Beautiful by biggerstaffbunch
Harry Potter knows he's not a stud by any means. When he stumbles into the bathroom in the morning, he peers blearily at his reflection and just barely suppresses a sigh. He wonders what the editors of Teen Witch Weekly would say if they could see him as the roosters crowed, his skin pale and blotchy under the harsh bathroom lights, hair messier than it is even usually, eyes sharp and green, lips thin and red. He's hero-worshipped and adored by thousands of girls, but he'll never win Best Smile or Sexiest Chest. He knows that, and he wonders then, what do those girls, who loved Gilderoy Lockhart for his blonde hair and gleaming teeth, love him for?
Harry is vaguely aware that Ginny Weasley still watches him. He is so used to the interested leers of girls in his year that he hardly even bothers to notice when a female pays any attention at all. He knows all they want is a slice of that fame, a chance to be a part of his fairy tale. But Ginny strikes him as different, if only because she is a little more discreet and a bit more persistent about it.
When she was smaller, Ginny used to tag along here and there and watch him with big, trusting eyes. Maybe she didn't know it herself, but the expression on her face was so open, so vulnerable that it scared Harry. Since then, she has gotten better. Harry only catches a glimpse of her hair and her robes, fleetingly out of the corner of his eye. But he asks Hermione in an undertone and she confirms that Ginny is peering at him with the most peculiar expression on her face. This goes on for days, weeks, even, until Harry simply cannot take it any longer. He stops midstep on the way to Potions and turns, stumbling as Ginny plows right into his chest. He is short, but Ginny is shorter, and her arms pinwheel as she trips and falls backward. Harry reaches out and grabs her wrists, roughly yanking her up to meet his gaze.
"What are you playing at?" he asks, not angrily, but in the fashion in which he has grown accustomed to speaking: world-weary, tragic.
Ginny cocks her head and gives him an interested look. Reaching out, she delicately traces his jaw-line and says matter-of-factly, "I've been observing. I have a theory, and in order to prove my hypothesis, I need to watch." She extracts herself from Harry's hold and gathers her books. With a grin, she reaches up and taps her finger to his temple. "Constant vigilance, Potter." She gives a cheeky salute and then walks away, looking over her shoulder.
Harry can only find his voice in time to demand after her, "What's this theory of yours?"
Ginny stops, rucksack swinging against her hip. She turns and says, quite seriously, "I've decided, Harry Potter, that you are a beautiful person."
Harry's mouth drops open and he splutters for a moment. Beautiful?
Ginny Weasley does not see beauty when she looks upon her reflection in the mirror.
Ginny more often than not finds herself waking up in a rush and barring the sloppy braids, adornments are not time-permitted. Classes see her dashing in last minute, socks drooping, shirt wrinkled, tie hastily done, and splotches of toothpaste and butter on her chin. The other girls in her year wonder aloud how someone could stand to be so plain and blasé about outward appearances, but Ginny doesn't see the point of wasting precious minutes of one's life going through ridiculous regimens of makeup and hair potions. Especially in times such as these.
Ginny's gaze darkens in the mirror, and she raises a finger to trace the shadows that touch her cheeks. She cannot fathom using up one ounce of the magic that soars within her veins on such petty embellishments. Her powers and her spells, they come from a well deep within her, and she feels her lips curl in disgust thinking of a Nail-Lengthening Charm springing from that same source. It's ridiculous.
Especially when there's really no one to appreciate the rouge on her cheeks, the color on her lids, the way her lashes would curl with thousands of coats of – masacarra? Yes, that inane little tube of thick black goop that Ginny's roommate insists on wearing. Who would lean in close enough to appreciate the way it flaked off? Who would press his lips to hers and come away with the satiny touch of lipstick? Who would breathe in her perfume and smile?
Certainly not Harry Potter. He is reserved for another category- that of the beautiful people. Ginny has been intrigued by the small, dark boy with the haunted look in his eyes since she first met him. True, he isn't conventionally handsome; yet something about his tragic smile and the way his collarbone juts out against the fabric of his shirt makes Ginny want to watch him forever. He does not fall under the category of beauty because of any innate attractiveness- he doesn't have the regal appearance of Draco Malfoy or the wholesome good looks of Seamus Finnegan. Rather, he has a kindness and a nobleness that shines through. She sees it in the way his green eyes crinkle at the corners when he smiles, in the polite crease of his thin lips. She sees it in the strong line of his jaw, in the straight line of his nose. He is tremendous to look at and Ginny questions who will ever look at her, plain old Ginny, and see someone just as special.
Ginny giggles and wipes a hand over her reflection. A steamy smear covers her face as she thinks, Questions for another day. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Ginny thinks, I can wait.
Harry is going mad. Ginny Weasley has hardly ever mattered to him before, in fact, if it weren't for her being constantly and oddly underfoot, he never would've sought her out in the first place. Yet Ginny and her blasted theory have plagued his mind for hours on end. For the first time since last year, Harry isn't wallowing or crying or yelling. He's thinking.
Ron thinks he's gone barmy. Harry spends a fair amount of his days trying to covertly look at Ginny while she just as covertly looks at him. It's quite comical actually, the way they steal glances at each other. Ginny is trying to prove her hypothesis, but Harry is trying to make one of his own. Is Ginny beautiful? Can he come to an easy deduction just as Ginny had? Is it easily proven, just by looking at someone, that they are beautiful?
Harry watches as Ginny helps her friends with their Potions homework. He observes the way her hands, strong and stained with ink, move expressively in the air. Her nails are bitten and square, and her knuckles are split on one fist, where she punched Andrew Kirke after a particularly rough Quidditch practice.
He watches as Ginny eats her supper. He notes the way her mouth quirks at the ends and a deep dimple appears in her left cheek every now and then. He laughs to himself as a dribble of gravy ends up on her chin, and she impatiently wipes it away. He takes in the way her nose wrinkles at something Ron says, and the smattering of freckles bunch up until they are an arc over the bridge.
Harry hides behind a corridor as Ginny defends a fourth year against a band of Slytherins. He watches in awe as her eyes take an unholy glow and the simple brown morphs into a protective ferocity. He admires the way her body is round and smooth, not fragile and birdlike. But most of all he remains enchanted by the way her hair, tied in a low knot, escapes its confines and wisps wildly, reminding him of a blinding halo of fire.
Harry has made his decision.
One day in the Great Hall, Harry strides up to Ginny again. He sits next to her and tugs her sleeve.
"Ginny," he says impatiently. "Ginny, why do you think I'm beautiful?"
Ginny simply looks at him as she chews. "For many reasons," she says finally. "But most of all, because of this." She touches his scar gently and then turns back to eating.
Harry is again momentarily stunned. "What?" he demands. "You can't just- that's ridiculous! My scar? My scar isn't beautiful. It's a symbol of hate, it can never be beautiful, a pink line of healed skin. Are you mad?"
Ginny just shrugs. "Your mother died out of hate, then?" she asks mildly. "She died out of love; the scar is a symbol of love, and love is beautiful. So are you, Harry." She blinks again. "Get over it," she adds, as an afterthought.
Harry cannot very well leave it at that, so he adds, a bit imperiously, "Well so are you."
This gives Ginny a pause. "What?" she asks. "What am I?"
Harry cocks his head and says simply, "Beautiful. You're beautiful."
Ginny smiles and gives his a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you," she whispers.
And the mirror had a little extra glow each day after that.
For both of them.