Harry isn't mine, more's the pity.

Harry never failed to be amazed by how peaceful falling in love was. In the midst of chaos, death, pain, and anger, his love was a lifeline, a strand of serenity and calm that shielded him from the war.

He didn't tell Ginny he was in love with her, of course. She had Dean, and besides, he'd learned long ago that people he loved tended to die.

Most of the time, it didn't hurt. Most of the time, the very state of being in love was enough to soothe him. Most of the time, he could look at her without wanting to scream or throw a fit. Most of the time, he was content to simply love.

But there were days when he wanted to rip Dean's head off; there were days when he'd do anything for Ginny to look at him like Hermione looked at Ron. There were days that Harry was certain he was dying of love.

And wouldn't that just be the ultimate irony?

It was love that won him the war, just as Dumbledore had insisted all along. Harry knew without a doubt that Ginny would die if Voldemort won, and that was unacceptable. So Harry won, and Voldemort lost, and Ginny lived.

She broke up with Dean, and for the first time in months Harry slept without nightmares. Yet he couldn't bring himself to ask her- to face her rejection- and so he waited too long, and soon she was seeing Zacharias Smith.

What on earth she saw in the little creep, Harry couldn't fathom.

But he settled back into his old routine of watching and wishing and loving, and it was almost comfortable. It wasn't until Ginny announced her engagement that the pain came back, sharper and more consuming than ever.

He stumbled out of the Burrow, unable to face Molly's excited chatter and the twins' exuberant congratulations. At the moment, he wanted nothing more than to claw Smith's smug face to bits, and that rather frightened him. He'd never felt such loathing in his life, except for, just possibly, Bellatrix and Snape.

So he was outside, on his back in the grass, studying the stars, when Ginny found him. She sat silently by his side, not looking at him but at the crescent moon.

They stayed that way for several minutes, before Harry said, almost dreamily, "There's something you should know. Or at least, there's something I want you to know."

"Oh?" Ginny asked curiously, finally looking at her friend. He was still staring up at the night sky, but she could feel that all his attention was focused on her.

"I love you."

She blinked. Her mouth opened and closed soundlessly, and her heart began to race in her chest.

"I don't expect you to declare your undying passion for me or anything like that," he said dryly, his eyelids falling shut. "I just wanted you to know."

It was almost a full minute before Ginny could speak. When she did, she sounded disturbingly like an enraged Uncle Vernon. "You - stupid - prat!" she hissed, with enough true anger and venom that Harry opened his eyes and looked at her. "You waited until I was engaged to tell me that... I can't..." She shook her head, took a deep breath, and asked, "How long?"

Harry winced. "Er."

"How long, Harry?"

"Since the beginning of my sixth year," he admitted quietly, not meeting her eyes. He sat up, drawing his knees up to his chest, his arms locking around them.

"I don't believe it," Ginny muttered, shaking her head. "Four years? You never said a word- never let on. Why didn't you ever say anything?"

"Voldemort, at first. And then..." Harry smiled thinly. "I may be a Gryffindor, but I can still be a bloody coward when it comes to girls."

There was another long moment of silence, this time broken by Ginny.

"Zach's a good man."

Harry fought the urge to snort or sneer, and instead nodded mutely.

"I love him."

Harry flinched, then prayed Ginny hadn't noticed. She was certainly doing a damned good job of rubbing salt into the wound.

"But...I'm not in love with him."

He froze, slowly turning his head to look at the young woman sitting beside him. She met his gaze boldly, looking oddly determined.

"What- you aren't-"

"He's a good friend," she said with a shrug. "We like each other, and we have a comfortable relationship."

"You deserve more than that," Harry heard himself say angrily. He immediately snapped his mouth shut, silently berating himself. It was Ginny's life, her choice. If she wanted to marry someone she didn't love...

"Yes, I know," Ginny said, surprisingly calmly. "But the person I'm in love with...well, until recently, I didn't think I had a chance."

It took Harry an embarrassingly long time to realize what she was trying to say. "Excuse me?" he finally squeaked out, eyes wide.

She grinned, looking absolutely stunning in the moonlight. "I love you, you utter moron. Now kiss me."

He gaped.

"Unless you'd rather I go through with the wedding..." She trailed off, eyebrows raised.

Harry's resulting speed would put a cheetah to shame.

Zacharias watched with a smug little smile as Ginny and Harry kissed. Hah! And Ginny had said his plan would never work.

Still smirking- was he good, or what?- he transfigured his 'engagement ring' back into the blade of grass it had originally been. Then he turned back to the Weasleys, who were chattering obliviously amongst themselves. He joined in, to keep them from going after Harry or Ginny.

He had a feeling the two of them would be a while.