Chapter: the Thirty-Seventh
Upon a Star
After Roger showed her back to her room, Ginny found herself in a very boring situation. She considered looking for one of these infamous liquor stashes in order to keep herself occupied. But it just wouldn't do to have the last decision postponed because she got a hang-over as well; although, it would be nice to have another day before having to make the fated decision.
She noticed a pillow on the floor, right where it had landed the night before after she had thrown it. She picked it up and placed it back on her bed, trying not to relive the emotions of the night before.
Her excuse to Harry about getting back to her room in case Connie came around had, of course, been merely that –- an excuse. So, she was quite surprised when, not long after she got back to her room, Connie did indeed stop by.
Acting rather demure and with a sweetness that Ginny found sickening (yet quite more convincing that usual), Connie began speaking without preamble. "Well, it looks like we'll be able to get the hangovers taken care of sooner than we had expected. Even with magic the effects of alcohol are hard to negate, however. In light of that, we've decided to bump the last Rose Ceremony to tonight instead of tomorrow morning." Ginny's throat constricted and she involuntarily swallowed, causing her to cough. Without stopping her thread of speech, Connie tapped Ginny on the back a couple of times as though something like that actually works when you can't breath.
"Everyone involved has decided that this would be the best thing to do." Ginny wanted to comment that she was pretty sure she should be included in "everyone involved" but she still didn't think she could talk, due to the coughs that were making her eyes start to water.
"Oh! I wanted to make sure you knew." Connie continued, smiling happily with twinkles in her eyes that made Ginny want to cringe. She didn't like anything that made Connie this happy. "The show will be airing the week after you leave here (so, a week from tomorrow), and depending on the popularity of the show, we may ask you back for a kind of encore!" Connie said all of this with the air of one handing out a wonderful treat to a small child.
"An encore?" Ginny asked, after finally regaining control of her vocal chords, not to mention her lungs. "What do you mean by an encore?"
"Well, you and whoever you choose tonight," she elbowed Ginny conspiratorially at this point. "will be given a couple of cameramen in order for the world to see how their new favorite couple is handling life." Connie grinned broadly, her teeth showing more than Ginny thought was possible.
"What if we don't want to be followed around by camera crews anymore?"
"Oh don't be silly." Connie playfully slapped Ginny's shoulder. Ginny almost slapped Connie back, but not playfully and not quite on the shoulder. "The world will want to know how their new favorite couple is doing," repeated Connie as though the matter was finalized. As far as Connie was concerned, it was. As far as Ginny was concerned, Connie was off her rocker.
Connie finally seemed to notice the less-than-pleased look on Ginny's face and her smile faltered slightly. "Well, we'll talk about this later then, huh?" Walking to the door, Connie gave a small wave before she let herself out.
The pillow that Ginny had recently set back on her bed hit the door seconds after Connie left. Damn, thought Ginny. I missed.
In light of the momentous occasion (and probably partly because Connie found that she liked Ginny more than the night before) a crew of make-up and hair designers were sent to Ginny's room that afternoon after Ginny had finished a lonely dinner (she, apparently was not allowed to see either of the boys again until that night). Ginny supposed it was just like Connie to leave Ginny to tend to herself this entire time and only think to give her help on the last day. Even so, Ginny nearly screamed in fright when she opened the door to several very strange looking individuals who asked for admittance in to her room.
The least Connie could have done was warn her that so many people were going to invade her room. Ginny was very glad that Lesley Caldwell had such very large rooms in his mansion, otherwise, the lot of them would not all have fit. And, from the arrogant airs of those foreign to her room, she imagined, job or no job, they would insist that she be the first to leave, had there been any less room.
Several cruel, torturous hours later, Ginny was done and after looking at herself in the mirror she decided that, despite the torment of having these peacocks gussy her up, she would happily put up with any length of their nagging if she could look this good every day.
She gazed at herself for a very long time before speaking. Nothing else seemed right in the situation, so she spoke, very surprised: "I look hot!"
The peacocks tittered from behind her. One of the makeup artists looked scandalized by her choice of words, but seemed to decide to over look the crudeness and take the meaning as the compliment.
Before the whole event of "beautifying Miss Weasley," Ginny had been told that the last ceremony would be taking place out of doors, under the stars. When Ginny asked how on earth they were going to be able to see any of the stars, since they were so close to the city, all she got in response were mystifying looks. Artists and their mysterious façades.
Before leaving, the crew of peacocks gave her strict instructions on how not to mess up their work. Pretty much, she was required to sit there and look pretty, was not to move, and was certainly not to eat. Use of the loo was also strictly prohibited. Had they only warned her before they had begun, this command would not have been so much of a problem.
She was finally left in blessed solitude a little after nine. She knew that in less than an hour she would have to make her decision. The only problem was…she still didn't know what she had decided.
It was true that at the moment she was desperately in love with Harry Potter. But she had only known him a few days. Could she really base a relationship on so little time? Though, they had gotten along splendidly and she had rarely felt as comfortable speaking to any man.
But Neville… Neville had been with her through some of her most trying times. They had been together since they were young. Despite his slight bouts of jealousy and obsession with his work, he had always been a good man. He had always taken care of her. She could still remember the day he had given her the ring with which he promised to be with her forever.
However, he had broken that promise. But wasn't he here now to remedy that? Wasn't he here to make good his promise? Should she not allow him one more chance?
But what took him so long? It had been months since they had broken up! Why did it take a television show to bring him back? Ginny imagined that he had heard from Hermione that she had been chosen for the show and had immediately realized what a berk he had been. But if that was the case…couldn't something else have changed his mind?
Was this just a 'boys with toys' scenario? Did he only want her now because he knew another man wanted her?
Augh! How on earth am I supposed to make a decision with so many unanswered questions running through my head? What do I do?
Ginny wanted desperately to throw herself back on the bed, but that had been another of the peacocks' warnings: do not lie down. They had been quite adamant.
More questions and worries plagued Ginny as she sat stiffly on her bed looking more beautiful that she was likely to look for the rest of her life. But, even beauty did not make her unhappy thoughts go away. Tonight, she knew, she would have to do that which she had always been sorry that Harry had been forced to do.
She was going to have to break someone's heart.
More difficulty was required with her decision, however, because Harry was breaking the hearts of total strangers. Ginny was choosing between two men that she loved; the two men that she loved most deeply.
And after tonight, one of them was bound to hate her forever.
There was a knock on the door and Ginny was relieved to see Roger's face and not Connie's peek around at her. "Connie is coming down the hall for you," he warned her with an understanding smile.
Ginny stood up slowly (she could hardly move in the dress, let alone quickly) as Connie entered her room. Connie stopped dead after she entered, her mouth going slightly slack. "Now, my dear!" she exclaimed, stepping toward Ginny. "You look absolutely radiant! Oh, there is going to be a heart break tonight!" This thought seemed to delight Connie to no end, but it made Ginny's stomach drop.
"Come now, come now," she clucked as she ushered Ginny out of the room. "The world is waiting for you."
Ginny's heart joined her stomach.
"So," Connie cooed. "Who have you decided on?"
She didn't know how she managed to keep her voice light, or how the thought to try to placate Connie even came to her, but Ginny found herself using one of the peacocks' mysterious smiles and saying "It's a surprise!" in a too-cheery, gag-me-with-a-spoon voice.
This is it, thought Ginny. This is the fateful moment. I would so much rather be on the receiving end of this ceremony…then again, that would mean someone else would have to break someone's heart. But still! Why do I have to make the decision? Ginny's hands were sweating but she just didn't feel right about wiping them on her dress; it was too beautiful! Besides…she might leave water spots.
Water spots? Are you insane? You're worrying about your dress right now? Very nearby are two men with whom you are in love and you're worrying about getting water spots on your dress?
I mean, granted it's a very nice dress, but--
AUGH! SHUT UP!
In order to prove to the voice in her head that she was not overly concerned with her fancy dress, Ginny lightly dabbed her hands on the skirt. It did very little to rid her hands of sweat, but she felt vindicated – and she didn't do anything to the dress.
In what seemed like no time, they reached a glass door leading outside.
"The boys aren't here yet," Connie informed her, to which Ginny wanted to respond, why the hell didn't you tell me this sooner, you wanker? But she didn't, of course. Foul language would besmirch her lovely dress. Shut up. Shut UP!
Connie opened the door and led Ginny to a platform just barely out of view from the door. Garlands of roses were draped around in pleasing arrangements but what Ginny really noticed were the stars. It was as though the mansion had been cloaked in the dakest night. The lights from the city were practically nonexistent as Ginny looked up into the heavens twinkling with lights. She was not superstitious, but she desperately wished she would see a shooting star so she could wish that this were all over and that, whatever decision she made would be the right one.
Connie left Ginny standing on the platform by herself. She entertained herself by looking for her favorite constellations. It had been such a long time since she had really been able to see them. It hadn't been since she lived with her parents that she had had the time or the necessary darkness to walk outside and gaze at them.
She had just located Cassiopeia when she heard a door open. Several of the escorts joined her outside, including Roger, who gave her a warm smile which seemed to wish her luck. She was grateful for a friendly face in this sea of indecision.
The door opened again and Connie entered. She flourished her wand, the first time Ginny had ever even seen Connie in possession of a wand, and then she suddenly couldn't see anything. Her vision was covered in a dark filmy gauze. Knowing enough about magic, Ginny kept her face clear, just in case everyone else was still able to see her, even if she couldn't see any of them.
She shouldn't have worried, however, because it was obvious that the boys didn't even know that she was there when they exited into the yard. They both politely greeted Connie and Ginny could hear them taking positions before the platform. With only the warning of Connie clearing her throat, the gauze lifted from around her like a stage curtain lifting for curtain call. She blushed with pride when she saw the looks on the boys' faces. It was obvious that they agreed with her assessment of her appearance tonight: she looked hot.
She tried to ignore the cameras that were surrounding them and she was very glad that she had been unable to see when they had come, because watching them take their places would have been very disconcerting. This way, she could convince herself that the noise she heard behind her was not a cameraman focusing on her back side but merely some woodland creature. Or, perhaps, considering who lived there, an intoxicated pet (for everything and everyone who lived in this house must be perpetually smashed).
With a start, Ginny brought her thoughts back to what was going on, instead of lingering on the possibility of there being a drunken Chihuahua hiding somewhere on the premise.
It was a good thing she brought her attention back when she did, because it wasn't long before she heard Connie announcing that Ginny was to be giving a speech.
A speech? Why doesn't that woman ever tell me anything beforehand?
Yet, even with her hysterics, Ginny found her mind strangely at peace and she began to speak without having to think about what to say.
"To tell you that this is one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make would be quite an understatement. You both mean so much to me and it kills me to know that I have to say goodbye to one of you.
"Neville, we were together for so many years and shared so much together. And Harry, though I've only known you for a few days, I've rarely felt as comfortable around anyone.
"I've dreaded this decision because I don't want to hurt either of you, but I know that I have to. I wished on a shooting star that I didn't even see that I would make the right decision. I wished on a star that has not yet fallen from the sky. And that wish has given me the courage to do what I believe I've always known I have to do."
Ginny stepped down from the platform and walked toward the man of her choice. She glided toward him and saw as his face brightened with a look of hope that what she was doing meant what he thought. She found a rose in her hand, a rose of such deep red that it might have been black in the starlight. She had not remembered Connie giving it to her, but with the utmost care, she reached out and, gazing into his piercing green eyes, gave the rose to the Boy-She-Loved.
She didn't remember any movement, but the next time she glanced over, Neville was gone, as were the escorts. The cameramen, of course, were still present and Ginny could hear Connie sniffling somewhere behind her.
"You chose me," Harry said. It was almost a question.
"I love you," Ginny whispered back.
The smile that lit up Harry's face was beyond anything she had seen on him. She thought he had never looked as handsome as he did at that moment. He took Ginny into his arms and they embraced for what seemed like hours. He lightly kissed her on the cheek: it was tender and soft, warm and loving.
They pulled apart slightly and quickly both of them turned to the right. Their eyes had been caught by a star streaking across the sky.
"You're lucky," Ginny giggled. "I think I'll keep you," she whispered the words.
In response, Harry laughed deep in his throat and kissed her so intensely she felt as though breathing air was no comparison to breathing in Harry.
Fin! Yay! This is the first time I've EVER finished one of my stories. I've started the first chapter of the sequel, Fantasy (original, ne?) so go check that out! And thanks to nuncle Tim for pointing out a VERY big error I made transitioning from this story to my sequel. Thanks!
Work started May 28th 2004
Work Finished July 15, 2005