust out in front of me, I no longer have a bearing on my own life. After all, you'd say, it had long been prophesized that either Voldemort or me should die. You'd also say, perhaps, that everything that has happened to me so far is predestined, and those experiences are not really mine, but the stars'.
For one thing, you'd point out, there's my (what better way to put it?) love life. I ended up with my best friend's sister, whom I first met in King's Cross Station, where my new life really began. She, like me, had Voldemort in her head not only once in her life, and I saved her from him; therefore it was then ordained that we should start going out. It's like the medieval tales about the Damsel in Distress and her Knight in Shining Armor—the two of them always live happily ever after.
Should I agree with you lot?
For one thing, if you get to know Ginny you'd never associate "damsel in distress" with her whole demeanor. Oh no. You'd never think about it. In fact, if you put a knight and the so-called damsel in distress in a swordfight, she'd probably have his helmet down his throat. No kidding.
For another, Ginny isn't only a gift to me by the heavens. You've made your point, and I won't deny that she truly is a gift—no question about it—but...she's more than that.
A lot, lot more.
I'll be even more serious here—don't say I didn't warn you.
From a relaxed friendship, things between us...moved on a bit when we started going out. I was anxious at first, of course. Before I kissed her on that Quidditch final, I only wanted to...to have her. (Not in the way you're thinking, you and your filthy brain.) What really should happen afterwards, I hadn't foreseen.
With Cho it had been quite simple—I had to go out with her for dates, that was all...but I knew with Ginny it would be different. Because she was different. She was my friend, and that one thing remained even when we started going out. I always saw her, being a Gryffindor herself, and we sat together in meals, talked till midnight in the common room...exchanged a few kisses whenever we were alone.
...Okay, there were more than a few kisses, but you get the idea.
No, it wasn't just the kisses that made the difference—although it did make a great one. But being with her made me more acutely aware of my feelings—which were still in a turmoil.
I don't know how to describe how I felt for her, but I can tell you that an overpowering sense of protectiveness came along with it. During those days, the Second War was at its peak—people were dying everywhere, wizards and Muggles alike. In the past years she had become involved in almost all the escapades I had gotten myself into, unwittingly or not—and somehow, I felt that when the worst comes...she might also get involved, and harm herself. And how would I be able to forgive myself if that happened?
What's worse, she was frightfully independent. And convincing. If I were to do something dangerous she wouldn't reproach me, the way Hermione did, but would most likely come with me to "help." And she wouldn't have it any other way.
Yeah, you might say we're a bad influence to each other...but mind you, she does straighten me out when she thinks I'm being a git. And I came to think that her support on the most dangerous undertakings of my life, no matter how ridiculous they might seem on the surface, helped me grow up.
In other words...she scared me.
She scared me because she can just...go, you know? And somewhere inside me I knew that I couldn't...I couldn't live without her.
The full significance of it started to become clear to me one lazy afternoon, when Ginny and I were walking across the Hogwarts grounds—we were taking a break from all the studying we had to do.
"You know," Ginny told me then, "I don't think I've ever thanked you for saving my life in my first year."
You've probably expected what I had replied to that. "Oh...it wasn't really me," I said, kicking a stone on the way. "I had the Sorting Hat's help...and there was Fawkes..."
"We're being modest, aren't we?" Ginny muttered (a bit sarcastically, I thought), rolling her eyes.
"Look, I'm serious," I said, my voice rising. "It wasn't me, I had a lot of help—"
"I can count the number of times you've had this argument with someone," Ginny went on calmly. "But you have to admit, if it weren't for you I wouldn't be taking this walk with you."
I didn't say anything, so she took my hand and grinned.
"Come on, Harry. Can't I hear you acknowledge my gratefulness?"
I sighed and looked at her. "All right. I accept it. But still...."
Ginny chuckled and gave me a funny look. "You're always like that."
She then gazed at something far-off and rubbed the palm of my hand with her thumb absently. I remember it tickling me, but I didn't pull away or anything. I watched her, her face turned away from me.... She seemed to be internally debating on whether to tell me something or not.
She did tell me.
She murmured something...and although I thought I heard differently, I felt a painful constriction in my heart, as if someone had pinched it. She was still looking away.
"What...did you say?" I asked slowly.
Ginny turned to look at me—she had never looked into my eyes as deeply as the way she did then. "I said I love you."
It took a while for the words to sink in. I don't think they really did then; I was too much in shock. Yeah, I'm ashamed to say that it took me a long time to fully understand what she had said. I mean, I knew that sweethearts used those words to each other...but Ginny saying it to me was beyond my comprehension. Those words echoed in my head, begging to be understood...but I didn't.
I knew that she sensed my uneasiness. She looked away and, letting go of my hand, started to walk back to the castle slowly.
Man, I can't tell you how awkward that moment was. Getting a hold of myself, I ran after her and seized her hand again.
I stopped. I knew what I needed to say—but I couldn't get it out. I didn't know why.
I absolutely hated myself at that moment. I will never forget the look of disappointment in her eyes. But then, she nodded and said simply, "That's okay," before she led the way back to the castle.
A coldness lay between us from that moment on. There were no more late-night talks; we rarely sat together in meals, and if we did, we never talked the way we used to. I'm blaming myself here—I knew she still felt disappointed at me, but did I do anything about it? Nah.
I lay thinking about it one sleepless night (after cursing myself till I fully believed that I really was an "insensitive prat"). Something in me reminded me of that fearfulness I felt about her—about losing her. She had admitted that she loved me—and, it suddenly hit me—Sirius did, too, as something like a son to him. And he...Sirius...he died. I remember having sat up all of a sudden that night, my heart beating so loud and fast it was a wonder I didn't wake the other boys up. It was then that I found a connection as to why I was afraid. It's quite simple—and really stupid, now that I think about it.
She loved me—therefore, she could die.
I remember thinking, how could I have been stupid to kiss her without thinking of that? I had always been marked and I could easily endanger someone even though I didn't mean it. I hated myself even more that night. I had taken everything in stride, thinking that everything would be fine....
I got colder towards Ginny, if it were possible. Can you believe it? It had been barely one month since we started going out, and it seemed that...well. There I was, wallowing in misery that I imposed upon myself. I missed her—she always made my day a little brighter—but I couldn't get over my fears. The fact that she loved me remained....
Ginny isn't stupid and I knew it; that's why I wasn't surprised when she cornered me one evening, as I was going up Gryffindor Tower. She stood there, her hands on her hips, eyeing me—not with contempt, but with concern.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, as if I didn't know.
"Waiting for you," she said matter-of-factly. "I haven't been with you for ages."
I kept quiet, staring at the wall behind her.
Ginny, meanwhile, went straight to the point. "You're afraid," she said quietly. I could feel her eyes never leaving my face. "Because of what I told you, that day in the grounds. You're afraid to say the same to me."
"No, I'm not," I snapped. (I was in denial, obviously.)
"I don't need to hear it from you, okay?" she shot back. "I just...don't want to see you so cold to me because...because I said it."
Still I didn't meet her eyes. Something about what she had said hit a nerve.
"Harry, won't you just talk?" she said desperately. "Harry?"
"He's coming," I said in a low voice.
"I said he's coming," I said, finally looking at her fiercely. "Now do you understand?"
Ginny raised her head up. I tore my eyes from hers and kept it at the wall again. Maybe if she did understand, she'd leave me alone.
"That's exactly how I felt in my first year," she began after a long moment of silence. "I didn't want anyone near me...I felt filthy, you know, when I realized it was him?" Her grim chuckle caught my attention. "Percy wanted to help, but I didn't want him to...you all wanted to help...but then he told me he was going to...to kill you."
This was the first time Ginny talked about her experience with the diary. We had touched on the subject a couple of times before, but actually hearing her tell me the details—
"I told him everything," she went on, shaking her head, that grim smile still on her lips. "I told him everything, I poured my soul into him, I gave him everything I had." Another chuckle. "I kissed the damned diary. God." She licked her lips and ran her fingers through her hair. Her eyes were too bright. "He said he'd kill you, and it'd be all my fault. Of course I didn't want anyone close to me. Especially you."
I met her eyes. Her eyes—they were tear-filled, and I've told you this too many times by now but I really, really hated myself then, since I wasn't able to do anything.
"Funny how things between us turn around, huh?" she said with a last grim laugh. Then, taking a deep breath, she said, "I know how you feel, believe me."
I knew she did. She was the only one who could help me—she made that clear in my fifth year. But—
"You can't do anything about it," I said with finality in my voice.
"No," murmured Ginny. "That will be your choice."
I didn't understand what she had said, but apparently she understood why I didn't hang around her much anymore after that conversation. In fact, she didn't seem affected. But years of knowing her made me think that it was only a façade—Ginny had always been a good liar, I'm afraid, but everybody has their faults, and Ginny is no exception.
Everyone noticed the rift between Ginny and me, of course, and some got quite a kick at teasing us about it. I suppose Ginny took them lightly, but me—I wasn't too gentle. I got detention after giving Michael Corner a bloody nose, you know. But Ron—good old Ron, the elder brother and best friend—set me aside that night. With a bottle of (guess what?) Firewhiskey. That Prefect.
Like Ginny, he went straight to the point after pouring me a glass. What's going on? he asked. You had a fight?
"No." I nearly puked at the alcohol, but I went on drinking anyway.
Ron likewise took a swig of Firewhiskey, and told me that he hated seeing me so miserable, that it didn't make sense because Ginny and I usually got along so well and we clearly loved each other—
It was something in my facial expression, I think, that made Ron stare at me. What? he asked. You do love her, don't you?
I poured myself another glass. "I don't know," I admitted (I must've been getting really drunk). "How d'you know you love someone, anyway? Why do you love someone?"
Ron shrugged. Dunno, he said thoughtfully. You just know. It defies reason.
(You wouldn't think Ron Weasley would say that. He was probably getting drunk, too.)
Halfway through the bottle, I was getting dizzier, and I told Ron that I wanted to sleep. Despite my protests he didn't let me go so easily—he dragged me back down on my seat. He was frowning.
About you and Ginny, he said slowly. If you defeat Voldemort, will the two of you be okay again?
I looked up at him. Ron was eyeing me without blinking.
"When I know she's safe from him," I finally said, "we'll be okay."
Ron knows me better than anyone else, and what he told me that night was...right on the spot, as if he had entered my head and unearthed my innermost thoughts.
Well, almost. I still couldn't forget Ginny's words—"You're afraid...because of what I told you, that day in the grounds. You're afraid to say the same to me.... That will be your choice." I felt like a failure, not being able to tell her. What IS love? I kept on asking myself (it's corny, I know) afterwards. How did Ginny know that she loves me?
Let me tell you that Professor McGonagall caught Ron and me drinking, earning us twenty points each from Gryffindor and a night's detention—the last detention we ever had at Hogwarts. Ron nearly lost his Prefect badge, too, but even if he did, it hardly mattered.
Less than two weeks later, Wormtail entered Hogwarts by using one of the secret passages and breaking all the Charms that got in the way. He opened the gates to Hogwarts. He let the Death Eaters in.
The sixth- and seventh-years took charge. We sent the younger students into the dungeons, with the professors sealing the place with protective charms. I can't tell you exactly what that day was like. To say that it was the worst I've ever known is an understatement. I remember, Hermione couldn't even hold her wand steady as she, Ron and the other Prefects directed the students to the dungeons. Then the two of them joined Neville, Dean, Luna and several others, waiting in the entrance hall, ready to die defending those kids.
Where was I, you ask? I think I was in the middle of them all, looking around in disbelief. I had long been accustomed to the pain in my scar, and it was stabbing at my forehead at that moment, but I still could stand up and keep my eyes open. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. This is it, I remember thinking numbly. This is what I have lived for.
I saw Ginny yelling instructions at several first-years, and bending down to embrace a hysterical Ravenclaw. She handed them over to a Hufflepuff prefect, who then went down to the dungeons. Then, panting, she looked around—and caught my eyes.
No, I thought. She must stay in the dungeons. She's not safe here. Ron and Hermione, they could fight—but Ginny—
She was rushing towards me as these thoughts ran in my head. But before I could open my mouth, she stabbed at my chest with a finger.
If you could have seen her brown eyes then, ever so brilliant, you'd give the world to gaze at it for the rest of your life.
"I want you," she gasped, but her voice unnaturally strong, "to get out of there, safe, and to come back here—right here." She stamped her foot on the floor. "I'll wait. Right here."
"Ginny, you know I—"
"No, I don't know!" She suddenly burst to tears. "I don't know what you're talking about, I don't want to hear a word of it—just say you'll come back." She seized my arms and shook it violently. "Please—come back. I'll be right here."
I was at a loss for words as she swiped the back of her hand on her cheeks. I knew then that I would come back, if only to stop her from crying.
"You'll be here?" I asked.
Ginny hiccupped and tried to smile even as more tears flowed down her cheeks. She raised a palm up. "I promise. Now you do the same."
I looked at her hand. There was something familiar about the way she held it up.... Before I realized what I was doing, I took it, sliding my fingers between hers...and I suddenly remembered.
I opened my mouth to say that I promise I'll be back, but what came out was something I hadn't expected to say, especially at that moment—
"I love you, Ginny."
Suddenly, the weight I had been carrying on my back for weeks disappeared. Just saying it—I couldn't believe it had been that easy, and that true, and yet it defied reason—it was as if I had always known that I loved her. I loved her, I always had...it had only been a matter of choice to tell her.
A laugh escaped from her mouth. Sniffing, she shook her head, smiling behind her tears.
"Shut up. Just promise me."
I smiled. "I promise."
When I came back some time later, she was right there. She took me in her arms and let me fall asleep on her shoulder.
Yes, it's over.
I'm at the King's Cross Station right now, my bags and trunk in tow. I've left Hogwarts. The Weasleys are waiting for us on the platform, Ron and Hermione are in front of me, and Ginny is right beside me, no longer running after the train, half laughing, half crying....
"Don't look so down," Ginny now tells me, nudging me on the side. "It's not really over."
"Nope," I say to her, smiling. "I'm just...back where I started."
And, like seven years ago, she's here on Platform Nine and Three Quarters with me.
Maybe you'd say that Ginny was only conveniently there at the moment of my life when I needed to defeat Voldemort. To save everyone, especially my loved ones. To fulfill my destiny.
But I love her.
And that makes all the difference.